Dead Cars and Classic Climbs

Well to start out let us have a moment of silence for the Monte Carlo... ...thanks. If you don't know, I have been driving my parent's old 1995 Monte Carlo here since I moved, it has almost 165,000 miles on it and I guess that was enough. It died on Vail Pass Thursday, just over a 1/2 mile from the top, at least if it would have made the top it could have coasted downhill for a while. I happened to be on my way to a car dealer to look at a Nissan XTerra I found on the web, good thing I was on my way to look at a car because I was about 30 miles from home! Luckily I was able to call the dealer (from a truck driver's cell), and the dealer picked me up. That ended up becoming the test drive as well. Fortunately the XTerra is great! Its a 2002, in great shape, with brand new tires. Needless to say, I went ahead and bought it, but not purely out of neccessity, it really is in great shape, and I probably would have bought it anyway.

Today being a Saturday, of course this is peak climbing day, so I got a chance to test some of the off-road ability of the new truck. It did great! I had to drive about 5 miles along a dirt road to reach the trailhead, and had no problems. Today's goal was to climb Mt Edwards, one of Colorado's 100 highest peaks (83rd) at 13,850 feet, via "The Edwardian". The Edwardian is the south facing couloir on the peaks west side, and rated one of the front range's classic snow climbs. The snow actually makes the climb worthwhile, and if its melted out, it is not a recommended route due to loose rocks. To my delight, upon arriving at the trailhead the snow conditions looked good. I set out along a 4-wheel drive road to the slopes leading to the couloir. As I got close, I realized there were already 3 other people making the climb about 20 minutes ahead of me. This turned out useful as it gave me footprints to follow, almost like a staircase. And a big one at that, its 1,080 feet up to the ridge, at 30-35 degrees. This is a rise of approximately 7 inches for every 12, so about the same as an office building stair, but its still pretty steep to climb as it is also the pitch of a double black diamond ski run. After reaching the ridge it was only about 1/2 mile to the summit, 300 feet above. I caught up with the other climbers (and their dog, who also climbed the couloir!) and we took pictures for each other and signed the summit log. The view was great, you can see people on the summits of nearby Fourteeners Grays and Torreys peaks, which are just to the west along the same ridge. In the distance you can see Pikes Peak, as well as least 6 other Fourteeners. The climb down was along the east ridge to Argentine Pass, and then down the Argentine Trail back to the car, essentially making a nice loop around Edwards. Along the descent, you can see the entire 5 mile loop and the many abandoned mine buildings lying below it in the gulch. Tack on the family of Mountain Goats I drove by along the road on the way in and you can see why this route is considered a classic!