Discover the Most Dangerous Mountains in Colorado

© iStock.com/nick1803

Written by Kaleigh Moore

Updated: June 27, 2023

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Are you looking for an incredible adventure worth talking about for years? Then why not consider hiking the awe-inspiring mountains of Colorado? Before embarking on this quest, prepare adequately by packing all the necessary items. Bring enough food, water, and navigation tools. Also, don’t forget a first aid kit, toiletries, and safety items such as a flashlight, matchbox, and whistle for added convenience. Stock up on some invigorating, non-perishable snacks to maintain your energy levels throughout the trip. If you’re seeking an adrenaline-filled experience that will stay with you forever, why not take on the most dangerous mountains in Colorado? 

This infographic illustrates three of the most dangerous mountains in Colorado
These three mountains in Colorado are only for experienced hikers.

1. Capitol Peak

Capitol Peak is one of the deadliest mountains in Colorado because of its treacherous terrain. The mountain is located near Aspen in Colorado and stands 14,137 feet high. Capitol Peak is ranked as one of the most challenging mountains to climb because five climbers died on the mountain within six weeks in 2017.

If you plan to climb Capitol Peak, ensure you’re physically fit because it’s not a climb for mountaineering newbies.

Knife Edge is one of the scariest parts of the trail on Capitol Peak because it has numerous exposed edges and loose rocks. The exposure and steepness on both sides of the ridge make it challenging to ascend Capitol Peak because you risk dropping 1,000 feet below. You must practice outstanding balance and concentration with each step.

This trek could take 9 or 10 hours, but the breathtaking scenery from the summit will be worth every bit of sweat. It’s best to hike the mountain when there is little snow on the terrain, so plan your trip between July and September.

If you plan to climb Capitol Peak, ensure you’re physically fit because it’s not a climb for mountaineering newbies.

©iStock.com/nick1803

2. Longs Peak

Even the most skilled climbers shudder at the thought of Longs Peak Mountain. The 14,259-foot peak is nestled in the core of the Rocky Mountains near Estes Park in Colorado. The mountain’s terrain is made of uneven ground and pointy rocks that give it an unusual rugged and steep topography. Also, Longs Peak is known for its notorious hidden weather that changes quickly into a hail storm and deadly lightning, especially in the afternoons.

Longs Peak is among the most feared mountains of Colorado because of the number of lives it has claimed. The mountain had 64 fatalities from 1915 to 2017, whereby 70% of the deaths were a result of accidental falls. All the other casualties on the mountain were associated with hypothermia, dehydration, and exhaustion.

Although mountaineering Longs Peak is very risky, people seem to be driven by the adrenaline rush that comes from successfully trekking the mountain. The area is usually heavily trafficked because it receives more than 20,000 climbers annually. Between mid-July and September is the best time to venture to Longs Peak Mountain.

Trails

The main route of the mountain is called Keyhole and is 15 miles long around the hill. Hiking on Keyhole is a strenuous endeavor because the 5,000 feet ascent has a loose rocky terrain and frequent ice, which lead to dangerous drops.

The end of the Keyhole trail leads to a giant mountain bowl where early morning clouds collect in a heavenly, picturesque view. However, the area is so exposed to rocky terrain that the beautiful scene may be the last thing people see before they fall to their death.

However, if you make it past the area, the path will lead you to the Rocky gully, which consists of loose rocks and extends for 600 feet. Beyond the gorge, you’ll come across the Narrows, a cliffside traverse with uneven rocks. Practice extra care as you make your way across. 

Luckily, if you survive the Narrows, you’ll reach the friendlier trail known as the Homestretch. It’s a 300-foot climb to the peak, where you can finally bask in the glory and beauty of the mountain.

Even the most skilled climbers shudder at the thought of Longs Peak Mountain.

©iStock.com/tupungato

3. Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells are twin peaks with a south ridge and northeastern ridge route. They are nicknamed the “Death Bells” because of their loose, unstable rocks that are known to kill without warning. The stones on the mountain are made of mudstone, which is highly fragile, instead of granite or limestone.

The mudstones frequently break and fracture, putting them at high risk of falling on mountaineers. A total of 9 deaths occurred on the Maroon Bells from 2010 to 2017.

The North Maroon Peak stands at 14,014 feet, and its standard route is usually covered with snow or ice, which makes it difficult to follow the trail. The Southern ridge of the Maroon Bells is steeper and more strenuous, with narrow valleys and deadly avalanche paths.

Nevertheless, the Maroon Bells are among the best legendary scenic attractions in the state because of the hundreds of selfies and pictures that people take on the twin peaks.

If you head 10 miles west towards Aspen, you will come across the Maroon Bells and their dazzling glacial lake that reflects the beauty of the mountains. Although the hike may be dangerous, you will discover hypnotizing wildflowers, golden gloves, and blue skies. We recommend visiting the Maroon Bells in spring, summer, or fall to enjoy mountaineering and scrambling.

If you head 10 miles west towards Aspen, you will come across the Maroon Bells and their dazzling glacial lake that reflects the beauty of the mountains.

©iStock.com/SeanXu

Common Hiking Dangers

Even though hiking is both pleasant and thrilling, it can rapidly become dangerous if you aren’t fully equipped to handle a crisis. Here are some risks you can run across while hiking Colorado’s mountains.

Losing Direction

A surprisingly large number of people usually lose their direction when trekking on a mountain. If you lose your way, try to remember landmarks on your route. Did you come across any funny-looking features on the mountain that caught your glance during the hike? Did anyone take selfies that can help you retrace your steps? We advise that you stay put until you devise a sensible plan for finding your way back.

If you seem to be going around in circles, try taking the opposite direction to find where you may have initially lost track. This is why we always recommend always carrying your compass with you. Never hike a mountain without essential navigation gadgets and items like GPS, compass, and map.

While relying on your phone for directions is okay, remember that sometimes technology fails. For example, what if your phone dies while you’re lost? A map and a compass would help you easily find your way around the mountain in such a situation.

Imagine that you somehow manage to lose sight of your group. If you ever find yourself alone and lost in such a scenario, try to retreat using the path that leads down the mountain. If there is a stream or drainage nearby, follow it. It will likely lead to a trail or a road. However, if it’s already dark, we recommend finding shelter first, then trying to find your way at sunrise.

Moreover, always send your location to someone you trust while on the hiking trail and always update them about your safety. They can inform relevant parties immediately if things go wrong and they don’t hear from you.

Dehydration and Fatigue

Are you planning to take a long, daring hike on one of the most dangerous mountains in Colorado? Dehydration is the silent foe that you need to beware of. Severe dehydration during mountaineering can lead you to experience the following symptoms:

  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • Swelling of the brain

All the above symptoms could result in death.

The early signs that will indicate your body is losing its water at an alarming rate include:

  • Swollen tongue
  • Parched mouth
  • Feeling disoriented and dizzy
  • Heart beating excessively fast

Do you know you’re likely to get dehydrated while hiking? That’s because your body loses a lot of water through sweating and urinating. The effort you’d require to climb uphill during the outdoor quest wears out your body, resulting in sweating and exhaustion, which causes you to become dehydrated.

Therefore, hydrate properly before hiking by drinking at least 3 or 4 cups of In addition, water. We recommend carrying one or two bottles to ensure your body remains hydrated throughout your venture. Also, keep away from alcohol and caffeine drinks a few days and hours before your mountaineering quest because they increase fluid loss and will make you dehydrated faster.

Another healthy way to beat dehydration is to drink lots of water after hiking. During hiking, your body loses a lot of water, which suggests you may still experience dehydration later. Even if you don’t feel thirsty after the hike, make sure that you take enough water.

Hiking on a Trail - Hiking Boots

Even though hiking is both pleasant and thrilling, it can rapidly become dangerous if you aren’t fully equipped to handle a crisis.

©adriaticfoto/Shutterstock.com

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a condition whereby your body loses control over its temperature and can’t cool itself through sweating. If you become severely dehydrated while hiking, and most of your body is exposed there’s a high likelihood of developing heatstroke. Check your skin to see whether it’s clammy and pale if you start sweating excessively and notice a pounding headache coming on. If your skin appears whitish, find a shade immediately and take a lot of water to avoid getting heatstroke.

The best way to help you avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion while mountaineering is to plan your adventures early in the morning in the cool weather and avoid the scorching afternoon sun. Also, apply sunscreen to protect your body from the heat. Hats can also be useful because they shield your head from the scorching sun.

Many people think that wearing less clothing while hiking will help keep them cool in the sun. On the contrary, putting on a few clothes exposes a huge part of your body, hastening the onset of dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn. On the other hand, if you put on excess clothes, you will feel a lot of heat that will make it challenging for your body’s system to regulate its temperature. We recommend wearing light, comfortable clothing such as weightless pants and long-sleeved shirts. Another tip to keep in mind is to look for a UPF rating mark on clothes when shopping for new outfits for your hike.

Hypothermia

When your body loses heat uncontrollably, especially after ascending a cold mountain peak, you get hypothermia, a condition illness that triggers your body’s temperature to decrease. The following symptoms may suggest hypothermia risk:

  • Excessive shivering
  • Poor balance and coordination when moving
  • Inability to move or fold your fingers
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response mechanism

Hypothermia is a deadly medical condition to develop when you’re out exploring nature because it may lead you to unconsciousness and eventually death if you don’t get help on time.

What to Do in Case of Hypothermia

If you realize that someone in your hiking group is developing hypothermia, ensure that you first place them in a warm environment. Pitching a tent and changing into warm, dry clothes can help to fight the cold. If there is any food left, give it to the sick individual so that their metabolism can help increase their body temperature.

If it begins to rain, ensure that the sick person’s head, neck, and hands are shielded. Try your best to avoid moving about in the rain because it can cause hypothermia to progress to a riskier level.

If you have a blanket, use it to create temporary shelter from the rain or wind. Place your companion under the cover and ensure you put a barrier between them and the cold, wet ground. If you don’t have extra blankets, find as many decaying dry leaves and branches as you can under logs to create the barrier.

Now, you need to generate as much heat as possible so that you can transfer it to your freezing friend. Jump and skip several times to increase your body temperature. Then, hug your companion so that most of your skin comes into contact with theirs — no need for modesty when someone’s life is at risk.

If you can find some dry wood to make a fire, get to it. The warmth from the fire will help to keep your companion alive. Before you start on any hiking quest, always check the weather forecast first to avoid hiking in unfriendly weather.

Hiking on Colorado’s Dangerous Mountains

Are you ready to embark on an exciting outdoor adventure in the magnificent mountains of Colorado? Well, planning a successful hiking trip requires careful consideration of some important factors. You must take the type of trail and terrain into account. How steep, rough, or manageable is it going to be? And what will the distance cover look like? Not to mention the amount of sunlight you can expect during your journey.

All these and more should be considered to ensure an enjoyable experience. So grab your gear and hit the trails. Colorado awaits!


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