14er Safety Advice

Trigg Skoe

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By Britta Shafer

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Many people get into trouble each year while trying to conquer any of the 54 fourteeners
located in Colorado because they are not aware of the important gear, altitude sickness, and lightening that are associated with these mountains. There is a lot of advice out there to give someone looking into climbing a 14er, but here are the basics. Please keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list; however, these are some of the most important topics.

  1. Hiking up Grey’s and Torrey’s mountainside with a pick axe and his hard hat, Austin Bradfield follows the group towards the service project site on September 10. Photo credit: Jessica Golden

    Training: Don’t be a bro and skip leg day at the gym, it can only help! Also, make sure to do some smaller hikes beforehand in order to work your way up to scaling a 14er.
  2. What to Bring: Before hiking a fourteener you should pack a backpack with essential equipment that you may need during your hike. According to 14ers.com, you should pack plenty of water and food, sunglasses, a knife or multi-tool, a compass and a map of your trail, a whistle, matches, sunscreen, and a first aid kit (14ers.com). You should also be sure to bring plenty of appropriate clothing to wear during your hike. Usually, I wear workout shorts or leggings and a polyester long sleeve shirt. I bring a warmer jacket to wear if it gets cold as well as a windbreaker rain jacket that can protect me against adverse weather conditions if needed. Footwear is also very important, choosing close-toed shoes with good traction will make your climb significantly easier. Don’t forget to break them in before climbing as well. Additionally, your socks should be made of synthetic material so that when your feet sweat, they don’t stay wet, which can cause blistering.
  3. Altitude Sickness: According to an informative website called Altitude, altitude sickness can affect anyone that travels higher than 8,000 feet above sea level and it is crucial to be able to spot the symptoms and treat them accordingly in order to avoid fatal consequences.
  4. Lightning: I bet most of you have heard that when lightning strikes, it goes for the tallest object in the area, and unfortunately what many people have figured out while hiking is that on a fourteener, a lot of times that object is you.