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.
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.
Sunday was a long day; it wasn’t supposed to be. The plan was simple enough – a quick jaunt up Grays to get some exercise, but with plenty of time to get back to Denver for a CX team photo. We left from the highway at 5:45am (the road is drivable with 4WD, we did so for the extra miles) and were at the summer trailhead by 7.
I was browsing Vimeo yesterday and ran across what appears to be a full leaked version of Chris Davenport’s unreleased Ski the 14ers film. I had the opportunity to see the movie a while back and definitely recommend giving it a watch.
I’d hoped to do this last summer, but schedules just never worked out. Everything came together this past weekend though – no one was busy with other plans, good weather was in the forecast (save a bit of wind), and there was a mostly-full moon.
Originally, we were going to start pretty early in the morning and finish up mid-day. I half-jokingly suggested to Andrew that we just do it overnight, summit at sunrise, and finish up early. After thinking about it for a minute, the overnight plan made a lot of sense – not having to wake up at 2am is always nice, and we’d miss the hordes of mid-day hikers by being off the mountain before most of them even started.