Monday, March 23, 2009

Colorado's Fourteeners

In many of my prior blog posts I have written about the 14ers of Colorado. I think I have pretty well explained what these are. But I figured as we are moving into spring and the climbing season isn’t that far off, I would write a blog entry about these mountains. There are roughly 55 14,000 foot+ mountains in Colorado. I say “roughly” because there is a lot of debate whether or not several of these mountains are actual mountains or just parts of other mountains. In particular there are two “mountains” which are always in question – Mt. Cameron and Challenger Point. Mt. Cameron is often viewed as being part of Mt. Lincoln. The debate is caused by the fact that Mt. Cameron only rises 138 feet above the saddle of Mt. Lincoln. To be viewed as a separate peak, a mountain must rise 200 or 300 feet above the saddle. Even the debate over 200 or 300 feet is unclear. It makes it fairly confusing as to what really constitutes a 14er. Challenger Point is often viewed as part of the Kit Carson Peak Massif. In addition to these “mountains” there are another four mountains which are in this same limbo. They are: El Diente, Conundrum Peak, North Eolus and North Maroon Peak. The fifty-five 14ers are scattered throughout the state with the exception of the eastern plains of course. Though most people refer to reaching the top of a 14er as a climbing, in most cases it is just a really long hike. You can find technical routes to climb every 14er there is, but in almost every case each 14er can be “climbed” by simply hiking to the top. Several of the ascents are a little bit trickier than others, but without too much trying most 14er’s can be summitted with just a lot of determination and strong legs and lungs. A few of these mountains have roads that go to the top or near the top. Two of the closest 14ers to Denver – Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans are major tourist attractions and anyone can reach the summit of those mountains. Pikes Peak has a road and a railroad that goes to the summit. The railroad is interesting as it is a “cog” railroad. There is third rail on the rail line that is like a gear assembly. The engine powers its way up the railroad by having a flywheel that locks onto that gear assemble and moves the engine up the line. On the downward journey this allows the engine to go very slowly without heavy use of brakes. It makes for a much safer ride up and down the mountain. The road to the top of Mt. Evan stops about 1000 feet below the summit. To reach the top you have to scramble up several boulder fields. Despite the altitude even “flat landers” (i.e. people from sea level) can make it to the top.

(Me on top of Mount Bierstadt in winter.)

Another 14er with a road that almost goes to the summit is Mt. Antero. The road in this case ceases only 160 feet below the summit. This mountain is not a major tourist destination like Pikes Peak or Mt. Evans. The road is instead used for mining. Mt. Antero is home to some of the best and easily accessible mineral deposits in the state of Colorado. Across the sides of this mountain many part-time geologists, rock hunters and prospectors go and dig for precious and semi-precious gems. Some of the types of gems that are found on Mt. Antero include: aquamarine, agate, and topaz.

(Me on the top of Mt. Sherman)

I have climbed a total of six of these mountains. One I have now climbed 3 times and I plan to climb it many more. The mountains that I have climbed are: - Mount Bierstadt (3 times) - Mount Democrat - Mount Sherman - Torrey’s Peak - Gray’s Peak - Quandary Peak

(Me on the top of Mt. Democrat)

My mind is still up in the air as to whether or not Zack is yet ready to climb one of the 14ers with me or not. On several occasions he has indicated that he would like to try a 14er, but I am just not sure if he would enjoy it. For a first attempt we will go to Mount Bierstadt. There are a lot of reasons for attempting this one first. I think it gives Zack the best chance to actually make it to the top on the first attempt. Additionally he would be very interested in the terrain. There is a long boardwalk that has been built across some very swampy land to prevent hikers from chewing it up and turning it into a quagmire. I know my boy and he would love running back and forth across this long elevate bridge.

(Jerry with John and Deborah Moore on the Summit of Mount Bierstadt) With any luck we will have a good summer for climbing. If so I really hope to try and reach the summit of another 4 or 5 of these mountains. The mountains I hope to climb this summer are: Mount of the Holy Cross, Mount Elbert, Mount Lincoln, Mount Bross and possibly Mount Massive. Mount Massive and Mount Elbert are the 2 tallest mountains in the entire state. Mount Elbert isn’t that bad of a hike, but due to it shear mass, Mount Massive is a 2 – 3 day hike up and back. So that one will take some consideration as I will have to spend several nights outdoors to reach the top of that one. I will probably summit Mount Bierstadt or Sherman again as I would like to introduce a friend to the joy of 14ers! Our day has been very low-key. Not much has been going on besides the normal everyday stuff. I got a call from Zack while he was at school which was somewhat surprising. He was calling me from the phone in his classroom because he wanted to be sure that I didn’t forget he needed some more loose-leaf paper from for his binder at school. Unfortunately, the little man got his name on the board today. Arghh…. I don’t like it when he gets in trouble. He got his name on the board for being off task – (i.e. not doing what he was supposed to. He told me he was taking like 5 minutes to sharpen his pencil.) Z had Sylvan after school so I walked to school and got him and walked home with him. He is so funny to watch as we walk home. The best way I can describe it that he continuously reminds me of a foal (baby horse) running around and playing in a field. He runs and jumps and skips. It is just so cute to watch. You can never predict whether he is going to run, jump, skip or just look like he is having the most wonderful time just being him. He had his prerequisite snack before Sylvan and then we were off. While he was at Sylvan I went to a Starbucks in Highlands Ranch and spent the rest of the afternoon working. I have 2 really big presentations that I have to give at the end of this week. All my efforts of the next couple of days are going to be spent getting those presentations ready. These presentations are with members of the client’s executive team, so they have to be done right! While I was working at Starbucks I sat at a window seat which was right next to the drive up window. It was funny as I got to see every person coming there to order a coffee or whatever. It would be very interesting to do a demographic study of who drinks Starbucks. To me most of the patrons at Starbucks between 3:30PM and 5:15PM are very busy women with at least one kid in the back seat. It was just really interesting to observe it all. I love watching people - it is kind of a hobby. It makes me chuckle and it makes me think. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t make fun of anyone. It is just neat to observe and soak it all in. For example, there was this one woman in line who was just screaming into her cell phone. I couldn’t hear it of course, but I could tell just by the way her face was and her mouth was moving. I just kind of looked at her and you could tell she knew I knew she yelling at someone. Her face got all red – it was just amusing to catch someone’s emotions like that. This evening I made some sloppy Zacks (Sloppy Joes of course – I just call them that to get under Zack’s skin.) for dinner. I have spent a good part of the evening on the phone. I was making the rounds of calls to my brothers and sisters. Zack is finishing his reading for the night and in a few minutes we will slow the evening down and watch an episode of Modern Marvels on DVR. Zack needs to get a bath tonight so we won’t watch too much. For a Monday – not a bad day I guess. Though I will be really happy next week this time as we will be at the Grand Canyon!! Thanks and peace to all!

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