James Dziezynski’s ‘Best Summit Hikes in Colorado’
Ryan Summerlin September 20, 2012
Don’t be confused; ‘Best Summit Hikes’ is not a book of Summit County hikes, it is a book of hikes that summit – or travel to the top of – mountain peaks in Colorado.Some are in Summit County and a handful summit 14ers – those 14,000-foot peaks of which there are 54 “official” ones in Colorado. But with peak elevations ranging from 8,144 to 4,433 feet, most bring peak baggers to the tops of less tall or lesser-known peaks. The book’s 50 hikes and 90 possible summits are organized by region, including a dozen or so in or near Summit County. All of Colorado’s major mountain ranges are included – the Sangre De Cristo, Gore, Sawatch, Indian Peaks and Maroon Bell wilderness areas, as well as the Grenadier, Medicine Bow and Outer San Juan peaks. Some of the most famous (Longs), toughest (Storm King) and most remote (Lone Cone) are covered. There are topographical maps and elevation change profiles with GPS waypoints for trail markers, used to describe hikes as well as outline additional hiking options like extra routes that form a loop instead of an out-and-back hike, or extra peaks to summit.The book includes detailed information on hiking time, difficulty, driving directions, routes, class, gear advice and crowd levels. Author James Dziezynski adds his opinions and personality into the descriptions while giving his first-hand impression of the hikes. In fact, the first edition was subtitled “An Opinionated Guide to 50+ Ascents of Classic and Little-Known Peaks from 8,144 to 14,433 Feet.”Sections like “Why Climb It?” and “Route Notes” include interesting points and hints for route finding or simply enjoying the hike.There’s a hike to the top of Mount Sniktau from Loveland Pass and some interesting facts about vistas from the spot, such as that of the unnamed peak backcountry fans refer to as Snoopy’s doghouse because it looks like Snoopy laying atop his home. Climbers call the same peak “the Citadel,” Dziezynski notes. In Park County, there’s a hike from the ruins of the mining town, Leavick, to the tops of Mount Sherman (13,748 feet), Gemini Peak (13,951 feet) and Dyer Peak (13,855 feet). Trails are rated by difficulty on a scale of 1-10 and include some Class 3+ rock scrambles too.Dziezynski, based in Boulder, is a mountaineer and explorer who has scaled more than 600 Colorado summits and climbed in Greenland, Antarctica, Central America and the Canadian Arctic. His work has appeared in Outside, Backpacker, National Geographic Adventure, Boulder Weekly, 5280 and Elevation Outdoors, among others.”Bag the peaks in ‘Best Summit Hikes in Colorado’ and you’ll climb the highest mountain in the state, visit the ruins of a town flattened by an avalanche, hunt for fossilized seashells more than two miles above sea level, enjoy countless scrambles [and] ridge walks and traverse through Colorado’s stunning alpine scenery,” the promo promises.”Best Summit Hikes in Colorado” (2012: 2nd ed., Wilderness Press) is ideal for anybody who likes playing king or queen of the mountain in the Colorado Rockies. The two-color book has a full color center section and costs $18.85; it is available at the Bookworm of Edwards plus online retailers.