Almost (but not!) blown off Mt. Lincoln

Earlier this week, Hans and I decided to shoot for Lincoln, despite the forecast for high winds (which has been the norm lately) and last year’s wind-related failure (despite the forecast for light winds that day). Carl joined the group a couple days ago, and YC came on as a last-minute addition. We met up at 4:30 to carpool, and were at Moose Creek by 6:30am. 15 minutes later and we were ready to go.

Only a few minutes in to the day, a tree jumped out in front of Carl and interfered with his skinning.

Somehow, I’ve always got my camera at the ready for such occasions. Since we were stopped (Carl to regain his balance, me to stop laughing), Carl helped by pointing out where we were going.

We moved quickly, gaining about 1,000′ per hour even on the flatter low-angle and rolling sections.

Not long after this point Carl went for his objective (Cameron) and the rest of us headed for Lincoln, with consideration for heading to Cameron should conditions be appropriate to do so. While Hans, YC, and myself were booting, Carl skinned to the top.

The winds weren’t terribly bad, with the exception of errant gusts strong enough to knock you down. At one point the wind was at our backs, and sped progress along for a few minutes. During one of the knockdown gusts, I dug a quick hand pit and found windslab on top of facets, closing out the only practical option for skiing over to Cameron. I was only a few minutes behind Carl to my respective summit, where the winds were remarkably gentle.

I was amazed at the calm-ish winds on top. It was fairly warm, with only a gentle breeze – although powerful gusts came in every few minutes, they were the exception rather than the rule. I looked down to check on YC and Hans, and found them nearing the top, but still being battered by the winds.

A minute or two later, YC was on top.

He was happy to make it and – maybe more importantly – be out of the wind.

We snapped a couple photos while waiting and looking around at route options, not too pleased with the snow conditions but happy to just be there.

Hans got closer, fully expecting misery on the summit.

One gust was so powerful it grabbed some dinner-plate sized chunks of snow and took them soaring, and I managed to grab a photo of them.

He made it, worked by the winds and happy to have gravity on his side for the rest of the day.

Once Hans made it we didn’t linger too long, as we could see clouds coming in fast from the southwest and didn’t want to tempt fate. I went first, dropping back in to the wind tunnel. YC was right behind.

Hans dropped, making a few tele turns (not captured) before the snow got more difficult.

A few turns later, he was caught in a small eddy which wrapped him in snow for a couple seconds – a pretty cool effect.

The skiing on 14ers is often unglamorous, and this day was no exception. To keep up quick downward progress, we slid along a drift of snow on a small roadcut for a while.

Eventually we hit gaps that necessitated removing your our snow-sliding devices – or if you’re Hans, walking slowly and carefully.

From here we watched Carl’s descent of Cameron, and he was back with us a few minutes later.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, we were back to the car. I love 14er days like this – early start, blazing to the summit (Carl and I made our summits in nearly three hours flat), leisurely hanging out on top for a bit, and then being back at the car in less than an hour. Despite being in no rush, we were enjoying pizza and beer at Woody’s in Golden by 2pm. That’s my kind of day.

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