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Colorado Climbing & Mountaineering

With 54 mountains that are over 14,000 feet (aka- fourteeners) and over 500 mountains over 13,000 feet (aka- thirteeners), Colorado is a favorite vacation spot for the adventurous outdoorspeople.

Reaching the summit of these incredible Colorado mountains, and other mountains all over the world, has become known as peak bagging and is enjoyed by sportsmen of all ages. Well-known Colorado fourteeners are Pike’s Peak (14,410 feet), Long’s Peak (14,256 feet), Mount Elbert (14,433 feet), and Mount Sherman (14,015 feet).

If you are new to mountain climbing or simply wish to learn more, contact the guides at Colorado Mountain School (970-586-5758) which offers a guide service and a national park sanctioned technical climbing school for mountaineers of all ages.

Long’s Peak, the highest mountain in the Rocky Mountain National Park, is the most popular and its summit can be reached even by those with little or no experience via the Keyhole. However, only experts should climb Long’s Peak from its northern and eastern face. In the Northern Rockies, you will find Colorado’s highest peaks, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive (14,421 feet). Although these are not recommended for the beginner or faint of heart, their peaks can be reached in a day without technical equipment. However, be sure to note the changing weather conditions and altitude.

As Colorado has numerous mountains reaching 11,000 or more feet, there are plenty to choose from, but there are several that are of special interest. In the White River National Forest you will find 7 mountains of interest. The two highest are Castle Peak and Quandary Peak at 14,265 feet and the lowest is Capital Creek Trail which reaches an elevation of 11,600 feet. In Colorado Springs you will find the renowned Pike’s Peak which inspired the song America the Beautiful by Katherine Lee Bates and easily accessible sandstone peaks at the Garden of the Gods. For climbing of a different sort, you can scale the canyon walls at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Another popular activity in Colorado is rock climbing or "cragging". In the Front Range region of the state (Colorado Springs and surrounding areas) you will many opportunities to achieve the adrenaline rush of reaching the rocky top. For tips, guides and area favorites visit the rock climbing experts at Front Range Climbing Company (1370 Windmill Ave or 1-303-840-7270) to start on your craggy adventure. In Boulder there is Eldorado Canyon and the Flatirons and in Estes Park there is Lumpy Ridge which is home to the Batman and Robin with an exposed Pinnacle and the J-crack which is one of the area’s most popular climbs. Mt. Ypsilon in Rocky Mountain National Park has an elevation of 13,514 and is reached by the Blitzen Ridge.

For the thrill of ice climbing head to the peaks, cliffs, and slopes at Vail, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Ouray Ice Park. Caused by temperatures low enough to freeze waterfalls, these icy shields attract dare devils and onlookers alike. You can strike out on you your own, or hire a local guide. The icy walls in Ouray Ice Park are more than 100 feet and during January, you will find many of the world’s leading ice climbers there for the annual Ouray Ice Festival.



Photo Credits: View from Pikes Peak by Ishrona; Garden of the Gods by Jeff K; Ouray Ice Climbing Picture by GMi Phone; Garden of the Gods Rock Climbing by Cpt. Spock