Grays & Torreys

A year ago I set myself a goal:

14 14ers before 2014.

A bit arbitrary-but aren’t most goals? For those who don’t know, a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 ft above sea level. Colorado is home to 54 of them, by far the most of any state (there are 15 in California and then Mt.Rainier in Washington-though there are disagreements based on how measurements are done). 

Peak bagging is popular out here, and I often run across people on my trips who are close to completing all of the Colorado ones-extremely impressive, though its a bit disheartening to think back and realize that every single one of these aforementioned hikers were older white guys…not sure what that says about the sport.

Anyway, when I set myself this goal, I had climbed a grand total of…4. But I figured I had 2 years before I graduated so it was entirely feasible. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I found myself back in Colorado after a semester in Denmark (i.e. sea level) this May with…4 peaks under my belt. 

I decided it was time to quit messing around and just go for it. I told a bunch of people (we all know the only way to meet your goals is to fear public failure!) and got started. As I mentioned, I had just spent 6 months at sea level and well…was completely out of shape. Not a great start, so I decided to tackle some of Colorado’s easiest 14ers-Grays Peak and Torreys Peak. 

The two peaks are extremely popular due to their close proximity to Denver and good trails, so we decided to camp out on a Tuesday night, summit early Wednesday, and beat the crowds. 

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Our gigantic tent (thank you Lands End circa 1990) with the peaks in the background.

We started early, around 6:30am by the time we packed up camp and ate breakfast, but the crowds had already began. The four peaks I had climbed before had been much more remote and I had never climbed in the summer (the most popular time) so I was astonished to see so many people. 

The summit was flooded with people. Some were drinking beers and eating Chipotle at the top which was just an entirely different scene then I was used to. It wasn’t quite the remote nature experience I was going for, but I don’t think it was a bad thing (some people really like to complain about the crowds). It was fun to be up there with so many people, and you always meet interesting people on trail. 

Even though the two peaks are some of the easiest 14ers, the bottom line is that you are doing physical exercise at 14,000 ft, so I wouldn’t say any 14 is really “easy”, and my unadjusted lungs were definitely feeling it. But the experience was a great motivation to get in shape and get more under my belt (and bagging 2 in one day was a great feeling). Somehow knowing that I only had 8 peaks left felt a lot more manageable than 10.

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One down, one to go!

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Had to rock my Blackhawks shirt since they had just won the cup. Got a lot of complements and congratulations (I contributed a whole lot for the team) on the way up!

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Our class of 2014 class shirts- “Damn those 14ers are high”. Not sure how that one slipped past the school, but they make for pretty awesome climbing shirts.

That view, that is why I climb these things. I have seen a lot of beautiful things in my short life, but Colorado from 14,000 is the top of my list.