There's no such thing as an easy 14er, but here are 7 of the most approachable Colorado peaks over 14,000 feet.
Colorado's soaring mountain peaks scrape the bright blue dome of the sky, boasting some of the highest elevations on the continent. Sitting on top of a lofty 14er summit feels both physically and emotionally like being on top of the world! You'll have the opportunity to slowly examine the landscape below you from an uncommon vantage point: smaller mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, forests, roads, and towns. With the rest of humanity so far below you, the problems of the world often seem utterly insignificant. This euphoric feeling is bolstered by an exhilarating rush from the aerobic effort of the climb… and the lack of oxygen reaching your brain.
Climbing 14ers is a challenging endeavor, and yet, all 58 of the peaks don't demand the same level of effort. While many of the mountain summits require long, arduous hikes and technical mountaineering abilities, others are much more achievable by the average physically-fit human being. In this guidebook, we've rounded up seven of the easiest 14ers that are perfect for peak climbing beginners.
As you prepare to climb your first 14er, remember that "there's no such thing as an easy 14er." While the mountains in this guidebook are objectively less technical or have shorter approaches than other mountains in the state, every single mountain peak should be approached with an abundance of caution.
"Mountaineering in Colorado can be very dangerous and many people have died on the 14ers," writes 14ers.com. Hazards include, but are not limited to: lightning strikes, exposure (including hypothermia), altitude sickness, dehydration, falling from exposed cliffs and boulders, and so much more.
One of the major hazards that you must constantly be aware of while climbing a 14er is the weather. Thunderstorms will build quickly in the mountains on most summer afternoons. Lightning strikes are one of the most deadly forces above treeline in Colorado, so it's paramount that you return below treeline before the storms build. This means that you'll often need to start your hike very early in the morning.
According to 14ers.com, "I usually plan for a start early enough to get me below treeline by noon (on the descent). For a day hike that requires 10-15 miles roundtrip, consider hitting the trail a couple of hours before sunrise." While this is a great rule of thumb, note that storms can and do build earlier in the day. If the skies look dangerous, it's always best to turn around and play it safe. Remember: when you reach the summit, your hike is only half over.
Climbing Colorado's lofty mountain peaks is one of the most fulfilling outdoor pursuits in the country! The feeling of satisfaction from this incredible accomplishment is impossible to beat! But this satisfaction comes from the challenge of the climb and the difficulty inherent in climbing 14ers. Make smart choices, climb within your abilities, and always be willing to turn around so that you can live to climb another day.