Yesterday, I pushed my bike up and rode down Mt. Elbert with Andrew and Brian. Photos and words will be up in a day or two, but the video is ready now. If you’d like to watch the HD version (strongly recommended), click through to Vimeo’s website. Enjoy!
After last month’s unsuccessful attempt, Carl, Marc, Eric, Rob, and myself again made the painfully long drive to Lake City to give Uncompahgre another go; a photo posted by climbers who were up the weekend before showed that our one point of concern was no longer an issue. After much deliberation on the drive down, we got started up the road at 2:30am. Unfortunately, our nice smooth skintrack had been wrecked by snowshoers, requiring a bit more effort on the approach. A little over two hours later, we were back at the summer trailhead and took a break to regroup and eat. Before 6am we gained the climber’s-right side of the gully, climbing up the (now bare) spot we dropped in to it last time. This was the first indication of how much had melted since we were here last. I saw some runnels adjacent to our trail, but it was hard to tell the extent of them – later in the day, we saw that it was quite significant. We stopped here briefly before pushing on.
I don’t usually post anything for failed summit attempts, but I’m making another exception for this one. Some friends drove down to Lake City on Friday night, nine of us in all with myself, Marc, Baba, Carl, Eric, Rob, Rob, Fritz, and Sarah. After a couple hours of poor-quality sleep, we woke up for a 2:15am start. We knew going in that avalanche conditions were going to be a concern, and it was worse than expected.
We covered the four miles to the summer trailhead in about two and a half hours. The entire way, the snowpack was collapsing, whoomphing, and cracking. Given that, we had to make reroutes even while simply skinning up the road. As we gained more elevation, the failures became less frequent but more intense.
After an already-busy weekend in the mountains spent skiing 14ers, I decided I still needed to get exercise before the Independence Day heat hit. I once again was in bed early, and once again was up at 4:30 without the help of an alarm. Unfortunately, there were no new-to-me 14ers that were close enough to get to and back before going to celebrate with friends in the afternoon. On the other hand, the weather was going to be perfect for riding up Mt. Evans, something I’ve wanted to do for a few years now. I elected to start from Idaho Springs, some 6,700′ below the highpoint of the road, and was rolling by 6:45am.
After the previous day’s hike and descent of Huron Peak, I found myself at home trying to figure out what to do for the evening. Nothing sounded appealing – not watching a movie, going out, listening to music – except for going to bed. Being one to believe there’s usually a good reason behind it when all you want to do is sleep, I hit the sack early. I was planning on a relaxing day starting with sleeping in, but things didn’t really go according to plan.
My eyes popped open; I was wide awake . It was still dark and I looked over to the clock. 4:27. Before I’d gone to bed, I told myself – knowing that there was no way that it’d actually happen – if I woke up on my own really early, I’d go ski Grays. Knowing that I had plenty of time, I slowly went through my morning routine. Get dressed, deal with Scout, coffee, breakfast. I didn’t unpack my ski gear from the car the night before, figuring I’d be going up at least one more time for the long weekend, so all I needed to grab on my way out the door was a couple Snickers and some water. Continue reading
After Capitol a few weeks ago, I decided I was hanging up my skis for the year. It just made sense, at least from a timing standpoint – I needed to be at work the next couple weeks, I had the Walker/Konsella wedding to attend the following weekend, and an Ironman the weekend after that. And surely I would require weeks of recovery before I could think about getting back after it in the mountains, right? That, of course, was not intended to be a factual statement. Just a few days later I started going stir crazy, and started planning for the weekend. I had been talking to Kim about conditions on Grays, and we both had Huron in mind, and settled on Saturday.
I started hiking from the lower TH at 6am; Kim, worrying that I was already at the upper TH, had driven up there a few minutes prior (my car doesn’t have sufficient clearance). Two miles later I find her, getting ready to start on the way up.
Just a few short days ago, Marc, Carl, and I were joyously recovering at Fatbelly Burgers in Carbondale. We were there two weeks prior, but with a more somber mood. Maybe it’s because Carl punched a rabbit in the face, but I think the biggest change was that we had just skied Colorado’s hardest 14er, and didn’t have to go back and take our chances there with snow and the weather (unless of course, we want to for some crazy reason).
I know the biggest question you’ve all got – how in the world did Carl end up punching a rabbit in the face? Well, I’ll tell you. We left Golden mid-afternoon on Friday afternoon and made our way to Glenwood Springs for dinner. Dinner #1 was burritos; Marc and I picked up a set of sandwiches for dinner #2 at camp.
Shortly after 7pm, we were on our way in to the Maroon Bells Wilderness once again.
I’ve been trying to get a ski descent of Longs done for a while now. A few years ago an attempt was cut way short by logistical errors. In March of 2009, I made the summit but the mountain was bone dry above the top of the trough. A couple weeks ago it looked like conditions would shape up, but wintery conditions through May kept pushing off any attempts. I’ve been talking for over a month about trying to get Longs skied this year and putting out feelers, and a couple weeks ago got word that Kim was interested.
It’s not often that I’ll put up a post about an unsuccessful summit bid, but last Saturday was such an enjoyable and educational day in the mountains that I have to. It was an ambitious plan – drive from Denver, hike all the way in up East Maroon Creek to the base of Pyramid, climb it, and ski back, all in one continuous push. We were moving at 1:45am, covered the first few miles very quickly, and started running in to difficulties involving creek crossings and bushwhacking by 3.
I’d been hoping to tick this one off quite a bit earlier in the season, but the weather just hasn’t been cooperating (and by that, I mean it’s been snowing non-stop all spring). Along for the ride were Lauren (skiing her first 14er) and Scout (there for her third summit of Mt. Sherman). After an absurdly early wake-up call (11:30pm, pushed back from 10:30), we made the drive and were on-trail at 3:30am.