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A view of the lake-dotted basin below Pacific Peak. Photo by Geoff Van Dyke

The Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Colorado’s Thirteeners

Centennial State fourteeners get all the glory, but Colorado’s 13,000-foot mountains are just as beautiful—and far less crowded.

If you live along the Front Range, you’ve likely at least considered trekking up Mt. Bierstadt or Quandary Peak or Grays and Torreys peaks. Four of the state’s 58 fourteeners—or 14,000-plus-foot mountains—they are all short drives from Denver and aren’t terribly difficult to summit. They are also absolutely inundated with climbers, especially on summer and fall weekends. Instead of being, say, the 200th person to summit Bierstadt on any given day, you might consider—and we suggest you do—hiking one of the state’s more than 630 13,000-footers. They are no less beautiful, but they are less crowded, less trampled, and, in many cases, more adventurous. With so many to choose from, though, how should a novice peak-bagger get started? We climbed nine thirteeners around the state and brought back the beta you’ll need. Plus, we asked an expert mountain guide to give us the low-down on all things safety. All you have to do load up your daypack, lace up your boots, and start climbing.

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