14er season: A beginner’s guide to climbing Colorado’s highest peaks

Jeff Golden, experienced hiker and Colorado Mountain Club marketing manager, breaks down mountain-climbing preparedness.

Starting out up Grays and Torreys peaks. (Photo: Gary Cure)
Starting out up Grays and Torreys peaks. (Photo: Gary Cure)

Hiking up to the tops of Colorado’s highest peaks — our 53 mountains that rise above 14,000 feet in elevation — is a right of passage for outdoorsy types and an integral item for many people’s Colorado-living checklist.

And while a relatively easy (emphasis on “relatively”) mountain like Bierstadt can be summited by tourists and families, none of these hikes are a joke. So, as we’re headed into 14er-climbing season — conditions up there are good June through August — let’s figure out how to plan a couple trips.

We talked to Jeff Golden, experienced hiker and Colorado Mountain Club marketing manager, about preparing to climb a 14er — especially if it’s your first. Here’s what you need to know, including suggestions for a few starter climbs.