6.06.2004

Peak Climbing season - now open!

Now that the snow in the High Country is starting to melt, I decided it was time to go for a summit. For those of you who have skiied or rode at Breckenridge, you may be familiar with these peaks. Starting out across the street from the base village of Copper Mountain, I hiked along the Wheeler National Recreation Trail. The trail starts out flat, then begins to rise through the forest and eventually above treeline through the tundra for a little over 4 miles one way to a saddle between Peak 8 and Peak 9 at 12,460 feet. Below this saddle, know informally as Wheeler Pass, lie the Peak 8 back bowls and the Boneyard at Breckenridge. At this point, most people either turn around and go back, or continue over the pass, descending the ski area into the town of Breckenridge (Of course to do that you would need two cars). I decided at this point that the ridge to Peak 9's summit was clear enough from snow to go for the summit. I had got a distant view of this ridge from the parking lot, but until I was there it was hard to tell if it would be climbable or not. The ridge was relatively gentle, over tundra grass and some scattered rocks. There is a false summit just before the real one, and the ridge that connects the two, while relatively flat, is exposed to steep faces on both sides. The exposeure would have been unnerving if it was snowed in, but luckily it was clear and I was at the summit of 13,195 feet in less than an hour from reaching the pass. From this point you get a great view to the south of Peak 10 and Crystal Peak. The route to the Peak 10 summit was also clear of snow, and I decided to continue on. After descending into the saddle between peaks 9 and 10, I had to climb about 800 feet up a slope of rock that was 45 plus degrees in pitch for most of the way. The summit of Peak 10 is 13,633 feet and is the 178th tallest peak in the entire state. This may not sound like too high of a rank, but it is only about 810 feet shorter than Mt. Elbert, the state's highest point and in every other state except for 5, it would easily be the highest point. The view was spectacular, you could see Grays and Torreys peaks to the east, Mt of the Holy Cross and the Gore Range to the west, and below, the entire town of Breckenridge. The trip back to the car was long and exhausting, it felt good to be done! All in all the trip took 7 1/2 hours, covered nearly 12 miles of hiking, and 4500 feet of total elevation gain, including having to climb over Peak 9 a second time to get back to the trail! It was a great climb though, and great preparation to tackle the even taller peaks! I can't wait... well maybe a little while to recover!
Sunday was a recovery day, I got the watch the Cubs win on WGN, the Sox lose (Billy Koch blows it again...) on ESPN, and Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban at the movie theater. Which I thought was great, I think Alfonso Cuaron did a great job of injecting new life into the series. Considering the film's writers had to edit a 550 page book down to 2 1/2 hours, I thought they did a good job of staying faithful to the book, although there are a few things they should have left in, and would have only added about 15 minutes. I won't say anymore about that though, as I don't know who has read it/ seen it yet. Well I guess that is about it, I hope you all had a good weekend!