Colorado 14er Stories
Ever wonder how many 14ers there are in the United States and where they are located? We created an infographic that breaks it down by state. Colorado has the most 14ers - And maybe the best overall group? However,there are a lot of 14ers in Alaska and California as well! Washington checks in with a mere 1. Check it out. Let us know which state you think has the best 14ers! We love sharing stories.
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Big Birthdays Deserve Big Mountains
by Ben Waymire
On September 3rd, 2016, I got a text from my step dad, Willy, that said simply: "For my birthday I want to climb a mountain."
I think big birthdays deserve big mountains. So we busted out of Denver at 4 am sharp on the morning of September 10th, Willy’s 70th birthday. By lunchtime we were standing on top of Colorado feeling grateful to be alive and humbled by all those mountains.
The 14,443-foot mountain is named after Samuel Elbert, who was Colorado’s territorial governor for just a year (1873-1874), but he also served as a Colorado State Supreme Court Justice for 12 years. For much of the Elbert hike, you can also see the spectacular Mt. Massive (CO’s second highest peak), and I always wondered why we wouldn’t name our highest peak Mt. Massive instead of Mt. Elbert. I mean, right?
Apparently, I wasn’t alone in this sentiment, as a group of renegade hikers in the 1970s actually stacked rocks at the summit of Mt. Massive in order to raise the height of the mountain beyond Elbert. Over the years, however, the Elbert loyalists persistently dismantled the huge pile of rocks atop Massive until everyone gave up and accepted the fact that Elbert is Colorado’s true king.
I can tell you this much: false summits are evil.
Once we hit treeline, it looked like we could see our destination: the highest peak in Colorado! The second highest peak in the lower 48! We’re almost there, right? nope. Nope. NOPE.
You’re going to experience two false summits on the northeast trail hike. It’s a bit deflating when you think you’re “almost there,” and hikers on the way down tell you “yeah, you’re not almost there.” And I’d like to just state that this trail is no cake walk. Yes, compared to many other 14er hikes in CO, it’s easier. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
It didn’t phase us though. We were in good spirits, had snacks and plenty of water. We took our time getting up the mountain and soaked up all the breathtaking scenery. We enjoyed our experiences talking to people from all over the country who come here seeking to conquer the highest peak in Colorado.
At the end of the day, I was tremendously proud of Willy’s accomplishment on his 70th birthday.
On September 10, 2016 he was a man among men, a shark among sheep, and an inspiration to every person on the trail who got to meet him. #70YearsYoung