The beginning of a new year is like any other for the most part. It's a renewing of the calendar year, a reset switch for individuals to make personal goals that they may or may not meet, an expectation that this year will be better than the last. As most of you know, I don't necessarily subscribe to "traditional" New Year's resolutions of any sort. Why? What's the point? Rather I set goals for the new year as something to work towards. My outdoor goal this year is to complete the 54 summits over 14,0000' in Colorado. Currently, I sit at 47 completed peaks with 7 remaining. Some of these remaining 7 peaks will be challenging from a mountaineering perspective while others less so.
So a bit of a preview of each one broken down by the two mountain ranges that these airy summits belong.
The Elk Range - known as some of Colorado's most rugged and beautiful peaks. The rock in this range is considered "rotten" in the sense that its crumbling, red sedimentary rock. I've climbed a few in this range already and can testify that these are mountains to approach with respect.
- Capitol Peak (14,130') - among 14er aficionado's, this singular peak has been considered to be one of the hardest peaks in the state due to it's infamous 100' knife edge. My climbing partners and I attempted this in 2010 but turned back due to rain and freezing conditions. The picture above is a 40' knife edge called Kelso Ridge on approach to Torrey's Peak. Good practice for this one!
- Snowmass Peak (14.092') - another rugged 14er that is considered fairly remote while being north of the glitzy Aspen community. Not as difficult as Capitol Peak, it has a long approach and a "namesake" snowfield that lasts well into summer making the trip up a little easier through the scree/talus fields.
- Maroon Peak (14,156') - perhaps one of the most photographed peaks in Colorado and perhaps the West. This peak and it's sibling, North Maroon Peak, are collectively known as the "Deadly Bells" and for good reason. The rock is poor and route finding a challenge. I climbed it's neighbor, Pyramid Peak, in the summer of 2009 and can testify that one should carefully study the route and minimize the risks.
The San Juans - this mountain range is simply the most beautiful part of the state. Remote, rugged peaks far from the Front Range with amazing backpacking opportunities for the climber and non-climber alike.
- Wetterhorn Peak (14,015') - this mountain is named after the more famous Wetterhorn rising above Grindelwald in Switzerland's Bernese Alps. For language fans, Wetternhorn loosely translated means "weather peak" in German. I attempted this peak in 2008 but did not have the necessary rock skills to comfortably summit this peak. After two years of rock climbing and classes, I look forward to this one quite a bit.
- Handies Peak (14,048') - this is my 14er finisher! It's a Class 1 walk-up so hikers and climbers alike can walk up the trail to the rarefied air of 14k. The plan is to summit this in August 2011 if you're interested - please let me know. Details to follow in the summer.
- Sunlight Peak (14,059') - another one of the 14ers spoken in reverence due to its "leap of fate" off the summit block. Most hikers/climbers don't stand on the small summit block. It's a bit exposed and requires a jump down to a angled rock block. On one side - safety and camp. On the other - a several hundred foot fall. I'm okay with reaching my hand up to touch the summit...
- Mount Sneffels (14,150') - located 7 miles west of Ouray, CO. Ouray is home to the Ouray Ice Festival and is often called the "little Switzerland" of North America. If you've ever been there, you'd agree. This mountain serves as a good warm-up for aspiring mountaineers that have finished the "walk-up" 14ers and want to try something a bit harder. Should be great fun!
So that's it. The remaining 14ers that I have left to climb. To be honest with you, when I first started hiking the 14ers in 1998 I never really gave it much thought that I would complete "the list." But this year, if all goes well, "the list" will be completed and I will join about 1200-1300 people who have completed the 14ers. I look forward to the challenge...Climb On my friends!