How to Prepare for a Successful 14er Climb

CrossFit Vantage is not just about what happens in the Gym.  We love to use our fitness outside and take advantage of all the beauty in our state. A few of our members are avid hikers and spend each summer conquering as many as they can.  We’ve asked two of them to share some of their tips so that this weekend when we head to Mt. Bierstadt we will be prepared and have an amazing experience.  In this post Anna Arenz shares some of her most important tips for a successful climb.

When preparing to climb a 14er it is important to take the time to prepare food, water, and clothing.  In order for it to be a successful climb and reach the top there are just a few things you should do.

First thing first, food and water.  Personally, I believe water is very valuable and you can never pack too much.  Normally I have at least 2 32 ounce bottles full of water or a camelbak with a water bladder.  As far as food goes, there’s a wide variety of acceptable snacks for 14ers.  Since Bierstadt is going to be a shorter trip, it will be easier to plan for.  Good choices for food are things like granola bars or trail mixes, fruit (I prefer apples because bananas get too bruised for my taste), and jerky would work.  These are great and tasty options to start with, but you are not limited to them.  I have also been known to take up fruit-by-the-foot and fruit roll-ups too.  Climbing a 14er can be demanding on your body and it is important to give your body enough fuel to function properly.

Next, we can discuss the importance of your wardrobe.  I know I have an elaborate fashion sense, but there are a few key tips I have to dressing appropriately for 14ers.  For footwear you want a shoe with good tread  and that are comfortable to walk in for several miles especially since you will be walking up and down a mountain.  Also, socks are just as important.  At Bierstadt the base of the mountain is in marshland, but there are bridges you can use to avoid getting your feet wet.  Thicker sock will help keep your feet dry and warm, wool socks are ideal, but not necessary.  I like to have capris with tall socks or pants because I get cold easily.  Some people are able to comfortably climb in shorts; so that is up to each individual.  For top options, I am a huge fan of layers.  I normally have 3 layers, tank top, long sleeve shirt, and a light jacket/ rain jacket.  When climbing a 14er you normally start early in the morning when it is cool out so it’s nice to have the jacket handy.  As you ascend and the sun warms the mountainside you will heat up and layers will help to be able to adjust for that.  Once you are at the top of the mountain you never know what it will feel like.  I have be on peaks that are warm with a slight breeze, I have experienced peaks that have a strong wind that can be chilly, and I have been on top of mountains with snow in the middle of summer and I am absolutely freezing.


There is more to climbing a 14er than putting one foot in front of the other.  It can take a lot of someone to get up to the top and it is important to remember that it may take some longer than others.  Personally, I like to have a slower pace because climbing a 14r isn’t a race.  It’s perfectly fine to take multiple breaks or rest for awhile when working up the mountain.  Bierstadt is a fairly easy peak that shouldn’t be too demanding, but if you start to feel dizzy, light headed, or nauseous please stop and rest.  I personally have experienced mild to severe altitude sickness.  Slight altitude sickness will be subtle and can be managed with rest and water breaks.  If you start to have moderate to severe it is important to take a longer break or even head down off the mountain.

Mt. Bierstadt is a fun little 14er that has a nice dirt trail most of the way up to the peak.  Although the last 100 meters or so there are largish boulders that require light scrambling (climbing with you hands and feet).  Some people are able to walk upright, but you will just want to be careful with where you put your foot.  Once you are at the top there may or may not be a sign that says “Mt. Bierstadt”.  Some people bring signs up, some people are willing to share their sign, but whatever you bring up you should bring down.  People would are dedicated to climbing 14ers and try to preserve their beauty appreciate it when people are responsible and clean up after themselves.

If you hear thunder, turn around and head down off the mountain.  


Good luck and enjoy yourself.

Anna Arenz



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