Fourteen 14ers Loved by Colorado
Colorado has more than 50 mountain peaks above 14,000 feet. These 14 are the most loved, appreciated, revered and feared.
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9. Mount Elbert | 14,433 feet – Sawatch Range
From the outskirts of Leadville, the highest town in the United States at 10,200 feet, two peaks completely fill the western horizon – Mount Massive (14,421 feet) and Mount Elbert, the highest peak in the entire 1,800 mile length of the Rocky Mountains. From the heights of Leadville, however, they don’t seem so high – what really strikes one is their impressive bulk.
Mount Elbert is a gentle giant, an unassuming peak in the long line of 14ers that stretch down the Sawatch Range in the Upper Arkansas River Valley. Besides the altitude, it’s not difficult to summit, and within reason, the whole healthy family can climb the highest peak in Colorado.
10. Longs Peak | 14,255 feet – Front Range
Like a sentinel over Colorado’s Front Range, Longs Peak rises 7,000 feet over the town of Estes Park and is the only 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park. Long before it became Longs Peak, Arapaho Indians called it and nearby Mount Meeker (13,911 feet) “Nesotaieux,” or “The Two Guides.” Arapahos say a native climbed the peak long ago and trapped eagles on the summit.
The east face of Longs Peak is known as the “Diamond,” an imposing 900-foot cliff face at 13,000 feet. “The Honeymoon is Over” remains the hardest route on the Diamond, established by Eric Doub in 1996, and not free-climbed until 2001 by Tommy Caldwell, both Colorado locals.
11. Mount of the Holy Cross | 14,005 feet – Sawatch Range
As gold miners descended upon the area around 1859, rumors went out about a mountain with a huge cross on the summit. Many claimed to have seen it, but its exact location remained a mystery until 1873, when the Hayden Survey set out to find and photograph the peak. After climbing nearby Notch Mountain, pioneer photographer William H. Jackson made his famous photograph of the cross on the northeast face of Holy Cross, near present day Red Cliff.
Before long, devotees came to pray at the base of the cross, which is 1,400 feet high and 750 feet across, made from a deep gully and horizontal shelf that fill with snow. As it melts, the water runs down near the Bowl of Tears, a brilliant blue lake below.
12. Capitol Peak | 14,130 feet – Elk Range
Listen to talk about Capitol Peak and you won’t hear about the beautiful lakes below the summit, or that it rises 7,000 feet over nearby Redstone, or climbers gushing over the beauty of the nearby Maroon Bells above Aspen.
You’ll only hear whisperings of the infamous “Knife Edge,” the crux of the easiest route up the peak, the northeast ridge. This is also the only nontechnical route to the summit. The Knife Edge inspires dread in acrophobic peak baggers because it is steep, exposed and it drops off hundreds of feet on both sides. Just scoot along the Knife Edge – most people do!