On Top of the World

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Rose Fox, Feature Editor

Colorado leads the nation in having the most mountains that exceed 14,000 feet in elevation. For most Coloradoans, hiking 14’ers is a sort of requirement. Regardless of where in the state you live, there is always a 14’er close by.

Living in such a scenic state makes it hard for the locals to stay out of nature. Another bonus of having such a welcoming natural surrounding is that it encourages locals to stay active. “My family and I have been hiking 14’ers around Colorado since before I can remember,” said Jr. Livi Curmano.

For most Colorado natives, it has become a sort of competition to see who can climb the most mountains. Throughout the entire state there is 53 mountains surpassing 14,000 feet which makes the competition more interesting.

The names of each of these mountains are quite unique and can vary from common names like Mount Princeton to more abstract name such as Mount Sneffels or Uncompahgre Peak. Along with a unique name, each mountain has its own specific terrain ranging from steep and rocky, to an easy walk up.

Each person leaves the summit of a mountain with a personal experience. “Hiking a fourteener really taught me a lot about how much my body can endure both mentally and physically. It was super rewarding to summit,” said So. Catie Marqua who scaled Mt. Sneffels.

The mountains are always changing and regardless of how many times you may climb a peak, it will be different every time. Seasons really affect the appearance and difficulty of 14’ers due to barriers like snow, rain and heat. Depending on the time of day and year some peaks may not be climbed, while others easily could be.

“When I hiked Sneffels, the weather was constantly changing and over the course of the day the sky went from blue and sunny to dark and stormy,” said Marqua.

Of course the level of difficulty varies from peak to peak, and for those who require an easier hike can choose more basic peaks, rather than ones with areas of difficulty. The reality of the peaks is you are never actually gaining 14,000 feet in elevation, because the trail heads for most of the peaks are much higher than sea level.

Due to the elevation gain, it can be somewhat taxing on people from out of state. Even traveling to Durango at an elevation of 6,512 feet can be physically gruelling for tourists, let alone gaining another 8,000 feet.

“Huron peak was my favorite because we woke up at 2:00 in the morning and summited around 5:30 for the sunrise, which was spectacular,” said DHS alumni Jane Zuccolillo. If there is one thing that could improve the sheer beauty of looking over colorful land from the top of a peak, it is a Colorado sunrise.