Climbing 14ers: A brief Guide to Avoiding Electrocution

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Ever wanted to be 14,000 feet above sea level in one of the most beautiful locations in the world? It sounds like you want to climb a 14er.

14ers are one of my favorite parts of Colorado, not only because they are unbelievably beautiful, but also because when I finish the climb and pass out for 13 hours, I wake up the next day feeling absolutely fantastic. The combination of exercise and serenity I have experienced on the many 14ers around Colorado has inspired me to try and get everybody climbing them.

A few quick facts you should know before climbing a 14er, that will keep you safe in this moderate extreme activity:

  • Make sure you start heading down by 2 o’clock. Being on top of a 14,000 foot mountain during a thunderstorm is outrageously dangerous, and unpleasantly terrifying. Thunder storms usually hit the mountains in the afternoon, and while you may get lucky and experience clear skies all afternoon, you may also find yourself charging down a rocky mountain while the sky sounds like its tearing apart.
  • Unfortunately to tack onto the first point, this also means waking up before 4 A.M. I typically end up driving with my fatigued friends to the trailhead, forgetting that we didn’t eat breakfast (definitely eat breakfast) and then debating turning back to boulder for more sleep before climbing. I always want to be sure I have enough time, because nothing is worse than being halfway up a mountain and realizing that it is time to turn around.
  • Bring plenty of water. Altitude sickness can leave you flattened out on a trail and relying on strangers to help carry you down (which is awkward). The best way to prevent this is by bringing a bunch of water, and remembering to drink it frequently.
  • Also bring some food to keep your strength up.
  • And lastly, make sure you have a beer for when you reach the top! While drinking on top of a mountain when physically exhausted may not seem like the best idea, there is nothing I enjoy more than a cold beer in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
  • Be sure and check the conditions in the spring and fall to make sure they aren’t posthole (imagine being in snow up to the neck): http://www.14ers.com

Happy Travels!

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