Uncompahgre Peak: A Journey In Photos

Here’s a little fact about me: I love climbing mountains, especially Colorado’s fourteen-thousand-foot peaks. There’s just something so beautiful about putting one foot in front of the other until you are on top of a high mountain, where you can be one with the clouds and look down at every surrounding peak, lake, town, river, and stream.

Last weekend, my husband and I climbed our fifth Colorado fourteener of the summer, with the help of Gerry Roach’s Colorado’s Fourteeners, Third Edition: From Hikes to Climbs. Fulcrum’s guidebooks are part of what brought me to work for this company, and this guidebook is a great one. We found ourselves in awe at the top of Uncompahgre Peak, at 14, 309 feet. The volcanic rock, interesting geologic features, and sheer cliffs at the top made it one of the most interesting climbs I’ve ever done. I thought I’d share a few photos of our journey.

If you’re interested in tackling a Colorado fourteener or two, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this useful guide.

Colorado fourteener Uncompahgre Peak

Sunrise on Uncompahgre

Wildflowers, stream, and Uncompahgre Peak

Uncompahgre Wilderness

Meandering streams, Uncompahgre Wilderness

Happy pup

Uncompahgre Peak hiking

Awesome rock formations. Wetterhorn Peak in the distance.

Cautiously climbing up the loose rock at the top.

Top of Uncompahgre Peak, Colorado

Success!

Taking it all in from the peak of Uncompahgre.

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Weekend Reads

Happy Friday and happy Memorial Day weekend! Fulcrum is closing early today so that everyone can take off for weekend trips, BBQs, and Rockies baseball games. As for me, I am heading up to Snowmass for the weekend to go skiing. Yes, that’s right. Skiing. Because of the incredibly wet and snowy Spring that Colorado’s had, Aspen Mountain actually has a larger snow base now than back in January (71 inches compared to 38 inches!), and they’ve decided to open up for some Memorial weekend skiing fun. It may be more like waterskiing than actual skiing, but it should be fun regardless!

But aside from skiing and hiking this weekend, I will surely be relaxing as well. I’ve decided to bring two of Fulcrum’s titles with me, to get pumped for summer:

The third edition of Gerry Roach’s Colorado’s Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs (Fulcrum Publishing, 978-1-55591-746-3, $22.95). I’ve hiked a handful of fourteeners over the years, but my husband and I are feeling especially motivated to this year after our recent move to Denver from the Aspen/Snowmass area. We feel like we will need to compensate for the lack of daily hiking we were used to doing (when we lived in the mountains) with some fun weekend trips to hike some big mountains. Plus it will be a great way to explore new parts of Colorado and mountain ranges we are not as familiar with. We have our eye on Uncompahgre Peak, over in the San Juan mountain range near the mining town of Ouray. Uncompahgre is the sixth highest peak in Colorado, and has a very dramatic shape to it—almost cathedral-like. It is a striking peak and not known to be a very difficult hike as far as fourteeners go. This hike, and all of the 58 fourteeners in Colorado, can of course be found in Colorado’s Fourteeners.

For those looking for wonderful Colorado hikes with less hype, check out Gerry Roach’s Colorado’s Thirteeners: From 13,800 to 13,999 feet (Fulcrum Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-55591-419-6, $19.95). These are all fantastic hikes, and thirteeners often have fewer people on the trails, which can be a nice bonus when you are out in the wilderness. For more information on Gerry Roach and his classic hiking guidebooks, check out an interview he did with Outside Magazine online recently.

This weekend, I am also going to be flipping through Renee Wilkinson’s Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create (Fulcrum Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-55591-748-7, $26.95). This highly anticipated first book from the hip Portland local and founder of hipchickdigs.com, apopular blog dedicated to urban homesteading, is going to hopefully help me start planting my first herbs and veggies ever. We are thrilled to finally have a small (more like tiny) backyard with sun and a little room to grow some goodies. Being the excited novices that we are, my husband and I are looking to Modern Homestead to guide us towards getting the soil ready, picking the right veggies for our space, and making some wonderful, fresh food (and possibly canning) with our crops this summer.

Have a wonderful long weekend, and don’t forget to tune in to our blog on Tuesday, May 31, for an update from Dani and Katie on BEA 2011!

Colorado Fourteeners: Interview with a Climber

I’m a recent Colorado transplant, having spent the past three years in Boston. In my former cushy sea-level life, the only climbing I did was on the stairs out of the subway system, grappling with a cup of coffee in one hand and my iPod in the other, and dodging native wildlife such as the gray squirrel, the pigeon, and the New England sports fan. As both a Colorado and climbing newbie, I’m looking forward to my first mountain-state summer and to climbing some of those fourteeners that I’ve heard so much about.

This week I talked to Jeb Conner at Jax Mercantile in Lafayette, CO. We discussed the fourteeners, and he dished out some helpful advice for Padawan climbers looking to reach their first summit.

Tell me about yourself.

I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life, and my dad took me out on my first [fourteener] when I was eleven. You don’t think of mountains as something that change rapidly, but I feel like I’ve grown up with them and watched the routes change. It’s a living ecosystem up there, and nothing is permanent, even 14,000 feet of rock.

What advice would you give a novice climber who wants to tackle a fourteener?

Do your research before you climb.  Most of the climbs are walk-ups, with a little scrambling and light climbing. Summer climbs are a great opportunity for learning basic climbing skills, but mountains can be dangerous and deadly in the best conditions. Hike with a buddy, let someone know where you’re going and when you should be back, plan your route, and take proper supplies. Mountain weather can change on a dime, so better to have something and not need it…

What kind of gear and skills do I need to get started?

For the Class 1 routes, you won’t need to make a huge investment in gear. You would want to bring layered, non-cotton clothing, food and water packs, rain gear, a guidebook and a map, and a good, worn-in pair of hiking shoes.

As far as skills go, some new climbers like to join climbing clubs, so they’re always climbing with experienced climbers. The American Alpine Club is good for this and so is the Colorado Mountain Club.

Which peaks do you recommend for beginners?

I always recommend Torreys/Grays, Quandary, and Bierstadt for first-time climbers and for families with kids.

What’s your favorite fourteener?

Snowmass is a beautiful climb, and you can’t beat the scenic views. It’s unlike anything else in the world. I’ve climbed there in winter and summer, and it’s a personal favorite for me.

Readers, remember to enter to win the bible of fourteeners guides, the newly revised Colorado’s Fourteeners, by sending us your best fourteener or climbing story! Comment on this post, send your entry to our Facebook page, or tweet it to our Twitter account by February 24 to be entered in the drawing for the book!