Jun 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm #1291427
Myself and three pals are heading to Blanca Peak and a few other 14ers next week. I need some advice on what we are getting ourselves into. We are all very familiar with hiking the AT as we have hiked around 300 miles of it.
I need to know first about my de-natured alcohol stove. Am I allowed to use it up there? In this document it says that only petroleum based stoves are allowed. Here's the PDF Report
Do we need helmets?
Will the trails close because of fire? How do I know if they are closing or limited?Jun 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm #1890443Jun 27, 2012 at 11:10 am #1890563
Most of CO, including Alamosa and Costilla counties which split Blanca, are under a fire ban right now, and many people are reeeeeaaaaallllyy skittish about what's allowed now, with the horrific 16,000 acre Waldo Canyon fire eating up large portions of the city of Colorado Springs right now, and the 87,000 acre High Park fire just outside Ft Collins, those being only 2 of 8 active fires in the state. I've largely given up on etOH stoves for that reason.
Luckily, Blanca Massif is well away from fire so far. If a fire starts, you'll be able to see it from above when on the mountain, but yes they will close the trails to hikers going up. Going down will be encouraged to move quickly.
Rangers will have the definitive word, but you might be ok.
You don't need a helmet as long as you're careful. The approaches are all class 1 (pathed hiking) but most of the routes are class 2( rock-hopping, moderately steep) with pitches of class 3 (steep, 4-point contact scrambling)
You don't need a helmet as long as you're careful. There's some danger of falling rock, but it's low compared to other peaks. Even other peaks on the Massif. I wouldn't go anywhere near Little Bear without helmets and ropes.
Call the Alamosa Cty ranger, and get a book of CO 14ers.
Good luck on the peak bagging, 14'ers are a whole different beast than east coast hiking.
Edit: 14'ers.com is a good initial resource, but I strongly recommend an actual paper book of 14'ers for prep, and a USGS quadrangle map or two in hand on the trail.Jun 27, 2012 at 11:53 am #1890575
I did a similar trip last summer with my son to the Chicago Basin in the San Juans. I found the 14ers site to be very helpful. Honestly, the photos were the most helpful to me. There's nothing like having already seen a route you need to find.
I have not done Blanca, but I wouldn't think you'd need a helmet on the standard class II route either.
Enjoy.Jun 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm #1890640
Are alcohol stoves okay to use up there?Jun 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm #1890647
I'd ask the Conejos Peak Ranger District. They're the closest district to that end of the Sangre De Cristo range.Jun 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm #1890648
Depending on your route and what county you will be in, you need the call the respective Sheriff. As in "Alamosa County, Sheriff". They have the authority and will be in sync with their counterpart over in Forest.
I'm north a bit in Chaffee County, and only stoves with "… a valve to control On and Off …" are currently permitted. Which excludes a Cone or a Cat style, but allows a Jetboil/WhisperLite. Given the nature of things, though, I fully expect ALL fires to be prohibited, including "… campground fire ring…", BBQ, and valved.
The country is explosively dry and folks are getting real nervous. (Last week a mower blade hit a rock, sparked a fire, and closed US 50, from Cañon City to Salida, for 5 days.) The next step would be to "… close the Forest …" as they routinely do in New Mexico and Arizona. That hasn't happened in Colorado, but it could.
Plan accordingly. Best of luck. Be careful out there.Jun 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm #1890687
Thanks so much guys!Jul 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm #1897507
Oh my gosh…climbing a 14er is much different than hiking the AT.
I didn't realize that actual rock climbing would be involved. I also didn't realize there could be falling rocks that could actually kill you.
I also didn't realize that Blanca Peak wasn't exactly a 14er on the "easy" list.
We had a great trip and great hike though. Now that my feet are wet with this type of thing I surely want to do it more.
JohnJul 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm #1897584
Glad you enjoyed it. :)
Yeah, 14ers are no joke. Now that your feet are wet, try some of the ones in the middle of the state, the Sawatch range have some great ones. More difficult are the Sangres and San Juan's. Same 'actual climbing' but steeper.
Watch out, too much and you'll be hooked, and trail hiking with a stream of other people just won't cut it anymore.Jul 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm #1897588
Just always start early (some long hikes will start at 2am) and plan to be headed down below treeline before storms start to build after lunch. Never be afraid to stop and turn back either.
Storms are no small matter in summer at 14000, unless you thrive on 60mph winds, 50 ft visibility and sideways sleet literally encasing you. Literally, they can put you in a life threatening situation quickly if caught exposed.
Yep, a bit different from the AT, with the possible exception of the Whites and Mt. Washington. But they dont have that altitude thing going. Last one I was on, my ears hurt, and they were equalized , but they hurt, think I had a slight cold or such. Was glad to get down.Jul 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm #1897591
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Storms are no small matter in summer at 14000, unless you thrive on 60mph winds, 50 ft visibility and sideways sleet literally encasing you."
Yes, but that is only the fun part of it.
The good news: Don't worry about the sleet. The lightning is more likely to kill you.
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