Today’s summit attempt, unfortunately, was one of failure. That’s not always a bad thing, though. I usually don’t write anything about failed climbs, but today is a little different. It was just one of those days.
First off, the (small) cast of characters. Carl:
After oversleeping by 40 minutes and incorrectly setting the coffee machine (good thing I cooked the bacon last night!), I scrambled and raced to meet Carl in Golden for the uneventful drive up to Montgomery Reservoir. We got started about 8:20, blazing our own way through some willows followed by steep trees. Yes, there’s a person in this photo.
Once we got in the trees, we found a sketchy snowpack. So sketchtowne, in fact, that I managed to trigger several large collapses, one of which visibly shook a tree. Fortunately we had stuck to lower-angle terrain, so there was no realistic chance of an avalanche. Looks like nothing steep for at least a couple more weeks.
As we worked through the trees, we noticed that the wind was substantially stronger than the 8-10mph forecasted. As evidence, I submit the following photograph:
Later in the day, there would be plumes 500 feet tall rising off the peaks, along with 200′ wide snownados working their way along the ridges. We remained unaware of the misery ahead, and so we pressed on. Being the highly-traveled route that it is, we worked our way higher, until we climbed a tree to keep moving.
We found a gully that would get us on our way towards the top, and took a break when I found a spot that seemed mysteriously protected from the wind, even though it was out in the open. I should’ve known better than to continue on from this point, as a sudden gust came up as we were sitting down that damn-near sent my pack down the hill. Nonetheless, upward and onward we went.
A while later, my favorite sun hat was blown off my head, down the mountain. Carl tried to catch it, to no avail. So if anyone finds a gray Outdoor Research sun bucket up in the middle of nowhere near Mt. Lincoln, shoot me a line. We fought the wind to 13,000′, and had to turn around. We probably could have made it, but it was absolutely miserable, and the sudden gusts reminded me of a 14ers.com poster’s story about being hit by a gust of wind, lifted up into the air, and slammed back down in an instant. After a little discussion, we decided it was time to go.
After skiing down a narrow gully for a couple minutes, I saw Carl down in the snow. I waited, and he got up and slowly skied down holding his poles in one hand. This day had claimed another piece of equipment.
The skiing from here back down to the reservoir was surprisingly great. I triggered another collapse at one point (a pretty big one), but again, terrain management kept things safe. Now, here are a few shots of Carl steezing it up with the treepole:
And my favorite shot from today:
Today could have gone better, but it was still fun. Sure, some gear was lost and broken, but we still had fun, and hopefully have the failure for the year behind us. A few pics from Carl coming tomorrow. Until next time!