With the early season snow coming to Colorado, some of my bikepacking plans have had to be delayed for a few weeks. Even though I’m ready and my bike’s ready, I’ll have to wait for the weather and roads to clear up.Continue reading…
I HAD SO MUCH FUN on my “failed” Nolans run. “Failed” in quotes, as I believe I set my intention on trying to do the best I could do to get through summiting 14 14ers in a row in less than 60 hours. But I came up short – only summiting 7. Cutting it short felt the best thing to do at the time.
Here’s how my 33 hours on the Nolans Line went down:Continue reading…
It’s becoming, “put up or shut up” time my attempt at a Nolans run: Fall will soon becoming a reality as the days are getting shorter and the temperature is surely to drop. I also have a guiding gig in September that will take priority soon. One more lightning fast trip out for a dress rehearsal for my gear selections.Continue reading…
Surprising myself even, I made a trip to the Sawatch to scout out a potential Nolans run. I’ll make it my own, but one of the goals is to do the line, TH to TH (Northbound) unsupported under 60 hours.Continue reading…
Sangre de Cristo; Sangre Fría; Solo y Sin Apoyo
Fastpack Has Been Completed!
Safely + Successfully. This post will be kept up, but I’ll be documenting the trip in different ways on its own group of pages here.Continue reading…
I’m creating an online backpacking guide! I’ve decided upon making one about backpacking the Sawatch 14ers, based on the Nolans 14 challenge. Can you backpack the Nolans line, aka SLOW-lans? Sure! But perhaps, with a few tweaks and knowledge on how to resupply or even skip a peak if things are aligning perfectly. I’m not done yet, but see my work, in progress:
Slow-lans Guide Navigation:
- Slow-lans Introduction
- Caltopo Route Map Legend
- Start to Shavano + Tabeguache
- Tabeguache Peak to Mt. Antero
- Mt. Antero to Mt. Princeton
- Mt. Princeton to Mt. Yale
- Mt. Yale to Mt. Columbia and Mt. Harvard
- Mt. Oxford, Mt. Belford and Missouri Mountain
- Additional Resources
This guide is currently being written and is far from complete. Receive updates on this guide, as well as the rest of the site by subscribing with your email address:
To not bury the lede and to respect the intelligence of my readers, here are the take home points:
- If you decide to climb Little Bear via the West Ridge and Southwest Face route (aka The Standard Route), you’ll encounter the Hourglass Couloir. There are a lot of objective hazards not found on most other 14er routes, including plenty of rockfall and wet/icy conditions (even in summer).
- Rockfall, particularly coming from those above you that are inadvertently kicking projectiles down may very well be your main objective danger.
- There are often times fixed ropes on the route, put there anonymously. The ropes are utilized sometimes by people to ascend and descend the route.
- The ropes may not be safe to use. They could be damaged from rockfall and general exposure to the elements, UV damage, and damage from animals gnawing on the rope.
- It’s questionable if one can assess the health of the rope/anchor for use to aid ascending, no matter how well experienced a climber is, since the anchor in the system cannot be easily seen from the bottom of the route. Sometimes, it’s hard enough to see the ropes themselves, due to atmospheric conditions (fog).
- The route can be done without these fixed ropes.
- Damaged ropes – even a very damaged rope with the sheath completely cut away and only a few strands still held together, may be able hold enough weight to support a climber. There is no way to calculate how much weight can be supported.
- It’s much easier for a skilled mountaineer to assess the quality and condition of the fixed gear (rope + anchor) from the top anchor when wanting to use the ropes to descend and make a judgement of their safety and utility – far more than assessing it from below for utilizing the rope for ascending.
- If you do decide to do this route, realize the objective dangers, as well as the questionable conditions of these fixed ropes. Big takeaway: the ropes may not be in a condition to safely use. It will be up to you to decide if they are safe enough for you.
The Colorado Trail is an awesome thru-hike route! But I noticed while hiking the CT, that much of the time that the best parts of an area you hike through just aren’t really showcased. The trail just weaves itself along a contour line below treeline, and you miss out on seeing most of the high country just outside your grasp.
Are you an advanced hiker?
If so, spice up your thru-hike by summiting a 14er or two (or all of them!) you can find right off the main trail! Below, I’ll describe all the 14er routes I’ve taken off the Colorado Trail, and some high 13er peaks that are also easily accessible. Most of the routes of the CT are in the Sawatch Range, between Leadville and just outside Salida. One is located in the San Juans outside of Creede, CO (San Luis).
For most of these routes, I would suggest dropping your main packs, and taking only what you realistically need from the out-and-back summit bid (hang your food, etc – of course). I describe the route mileage as one way, rather than RT, unless otherwise noted.
For some of these peaks, I do suggest an alternative loop which will ascend one route, and descend another, if you don’t mind missing a small portion of the Colorado Trail. For those options, bring everything, but realize that this makes the hike to the summit much harder. Make sure to time your hikes to miss the seasonal monsoon/thunderstorm weather (start early), and be mindful you’ve brought enough food for these CT alts. – they’ll take longer than the main trail.Continue reading…