There are 58 named 14ers in Colorado, yet they still get crowded in the summer months. Reports show they continue to get busier each year, with the Front Range in particular attracting thousands annually. The 13ers, the 600+ peaks between 13,000 and 13,999 feet, have a lot to offer hikers, climbers and mountaineers in the Rocky Mountains. here are 4 reasons to climb a Colorado 13er instead of a 14er.
You May Find some Actual Solitude and Quiet
The biggest reason many people head to these peaks are the solitude they bring. With 637 named peaks to choose from, it’s normal to hike a 13er without seeing another soul. Solitude on these mountains is an expectation. When you go, this carries with it an extra burden. If anything goes wrong, you’ll likely be on your own unless you can call for help. These are good peaks to bring a buddy with on, and take extra precautions.
More Peaks Closer to Home
Another reasons to consider 13ers are their geographic spread. Some 14ers require a 3-5 hour drive from the Front Range area, especially down in the San Juan Range. With hundreds of 13ers scattered throughout the state, there are many opportunities close to you, no matter where you are. You can spend years climbing and bagging new peaks without ever driving more than 1-2 hours. If you dislike long car rides, 13ers are for you.
Spreading out our Impact is Good for the Peaks
As mentioned above, a lot of people are climbing 14ers these days, especially in the Front Range. This leads to significant degradation of major routes and trails. Spending some of your time exploring and climbing 13ers spreads out the impact across a much larger area, protecting these mountains. While it’s of course alright to climb 14ers, mixing some 13ers into your routine is good for you and the mountains!
A Wider Variety of Peaks to Choose From
The last, biggest reason (in my opinion) to choose a 13er is the variety of options you have to choose from! There are more than 630 peaks, ranging from Class 1 hikes to Class 5 technical climbing. Each Colorado sub-range presents unique features, like the broad slopes of the Sawatch, the colorful Elks, or the volcanic San Juans. Some require a short day-hike, while others involve multi-day backpacking approaches. The 13ers have something for everyone!
Reasons to Climb a Colorado 13er
As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to climb a Colorado 13er. You’ll find more solitude, enjoy a shorter car ride, spread out your impact, and have a much wider variety of climbs to choose from. Did I forget any reasons to climb a Colorado 13er? Share them in a comment below!
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About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.