Fitness Hiking Mountaineering Outdoor Travel

Climbing a 14er: 5 Lessons to Remember

climbing a 14er

On the primary day of fall, I discovered myself climbing my first 14er in a very very long time. It was epic. Unnecessary to say, my calves are nonetheless sore.

Uniquely painful muscle tissues have been only one factor I wanted I’d recalled about high-altitude mountaineering earlier than tackling Grays and Torreys peaks final month. Climbing rock-strewn mountains like Colorado’s iconic 14,000-foot summits can take time to plan. And I’m not the most effective when it comes to scheduling journey.

That’s why I jumped on the alternative when Merrell invited a few fortunate souls to well-known 14ers Grays and Torreys, offering all the things we’d want to rise up: gear, transportation, and even a information and coach to get us match and educated.

Photograph by Andrew Maguire

Our Colorado-based journey information and 14er guru, Jason Antin, prepped us properly. He was particularly affected person with the New Yorkers who needed to drill down on the probability of dying in the event that they got here down with altitude illness.

I do know he’s a professional as a result of not one member of our 22-person group had to flip again.

Ideas for Climbing a 14er

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Julie Kailus

Nonetheless, as soon as I received partway by means of climbing, a few essential ideas for climbing a 14er got here flashing again to me. Hold these in thoughts, whether or not you’re getting ready for a 14er for the primary time or the 10th.

1. Maintain your palms heat.

And that’s coming from somebody who tends to sweat profusely on the extremities. Often, heat from my core radiates outward. Not a lot anyplace above the tree line.

On a September morning in Colorado at 11,280 ft, temps are within the 50s at greatest. If you’re up three,600 ft greater, it’s extra like 30 levels.

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Andrew Maguire

So don’t overlook these digits. You want gloves that may struggle chilly and wind whereas nonetheless permitting you to whip out your digital camera, water, snacks, and equipment at a second’s discover.

I had some, however they weren’t sufficient. Subsequent time, I’m going to spend money on a hotter, windproof pair of gloves like these from The North Face. They’re nonetheless breathable sufficient for heavy huffing.

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Andrew Maguire

Antin likes Outside Analysis gloves with Gore Windstopper. “If my hands are cold, I’m not having fun,” he stated. “So I go for beefier gloves as an insurance policy.” Typically he throws in some previous however light-weight Gore-Tex mitts within the backside of the pack as a second layer.

“Let’s put it this way: You’re not going to sweat through your gloves in a 14er environment,” he stated.

2. Outfit your ft.

Whereas clothes is essential on a 14er to maintain snug, nothing does extra work than your ft. Good footwear is important to reaching the summit.

Begin with a nice sock. Good socks shield your ft from blisters, maintain them dry, and assist fend off the chilly. They’re value a little funding. Most of our crew wore Merrell’s Merino Hiker Crew Socks.

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Julie Kailus

For footwear, you need a good sole with traction becoming for the terrain. Lots of our crew used Ladies’s Chameleon Mid 7 Waterproof boot. A couple of of us used to mountain trails did simply fantastic within the model’s nimble MQM strategy footwear.

I attempted the MQM Flex. It is available in a Gore-Tex model too. I felt like my ankles have been robust sufficient to check these low hikers even on this 14er’s rocky floor and steep grade. The versatile midsole gave me the liberty I wanted to scramble round whereas the MQM’s robust lug caught nicely on scree however busted via rocks like a champ.

three. A low-grade headache is widespread.

And I’m not speaking about a pounding, pulsing one which will get worse as you go greater. That, dangerously, is the most typical signal of altitude illness. There are literally three ranges of severity. And it will probably get actually scary actually quick.

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Andrew Maguire

Antin assured us that a regular, low-grade “pressure” headache is to be anticipated when climbing up excessive, even for individuals like me who stay at altitude. A majority of us felt this slight bodily discomfort till we descended from the hike, the most effective answer for many results of altitude illness.

There’s science to why our heads harm extra at eight,000 ft and above. Principally, with much less oxygen within the air, your entire physique is working more durable. There’s extra strain, extra demand in your capillaries, and that may present up as a delicate headache.

“You’re already requesting extra from your body hiking uphill, and altitude is not making that any easier,” stated Antin, who’s Wilderness EMT licensed. “Your body is working overtime to recover, but recovery is extremely delayed because of the environment.”

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Julie Kailus

The secret is figuring out the ache threshold for what’s regular and what you are able to do to attempt to greatest alleviate your head woes. Staying solidly hydrated is precedence No. 1. That’s crucial, stated Antin, as a result of the indicators of dehydration mimic these of altitude illness. You need to rule that out by maintaining the fluids flowing.

Controlling your respiration and coronary heart fee is precedence No. 2. That’s in all probability going to imply slowing down or stopping extra incessantly. “Everyone will experience some symptoms of altitude,” stated Antin. “When those first come on, by lowering your output level, there’s a good chance those will subside.”

And No. three is eradicating or including equipment that may reduce down on different headache-inducing points: a too-tight hat, not sporting sun shades, or a dangerous mixture of the 2 across the temples, to identify a few.

For this journey, rising sun shades model Goodr stored issues mild in additional methods than one with its playful tackle colours, together with my favourite yellow hue: Swedish meatball hangout.

four. So many potty stops.

We have been all — each flatlanders and highlanders — a little overzealous about hydrating correctly the night time earlier than and the day of the 14er. We knew it was one of many solely issues in our management. So, darn it, we dominated that hydration bladder. After which our bladders dominated us.

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Andrew Maguire

That’s partly as a result of elevated urination is a aspect impact of going larger. Extreme peeing is a response to hypoxia, when your physique places out extra bicarbonate to make respiration simpler.

So urinating a lot at altitude is regular, Antin confirmed, however no much less distracting. But it’s additionally a nice indicator of points: Should you aren’t urinating far more than regular whereas climbing a 14er, you is perhaps dehydrated. And, keep in mind, these signs can get combined up with others associated to excessive altitude alone.

On this present day, we stayed properly hydrated with Osprey water bladders tucked inside our backpacks. The lengthy sipping tubes provided quick access to water anytime. The issue was that the majority of us felt a full bladder constructing all … day … lengthy. That led to some critical (and never so critical) logistical points, particularly for the feminine hikers. See, above treeline, there are not any timber.

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Julie Kailus

So we constructed rock-cairn potties. We mentioned arm-locking human curtains for probably the most determined at anybody given time. We peeked round each stony nook for the fitting angle to drop trou with out the remainder of the hikers — and, thoughts you, there was a regular stream — getting a view they didn’t need.

The easiest way to stability your hydration on a 14er is to drink water steadily, add some electrolytes afterward, and don’t overlook to eat actual meals. We used Clif Blok chews to maintain ourselves on our 14er.

However keep in mind, you’re burning lots of of energy per hour and your physique wants gasoline. For instance, Antin, a former soccer participant, eats 200 energy per hour for his almost 200 kilos of physique weight.

Aside from that, good luck discovering a distant rock cease.

5. Soak within the summit.

Positive, simply getting to the highest of the mountain is a lot of the journey when climbing a 14er as a result of it takes probably the most effort. And you may rely it in miles. However relishing the sensation of summiting so long as attainable is a part of the expertise too. There are footage to take, massive views to jaw drop, life to ponder, associates to make, and Jerky to eat.

For virgin 14er hikers, it’s not sometimes a tag-and-go second. Meaning you need to be nicely ready to hang around and take within the tippy prime. I discovered a few useful methods to make these valuable moments last more and imply extra, even when the wind is whipping and the goosebumps are rising.

First, placed on all of your layers. You possibly can all the time shed them later, however add every thing you want to keep heat once you abruptly go from shifting with nice effort to standing nonetheless. On the highest of Grays and Torreys, I wanted every thing Merrell allow us to attempt: a wicking T-shirt as a baselayer, a breathable technical long-sleeve, a pullover fleece for added heat, a micro-lite puffy vest, and a hefty shell to block the weather.

That’s 5 layers, people. And that was beneath a cloudless Colorado sky in September.

climbing a 14erPhotograph of the writer by Andrew Maguire

In case you can spare it, pack in a mini camp range. I need to say Antin’s concept to carry one for us resulted in the most effective moments of the day: Lastly, heat palms. And people arms have been holding a steaming anti-inflammatory turmeric-based brew referred to as Golden Root. That was a golden second. And there was whiskey. That helped too.

For one to two individuals, Antin recommends the 1-liter MSR Reactor. He used it on Denali. “It’s designed so well that it does a remarkably better job containing flame and exchanging heat,” he stated.

His different trick is boiling some orange-flavored Gatorade within the morning earlier than the 14er and holding it toasty for the summit in a YETI 36-ounce Rambler thermos. Some days its tomato soup spiked with cayenne.

Additionally, cowl your bum, the place you’ll shortly lose warmth, by sitting in your pack or pulling out a low cost however efficient S.O.L area blanket, which Antin buys for all his adventures. And search for a pure windbreak to hunker down for lunch. I promise, with out wind for a topping, our Nutella and banana wraps tasted like a present from the gods.

Final, take some moments to seize all of it on digital recall. However don’t overlook to look — together with your eyeballs — in any respect this pure magnificence.

climbing a 14erPhotograph by Andrew Maguire

You could by no means see this view once more. And savoring the reminiscence of climbing a 14er might final a lifetime. Hey, I’m solely a few weeks out, however I can get to that very excessive, very comfortable place any time I like.

By Julie Kailus

Affiliate editor Julie Kailus has spent a profession masking individuals, locations, and merchandise within the outside business. Julie might be discovered testing the newest and biggest in her favourite actions — path operating, mountain biking, swimming, snowboarding, and the underrated endurance sport of chasing two sons across the mountains.

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