A rare late season storm is rolling through. I sat outside for a while and actually managed to capture this amazing bolt. This could have been one of the best lightening shots of my life. But I forgot to set the camera on manual focus, and the darn bolt blew out the middle of the picture! Still, I think it’s pretty spectacular.
Well, I thought I would try something kind of cool tonight, and see if I can get this movie to work within this post. If I can get it here, than I can start posting them in different areas of the site. The movie is a little bit large still, so give it a minute and it will eventually load.
Yes, if you listen closely, you can hear Mark saying “I want jalapeno poppers!”
Monday was the last day in our long weekend, and Mark and I wanted to make another summit bid for the top of Mt. Yale (14,196ft). We tried to climb this mountain on a backpacking trip in May, but it was too cold and windy on top, and we turned around at 13,000ft. (Note: You can find all of the shots from this weekend in the photo gallery.)
The night before the hike, we got all of our daypacks ready, and then decided to pack up the camp into the plastic storage bins we use and just sleep in the car for the night. What seemed like a great idea really wasn’t, as neither one of us could get comfortable enough to get much sleep at all that night. So, when the alarm went off at 5:30am, I opted for another half hour of snoozing. Thus, we didn’t actually get on the trail until about 6:45 in the morning.
A climb of Mt. Yale via the southwest slopes (as we hiked) is about 7 miles round-trip according to the guidebooks. Thus, the climb to the summit is only 3.5 milels from the car, not bad, right? Well, it turns out the parking lot is below 10,000ft, so the trail climbs well over 4,000ft in 3.5 miles. Yes, it’s steep. It’s steep the whole way. There are very few flat parts, and no breaks. That’s an average gradient of almost 25% at an altitude where walking on flat ground will leave most people gasping for air.
The last 200ft of the climb involves an exciting and somewhat exposed 2nd class scramble over large boulders on a rather thin ridgeline. Liv had a great time on this until the middle crux section, where she found herself on some dicy vertical ground that was starting to look 3rd class. We spent about 20 minutes scrambling around trying to find the safest and easiest way to get past this section. There were “trails” (areas with dirt between rocks) all over the place, and cairns that lead off in several different directions. We decided to head down low and left of the ridgeline and even though we decreased the technical grade of the climb, the seriously loose rock we scrambled across greatly increased the excitement of the climb.
Liv made it just fine through this area, and we made it to the summit at just before 11:30am, and thanks to my spiffy new altimeter watch, I could see the temperature was 69F and the barometric pressure was 604mb.
The view from the summit was incredible. The sky was perfectly clear and blue. People kept telling us that we could see 30 other 14ers (out of 54 in the state) from the summit. I believed them. You could definately see the unmistakable outline of Pikes Peak which was over 100 miles to the east.
On the way down, we followed another couple of climbers and discovered the correct trail back. It involved an easy but hidden traverse on what would have been the right side of the ridge. The rock was much more solid on the way down, and all three of us (including the dog) had a much more fun time with this scramble.
The trip down the slopes was just as steep as it had been on the way up, and I found myself sliding down a dirt hill on my butt more times than once. Mark managed to really finish off the sunburn he had started on the previous day, and was rather miserable by the afternoon. We reached the car at the trailhead around 3pm, ate a big snack, piled everything back in the car and drove home.
What do you do with a long weekend in Colorado? Road trip! It was definately time to head back to the high peaks, and Mark and I picked the quiet mountain town of Buena Vista, CO for the three sunny days at the beginning of September.
(Note: You can find all of the shots from the weekend in the photo gallery.)
We left on Saturday morning, and drove the long way out. We drove south through Breckenridge, over Hoosier Pass, and came upon Buena Vista from the southeast side.
After driving around town a bit looking for a climbing guide, we headed up Cottonwood Pass road to find a campsite. Unfortunately, the national forest campground I had been hoping to stay at was completely booked. However, we did find a nice little free site in a deep grove of aspens just off the road. No bathrooms or picnic tables for us on this trip, but at least we weren’t paying for it either.
Mark grilled steaks that had been marinating in our cooler all day for dinner… and it was fantastic.
Sunday morning we slept in. We made a big breakfast of chorizo, pepper, onion and egg burritos and then packed up and headed out to climb for the day. I had read a little about the Buena Vista Crags on the internet, and gotten a guidebook at a local shop the afternoon before. The crags turned out to be really cool. Huge, well bolted, boulders on the east side of the valley, with gorgious views of the Collegiate Peaks and the town below.
Mark and I spent the afternoon enjoying nice, moderate sport climbing. Unfortunately, the sunscreen we had both used in the morning had, evidently, stopped working after I used it. And Mark got the strong foundation of a really nasty sunburn on his neck and shoulders that afternoon. Just for future reference, we climbed at Transmitter Tower and ticked off 3 fun moderates.
In the evening, we decided to drive past our campsite, and travel all the way up the road to Cottonwood Pass. This turned out to be an incredible place. Absolutely some of the most incredible mountain scenery I’ve ever seen from within a half mile of our car. On the east side of the pass, you had fantastic views of the Sawatch and Collegiate Peaks. On the west side were the dark, imposing peaks in the Gunnison, and the Elk mountains beyond.
I could have stayed there all evening, it was incredibly beautiful. But, we had burgers to grill before dark, and preparations to make before the Big Hike on monday: a summit bid for Mt Yale (next in Part II).