Peak(s):  Snowmass Mountain  -  14,105 feet
Pikes Peak  -  14,109 feet
Little Bear Peak  -  14,041 feet
San Luis Peak  -  14,023 feet
Handies Peak  -  14,058 feet
Redcloud Peak  -  14,037 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,004 feet
Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,021 feet
Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,318 feet
Date Posted:  08/02/2022
Date Climbed:   07/21/2022
Author:  frank_frank
 8 days of trying to evade the rain   

Long time reader 1st time poster. After about 20 years of 'Weekend of Hell' trips, aka practically sea level to 14k ft and back again, I had a great extended week in CO to knock out a bunch of 14ers, ever closer to bagging them all. 53/58

I flew from NYC to Denver on Thursday, 7/21, picked up the 4-Runner and headed to my normal stop at REI for gas only to see that the store was completely sold out of ISO butane, and long spoon which I had forgot to pack. After a quick panic one of the employees directed me to FERAL where I found everything I needed. I drove to the standard route (wasn't sure the 4-runner would make up LKB) of Snowmass and hiked up to the lake that evening making it from the TH in about 3.5 hours. Minus the headache I was feeling pretty confident for the next morning and that confidence was quickly shattered as I made my way up from the lake; Slow as cold VT syrup on all these boulders! Slow but uneventful to the top, there were a few people already at the summit including one woman who was doing a single day push from the standard routeTH (badass!). After some views and photos I was heading back down to pack up and on to Pikes Peak. ~13.5 hours of actual hiking

I decided to travel clockwise since it was only 3.5 hours to Pikes whereas Wetterhorn/Uncompahgre were 5.5 hours from Snowmass. Slept at the NW TH and was hiking around 6. It was considerably colder on Pikes than Snowmass where I didn't need a jacket at all. I was feeling pretty good about my hike until the trail runners started passing me both ways including some without any water!? A healthy reminder that no matter how much you trained, nothing beats living in CO. Great weather and fairly uneventful hike with a completion time of 5:37. Off to Littler Bear!

Having done Ellingwood and Blanca many, many years ago, driving up in a Honda Civic I regretted not including Little Bear back then because I remember hiking up Blanca road sucks! I took the 4-Runner to about 9k ft for the night as I wasn't sure how far I could make it. Started the grueling hike a little after 3 am getting to the lake around sun rise. I thought I had the whole mountain to myself but heard voices coming down the gully above me as I was making my way up the class 3/4 crux. As you know there are a couple fixed ropes,. A single line from the anchors which looks like a 9-9.5mm, dark purple and in good shape. The other is a newer looking black and pink rope attached to a purple 'WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS STILL DOING HERE!?' rope that the sheath has been worn through and is literally held together by 2 internal cords. If I had my knife with me I would have cut the rope because no one should be relying on this for support. Am I wrong to think this?? At minimum this section should be cut and retied. Otherwise, another uneventful sunshine filled hike, up and down in 9:37 hours. Off to San Luis!

Until this moment I had avoided the rain but as I was leaving Alamosa I saw that Ellingwood/Blanca/Little Bear were getting pummeled as well as the San Juan range. Impromptu car wash as I drove over to the South Ridge side of San Luis and met up with a friend from Ft Collins. Because of the projected rain storms we started at 4am and made it to the ridge around sunrise where we met some through hikers on the CT. A couple of them decided to bag the peak while they were there but unfortunately the summit was encased in clouds which meant no spectacular views on this day. We made it back to the car (6:09) and into Creede to grab some food and visit the museum before the rain hit. Off to Handies!

I figured Handies would be a good 'rest day' hike and keep me on schedule for the week. I took the 4Runner as far as I thought I could get on American Basin TH and then I watched another 4Runner keep going. 'OK city boy, time to actually drive this rental with full coverage' I made it to the actual TH with just a single white knuckle moment. It did rain that evening but early in the morning I could see the stars so I figured a sunrise start would be perfect. Flowers, so many flowers!! Absolutely beautiful and no photo I took could really capture what I was seeing. I was the first on the peak which made for a relaxing morning and while there was cloud cover nothing was pushing people off the peak at that time. 3:07 to complete and I was off to Redcloud and Sunshine.

Nothing but stars in the sky on my morning start of Redcloud and Sunshine. Another 3am start to beat any projected storms. I was near the false summit as the sun was coming over and really got to admire Redcloud in all its glory! I could see one other hiker coming up the valley when I summited so I had both peaks all to myself. In fact this was the only mountain that I didn't pass/get passed by anyone, up or down, a true solo day for about 6:10. Next stop Wetterhorn!

Based on earlier trip reports and the fact that I haven't popped a tire yet I was ready to push this 4Runner and my driving skills because while I was feeling relatively well I wasn't excited for 2 more 5000+ ft days. I was thinking of combining Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre but the impending rain storms made that a less desirable option. After a white knuckle up Matterhorn Creek TH I found a perfect spot just below the actual TH. I woke up to stars again so I slept in until 5am and made my way up Wetterhorn only to be surprised at a large heard of sheep and dogs running them in formation. That was a first! After 5 min of watching the dogs follow whistle commands I continued up to the summit. There was a group of 3 I passed just before the crux while 3 were coming down from the crux. Another 5 min of solitude at 14k ft. I had passed the first group of 3 on the way down as they were packing their helmets and gear only to hear a sound that no one wants to hear. You might think it was a rock but no...a helmet going *dink *dink *dink as it rolled all the way down to the valley. Doh! 6:03...I forgot to stop the watch on the way down and now off to Uncompahgre!

I was feeling pretty confident after Matterhorn Creek TH drive so I figured Nellie Creek TH would be no issue. I was wrong! The rains really made a mess of the road and there was one small section with no rocks and all mud which caused the vehicle start to slide into a rut and give me a pucker. I'm sure for the rest of you that is no issue but for someone in a rental, with no reception, and doesn't do this regularly it made for a stressful ride up. It continued to rain the rest of the evening which kept me thinking the road was going to be worse on the way down. The next morning was the first time I woke up to clouds that week so I made an early start of Uncompahgre. As the sun was coming up I was watching all the clouds come up from the valley which made for cool views but I couldn't see the top of the peak. At the summit I was ready to return back when the clouds came in and out for about 10 min so I stayed and took photos and chatted with others as they arrived. On the way down was the first time it really rained on me during the week. As this was the last peak in my itinerary I actually enjoyed it especially know that this had been a relatively good weather for me given all the storms. 4:00 hours and end of trip on 7/29! The drive down was another white knuckle including a couple multi point turns but the stock 4Runner made it down with no issues.

9 14ers in 8 days, not bad for a sea level guy! Strava - Frank Frank. Instagram - frank_frank_




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Gulf_Coast_Hiker
Great Job!
08/02/2022 13:33
Sounds like an awesome adventure! Nice pics!


mtngoatwithstyle
Training
08/07/2022 20:31
@frank_frank-I was curious to know how you trained for this endeavor.That is a big accomplishment!Congratulations!


frank_frank
RE: Training
08/08/2022 09:46
Thanks! @mtngoatwithstyle Because I'm training at sea level I focus on powering up my lower half: weighted lunges, leg presses, running, and quite a few treadmill workouts with a 30lb pack and a 15 degree incline (great way to catch up on shows) plus some local hikes with extra weight. Except for Snowmass, I only needed a daypack on the hikes so the leg training helped to compensate for the altitude but that in no way means I wasn't stopping every 75ft to catch my breath above 13k ft.


hiking4me
Your Inspirational
09/03/2022 10:14
Frank. You are amazing! I'm 60 and only have 18/58 accomplished. Myasthenia Gravis slows me from goal but knocked out Handies last week and going to San Luis next week. Can't do consecutive days of hiking due to muscle recovery issues but inspired by your recent trip. I to do a lot of cardio and leg work but apparently your training far exceeds mine. Glad your almost done with huge accomplishment.



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