Colorado's fourteeners

Front Range

Grays Peak 14,270'

Torreys Peak 14,267'

Mt. Evans 14,264'

Longs Peak 14,255'

Pikes Peak 14,110'

Mt. Bierstadt 14,060'

Tenmile Range

Quandary Peak 14,265'

Mosquito Range

Mt. Lincoln 14,286'

Mt. Cameron 14,238'

Mt. Bross 14,172'

Mt. Democrat 14,148'

Mt. Sherman 14,036'

Sawatch Range

Mt. Elbert 14,433'

Mt. Massive 14,421'

Mt. Harvard 14,420'

La Plata Peak 14,336'

Mt. Antero 14,269'

Mt. Shavano 14,229'

Mt. Princeton 14,197'

Mt. Belford 14,197'

Mt. Yale 14,196'

Tabeguache Peak 14,155'

The summit of Grays Peak is 14,270 feet.
The summit of Grays Peak is 14,270 feet. (The Denver Post file photo)

Mt. Oxford 14,153'

Mt. Columbia 14,073'

Missouri Mountain 14,067'

Mt. of the Holy Cross 14,005'

Huron Peak 14,003'

Elk Mountains

Castle Peak 14,265'

Maroon Peak 14,156'

Capitol Peak 14,130'

Snowmass Mountain 14,092'

Conundrum Peak 14,060'

Pyramid Peak 14,018'

North Maroon Peak 14,014'

San Juan Mountains

Uncompahgre Peak 14,309'

Mt. Wilson 14,246'

El Diente Peak 14,159'

Mt. Sneffels 14,150'

Mt. Eolus 14,083'

Windom Peak 14,082'

Sunlight Peak 14,059'

Handies Peak 14,048'

North Eolus 14,039'

Redcloud Peak 14,034'

Wilson Peak 14,017'

Wetterhorn Peak 14,015'


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San Luis Peak 14,014'

Sunshine Peak 14,001'

Sangre de Cristo Range

Blanca Peak 14,345'

Crestone Peak 14,294'

Crestone Needle 14,197'

Kit Carson Peak 14,165'

Challenger Point 14,081'

Humboldt Peak 14,064'

Culebra Peak 14,047'

Ellingwood Point 14,042'

Mt. Lindsey 14,042'

Little Bear Peak 14,037'

Source: 14ers.com

While some people may insist the act of summiting a 14,000-foot peak is "climbing" or even "mountaineering" as opposed to "hiking," whatever you call it doesn't make completing a high-altitude trek any easier.

Proper preparation is an absolute requirement if you want to safely make it up one of the state's 54 peaks taller than 14,000 feet.

If you do, your breath will be taken away, both by the view and the lack of oxygen at altitude.

Study trail maps and pack a compass, warm clothing (there will likely be snow, so wear stuff that stays dry) and plenty of water along with perhaps a celebratory summit beverage. Know the pace you will hike and figure out what time of day to start your journey to get down in time to avoid afternoon storms — they are frequent and vicious at high altitude.

Physical training to strengthen your core, back and legs — remember, you'll be carrying a pack with a large amount of water — is recommended for two to three months before attempting a 14er for inexperienced climbers.

Men's Health prescribes hip flexor stretches, bear crawls, kettlebell swings and hugging a heavy sandbag while walking among other movements as exercises that help build a body ready to "scale any peak." (These exercises work for women and other nonmen, too. Shout out to all you nonbinary mountain climbers.)

You may see high-altitude wildlife near the summit, like pikas or this marmot in a talus field below Capitol Peak.
You may see high-altitude wildlife near the summit, like pikas or this marmot in a talus field below Capitol Peak. (Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post)

You may want to add a jog or some lengthy walks into your training regimen to ensure your cardiovascular system can handle propelling you to the top. Since oxygen is scarce at 14,000 feet, your lungs need to be in shape enough to deal with shallow, low-volume breaths.

Ensure you have a few snacks and water to give you an extra boost of energy during a short break alongside the trail, or even to eat while walking slowly, considering you will definitely need the sustenance. Just don't stop right in the middle of the trail for a breather in the way of everyone else.

Expect some snow and cold, even in the dead of summer. Gloves and an insulated jacket may be required toward the top, whether or not the sun is shining.

Check the difficulty of summiting each 14,000-foot peak before trying, because not all high-altitude journeys are equal.

Long's Peak, for instance, while attractive as the only fourteener in Rocky Mountain National Park and its looming outline visible from Boulder County, is one of the more difficult climbs, requiring some basic scrambling in places.

Try Mt. Bierstadt, just an hour and a half drive from Boulder, known for being one of the best peaks for first-timers.

No matter where you go and however you choose to celebrate at the top, just make sure to keep it clean — no beer cans left behind. Respect your fellow climbers and their journeys to take in the Colorado Rocky Mountains from on high and pack all your trash out.

Here are some of the closest 14,000-foot peaks to Boulder:

Mt. Bierstadt

Height: 14,060 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain: 2,850 feet

Length of route: 7 miles

Known for: a hike for fourteener virgins

Mt. Bierstadt is about a 90-minute drive from Boulder, up the winding Guanella Pass that starts in Georgetown.

Mt. Democrat, Lincoln, Bross, Cameron

Height: 14,155 feet, 14,293 feet, 14,178 feet and 14,286 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Elevation gain: 3,700 feet

Length of route: 7.25 miles

Known for: abandoned mines

Mt. Democrat, Lincoln, Bross and Cameron can all be climbed together. The trailhead, about two and a half hours from Boulder, can be reached by taking Colo. 9 to Alameda. At Kite Lake trailhead, it is easiest to access Mt. Democrat and, from there, hike to the other trails. This is an especially cool hike because you can climb four mountains in one day.

Long's Peak

Height: 14,255

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Elevation gain: 4,700 feet

Length of route: 14 miles

Known for: the thousands of people who turn around before they reach the summit, according to the National Park Service

While Long's Peak is one of the more difficult fourteeners to climb, it is the closest to Boulder. It is only an hour away from the city, in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is the only fourteener in this park, so it is quite popular, but it's not easy. The hike to Keyhole is straightforward, but beyond that, you will have to do some scrambling and route finding.

Sam Lounsberry: twitter.com/samlounz