5.18.2006

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!