After skiing the Needle on Friday, Marc was down to only four peaks left to finish his 14er project. Thanks to some photos posted a week prior, we were fairly confident that Belford and Oxford would be in shape for a descent. Early Saturday afternoon Marc sent a text to let me know he was going for it, and I agreed to join him despite still being fatigued from Friday.
It was an early drive down to Winfield, and we were moving along the trail by 5:30am. Worried that the trail would be dry for a few miles, we carried flip flops until we hit mostly-continuous snow and stashed them in a tree.
Marc had some trouble with a pole, but was able to retrieve it thanks to his incredibly useful whippet. Continue reading
Carl put together an outstanding video from the day, and it’s highly recommended viewing: Carl’s Crestone Needle video
He also posted a trip report over on 14ers.com: Carl’s 14ers.com TR
A few weeks later, more snow, and a fair amount of melting later and we were back, slogging up the snow-covered road to South Colony Lake at four in the morning. We came armed with ropes, slings, and plenty of gear this time, doing everything we could to ensure success.
A few years ago I saw reports of people skiing Mt. Bierstadt as a quick after-work outing, and decided that was how I had to do it. My Friday began with an alpine start – but at my desk, rather than in the mountains. A full day of work later and I was dashing up towards Guanella Pass, skinning from the winter closure a mile and a half below the top of the pass.
Going in to this climb, the five of us (Carl, Eric, Marc, Matt, and myself) were aware of a not-too-pleasant weather forecast. Winds were expected to be bad, and we only had a few hour window when it would be less-than-terrible up high. The flip side of this is that NOAA’s wind forecasts often turn out to be entirely wrong, so staying home because of a wind forecast is often a good way to miss a beautiful day in the mountains. This was not such a day.
Friday night, we drove up the road towards South Colony Lake as far as the snow would allow. What does a 4Runner look like with climbing, skiing, and car camping gear for four look like, you may ask? Like a tick about to pop.
A couple months ago, I briefly mentioned FITS Sock Co. after talking to them at SIA. I’ve been using their Ultra Light Ski sock exclusively since then, and have become a big fan.
For an “ultra light” sock, these look and feel relatively bulky – I assume because of the twisted pairs of wool they use, rather than weaving with single threads. This apparent bulk immediately disappeared, though, once I put my foot in to my too-narrow boots. There’ve been no signs of durability issues at all.
There are seven (seven!) patents on these socks between certain construction methods and the fit, and they all add up to one great sock. Most impressive to me was the sock staying up through entire days (thanks to the addition of nylon threads throughout the entire sock) in my low-cuff AT boots – my old standby, Smartwool Ultra Lights, would have sagged and bunched up from that. Best yet, the socks are made here right in the USA.
I was given these socks for free, but I wouldn’t hesitate to pay full retail for them.
I sometimes wonder why I do this to myself. Out of bed at 2am. Driving at 2:45. Hiking at 5:20. Questionable snow conditions. Horrible winds, well above the forecast. I managed to convince Nate to come, while Marc and Eric actually wanted to go. Sophie will follow me to the ends of the earth, though I wouldn’t have brought her had I expected the ground blizzard she put up with.
The snow has finally been falling in Colorado, which makes the dogs (particularly Sophie) happy. There’s not a whole lot to say about these photos, so I won’t. Enjoy.
I made it up to Aspen Highlands on Sunday, and had one of my better days in the past couple seasons. Brought along the big camera too, so here’s a few shots from the bowl.
Black Diamond is always one of my favorite stops at SIA. I had some concerns a couple years ago when they went public and started buying up other companies, starting with Gregory. More recently, they picked up Pieps, another company that fits in with their overall image and one that, with the arrival of their apparel line, could allow them to become a one-stop brand for everything you need to go in to the backcountry. Fortunately, they’ve retained the dedication to high-quality products and their new releases show that.
The Pieps DSP lives on for another year in its curent form factor, and is also refreshed with a new, more rounded case (with the same internals). The Vector was also on display; it’s on the market at long last, and is a rather complex piece of kit so I’ll save further comments until I actually have some time with it.
First up today, Arc’teryx. They were extremely tight-lipped about their forthcoming battery-powered airbag pack, so no news on that front. Maybe next year.
La Sportiva has a new 4-buckle AT boot, the lightest on the market, to be priced at only $599. I expect these to fly off the shelves next season.