Trip reports and getting back to reality


Above – Wildflowers below the summit of Humboldt Peak (East Ridge)

Bottom of post –  Sunset above Navajo Lake Basin

This past week I’ve had to face the reality that sometimes things don’t go to plan. I’ve been riding a high wave of luck lately, and its the first time in awhile that I’ve had my plans fail miserably. 

Its been two months since my last post. A lot has happened since then, so I’ll get to the fun stuff first, then some trip reports, then some plans in the making. 

First, i was really happy to see osprey packs take a submission i sent them for their blog. Its a little different from what i normally write, but it seems to have been well received. If you’d like to check it out, its here –

Issue 16 of TrailGroove magazine is now live, featuring some trip planning tips from me, and a review of a new sleeping bag i got, the sea to summit spark 1. Check out the free issue at here –

Issue 17 should is also out, featuring my Rainier article and another tip on river crossings. –

Getting to the trip reports.

As i said in my last post, i was in full training mode for a mid-July summit attempt on Rainier. The training went as well as it could too. My first weekend of true training, I hit up Shavano and Tabeguache, my last two 14ers in the Sawatch range. They went smoothly, and the next day i took a few newbies up Beirstadt just to push myself a little more. 

The next weekend I linked up with a new partner, Justin, and we took care of a few more San Juan 14ers, finishing off Uncompahgre, Matterhorn (13er), and Wetterhorn in a day, and San Luis the next day. Wetterhorn is probably one of my favorite 14ers now. Its last couple hundred feet is some of the funnest scrambling I’ve ever done. 

I wrote up both of these 14er trips in detail here –

After that weekend, I joined Aaron (from TrailGroove) for a 3 day backpack of the Wind River Mountains. I don’t know what bothered me up there, but my allergies went crazy during some of the sections. Even hopped up on Benadryl, I still managed to knock out some decent mileage per day, and the second day was absolutely amazing hiking just east of the divide. If I can manage it, I’ll be going back up for one more shot at the winds this fall, and I’m looking forward to it.

Then the weekend I was training for finally came. I can’t give away too many spoilers since the trip report is a feature article in the next issue of TrailGroove, but Sean and I had a successful summit with perfect weather. Keep and eye out for it in Issue number 17. Definitely looking forward to climbing with him again, and I have an idea for something exciting this winter if it works out logistically. We’ll see if that comes to fruition. 

After Rainier, I took a weekend “off” and just hung out around the house. It was kinda weird since I’d been going after trips pretty hard for since May. I spent the weekend with my daughter and we started looking at places to go. We decided that Mount Rushmore would be a fun trip, and we planned out the next weekend to be an adventurous “daddy-daughter” weekend since i hadn’t taken her to the sand dunes like I had originally planned, and the weather in Colorado wasn’t suppose to be that great anyways. The weather in South Dakota was perfect, and we had an amazing trip together. I also wrote up this trip on the TrailGroove forums, so a detailed trip report can be found here –

I can’t wait for her to get a little bigger so I can take her on more of my trips. However the SD trip was still pretty good venture for her, and she handled every challenge I threw at her like a champ. 

That finished off a very eventful July, and I started August out with bagging another 14er, this time Humboldt, my second Sangre De Cristo 14er. Along the way, I scoped out the routes as best as I could for doing Challenger, Kit Carson, and the Crestones. We did a fun loop over Humboldt, descending the steep east ridge instead of going back the standard west ridge route. The weather was kinda iffy that weekend, but it held just long enough to get below treeline before dumping rain on us on the descent. 

The next weekend, I met up with Justin do get another hard set of 14ers done, the Wilson Group. Set in the far south west corner of the state, they are the farthest from Denver. I met up with him in Carbondale to carpool, getting there around 1am. Somehow I forgot my sleeping bag, so I shivered through both nights that weekend with just a blanket I keep in the back of my car for emergencies. We originally planned on getting all three of the giants in one day, but we ended up only getting El Diente and Mount Wilson the first day. We went up El Diente first, climbing a fairly loose gully to the ridge just east of the summit, then traversing west to the summit. We then did our first of the 4 great 14er traverses to Mount Wilson, staying as close to the ridge top as we could without needing to rappel or do anything particularly stupid. The climbing was definitely 4th class or easy 5th class, with some fun moves and sustained climbing over the entire ridge to the top of Mount Wilson. At the top of Mount Wilson we decided it was getting too late for a push to bag Wilson Peak, so we hiked out to the car and slept. The next morning we woke up, drove around to the other side to climb Wilson peak from the silver pick trailhead. We got a fairly late start, and still managed to pass a few people on the way up and get to the top for a nice lunch break, surveying the route we did the day before, then hiking out as fast as we could since we both had a long drive home. 

The next weekend all of my plans fell through, so I ended up staying around town. That brings us up to the last week. Earlier this week, I got laid off of my job after my project manager put in his two weeks to leave for a different firm. Either way, I think its for the best as I have insulated myself financially. It wasn’t exactly expected, so I took a few days to think and decided to still go on my weekend trip, another hard 14er bagging trip with Justin. Here’s where reality set in. Our goal was to nab the other 4 peaks in the Crestone group that I had scouted out at the start of the month. We backpacked in, hoping to get all 4 in a day, however understanding that if weather or something became an issue, we’d be happy doing them  over two days, camping near south colony lakes in between if needed. The weather was predicted to be mostly sunny, and ended up being extremely thick fog with strong winds, but apparently not strong enough to disperse the fog. Over the entire weekend, we only caught one fleeting glimpse of the peak we came there to climb, and ended up calling it Sunday morning when the fog started to get worse. Because of my new work situation, I thought I might be able to get in some more climbing in the Blanca group or the San Juans after the Crestones, but I decided to just call it a weekend since the weather didn’t look much better in those locations, facing the reality that the weather had gotten the best of me for the first time this year. I think my decision was wise, and for a consolation prize, I went out of my way to visit Bishop’s Castle, a fun tourist attraction in the wet mountains west of Pueblo. I had heard/read about about it back when I had a motorcycle, since the attraction its located on is a fun road to ride up and down, but had never seen it in person. I doubt I will go out of my way to see it again myself, but I bet Alex would like going there eventually. Maybe next summer 🙂

For my plans – 

It looks like I’ll get a good 5-6 days next weekend for Labor Day, and the weather is tentatively looking good, so I’m going to head off to the San Juans to finish them up, and hit up the Sangres again to see if i can get some better luck than the last weekend. After that, I’m not sure what will lay in store. I’ll need to start working on the Elks at some point, and I still want to do the Blanca and Crestone Traverses. I don’t think I’ll be doing any more straight up backpacking trips till the fall when the desert cools off enough to get back to the canyons. Maybe spring canyon in Capitol Reef, or a longer trip to the Arizona Strip area. Either way, to quote Gerry Roach –

“Geologic time includes now, have fun, and remember why you started”


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