These are the 7 most difficult 14ers in Colorado

I would add Longs Peak to this list to make a list of 8. This article contains some good information, helpful links, and great photos.

These are the 7 most difficult 14ers in Colorado –

Four Essentials for Climbing Fourteeners

I stopped by REI to get some new gear for mountaineering, mostly climbing 12ers, 13ers, and 14ers in Colorado. It was time to update some of my standard gear for one-day climbs, so I thought I would share my purchases with my readers. I bought $250 worth of gear that all fit into one small paper bag. As I can afford to, I update and modernize my climbing gear. Mostly, I look for lighter, more efficient gear. Things cost more and weigh less. Everything that I bought today, combined, weighs less than my jeans did when I first started climbing. The linked PDF only shows the four items I purchased with information on the gear and prices. I’m not pushing this specific gear or a particular brand. This is what I thought was best for me and my budget. The generic descriptions of what I bought are 1) base layer top, 2) wind protection shell, 3) multifunctional headwear, and 4) carabiners.

New Gear for Mountaineering in 2017

Rocky Mountain Spring Water

While attempting to climb Argentine Peak in Colorado, I happened upon this stream flowing with the purest of pure natural water. It is the headwaters of South Clear Creek, which flows down into Clear Creek and through Golden. Golden is where the original Coors brewery is located. I’m not sure if they get their water directly from Clear Creek, but if they do, some of this water may end up in a can of their beer.

I didn’t start hiking until after 1:00 PM, normally a bad idea due to afternoon thunderstorms. I’m just not a morning person. I also knew that the weather pattern was stable with little chance of a thunderstorm. I didn’t really care if I made it to the 13,738 feet summit of Argentine Peak, I just wanted some natural high-country therapy. I made it up to about 13,150 feet, but it was close to 4:00 PM. It was a Sunday and I’m not as gung-ho as I used to be. Nowadays, I’m more concerned about being in the moment to fully experience the mountains. I had headlamps with me, but descending in the dark is still challenging. It is much harder when you can only see a few feet in front of you.

This part of Colorado had two heavy snowfalls in late May that made the snowpack incredible. I traversed across at least 10 snowfields and was happy to have an ice ax with me. A lot of the snow will survive the summer.

There were many hikers on the trail between the lakes, but nobody was around at the 12,000 feet plus elevation. I was elated. When I go to the mountains I want to experience nature by myself or with a friend. I live and work in the busy Front Range of Colorado, an area of nearly non-stop population growth and development. To renew myself mentally, I need to have an experience like this one on a regular basis. Once I’m on the trail hiking, I block out the stress and focus on “being” in the mountains.

I work as a stream restoration engineer, so I am particularly fascinated by streams, hydrology, snow, rainfall, and the physical forces at work. With streams, gravity is the primary force at work. On this hike, I took several photos showing the birthplace of South Clear Creek. There are many people who don’t know where or how a river starts. One day someone asked me what the origin of a river looks like. I may work that into a future presentation or article. I’m sure there are millions of people who have never seen natural water as clear as this stream water. I don’t recommend drinking water from streams, but I drank from this stream. It was flowing out from under a snowfield from within 50 feet of where I stopped. Even then, the water could have some undesirable additives from marmots.

I like standing on new high points, but it didn’t bother me to stop short of this summit. I knew I could have made it to the top of Argentine Peak, but then I would have been rushed on the way down. It felt great to hike back at a leisurely pace. I took a 30-minute rest stop by Silver Dollar Lake to let my socks dry out. My life had balance again.

Best wishes on your adventures in life.


Headwaters of South Clear Creek

Headwaters of South Clear Creek at an elevation of 12,500 feet. (June 25, 2017, TJ Burr)

Murray Lake and Snowpack

This photo shows Murray Lake (closest), Naylor Lake (lower), and Silver Dollar Lake (barely visible on right). The two high peaks in the distance are Mt. Evans and Beirstadt, both Fourteeners. (June 25, 2017, TJ Burr)

Backcountry skier rescued after avalanche

He was very lucky to survive. Fast reactions are so important. It is incredible how densely compacted avalanche snow is. Nearly impossible to dig with bare hands. People have died even with their heads above the snow.

Backcountry skier rescued after avalanche –

Fifteen Quick Hits of Wisdom

By TJ Burr, 1/5/2017

The following words of wisdom were culled from the top twenty in my notes on wisdom. I have kept a “living” list of wisdom for 35 years. I keep written lists and notes on every major topic that interests me so that I can keep the best information for each subject in one document. My notes on wisdom contain 161 pages, 62,700 words. These are words of wisdom that have been reinforced through my personal experiences.

  1. Communication is the most important skill in life. Learn how to be an effective communicator. Time spent learning how to communicate better is a great investment in something you will use throughout your life.
  2. Less is more. The more you have, the more complicated life is. Be content with simple things in life. Cherish the sunrise, sunset, mountains, food, shelter, clothing, family, and a smiling face. The credit for this advice goes to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, German-born Architect & Educator (1886-1969).
  3. Strive to be humble in your life. Know your limitations. Humility and wisdom are deeply linked in literature and philosophy. According to Kant, humility is an essential virtue.
  4. There are no guarantees in life. We cannot control the hand we are dealt, but we can decide how to play the hand. Remember that life is not fair.
  5. Every decision is a financial decision. However, some decisions must be made on higher principles than financial ones. Nearly every decision you make in life has a financial component, either for you or someone else. My dad used to say, “Every time you leave the house it costs you something.” He was right.
  6. Silence is often the best answer. Confucius once said, “The superior man is sparing in words.” In some situations, silence is difficult but necessary.
  7. If you aren’t to an appointment five minutes early, you’re late. I heard this from a good friend. Ever since then, I try to arrive at least five minutes early to an appointment. Just the difference in two different clocks could mean being late. My watch or phone may show 1:57 PM and the person I’m meeting with may have a clock that shows 2:02 PM, a five-minute difference. You do not want to be late for a job interview.
  8. Regardless of how careful you are with legal contracts, you still must TRUST the people you are doing business with. Learn a little about their character. The best contract in the world is worthless if both parties aren’t committed to making it work. People break contracts all the time. There are consequences to breaking contracts, but it still happens.
  9. The importance of having a positive attitude in life cannot be overexpressed. Attitude and being able to express enthusiasm is everything! I once had a supervisor tell me that he could teach a person a skill, but not how to have the right attitude. An employee with a good attitude is way more valuable than an employee with a certain skill.
  10. Use the power of forgiveness. If you forgive someone who made a mistake and is truly sorry, you will both be happier.
  11. Always leave a place better than you found it. This stems from camping etiquette of always leaving a campsite a little cleaner than you found it. If you make a mess, clean up your mess and more. This is similar to the concept of “paying it forward”.
  12. When visiting friends, always give them something as a token of appreciation for the visit. Don’t just go to someone’s house expecting them to provide everything you may use or consume while there. Take a token of your appreciation for being their guest.
  13. Give and love unconditionally. If you expect something in return, then you are giving for the wrong reasons.
  14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk. Playing it safe often leads to mediocre results.
  15. Follow the three Rs: Respect yourself; Respect others; and Responsibility for your actions.

There are many other words of advice from many sources. These are just a few that made the top of my list.

For more information about TJ Burr and his books, go to

Above the Clouds on Mt. Galbraith

One afternoon in October, near the end of my work day, I decided to climb Mt. Galbraith (7260 ft) on my way home. It was only a few miles out of my way on my regular commute route. I debated doing the climb because it was late in the afternoon with complete cloud cover – a gray day. Then, I thought about how good I would feel after doing the climb. Two weeks earlier, I climbed Huron Peak (14,003 ft). I wanted to maintain that level of fitness.

I started climbing at 5:06 PM with a cool temperature of 45-degrees Fahrenheit. Items in my small Camelbak hydration pack included a pullover, headlamp, knife, lightweight gloves, and a backup flashlight. There was a good chance it would be dark on the descent. Trail conditions were good. It is a narrow trail for hiking use only. There are a few places on the trail where a slip and fall could result in death. It is a steep mountain, especially on the north side. I’ve had to hike in the dark many times, but I don’t enjoy it. It is so much harder to see steps and rocks when hiking by the faint light of a headlamp.

I pushed myself hard vowing not to stop for rest until I made it to the top of the summit rock. After 10 minutes, I started sweating. Thoughts of the usual hazards cross my mind . . . hypothermia, injury, bears, mountain lions, getting lost in the dark, etc. But, mostly, I immersed myself in the moment enjoying the mountain environment. Hiking and climbing help me clear my thoughts. It renews my spirit.

For 15-20 minutes, I hiked in a thick fog (in the clouds). The higher I hiked, the thinner the clouds became. Then, I saw sunlight piercing through the clouds. Maybe I can get above the clouds to see the sunset from the top. I ascended through the blanket of clouds. The sky grew brighter.

The final part of the climb is off-trail. It was easy to get confused without being able to see more than about 100 feet. I navigate by landmarks, which were hidden by the fog. Even though I made this climb several times, I questioned whether I was going in the right direction. After I got above the clouds I knew that I was near the summit. It was amazing. The sun shined against a blue sky with everything below me blanketed by clouds. My time in the sun would be short because the sun was sinking fast.

I scrambled up a small rock outcrop that marked the top of Mt. Galbraith. Nobody else was there. It was a spiritual experience. Rays of sunshine formed a cross in the sky. I snapped several photographs at various angles using a Samsung Galaxy smart phone. Digital photography is incredible. Back when I was 12 years old, we used film cameras. You never knew what the photo would look like until you had the film developed. Sometimes it would be months or years until you developed the film because you wanted to use the full roll. In junior high school, I took a photography class where we developed the film ourselves in a dark room.

The sun sank behind the mountain horizon at 6:15 PM. After marveling in the glow of a beautiful sunset, it was time to start down. It was getting dark fast. The temperature had already dropped a few degrees. I had a headlamp with me but preferred to hike as far as possible without using it. Hiking by the limited light distorts obstacles and limits your vision. I prefer to let my eyes gradually adjust to the darkness until it gets too dark to see. I also had to descend back through the clouds. The trail is narrow, rocky, and steep in several locations – not a place to be stumbling around at. I jogged the smoother portions of the trail. There were rocky places that I had to use my hands for balance. My goal was to at least get back to the main trail before I had to use a headlamp.

During the last half mile, I was at the limits of my night vision. Yet, I made it back to the parking lot without using artificial light. I made the descent in 35 minutes. I felt rejuvenated from the experience and time on the mountain.


Sunset from Mt. Galbraith in Colorado, Oct 17, 2016, by TJ Burr

Hiker falls to his death on Longs Peak

I’m sad to learn of this tragic news. My thoughts and prayers to his family. He was on a precarious stretch of trail that is narrow, often icy, and with steep dropoffs. The climb to the summit is 15 miles roundtrip with vigorous hiking/climbing. After you get up through the “narrows”, you have to descend back across it while typically fatigued. Unless you know the route is free of snow and ice, you should take crampons with you. 

Earlier this year, a group of green berets were training on Longs Peak. They ran into trouble, some of them got altitude sickness, and they had to be rescued by helicopter. 
Greeley hiker falls 150 ft. to his death at RMNP –