In addition to Mount Sherman, a number of Fourteeners stand within a couple of hours of Denver. These include Mount Evans, near Idaho Springs, as well as Toreys Peak, Grays Peak and Mount Bierstadt, all near Georgetown, Colo. Any of them can be climbed in a day's outing.
But you must take precautions:
Don't try a 14'er until you have spent at least a couple of days in Colorado's high altitude. Your body needs all the time it can get to adjust to the more rarefied levels of oxygen.
*Start early. Colorado summer weather is quite predictable: With great regularity each afternoon, it turns stormy in the mountains. You will definitely want to be off the peak when it storms.
*Carry a small day pack with you and include two bottles of water, as well as some extra clothing: long pants, a wool sweater, a rain jacket. No matter how toasty warm you feel at 11,000 feet at 9 in the morning, you will be chilled at 14,000 at noon.
*Don't go alone. A friend is both inspirational when the going gets puffy and important to your safety should something unforeseen occur, like a twisted ankle.
*Time your climb for August or early September. This is the best period for a Colorado climb, as the snows of winter will have retreated to manageable patches.
*Know your route: One indispensable item is "A Climbing Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners," by Walter R. Borneman and Lyndon J. Lampert, published by Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, Colo. It provides route information and some history on each of the state's highest peaks. It can be purchased in stores like Denver's The Tattered Cover (one of America's grand bookstores) or at recreational equipment stores throughout the state.
If you have the book, you won't need to buy the U.S. Geological Survey maps of the local topography. But the maps are still handy. They sell for $2.50 to $4 each in recreational stores in Colorado, or check with USGS in the General Services Administration Building at 19th and F streets NW, 343-8073.
When you reach the top, relax, enjoy the view, have some lunch and sign the register found in a waterproof tube at the top of each 14'er.
For the less adventurous, two of Colorado's 14'ers have (you'll pardon the notion) roads to the top: Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs, and Mount Evans. In each case, the parking lot sits just a few yards below the summit, allowing you to drive to about 13,999 feet, then hike majestically over the final few yards to capture your very own 14'er.
It may be cheating, but the view is worth it.