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.

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Mount Massive Ski Descent

We didn’t get an early start by any means yesterday. Jim and I decided on a 9am start from the Leadville Fish Hatchery, which meant I got to sleep in until 5am for a winter 14er climb and ski descent – unheard of! Granted it was two days after the DST changeover, but that’s still pretty late. On the drive out from Leadville I was able to scope out my line, and was pretty happy with what I saw. We made our final preparations in the parking lot, with Jim electing to go with nordic wax rather than skins for the approach. This didn’t work too well on the icy, spring-like morning snow. A few rewaxing sessions later, Jim threw on the skins and we were off.

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Skiing Mt. Yale

I’d been wanting to get out for a while. 18 ski days for the season before the end of December, and only 3 of them backcountry – and all on the hut trip. When I saw a vague photo from a condition report on 14ers.com that made it look like Yale went from the top, I started planning. The east face would no doubt have better snow, but from scaling a topo I immediately called it a no-go due to steepness. I decided to take my chances on the standard route up Denny Creek. Hans was going to come along, but couldn’t make it; fortunately, a sizable group from 14ers.com was going the same day. Continue reading

Hiking Huron

The weather has been extremely conducive to late-season hiking this year, with above average temperatures and a near-total lack of precipitation. With the weather on our side, Lauren and I continued on our quest to hike all of Colorado’s 14ers together yesterday morning with an ascent of Mt. Huron. After an early wake-up call at home, we pulled in to the parking lot shortly before 6:30, finding the 14ers.com “Gurlz Hike” about to get underway (though they were hiking La Plata Peak). The walk along the 4WD road to the trailhead was quick enough, and offered beautiful views of the surrounding peaks under an early-morning alpenglow.

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Moon-lit, Midnight Hike of Torreys and Grays

Lauren and I were planning on adding to our (admittedly short, at this point – 6/58 at the time of this writing) list of 14ers that we’ve done together this morning with a hike of Grays and Torreys. I’ve done this a few times before (4 summits of each, 3 times doing them as a combo), and they’re generally packed, easy, and uneventful in the summer and fall. The plan changed last night at about 9:45, when I was thinking about starting to prepare to get ready for bed; I knew I had to if we were going hiking early in the morning, but I really just wanted to stay up and have some coffee. Then it dawned on me – full moon, clear skies, and gentle winds were in the forecast. Why not go NOW? Continue reading

The Decalibron!

Sometimes schedules, weather, and motivation all align to make a trip happen, and yesterday was one of those days – exactly four years to the day after my first attempt at this route. The weather was still breezy, but far nicer, warmer, drier, and sunnier than last time.

Through a few conversations, Lauren and I decided it would be fun to try to hike, climb, or ski all the 14ers together. I’m going to have a few repeats (I was at 16/58 yesterday morning), but that’s alright – most of the repeats will be good ski descents, which I’m always up for.

Though the original plan was to camp up there, last minute schedule changes nixed that. Instead, we loaded up the car the night before. The next morning, I checked my phone and saw a comment from Lauren during a quick stop on the way to Kite Lake, and had to reply.

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Fast Times on Longs Peak

I would have posted this sooner, but things have been busy. I’ve also been dealing with the loss of a friend, who died while skiing alone in RMNP this past weekend.

Last Friday night, I went to bed extremely early, planning to get up around 11pm. Instead, I was up at 9pm, unable to sleep any longer. I was getting ready for my annual Longs hike, with a much larger group than normal this time – Nate, Matt, Hans, Ryan, Alan, and myself. We all met up and drove to the trailhead, getting started on the hike shortly after 1:30am.

It was incredibly foggy down low, and the six of us had red headlamps, making for a fairly creepy train of hikers in the night. After our break at the bottom of the Boulder Field, we essentially broke in to two groups, the lead group being Nate, Matt, and myself. I started to slow in the Trough, while Nate and Matt, well-recovered but still trained from their race in May, powered on ahead. The four of us (I ran in to a guy named Caleb and we hiked up the rest of the way together) topped out about 5:30am, a good 15 minutes before sunrise.

It really was beautiful up there – moreso than usual, due to the undercast. Continue reading

A Long Day on Ellingwood and Blanca

After Culebra last Saturday, I thought the misery would be over for a while. It’s turning into spring, I thought. No more bitterly cold, painfully long, 11+ hour days for a while, I thought. We’ll have good, stable, easy to climb snow, I thought. And then this past Saturday happened. After driving for a few hours to the Lake Como road, and an hour of 4-wheeling (which included cutting branches and shoveling snow-drifts that were obstructing the road), we arrived at 10,100′ for a luxurious three and a half hours of sleep, my spot being the front passenger seat. It was not warm, and I was only able to be comfortably warm by wearing a puffy on top of my other clothes inside my 15 degree bag.

The 3:30 wake-up call was not a pleasant one. It was so cold that I abandoned my oatmeal plan, and just shoveled down a PB&J that I didn’t eat for dinner, and downed a bottled Starbucks thing that I grabbed at a gas station the night before. As tends to be the case, getting started in the morning was slow, and an hour later we were walking up the rocky road towards Lake Como.

Another hour and a half later, it was still bitterly cold, although it was finally starting to get light out. Shortly after crossing the lake, we saw a group of five or six approaching for Little Bear.

As seemed to be the case with everything this day, we took an approach line that, while beautiful, was certainly “interesting.” Continue reading

Ski Culebra

This trip got started a couple weeks ago when I got an urgent email from Carl about a date set for a climb of Culebra in a couple weeks; with spots likely to fill fast, I jumped on it. I’m glad that I did, because all 20 spots filled in about four hours. For those of you not familiar with Culebra, it’s the only 14er that’s entirely on private property. During the summer it’s possible to get on the mountain more often than not for a $100 fee, and certainly on weekends. Winter and spring availability is much more limited, and in the past has had a climbing fee of $200-250; this time it was only $100. The original plan was to ski the North Face, assuming good weather. Unfortunately the weather was not good (as seems to be the case with most Culebra ski descents), but we certainly got our $100 worth of adventure. Keep in mind when you’re reading this that most of these photos have been enhanced to de-fog them and make people a bit more visible.

A major spring storm rolled in to Colorado late last week, bringing with it lots of snow. People in their right minds were enjoying an amazing powder day. Nine of us decided to take our shot and chance the weather. Besides, the forecast was for the storm to ease up and clear out by about 2pm, we would just have to fight our way through it most of the day. A few days ago things were dry pretty much to the summer trailhead, which would mean a 7 mile round-trip day with about 3,200′ of vertical. Things changed a bit, so we had a 14 mile day with roughly 5,000′ of vertical. I’d like to think Carl was saying something like “we have to go how far?” in this photo.

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More Mt. Lincoln Pics

Here are a few photos Carl took from yesterday. First, a steep sidehill on the approach.

Fortunately there were plenty of anchors on this slope.

Shortly after this came the tree-climb:

And now a few of me enjoying the snow:

Until next time…