Six More Down, A Lot To Go
Some people become addicted to cocaine, pot, sex, gadgets, collectibles, and beanie babies. Meanwhile, I have become addicted to being high. Now we aren’t talking that kind of “high” from that very special hasheesh plant. Rather it is a high from climbing at the highest elevations in
The original plan was that I was going to meet up with a friend up near the Tetons in
I decided on six summits that I would attempt near
I awoke the next morning to clear skies and fresh dew upon the meadows grass.
I arrived back at my car and made my way back over to
I have talked to hikers who have tried to bag Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn in the same day, but they couldn’t do it. I set out for my attempt at what I guessed to be about 5:30 AM. The sun was in the process of rising, and my watch didn’t really work so I wasn’t one hundred percent positive what time it was. It was a beautiful hike with open meadows and peaks scattered throughout the area. It wasn’t necessarily jagged mountains but more or less it was almost as if you were on top of a mesa and there were random peaks jutting into the sky. I would attempt Uncompahgre first and then make my way to Wetterhorn. Uncompahgre gave me a bit of a challenge as I had to scramble up some scree to make it to the main trail that curled around the eastern side of the mountain. Once through this part the hike to the summit was easy on a class 1 trail. The summit was very flat and the views were OK. There was a cool 2,000 foot drop of one side, and I decided because I didn’t have the right gear that it probably wouldn’t be a great idea to head back down that way. Now it was time to attempt Wetterhorn. The weather was still looking good and I was surprised when I ran into a hiker on the way up that informed me it was only 8:20 AM. Wow I had made good time. On my run down the trail I saw two foxes that were meandering there way through the rocks on the summit. Awwww they were so cuuuutee. As I made my way over to Wetterhorn, clouds began to move in. Oh yeah I should also mention that this was the 4th of July, and I was shocked at how few hikers there were. I felt almost alone. Even going up Wetterhorn there were few fellow hikers. Wetterhorn was really only challenging in the sense that I was pretty tired. I had probably already hiked 9 miles and here I was gaining another 2500 feet of elevation. The trail to the ridge below the summit was easy to follow and not very steep. But once you got to about 500 feet below the summit, it became a class 3 climb with some exposure. The final pitch to the summit was a 60 degree climb that you had to use your hands and feet to “climb” up and over to the summit. Luckily the rock was stable and there were some good holds, but if I had fallen I probably would have died! The summit was nice because it was small and I could see views of the entire area. I could see all the peaks I were to finish on this trip and at this point the clouds were starting to move in, so I knew it was time to get my ass in gear and make it down. The climb down was pretty easy, besides the final summit pitch where I had to go down feet first looking for foot holds on my way down. I passed one guy at the bottom of the trail who had also done Uncompahgre that morning, but he probably wouldn’t make Wetterhorn because the storms were moving in. He started too late.
Back to my car I realized that I was pretty pooped. I broke down camp hopped in my car and made my way back to
At this point I make it to the trailhead for Redcloud and Sunshine. It’s still pretty early in the afternoon and the weather is being a little dissatisfying. I decide to dwell in a book for a while I wait for the weather to clear up. Eventually it did. At this point I don’t know what time it is because my watch is screwed up. But I figured it was about 6:00PM maybe a little later. Actually it was probably more like 7:30. At this point I decided I had to do Handies. Another peak that’s trailhead was a few miles up the road. I debated because I knew it would be dark at some point on my hike. But then one of my goals is to do one of the fourteeners at night. So I grab my car keys and take off down the road. By now, the weather has cleared and there are no posing threats.
Handies may very well have been my favorite peak so far. It might have been because I summited at night or maybe it was the fact that it just was an awesome trail to the top. The sunset was beautiful as the suns light hit off of the dissipating off of the clouds causing a semi pinkish red glow that at points seemed eerie as it reflected off of the peaks of the area. Here on this mountain marmots were all over the place and became quite annoying with their squeaky calls. I reached the summit just after the sun had set but I could still see my surroundings and the distant sun setting over the horizon. I just got a chill from being up there and seeing the site that was laid before me. There was something special about knowing that i had the mountain all to myself and that no one else was there to share it with. It was my accomplishment my boding for the day. The funny thing was I thought I would be tired at this point having already climbed two peaks in the morning. But somehow I had found the will to do it. After spending a few minutes on the summit I realized it was time to get back down. I wanted to go to sleep!! I basically sprinted down the mountain in the dark on the easily accessible trail back to my car. I drove back to the Silver Creek trailhead and decided I was too tired to even set up my tent so I just camped out in the back of the JEEP. I awoke the next morning a little sore and tired from the last couple of days. But I knew I had to attempt these last two summits (redcloud and sunshine) so that I wouldn’t have to come back down to this area and waste even more gas. I put on the same clothes I had been hiking in for the last couple of day sand realized that they were disgustingly smelly. But nonetheless I was still comfortable and began my ascent. Honestly I have never been so tired. It was probably around 13,200 feet that it hit me and it took me almost ten minutes per hundred feet. I was sucking wind and my legs were burning, but I had to do it. I set a pace for myself and made it. The clouds were beginning to form but I knew that I could make the easy traverse over to sunshine the peak opposite of Redcloud. After summiting red cloud I made my way over to Sunshine via the ridge that connected the two. It was still another 500’ of elevation gain, but the thought of having done 6 fourteeners in the last 48 hours really pushed me to the top. Once on top I almost collapsed upon the rock shelter that was built there and noticed that there were two others on the summit. They were a nice young couple from
The story though does not end here. You can stop reading at this point because the rest isn’t about peaks its about the drive home which also presented itself with some unique entities. First off I wanted to get home to sleep because I had to go to work that night. So after leaving the trailhead by 12:00 PM I was on the road back home. But around 3:00 I had hit a flood in the road. Water was gushing from the side of the road and into the middle of the highway. This was due to the intense rain storms that were flourishing all across central
Then I reached
So overall it was a good trip and hope to do another one soon. It’s just that gas costs sooooo much now. But hopefully this new job with the Boulder Open Space department will go through and I will make plenty of money to pay for gas. Just being out there though really helped me clear my mind and made me happy. But at the same time I was disappointed that I didn’t get to go on the backpacking trip with my friend but I think they would be happy that they knew I did something else that I also really wanted to do.
32 miles, 15,000 feet of elevation gain all in a little over 48 hours