Hikers make their way to the top of Capitol Peak, one of Colorado’s 54 14,000-foot peaks. Photo courtesy Colorado Fourteeners Initiative

Tackle one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks and you’ll get views that stretch for miles – plus a pretty fantastic sense of accomplishment.

But don’t head out unprepared.

Hikers can learn the basics about climbing Colorado’s 14-ers at a free session at 7 p.m. Wednesday at REI Gateway, 9901 North Capital of Texas Highway.

Lloyd Athearn, executive director of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, will speak Wednesday at REI Gateway. Photo courtesy Colorado Fourteeners Initiatvie

Lloyd Athearn, executive director of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a non-profit organization based in Golden, Colorado, that works to protect the state’s 54 peaks with an elevation of 14,000 feet or more, will talk about preparation, hiker safety and Leave No Trace practices to employ while hiking in the mountains. He’ll share advice about what it takes to get in shape to climb, what gear to bring, where to see the best wildflowers, when to hike for the best weather and how to take the best photographs once you’re there.

Crews from the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative work to improve trails on Colorado mountains. Photo courtesy Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.

It’s probably not as hard as you think. I’ve made it to the top of a handful of 14-ers, including Quandary, where I watched a guy snap on skis and leap off the snowy backside in the middle of the summer, and Mount Evans, where I pedaled a bike up a long, zig-zagging road and hoisted my bike over my head when I reached the top.

A few years ago I rode a bike to the top of Mount Evans. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

“You can fly to Denver, drive an hour into mountains and be within a few miles of four peaks over 14,000 feet,” says Brian Sargeant, development and communications coordinator for the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. “Then it takes three or four hours of hiking to get to top and into an environment you can’t see anywhere else in the country.”

Besides Quandary and Mount Evans, some of the most accessible 14-ers in Colorado are Mount Bierstadt and Pike’s Peak. “It’s a really great feeling to climb one of them,” Sargeant says.

The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative builds trails, restores eroded areas and provides community education about the peaks.

To register for Wednesday’s event, go here.

For more information about the Colorado Fourteener Initiative, go here.