Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Colorado Mountain Climbing

Colorado Mountain climbing can be a very dangerous undertaking. There are ways for almost anyone to climb a fourteener. On the other hand people have died from dehydration, altitude sickness, exposure and other problems at lower elevations.

The most important consideration is safety. This may sound like a broken record, but no recreational activity is worth dying over. The weather and conditions on top of a peak can change quickly, so every climber needs to be prepared to turn back if possible. Not scaling a peak does not ruin a Colorado vacation. Getting frostbite does. No serious mountain climber would attempt a summit in stormy weather. The best cure for altitude sickness is to get to lower elevations.

Colorado is a skiing mecca because of the numerous rocky mountain skiing areas. However back country skiing poses numerous dangers. Just like hiking, before going skiing always notify someone of where you will be and at what time you plan on returning. Colorado has more avalanche deaths than any other state, and experience does not make you invincible.

Some new hikers should take mountaineering classes. The Colorado Mountain Club offers such classes. At high altitudes physical conditioning is very important. Just because you think you are fit in Florida does not necessarily mean that your Colorado vacations to 14,000 feet will leave you in the same condition. Most climbs require several hours of climbing up.

Other safety precautions all new climbers on Colorado vacations should take include traveling with experienced climber with maps. Always plan out your day, with and early start and emergency contacts. Long hikes should start before sunrise. Most thunderstorms roll in in the afternoon, so if you can plan your decent before noon you will miss most of the weather.

The forest service offers information on all trail heads. Some are not accessible by car or during certain parts of the year. You need some sort of navigation equipment like a compass or GPS. Then know your route on a map and tell a friend. You should know your Colorado hiking route so well that on the first trip you recognize many landmarks. The forest service should also have information on avalanche dangers in the area.

Some of the gear you will need on a hiking trip include lots of water. A hat to block the sun. Gloves in case you have to climb up cold rocks. Read a hiking guide to see other important survival gear.

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