Prince of the road

This weekend I was on my own, Tracy was off climbing crazy looking rock towers in the desert near Moab. I decided the best thing to do was to climb a peak that she had already done. Saturday I had some errands to take care of, so I went for Mt Princeton on Sunday. The peak is 14,197' and was my 25th fourteener summited. I was planning on waking up at 5am, which is early enough, but when I woke up in the middle of the night and saw that it was 3am and I couldn't get back to sleep, I decided to head out. I ended up making it to the trailhead at 5am, and despite the fact that the sun hadn't come up yet, there was enough light to start my hike without a headlamp. About 45 minutes later the sun was up and I was almost to the radio towers on the road. Typically people start from the radio towers, which are at 10,800' and 3 miles above the start of the 4wd Mt Princeton Road. I wanted to get in some extra hiking to serve as some Rainier training so I started at the bottom of the road, 8,900' above sea level. I made good time and in another half hour I was at the part of the road where the hiking trail starts. The trail first cut across some tundra slopes before then crossing talus slopes below the 13,300' false summit of Princeton known as "Tigger". The school's mascot is a tiger and that is where this name comes from. For the most part there was no snow, but a couple of easy to cross snowfields blocked the trail along this stretch. After that I started the climb up to the ridge and made the ridge at around 13,400'. From here is is 800' of climbing on the ridge and all of it was snow free. I made it to the top at about 8.30, only 3 1/2 hours to climb 5,300' of elevation and nearly 6 1/2 miles. I stayed up there for about 20 minutes snacking and taking pictures before heading back down the ridge. On the way down I stopped off at "Tigger" to get some cool photos of Princeton's east ridge before dropping back down to the trail. At this point there were two people coming up, the first people I had seen all day. I introduced myself as the crazy guy who parked at the bottom and told them the rest of the way was mostly snow free. Later on I saw two more climbers back on the road. All of the people I saw had parked at the radio towers and got a much later start than I did. I continued the long slog down the road, which after the towers was very tiring. I should have parked up higher as well, but the extra training was a good thing. I got back to the car at 11.45, so I managed to do the entire 13 mile round trip in under 7 hours, quite the morning! The rest of the day I spent relaxing at my house!

This week I tried to go rock climbing on Monday but we got rained out. We did manage to go after work on Wednesday though. It was fun, it was a different place than we usually go. The one thing I didn't like is that the slopes at the bottom of the rock are sort of steep and loose dirt that slope sideways along the rock. This makes it a little hard to belay someone because you aren't exactly on the best surface. Its much nicer to have a level solid surface at the bottom. Hopefully next week we will be able to get back up there again!


The Horseshoe

Here is a view of the horseshoe cirque. Reaching to the summit on the left hand side you can see the continuous snowfield of "Boudoir Couloir". Below is a picture of me in the couloir.

That's a Ringer

Sorry for the late in the week update, I had a busy week including after work meetings, rock climbing and hiking and have gotten home late the last few days. Anyway... So Saturday I finally managed to get back up another high peak, this time the 72nd highest peak in the state, Horseshoe Mountain. The peak is 13,898' and gets its name from a dramatic glacial cirque that resembles a horseshoe. This cirque is split by a snowfield known as the Boudoir Couloir. The maximum angle is around 38 degrees but mostly it does not exceed 35. It is also a skiable route, there were tracks coming down it when we climbed, but I didn't have my skis. It would have been a fun descent if I did! I climbed with my friend Jamie, who I had climbed Kit Carson with back in January. We met at the trailhead and started hiking at 6.30am. We summited in only 3 1/2 hours, and had great views of all the surrounding peaks. We made it back to the trailhead by 12.15, so a pretty good morning in my opinion! There was a good amount of snow most the way and in the afternoon it was softening up and causing us to sink in several places. It wasn't too bad, at least not compared to some past experiences. This was my 41st peak in the highest hundred, another couple months and I should hit the halfway point, yipee!

Sunday Tracy and I made an attempt at climbing Father Dyer Peak near Breckenridge. Despite hitting the trail before 8am, the snow was too warm and soft for us to be able to climb the route we had in mind. Softening snow like this can cause wet slide avalanches and as always, better safe than sorry. The mountain will always be there, we just want to make sure we are too! We climbed part way up a rocky slope as an alternate to the snowfield we wanted to climb. As we ascended it was getting cloudier and we saw some rain in the valley across from us so we decided to turn around. It even snowed on us a little during our descent so it turned out to be a good decision. We had some BBQ for lunch and said goodbye. It turned out not climbing the snow was a great decision. Later that day on Torreys peak two guys triggered an avalanche that swept them down 1000' and beat them up pretty good. They both survived, but I'm sure it was a scary experience and they are lucky to be able to talk about it today. This week it has been 70 plus in my town and 85 in Denver. The snow in the high country is not getting the overnight freeze necessary to "set" the couloirs for climbing. Looks like we need to get a cooler spell to harden them back up so we can climb some more. Not that we need a return to winter, just a drop so that the snow re-freezes each night and makes it safe. We also need it to slow melting down or else all of that "record" snowfall we got in season is going to melt earlier than usual. We need the snowpack to hold on long enough to provide a good supply of drinking water for us and our neighbors, and to keep the plants moist so they won't dry out this summer and cause wildfires. Its all a delicate balance up here, a wet winter with a warm spring is not always the best thing for us!


May Showers

It looks like April Showers were a little late, they came the first week of May instead. It has rained on and off pretty much since Thursday and as I write this a big thunderstorm is just moving through town. With all this squirrely weather, alas, no peak for me this weekend. I did manage to sneak in a little biking when the weather temporarily cooperated Thursday after work and Sunday afternoon. Thursday was just a quick ride up to the Beaver Creek village from my house, still its 800 feet of vertical and a good lung buster. Then Sunday Drew and I headed a couple of miles up the June Creek trail between Avon and Edwards. That trail is well melted out and when we get our bike legs (and lungs) in better shape for the season we will head even further up the trail.

Friday night was date night, Tracy came up and we headed to dinner in Avon and then went over to my friends Ben and Erica's pre-wedding party. They had a party after their rehearsal dinner, mainly as a way to mingle with all of their out of town guests, of which there were plenty. One of the guys there has been up Rainier a few times, and Tracy and I are planning on climbing Rainier in July. It was nice to talk to him and get his insight on routes, camping and equipment. Now we just need to start training! Saturday night was the wedding itself over in Vail. The weather cooperated just long enough to allow for the ceremony to be outside. Then it was back into the pavillion for the reception. It was a great time, good food, good music, and a lot of good friends. I know a lot of their friends, and have met a good amount of their families before as well. It was nice to be at a wedding where I knew so many people on both sides, usually I only know one side. In fact, most of the weddings I usually only know the family as most of the ones I have been to have been for my cousins. They are now off to Thailand for their honeymoon.

Hopefully later this week the weather will clear out again and there will be some afterwork rock climbing and biking. Then next weekend if things look good its off to the peaks once more!


2 Year Anniversary

Well year two is drawing to a close, I first moved into my original apartment here in Colorado on May 1, 2004. Hard to believe so much time has passed by! In that time I have skied over 60 days; most of which have been at Vail and Beaver Creek but I have also hit the slopes of Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, Arapahoe Basin and Crested Butte. I have hiked up 24 fourteeners (including the 2 highest peaks in the state), 16 centennial thirteeners, and 26 other ranked and unranked summits. I have hiked to the summit of a peak at least once in each calendar month except for December and February. Well not counting skiing anyway, I did hike up Peak 7 at Breckenridge in February, but only from the top of the ski lift so it doesn’t really count. I have also seen fresh snow either falling or on the ground in each month consecutively since I moved here. It has been a busy couple of years, and now that the snow is melting, looks to continue that way. Last week a couple of friends and I went bouldering in Wolcott after work, the first time we have been out this year. I haven’t taken the bike out yet, but if we get a few dry nights this week hope to get back out on the bike as well. There are just so many great outdoor activities to enjoy up here, and I have definitely enjoyed my share of them so far!

This weekend was a little bit different than most, I still went hiking, but with a twist. I know that if you have read a lot of my recent peak climbing reports you know that I have been climbing a lot with a girl named Tracy. Well in the past week she and I have been talking a lot about how we both feel more of an attraction to each other than just as climbing partners. We talked a lot this week about it, and Saturday we had our first date together! She came up from Denver and we started out by going for a short hike, at least it was short by our standards anyway. We went to Booth Falls in East Vail; the 90’ waterfall is about 2 miles and 1400’ of vertical rise from the trailhead. There was still a fair amount of snow near the falls, but due to the recent snowmelt the water was racing and the falls were in great shape. After our hike we went to Vail Village and walked around a bit. Most of the shops are closed for the off season, but the ice cream parlor was open and we got ice cream cones and sat at the base of the ski slopes basking in the spring sun. Afterwards we went out for dinner in Edwards at one of my favorite local restaurants. We then drove over by where I go rock climbing, Tracy is an avid rock and ice climber, so she could see the local crags and boulders before she headed back home. It was a really nice day! We have a lot more in common than just our love of the mountains, and I’m really looking forward to our next date. I think it took us a while to say anything to each other because we both like climbing together so much that we didn’t want to lose that or make it awkward. Instead, I think now we just made it better! Life in Colorado just keeps getting better, looks like year 3 is starting off to be a good one!

For those of you that are curious, this is a summary list of all the peaks I have been on the summit of since I moved here:

Fourteeners: Elbert, Massive, La Plata, Lincoln, Grays, Antero, Torreys, Castle, Quandary, Evans, Belford, Yale, Bross, Kit Carson, Oxford, Democrat, Challenger Pt, Missouri, Bierstadt, Sherman, Redcloud, Holy Cross, Huron and Sunshine.

Centennials: Fletcher, Pacific, French, Casco, Emerald, Buckskin, Clinton, Dyer, Crystal, Edwards, Oklahoma, Atlantic, PT 13832, Holy Cross Ridge, Lackawanna and Silverheels.

Other Peaks and Unranked Summits: Square Top, Argentine, Drift, Frasco Benchmark, Iowa, Traver, McNamee, South Massive, West Evans, Loveland, PT 13660, Peak 9, Peak 10, North Star, Mascot, Grizzly D, Cupid, Sniktau, Lady Washington, Colorado Mines, Flora, Grand Traverse, North Traverse, and West Partner.

I won’t even bother to try and list all the ski trails!