Yes, fourteeners can be climbed year-round. People frequently make winter summits and even ski off the side of high-altitude ridgelines during the coldest months of the year. That being said, fourteener season is coming to a close for most.
With strong winds and high-altitude snow becoming more frequent as the state transitions into fall, many will be dissuaded from bagging those few final peaks on their summer bucket list.
Take Mount Massive, for example, the second-highest peak in the state. On Friday, there will be snow showers throughout the day, followed by a windy weekend with Sunday gusts likely to reach 55 miles per hour. Couple this with a temperature that’s likely below freezing and you’re in for a cold day.
Longs Peak will also have snow on Friday with 50 mile per hour gusts on Sunday.
Perhaps the most popular peak to hike in the state, Grays Peak will also see snow, freezing temperatures, and 45 mile per hour wind this weekend.
We might have a few calmer weekends still to come, but the verdict is still out on that one.
This piece isn’t being written to discourage you from hiking fourteeners throughout the rest of the year, its purpose is to encourage you to make sure that you know the current conditions and that you’re properly prepared prior to making the hike. Check summit forecast websites to know before you go. One of my favorite websites is Mountain-Forecast. They’ll give you a breakdown of wind and temperatures at various spots on peaks around the state that I’ve found to be fairly accurate during my 25ish summits.
Make sure you pack warm layers for the cold weather, along with traction devices for your feet and plenty of extra sustenance in the event that you get pinned down by strong wind or winter weather.
Remember, summiting a mountain is always optional, getting back to the car is not. If you gut is telling you to turn around, come back and summit a different day.
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