How to Climb a 14er

How To Climb a 14er: The Beginner's Guide

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Hiking or climbing up a 14er isn’t easy, but it’s possible to do so safely with a bit of planning and preparation! However there are a lot of factors to consider, and the consequences for making a mistake can be serious. Hundreds of Search and Rescue operations take place on the Colorado 14ers and surrounding wilderness areas every year, with numerous hikers getting lost, injured, or passing away. Learning how to climb a 14er before you go can help prevent such a situation.

This guide was created through a mix of experience and research to help you climb a 14er safely, and successfully. We discuss proper preparation and packing, things to watch for while hiking, emergency preparations and more. You can start with Part 1 and work your way through the guide, or skip ahead to a Chapter that interests you below! If you have feedback to share, feel free to email me at alexmderr@gmail.com. Thanks for using the Guide – stay safe out there, friends!

Chapter List

Learn How to Climb a 14er from an Experienced Hiker & Climber

I put together my “How to Climb a 14er” Guide through a mix of personal experience on Colorado’s high peaks. Avoid making the same mistakes that I’ve made with my six chapters of lessons and advice. The first chapter focuses on planning your climb. This includes checking the weather forecast, selecting a 14ere and peak to climb, leaving trip info with someone.

Next we discuss what to wear and bring with you when packing for a 14er. Third, we discuss going on the climb itself, including getting to the trailhead and hiking and scrambling. Fourth, we talk about trail etiquette and leave no trace, the moral aspects of mountaineering. Fifth, I dig into emergency preparedness should something go wrong on your 14er. Finally, I share what to watch for when deciding if you should turn back, the most important thing to know. Between it all, you should learn how to climb a 14er safely and successfully.

Looking for even more resources to learn how to climb a 14er? Here are some of my favorite 14er climbing resources:

  • www.14ers.com: This online guide books has everything you need to learn how to climb a 14er, including route guides, a form, picturees and much more.
  • www.summitpost.com 14ers Page: This includes links to route information and other details on every Colorado 14er. 
  • The Colorado Mountain Club: The CMC is one of the oldest mountaineering organizations in the state. They offer classes, guide books, and the American Alpine Library all under a single roof.
  • CO 14er FAQ: This list of FAQ’s put together by the legendary climber Alan Arnette includes great information and answers to many of the most common questions people have about how to climb a 14er.
  • The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative: The CFI is responsible for many, if not most of the trails that take us to the top of the fourteeners. They provide videos, guides, blogs and other resources for those who climb and hike these peaks.
  • US Forest Service Info Page: The vast majority of the Colorado fourteeners are managed by the United States Forest Service. Here is their official information page about these peaks, with great tips on how to climb a 14er.

It's Easy to Learn How to Climb a 14er With My Guide

When I first started my website, there was a shortage of good resources available online for those starting out. While there are many route guides and online maps, they don’t provide much direction or instruction on how to climb a 14er for novices. The result has been a rising number of search and rescue calls for individuals who bite off more than they can chew while hiking and climbing in these peaks. My goal for this guide is to help the public prepare for 14ers with the seriousness these peaks deserve.

Looking for a more interactive learning environment? Visit my online course page to see if it’s a better fit for you. I’ll help you prepare and learn how to climb a 14er through a series of videos, exercises and written guides, including handouts and downloads with every chapter. You can also subscribe to my newsletter below to receive monthly updates with new route guides, how-to articles, gear reviews and more.

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