by Chris Nation
Why climb 14ers? Where do I begin?
First, it’s a great reason to get out and explore the many beautiful places we have in Colorado. Whether you’re a recent arrival or have lived along the Front Range for decades, climbing 14ers can serve as a road map to visit areas you might not have gotten around to yet. Rocky Mountain National Park, the Roaring Fork and San Luis Valleys, the San Juans and the Sawatch are only a few of the scenic backdrops awaiting those who climb 14ers.
Climbing mountains is also good for you! Even the easiest routes make an excellent leg and cardio training session, but the benefits go far beyond physical exercise. Accomplishing a lofty goal in a stunningly beautiful natural environment can do wonders for your mental, emotional, or spiritual well-being. The occasional brush with bad weather, hazardous conditions, or your own personal limitations can teach valuable life lessons as well.
I could go on and on, but to keep this somewhat brief I’ll conclude by saying that you’re never really finished with 14ers once you start. Even after bagging all 58 peaks, there is still a lifetime of outdoor recreation left to enjoy among Colorado’s high peaks. Why not keep the checklist going and climb the top 100 or more peaks? 13ers are at least as challenging as 14ers, and often way less crowded! Maybe you can return with friends and family to some of your most memorable summits, or try a tough scramble, or rope up with a trusted partner for an alpine climb instead of the popular standard routes. It’s often worth repeating a peak in a different season to experience picturesque fall foliage or a hair-raising spring snow climb. And if you’re into skiing, splitboarding, fishing, foraging, backpacking, birding, painting, photography, or (fill in the blank), there’s no better venue than a nice big mountain for pursuing your favorite hobbies while continuing to inspire new ones.