Colorado’s famous fourteeners. A veritable right of passage consisting of 54 peaks, more than 140 routes and incredible 360 degree vistas.
This summer, three Colorado adventurers set out to conquer 13 of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks in a project called 13-14-15, raising money and awareness for the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Leave No Trace, and Women’s Wilderness Institute.
13-14-15 is about capturing the heart of adventuring, of getting up, getting out there and going. It is a project that salutes the weekend warriors and values the stunning natural environments Colorado has gifted its residents.
Sierra Voss, Kate Curtis and Elana Rabin are the three women behind 13-14-15. Here is a dispatch from their journey. You can catch updates on the Helly Hansen site, or by following 13-14-15 on Facebook and Instagram.
Three Peaks in One Day, Hey!
By Elana Rabin
Alright, we were ready this time. Lessons had been learned and we were ready to start checking peaks off the list. We came to the realization that, due to Colorado’s crazy weather this season, our predicted timeline to crush 14ers was incredibly tightened. Pretty much from this weekend on we would be hiking 3-4 peaks a weekend.
This weekend we planned to summit Mt. Democrat, Lincoln and Bross in one day. We set off Friday around 4pm to start our search for a camp spot. Hopes were high as we were not facing a national holiday this time around. We were about 20 minutes out from Sliverthorn when Kate’s car started making quite possibly the most concerning noise I had ever heard a car make. It was as if little Subi wanted to turn into a helicopter. Kate just starting laughing… we would run into another problem trying to get to a flippin’ camp site. The sound got worse and worse as we pulled into an Autozone parking lot.
We walked in and tired our best to describe a noise that made no sense at all to the gentleman at the counter. Turns out, Autozone employees can’t actually come outside and look at your car. But lucky for us we met Adam. He told us if we waited until he got off his shift he would check out the car for us. This was honestly the best option we had as every other car mechanic had already closed up shop for the night.
So, we waited and sure enough, Adam popped up around 8:30pm to check out little Subi. We took her for a little ride around the block so he could investigate the noise. We did some tight circles and took her up to 60 mph. He concluded that something something something something was wearing down and that we could probably make it to the camp site and back down to Boulder without seriously ruining her car. I always black out whenever someone is telling me something regarding a car problem that would cost over 200 dollars to fix.
We decided to take her on one more stretch at 60 mph to see how bad it would sound at high speeds. All of a sudden, a huge mud rock the size of my face went flying out from under Kate’s car. Turns out our previous weekend of driving down dirt roads to get to our float trip destination had stuck to the wheel of Kate’s car. Sometimes cars just can’t keep up with the 13-14-15 crew’s crusher mentality.
Great news. The car was fine and we were ready to charge forward to Alma, Colorado to find our camping spot. As if it were going to be that easy. We arrived in Alma and realized, yet again, that our low clearance car would not make it up the road to the trail head. We began our search to the closest campsite.
It was getting late. But actually it was really late, 11 p.m. to be exact and we starting calculating how many hours we would be sleeping. Nooo, four hours sounded like ample time to allow our bodies to rest before hiking 12 miles and gaining 4,000 feet. La La La, we drove on. By the time we reached the site it was already 12 a.m. and we were faced with yet another road block. A legit road block. Before us lay a mini lake right directly in front of the camping spots. Little Subi was crying inside. We backed out of the site and hoped we would find space on the side of the road to lay down and rest for as long as we could. Luckily, we found a mini field of flat ground. Only problem was it was already taken by a couple and their badass trailer. I had a feeling they were born to crush so I head over to them to ask if we could set up our tent for literally four hours and then leave. They told us to go for it and we hurriedly started to set up camp. We were just laying down and letting sleep over come us when some crazy person decided at 1 a.m. to drive up on our already over crowed site. They were all up in our shiz shining their bright car lights in our eyes and as they started to set up their tent. Did I mention that it was 1 a.m. at this point? Ughhhhh looks like three hours was all we were getting.
3 a.m. rolled around and we were up and ready to get on the trail. We made it to the trail head at 4, along with about one million other people. But seriously, Colorado people are badasses. We began our normal routine of making breakfast and packing our bags. My favorite part is hopping back in the car for 10 minutes of warmth, butt warmers, and hot delicious Purely Elizabeth granola.
We looked up at the trail and saw a bunch of head lamps but they didn’t seem to be moving. I was super confused why people were just standing on the trail. Well, turns out the trail was steep as shit and they were moving just really, really slow. By the time we starting gaining some serious elevation, we were entering into golden hour lighting and it was stunning. No words can really capture the feeling you have when you are hiking up a mountain with the sun.
We decided to hike Mt. Democrat first, which was a blast. It was exciting to see so many people getting outside and going. We had great conversations with people all along the way. We took a photo on top of our first peak and headed down and back up again to Mt Cameron.
Here comes the marketing plug for the piece. Dear everyone in the world: Mt Cameron wants to be a real 14er peak, too! She stands 14,000 plus feet tall. She is of equal beauty and height as all the surrounding peaks but has somehow become slighted by the adventure community. Yes, yes her peak is flat but sometimes ladies have no control over that. The approach from Democrat to Cameron was triple as hard then that from Cameron to Lincoln or Lincoln to Bross. So where is the love? Our team felt the suffering of this grand peak and decided we wanted to start a little crew of support for her and her journey to gaining recognition as a 14er. Cameron, go and get them… you will always be a 14er in our eyes.
Lincoln and Bross were great, too, but Cameron truly stuck in our team hearts and minds. I mean, Bross had a way flatter peak and our experience going down her was legit awful. It was extremely rugged and hard to navigate. We just couldn’t seem to get our poles in the ground.
Clouds started to form and before we knew it, we were getting rained and hailed on. Epic weather timing this round, team! It felt good to know that had we even been 30 minutes later we may have been stuck in a not so great situation.
It is mildly concerning how little respect humans have for nature in regards to weather. I was shocked to see people starting their hike in the rain up the peaks at 1 p.m. Party people! I know you love to crush, but lightening is a real, real thing and it doesn’t need to be raining. I mean, seriously, you are standing at 14,000 feet basically feet away from the clouds… where lightening is created. Like how convenient for the lightening; it is just looking down from the clouds like, yes these silly little humans have made my electrifying career one million times easier for me. But really just that day we found out three people had been struck by lightening on top of Mt. Yale and it is with great sadness we have to say that one of the campers did not make it after they were struck.
Any-who, four 14ers down, yip yip (for all intensive purposes we are not counting Cameron as one of our 14ers until we reach 13 peaks and then we will count her as number 14 because she is the best and deserves the largest number of the bunch).
All in all, it was an amazing day. It felt great to get some peaks under our belts as our struggle with Colorado weather this summer continued. We packed up and began discussing our plans to hike Grays and Torreys the next day.
Long story short, we woke up at 3 a.m. the next morning to crush some more peaks and were faced with the black storm clouds of death around 10 a.m. about 45 minutes from our first summit. It was brutal but we don’t mess around. In all honesty we may have been able to hike at least one summit but the chances were just not something we were going to risk. The mountain will always be there..will you?
For updates on the 14-14-15 journey, check the Helly Hansen site in the coming weeks.