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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Let me start by saying that this is one of the best trips to the mountains I’ve ever had. Outstanding times with friends, beautiful scenery, amazing snow, great photos, and countless stories to tell. I organized this trip in August, after a few of us decided that last April’s trip was too much fun to not do again – only this time, it was to be a WAGS (wives and girlfriends) trip.
We got an early start on Friday, heading out from the Spraddle Creek trailhead about 8am with big, heavy packs on our backs.