Boulder Hiking – 10/14/05

Originally written 10/16/08

That’s right, nothing really high up there. In fact, the highest I got today was around 8500′ – not even enough to get you breathing hard.

Here’s where I went (started on the top route):

I did Green Mountain, South Boulder Peak (highest point in Boulder), and

Total distance was about 10.2 miles, if I added up the lengths correctly, and car-car time was about 5:15.

Total supplies needed was 3 liters of water, 2 clif bars, and no shirt.

I have this view:

no more than 2 minutes from home. In fact, time from home -> trailhead was 10 minutes of driving.

Fairly early on in the hike I came to this:

That’s right, mid 70s out, I’m in shorts + no shirt hiking and sweating, going through snow. I love this place.

Although it’s only the 2nd highest spot, Bear Peak has the best view:

I realized I was going to run out of water on my hike by the time I hit Green Mountain, when I wasn’t even half done and had 3 hours left, so I was rationing my water pretty hard. About a mile from the car, I ran out. Not sure how this happened, I used about the same amount of water for this as I did on Long’s Peak.


Torreys Peak – 10/08/05

Originally written 10/08/05

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Today I went after Grays and Torreys Peaks. Hit the trailhead about 10:10am. The normal route up is basically a class 1 the entire way. I had planned on just doing that, although had the idea of taking the non-tourist way up in the back of my mind. That alternate route goes up kelso ridge, which is a big ridge connecting Torreys from a mountain called Kelso. Everything I read described it as a class 3 route.

Here’s the start of the ridge, at the bottom of the saddle between them:

Here’s a little bit up the ridge – a very little bit. If you look carefully in the middle, you can see a guy or two. There were 6 or 7 of them going up Kelso Ridge for a bachelor’s party thing.

They had NO idea what they were getting themselves into. For that matter, neither did I. However, they were going ridiculously slow – move for a minute, sit for 5. I wouldn’t be surprised if they need a helicopter rescue sometime tonight.

A while after I left them, I saw this:

As you may be able to tell, it’s a mountain goat. Fatigue/exhaustion and altitude, on their own, can both affect judgement and perception. Together, they are even worse. When I saw two white fuzzballs moving out of the corner of my eye, something popped into my head. “Oh my god, polar bears, they’re going to eat me.” Yep.

There was a lot of very loose, very steep, and very dangerous climbing. This went on for a couple miles. That was nothing though. This was waiting for me at the top:

That’s taken right after crossing it. You go on the left side, jamming your hands into cracks in the wall as hard as you can. If you don’t, there’s a couple hundred feet of air right underneath you. Clearly, it would have been safer to turn back, but that wasn’t really an option. About 10 minutes into the route, you’re essentially committed to going to the top, because you have a 20′ near-vertical wall to scale.

Very shortly after this, you’re at the top – 14,267′. It’s gorgeous from up there.

Of course, no time for much rest, it was 1:45 after I drank water, ate food, and otherwise caught my breath, and I still had another 14er to bag.

Fortunately, there’s only about 500′ of vertical drop and then you go back up, and I was up on Greys in about 45 minutes. The view was unbelievable.

Me with godawful hair on top of Greys, with Torreys in the background:

It had been a long, long hike and I was ready to go home. On the way down, I took this picture of the top 1/3-1/2 of the ridge I had gone up:

said that was class 3 needs a kick in the head. It was a 4, with some possibly low-5 sections.

My knees hurt, again. I’m exhausted. Next week: maybe nothing, maybe Pikes Peak (26mi round trip, about a mile and a half vertical gain).

Mt. Bierstadt, 10/01/05

Originally posted 10/01/05

Early this morning I set off to an attempt at two 14ers at once. Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt are very close to each other, and can easily be done together. To do this, you hike up to the top of Bierstadt (class 2 hike, about 3 miles to the top), then cross the sawtooth (Bierstadt is the peak on the right, sawtooth is class 3 climbing):

After you cross the sawtooth, it’s mostly easy stuff from there – head east a mile or two, regain some elevation, and you’re there. Then come back and take an easier and shorter way down, bushwhack through a giant willow field, and you’re home.

I got in the car about 3:40, and headed off to Georgetown, CO. Uneventful drive so far. Once you get into Georgetown, you head up Guanella pass. I don’t have any pictures of it, but to say that the road is in godawful condition is putting it lightly. There are frequent 1′ deep, 3′ diameter potholes. Some bigger, some smaller, but LOTS of them. Apparently they realized this is a problem and decided to shred the road and have been doing “construction” for a couple years now. Still no new pavement, just shitty old potholey road, and dirt. Dirt with gigantic potholes. After 12 miles of that, I got to the parking lot.

Left the trailhead at 5:30, and when I was nearing the summit, my knee started hurting. Not sure why – I didn’t twist it or anything. It hurt a little yesterday but I shrugged it off as not-a-problem. I pushed on to the top anyway. No register that I saw, but I did find the USGS marker:

My knee kept hurting more, so I sat down, ate some food, drank some water, and took some ibuprofin. I looked over to the sawtooth, but didn’t think to get a picture of it from that perspective. “Discretion is the better part of valor” popped into my mind, and I almost immediately knew I wasn’t going to be crossing over today. It wasn’t worth possibly being stuck or falling off the mountain and dying (there are pretty major drops off both sides) to risk it, so I sat back for a few minutes, took in the scenery, and took some pictures:

A real, genuine lens flare, not added in PS:

The Mt. Evans ranger station is the little verticle spike a little left-of-center in the picture.

Here to the west you see Grey’s and Torries peaks (the double one with the saddle). Those are pretty easy, although there’s a more difficult (fun) way to go up that I will possibly be attempting in the next few weeks, depending on weather, school, work, etc.

Looking south, you can see Pikes Peak. That’s down by CO Springs and involves a 26 mile hike round-trip, so I may be doing that one the next time I go visit my parents, which is another 2 hours south of CO springs (go down one day, hike it, sleep in the car, finish the trip – or just do it all at once, we’ll see).

I took a picture of Long’s Peak from the summit, but it’s really small and far away and hard to see.

You may have wondered why my finger was in the picture of the sawtooth up above. Well, this is why:

When I got back to the bottom, my knee was feeling better, so I decided to go bushwhacking in the willows and head over towards the hike up evans. As I was heading over to get up the much easier, not-sawtooth way, I realized I didn’t have enough water left to do it. Apparently I had forgotten to take the camelbak bladder out of the bag when I filled it, which cut its volume by at least 1/2. At this point, I had no choice but to turn around and head back to the car.

So only one successful summit today, and an easy one at that – only about 4 hours start to finish. As disappointed as I am, it’s better to still be alive. I’m sure I’ll end up doing Evans this winter with snowshoes, which will be nice since the snow gets up above the willow height. Those things are THICK and in many places up over 6′ tall. That’s going to be an 8 mile round-trip hike. Should be fun.

Next week: who the hell knows (if anything at all)
Week after: Possibly Pikes Peak, possibly something else.