Advice From the Trails

I love the fact that so many of our athletes are outdoor athletes.  Here is an article from our own Steven Spans about his experience and tips for climbing a fourteener.

When hiking your first 14er it’s important to remember it’s not a sprint, but rather a well thought out marathon.  You have to know when to expend the right amount of energy and remember when to breathe!

Just like CrossFit, it’s all about mind set. Having a positive mindset about accomplishing your goal will propel you further than you thought possible.

Another notion to keep in mind is that there are no easy 14ers. They do classify them differently as in class 1, 2, 3 etc. However, even class ones can be very taxing on your body.

Tips from the Top:

  • Study up on trail reports, Route descriptions and it’s not even a bad idea to call the surrounding ranger station for tips and the local weather reports. I even take screenshots of pictures from a very useful site  called, for what physical cues to look out for on the trail and reference them when needed.
  • You want to hit the trailhead of Most 14ers  around 5 AM – 6AM because you want to summit before noon. It’s common knowledge that being at the summit or around the summit after noon is dangerous because of all the storms that roll in around then. You are more exposed at that point.
  • I always suggest to NOT WOD The day before. Even if you go “light”your body has still used energy that it may need the next day. Mobility is always a good idea.
  • When starting on the trail remember you will be starting out at a higher altitude than you are used to and you WILL be breathing heavy. Hang in there! You WILL acclimate.
  • When I rest, I try not to sit down. You tend to get complacent if you sit too long and your drive to climb suffers. My breaks on the way up typically range from 30 seconds to at most five minutes. I rest more on the way down because I get to take it all in, stress free of continuing my climb uphill.

Things to bring:

  • Comfortable, somewhat broken in hiking shoes not gym shoes!
  • I usually bring 2-3 liters of water. A little bit of Gatorade for electrolytes. Food of your preference but something with some carbs is always useful. A lunch for the summit. Something that is able to stay packed in your bag for quite a while. A good fruit that I like to bring is grapes, you can keep them in your front pocket and munch as you go. Most fruits are a good extra source of hydration and natural sugars!
  • Rain gear! It’s always important to be prepared for the elements. Also, just a jacket for when it gets colder at the top and windy. Gloves.
  • A rain cover for your backpack. Good hiking socks, extra socks, shorts and or pants and shirt. Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Toilet paper and a backpacking shovel! ( we all do it! )
  • Camera

Summit Fever:

  • When climbing a 14er, getting closer, and closer to the summit is a very motivating factor. However, it is important to note the elements at this point. Look at the clouds. Are they moving fast or slow, do you hear thunder, have you seen lightning? If you see anything that looks threatening where you cannot make it back down to Treeline safely after summiting, it’s time to head back! It’s hard when pride sets in and “summit fever” hits, but just remember the mountain will always be there and there are other days to accomplish your goals more safely.

Have Fun:

Lastly, remember to have fun. Be humbled by your surroundings and take it all in. We are all fortunate enough to be physically able to do something that most people either don’t have the nerve to attempt or simply cannot. Even if you don’t get to the top you have at least took a step In a direction worth going and that is to at least try.

-Steven Spans


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