High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Monday, September 30, 2013

Week(s) in Review: September 9-29—Ups and Downs, Highs and Lows, but mostly downs and lows…

Week in Review: September 9-15

Monday, September 9th

Tuesday, September 10th

Wednesday, September 11th

Thursday, September 12th  
PM—10 Miles—2:07—3,600’—Mt. Werner (First 5 Miles of RRR100 Course)
After a few days of being lazy and driving way too much I finally put the running shoes back on for an easy day on the first climb of the Run Rabbit Run 100.

Friday, September 13th
AM—4 Miles—1:15—1,450’—Partial climb of Mt. Werner
Did part of the first climb of RRR to meet Jason up high and hand him water and some gels. Mainly hiking since I had my sandals on.
PM—8 Miles—1:09—900’—Two road runs with Jason during RRR
The RRR100 course has two 4-mile stretches of pavement through Steamboat where pacers are allowed for the hares. So, I joined Jason for these two stretches. 

Saturday, September 14th
OFF—Exhausted from crewing Jason and watching him run out of Steamboat $10k richer

Sunday, September 15th
OFF—More driving…

Miles— 22
Time—4 hours 32 minutes
Elevation Gain—5,950 feet

For some reason the Elks range just left me feeling mentally and physically drained. Perhaps I can’t just credit the Elks for this? Maybe it’s just the cumulative result of an entire summer practically being spent above treeline with countless miles of driving in between? Regardless, I felt I needed a little rest. The week I completed the Elks coincided with the week of crewing Jason Schlarb for Run Rabbit Run and a visit from some Patagonia friends. Perfect for a recovery week! So, I just ran a couple of times during the week of September 9-15 and focused more on eating a lot of food and drinking a lot of beer.

Week in Review: September 16-22

Monday, September 16th
OFF—Not really sure why I took this day off?

Tuesday, September 17th
PM—6 Miles—4:22—2,000’—Hike into camp at Lower South Colony Lake
This certainly sucked. First time ever hiking in and camping overnight for a 14er—and that includes the 40+ mile trip in and out of the Chicago Basin. I forgot how much it sucks to wear a big, heavy pack.

Wednesday, September 18th
AM—4 Miles—2:43—3,200’—Humboldt Peak (14,064’)
I maybe slept all of an hour last night with the Patagonian-style winds pummeling the hell out of my tent relentlessly. When I got out of my tent to take a morning leak I noticed zero visibility conditions on all peaks except Humboldt. That made my decision on which of the seven 14ers to head up pretty easy. The route up the West Ridge is pretty unremarkable—easy, straight-forward, walk up mountain. I felt like the little kid from “A Christmas Story” with all of the layers I was wearing. The winds were fierce and cold. Never ran a step of the ascent/descent. 

Thursday, September 19th 
AM—4 Miles—1:13—100’—Run/hike back to the Taco for more food
I woke up to snow-covered peaks all around me. Eventually visibility diminished and I couldn’t even see the peaks. So, I decided on a rest day, which meant I would need more food. I ran down to the Taco to gather up some calories, more treated water, and utilize the one bar of cell service to check the weather forecast.
PM—4 Miles—1:13—2,000’—Run/hike back to camp with the food
Easy effort back up to my campsite at Lower South Colony Lake. 

Friday, September 20th
AM—8 Miles—7:13—5,400’—Columbia Point (13,980’), Kit Carson Peak (14,165’), Challenger Point (14,081’), Columbia Point (again), Obstruction Peak (13,799’)
Pretty easy effort all day. Again, no running. When I started at 7:30am it was COLD and WINDY, which led me to wearing way too many layers. The ridge traverse to the Bear’s Playground was over before I knew it. I decided to skirt around Obstruction Peak and hit it on the return trip. The route was easy up to Columbia Point. From here down to the saddle between Columbia Point and Kit Carson was by far the crux of the route, but that’s not to say it was difficult by any means. Easy high 3rd Class downclimbing, but a fall certainly wouldn’t be good. This short section was noticeably easier on the up climb (surprise, surprise). The rest of the trip to the summit went by somewhat quickly. Heading over to Challenger Point from the summit of Kit Carson proved to be the highlight of the day. It’s just a 2nd Class walk over, but it starts with the speedy 3rd Class descent off Kit Carson and ends up on Kit Carson Avenue—a sweet ledge that wraps all the way around Kit Carson to the Kit Carson-Challenger saddle. I’m always fascinated by these natural ledges that make summits easily accessible. On the return I tagged Columbia Point again just for the hell of it and also made my way up a few extra hundred feet to Obstruction Peak’s summit. When I was passing by Kit Carson on my return I ran into another climber and chatted for a while. Turns out he was a friend of the guy who died on Capitol by falling off the north face about two months ago, was on the summit with the guy when he died, and this was his first climb since then. I never caught his name during our chat. He still seemed noticeably shaken when I watched him descending. Sending good vibes his way for him to regain that much needed confidence on the rock…

Saturday, September 21st 
AM—6 Miles—7:21—6,250’—Crestone Needle (14,197’), Crestone Peak (14,294’), “East Crestone” (14,260’)
Another cold start to the day. After a breakfast consisting of two energy gels I headed out with the intent of hitting Crestone Peak first. However, I missed the drop off from Broken Hand Pass and made my way towards Crestone Needle instead. Oh, well. I just rolled with it. Near the crossover point from the east gully to the west gully I noticed a couple of climbers about 50 feet above the cross over and yelled at them to make sure they really wanted to proceed up that 4th Class route. They didn’t. I ended up sticking around with them for the rest of the trip up and down in an effort to keep my pace as mellow as possible. In my opinion, the crossover point was definitely the crux of the route—not difficult, but not a place you’d want to fall. Everything was surprisingly easy and not very steep considering how steep the mountain looks from below. Near the top of the west gully there’s an exit to the right that bypasses the narrow, slightly loose upper portion of the gully and involves 3rd Class scrambling on some broken cliffs/ledges. We took this route for the ascent and descended through the narrow gully. I preferred the cliffs/ledges. The views from the summit were pretty spectacular. After a few minutes of hanging out on top the wind and cold finally dictated we head down. The descent on the solid conglomerate rock was a blast. I would run ahead of the other two quite a ways, wait for them to catch up, then take off again. At the bottom of the east gully they stopped for a rest and I made my own off-trail way down the rest of the south face to Cottonwood Lake for a go at Crestone Peak. Essentially all the route up Crestone Peak’s south face is visible from the bottom of the climb—a straight shot up the Red Gully. I found this ascent/descent to be more tedious than the Needle due to the obscene amount of loose rocks in the gully. I often chose difficult 3rd Class/easy 4th Class moves as a means of evading the loose crap. From the top of the gully it’s less than five minutes of easy scrambling up to the summit of Crestone Peak and more stunning views. The ruggedness of the Crestones really seemed to hit me while sitting on the Peak. With the afternoon clouds starting to build I headed down and over to “East Crestone” for a quick summit before beginning my descent. I found a nice ledge down the red gully, which made for a speedy descent. Back at Cottonwood Lake only one more obstacle remained—getting up and over Broken Hand Pass for the second time of the day. Eh, could be worse. The trip over the pass went by fast and I even caught up to 3 or 4 groups that I didn’t expect to see again. This has been my favorite group of 14ers by far; words escape me when trying to describe the summit views. They’re simply amazing. Oh, after I finished the day I was charged by a big horn sheep. Pretty exciting end to the outing…
PM—4 Miles—1:26—100’—Hike back to the Taco
During my Crestone conquest earlier today I had 3-4 groups tell me that absolute crap weather was on the way early Sunday morning. My tent and all of my gear was dry, which meant it was the perfect time to pack up camp and get the hell out of there. So I speed hiked out with 50 pounds on my back. Ugh…When I got back to the Taco I realized I had climbed the Crestones and exited camp on nothing but 3 energy gels (300 calories) and about a liter of water. 

Sunday, September 22nd
AM—8 Miles—5:00—4,750’—Mount Lindsey (14,042’) and “Northwest Lindsey” (14,020’)
I slept at the lower trailhead for the Crestones last night and woke up feeling pretty exhausted. On the drive to the Lily Lake trailhead for Mount Lindsey I really wasn’t feeling motivated. It’s amazing how fast a spectacular sunrise can change that. At the trailhead I suited up in full-on wind gear since I thought things would be pretty bad on the ridge—they were. The trails below treeline were a little convoluted for the most part. When I hit a big, yellow basin below the climb to the West Ridge I caught glimpse of Justin and Tom (two guys I met at the trailhead) near the crest of the ridge. I kept the effort up the west ridge easy with the goal being not to break a sweat before cresting the ridge and being confronted with the cold winds. The winds didn’t really hit me until cresting the northwest ridge of Lindsey. Brrrrrr…Fortunately, most of the route was shielded from the winds. The route up Lindsey is actually pretty shitty—steep, loose piles of crap stacked in a series of gullies from about 13,200’ to a little under 14,000’. I opted for easy 3rd Class scrambling along the right side of the loose gully for both my ascent and descent, which made for a breezy route. I ascended with extreme caution, though, since Justin and Tom were right below me by this point. The last couple tenths of a mile to the summit are along the ridge, which meant we got pounded by the wind en route. On the descent I swooped over for a quick summit of “Northwest Lindsey” before catching up with Justin and Tom. The descent was easier than I expected with the solid rock alongside the loose gully. A little ways down the west ridge I took off ahead of the guys since I was starving and just wanted to get back to the Taco for some food. So, I made my way through the convoluted trails again and cruised to the trailhead at a pretty easy pace. I was happy with how well my legs and body worked today considering how exhausted I was when I got out of bed. 

Miles— 45
Time— 30 hours 36 minutes
Elevation Gain— 23,800 feet

After my time in Steamboat I made my way to the Sangre de Cristo Range—specifically the Crestone Group. This time proved to be both ridiculously frustrating and incredibly rewarding. My main source of frustration was the weather, but the rewards made the cold, lonely nights of sleepless camping and the frigid, windy morning ascents worth it. I was treated to the best summit views of any 14ers I’ve been on to date, hands down. I think the effort required to get to the summits of the Crestone Group 14ers versus most other 14ers likely enhanced the surreal feeling; maybe even contributing to a sense of accomplishment in simply standing atop the peaks.  

I headed into the Crestone Group with seven summits on my mind: five ranked 14ers and two unranked 14ers near Crestone Peak. However, my main source of frustration had other plans in mind. I was able to hit six of seven summits, but the unranked 14er Northeast Crestone evaded me. Zero visibility on my first day led to an easy trip up Humboldt in lieu of the Crestones. As I lay sleepless in my tent on the second night of camping, tent being battered by high winds and pelted with rain, the thought of snow up high never crossed my mind. I exited the tent on day two to see a dusting of snow covering all of the peaks, which lingered until the day I left. Thoughts of the steep 5.easy route up/down Northeast Crestone being covered in snow, ice, and/or being wet in areas of difficulties was enough to put doubt in my mind. Atop Crestone Peak I was able to assess the west side of the peak enough to realize an attempt on the summit was very likely insanely idiotic. So I bailed on it. Maybe after The Bear 100 I’ll have a nice weather day to try NE Crestone? I told myself going in that I’d be content walking away from that summit, but I never really believed I had the will power to do it. It’s kind of nice to realize I still have a little common sense left in me…

Week in Review: September 23-29

Monday, September 23rd
AM—8 Miles—1:40—3,000’—Manitou Incline and Barr Trail
Easy-to-moderate effort up The Incline—a little less than 24 minutes bottom-to-top—followed by a very easy uphill run to within a few miles of Barr Camp. I held a somewhat quick pace on the descent with some sub-6 minute pace stretches in the mix.  

Tuesday, September 24th
AM—6 Miles—1:27—2,550’—???
Long overdue run with JV. Easy effort all day. Conversational pace the entire way, which says a lot about my current fitness level since JV’s conversational pace usually has me doubled over ready to puke my guts out. 

Wednesday, September 25th
PM—5 Miles—1:50—1,700’—Mount Evans (14,264’)
Crazy winds and cold for the duration. Really easy effort since The Bear is on Friday.

Thursday, September 26th
OFF—Tapering?—Really wanted to run today, though…

Friday, September 27th
AM—62 Miles—14:36—13,400’—Bear 100 DNF
Another fucking DNF. Don’t really know what else to say…

Saturday, September 28th

Sunday, September 29th

Miles— 80
Time— 19 hours 34 minutes
Elevation Gain— 20,650 feet

DNF’s fucking suck. I’m at a loss for words…

Double rainbow in Carbondale, CO

Sunset with Zach and Corey.

Hares getting ready to start Run Rabbit Run

Jason Schlarb, Birddog, and I at the finish of Run Rabbit Run
Sweet quote on the trailhead sign for the Crestones

First steps into the Sangre de Cristo's

Zero visibility above the ridgeline on the Crestones for my first day there...

Snow and limited visibility on my second day there...

On my third day I finally caught first glimpse of Crestone Needle

The plains east of the Sangres were gracious enough to take all of the clouds for a few days of visibility in the mountains.

Looking down a gully en route to Kit Carson

On Kit Carson's summit with the Crestones over my shoulder

Fun off-route down climb from Kit Carson. About 75'ish feet or so.

Cruising along Kit Carson Avenue (the ledge seen in the photo) on my way to Challenger Point

Summit of Challenger Point with Crestones to the left

Kit Carson Avenue with Crestones front-and-center'ish

View of the Crestones from Kit Carson.

Bear's Playground (grassy area in the center), Humboldt to the left, and Crestones to the right

Crestones with the South Colony Lakes

Descending Crestone Needle

Getting ready to get vertical on Crestone Peak. The route is straight up...

Atop Crestone Peak with Northest Crestone over my shoulder.

Northeast Crestone...

South Colony Lakes and Humboldt (to the left)

A view of the descent off Crestone Peak from the Red Notch at the top of the gully

View of Kit Carson from Crestone Peak's Red Notch

Heading back up-and-over Broken Hand Pass. Last obstacle of the day...

Cottonwood Lake

Cottonwood Lake again

Rams or something. One of the fuckers charged me after an almost eight hour day in the mountains...

Heading to the trailhead for Mount Lindsey

Sunrise on the way to Mount Lindsey

Same sunrise

Taco Vision of the same sunrise

Best sunrise photo I've ever taken, I think...

Mount Lindsey ascent. Windy...

On top of Mount Lindsey. More clothes in one 14er trip than I've probably wore on all previous 14er trips combined...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week in Review: September 2-8—Wrapping up the Elk Mountains

Monday, September 2nd
PM—8 Miles—3:25—3,000’—Geneva Lake and Snowmass Approach Scouting
After the long drive into the Lead King Basin from Carbondale all I did was sit around the Taco eating for most of the day. Finally, around 6pm I decided to throw on some shorts, pack up my Osprey Rev 6 with a few essentials for night/cold running, and head out for at minimum a scout of the approach to Snowmass and potentially a push to the summit. From Little Gem Lake (I think that’s what it’s called?) I headed up the horrendously loose boulder/talus field to base of some cliff bands. It was here I realized that I only had about 0.4 miles to the summit, but still had to ascend almost another 2,500 feet in the dark. So, I decided to turn around and get the summit in the morning. The entire run back to the trailhead had me in constant fear of a mountain lion encounter—I’m quite terrified of solo night runs. Soon I made it back to the safety of the Taco; thankful not to see a mountain lion. What do I see next to the Taco? A friggin’ mountain lion…

Tuesday, September 3rd
AM—9 Miles—5:54—4,750’—Snowmass Mountain (14,092’) and “North Snowmass” (14,020’)
Pretty easy effort on the approach up to the base of the cliff bands. After poking my head around for a few minutes I found a pretty easy 3rd Class ascent path through some wet, loose rocks. Almost all of the ascent was on loose boulders and talus, which sucked. I maybe threw in a couple 4th Class moves on the ascent. After summiting, I did a quick out and back to the summit of the unranked 14er North Snowmass. The descent was all done at a casual effort due to the excessive amount of loose rocks. It wasn’t possible to take a step without the rocks giving way below. When I got back to the trailhead I just sat in amazement at how much effort this 3rd Class summit route just demanded from me. I was completely physically and mentally spent. 

Wednesday, September 4th
PM—6 Miles—1:30—1,150’—Capitol Approach Scouting
The original plan was to ascend Capitol Peak this morning. However, I woke up late battling some pretty extreme fatigue. So, I just sat around eating the entire day in an effort to get some energy back in me. I headed out on the Ditch Trail around 4pm to scout out the first few trail junctions for the approach to Capitol Peak. There were 3 or 4 times I was certain I would be attacked by cows as I ran through the open grazing lands. Somehow creatures as seemingly docile as cows must just get pissed off to no end when they see a shirtless runner in short shorts go by; I’m assuming the cows are from Texas…Once I got to the trail junction where the Ditch Trail joins the Capitol Creek trail I hopped on the creek trail to close the loop back to the trailhead. This trail was wetter, muddier, rockier, horse/cow crappier, destroyed by people riding in on horses, and it was punctuated by a 400 feet climb over the last 0.75 miles to get out of the creek bed and back to the trailhead parking lot. The Capitol Creek trail and the Ditch Trail were two alternative approaches to Capitol Peak. I already had a good idea that I would be taking the Ditch Trail, but this run confirmed that decision. 

Thursday, September 5th  
AM—17 Miles—6:35—5,300’—Capitol Peak (14,130’)
Felt pretty amazing when I hit the trail this morning. My legs just wanted to go. I disposed of the approach quickly and was standing on the 12,500’ saddle between Mount Daly and Capitol at 1:32 into the day. I took the scrambling sections pretty easy since I had very little confidence in the soon-to-be-thrown-in-the-trash shoes I was wearing. The worst part of the day was shimmying across the basin between Daly and Clark Peak that supposedly avoided some difficult sections on the ridge. This basin was a terribly loose boulder and talus field where I watched two major rock slides happen within 50 yards of me (think rocks the size of mini vans falling without explanation) and heard a third rock slide. When I gained the ridge near K2 I became disoriented (my sense of direction seemed to be off for most of the day) and began heading towards Clark Peak, which cost me maybe 20 minutes. I caught a glimpse of a bunch of climbers on K2 and realized I was heading in the wrong direction. On the way to Capitol I hit the summit of K2 for the hell of it then reached the infamous “Knife Edge” a short while later. At the Knife Edge I ran into Dan who I met at the trailhead the night before. He was returning down from a successful summit of his 58th Colorado 14er so congratulations were in order. I proceeded to straddle the short section of ridge and scoot my but across like a dog trying to wipe his ass on the carpet since I figured this exposed ridge wasn’t really the place to confirm how shitty the traction was on my shoes. From the Knife Edge to the summit was pretty easy going 3rd and 4th class terrain (maybe a few 5th class moves when I got off route?), which I took slow to avoid knocking rocks on the other climbers. At the summit I was treated to beautiful weather, which convinced me to linger for 45 minutes or so. The descent back to the 12,500’ Capitol-Daly saddle went by quick and from there I made it back to the trailhead in about 1:20 to cap off a longer than expected day.

Friday, September 6th
AM—12 Miles—6:52—5,550’—Maroon Peak (14,156’)
For some reason this peak just took it out of me. The climb from the creek to the south ridge was inexplicably exhausting. Once I gained the ridge I encountered my first real obstacle of the day—a rather hostile mountain goat that didn’t seem too thrilled at the thought of letting me pass. I spent about ten minutes trying to get around him; pissing him off enough in the process that he started charging me twice. Next, a series of route finding errors ensued as I continued to skirt along a ledge system rather than ascend up some steep, loose gullies. After skirting along the un-cairned ledges for a short while I turned back and found the gullies I was supposed to ascend. At the top of the gullies the route became a little more intuitive and I was able to more-or-less mindlessly cruise to the summit. My intent was to traverse to North Maroon Peak as well so I descended to the low point of the saddle between the two Bells. At this point I decided I just didn’t want to mentally commit to any real 4th or 5th Class terrain and turned back to descend the same ascent route. This ended up taking way longer than anticipated with the descent from the south ridge down to the creek bed being a never-ending series of slips, trips, and falls in my essentially traction-less 110’s. The worst of these being a fall that had me sliding about 15 feet down a steep, rocky portion of the trail. Ugh…I finally made it down to the creek bed and cruised the main trails back to the Taco thoroughly spent. Quite a bit of blood to clean up after this mountain…

Saturday, September 7th
AM—9 Miles—5:05—4,500’—North Maroon Peak (14,014’)
Woke up feeling surprisingly energetic this morning considering how shitty I felt after Maroon Peak yesterday. I disposed of the first few miles of the approach fairly quick then pretty much fell into power hike/scramble mode from the Minnehaha Creek crossing to the summit. The trail traversed along a ledge for a short period before ascending up a couple of gullies to gain the northeast ridge for the final summit push. While ascending the gullies I passed 4-6 people and chatted with them for a bit—I was in no particular hurry today for some reason. I disposed of the gully ascents quickly without ever really feeling like I was pushing it. The ascent could go considerably faster, but my main concern was not knocking any rocks loose on the people below me. The scrambling was ridiculously easy considering this peak is listed as “most difficult” on 14ers.com and Roach calls it “complicated, loose, exposed, dangerous.” There were very few times I felt I was even moderately exposed or in a position for a fatal fall and when I was in that position it was because I went off route to ascend the final summit pitch from the southeast. The sketchiest part of the ascent was just climbing a short section of soaking wet rock on the north face right before the final push to the summit and this was only semi-sketchy because I had on a shitty pair of shoes. Nearing the summit, I wrapped around to the southeast side of the mountain and found about a 15-20 feet tall exposed chimney full of loose rock that looked like a fun way to get up to the top. So I took it. The chimney topped out at some steep, loose scree for the last 20 feet or so to the summit, which I reached in 2:50’ish (I never stopped my watch while talking to the other climbers…my actual moving time was closer to 2:30). I surprised the hell out of the six people on the summit when they saw me pop up on the opposite side of the mountain from the actual route. It was a beautiful day with hardly a cloud in the sky. So, I spent an hour or so on the summit chatting before taking off down the mountain with two other climbers. The descent was way easier than I anticipated, which made for quick progress down the mountain. In no time I was at the bottom of the top gully looking back up for the two climbers who began the descent with me. They hadn’t even reached the top of the gully yet. Near the top of the bottom gulley I ran into two climbers from Spain who saw that I was running without food or water. They asked how long it took me to summit and then said I was like Kilian Jornet. The talus field at the base of the mountain was by far the worst part of the day. I walked across it being careful not to roll my ankle. The last 2.5 miles back to the trailhead went by quickly as I dodged the flood of tourists hiking to/from Crater Lake. 

PM—4 Miles—1:39—2,200’—Green Mountain
After the long drive from Aspen to Boulder I had to get out and shake loose the legs. So I went straight to the Gregory Canyon parking lot and hit the trail a little after 7:15pm with a headlamp tucked in my shorts. It didn’t take long for everything to fall into harmony and the ascent to take on a near effortless feel—I ran when it made sense and power hiked when the trail dictated. I hit the Amphitheater-Saddlerock junction in 7:33, not a PR by any means, but pretty damn close and I wasn’t feeling anywhere close to spent like I usually would. Shortly after joining Saddlerock I had to stop for a 20-30 second piss break, but I kept the watch running. As I neared the Saddlerock-Greenman junction darkness fell and I likely should have busted out my headlamp, but I didn’t. I embraced the dimly lit trail and relied on my memory and running by “feel” to keep me from twisting an ankle or taking a fall. I eventually reached the SR-GM junction in 21:29 still feeling like I hadn’t pushed the pace at all. Visibility continued to fade and I continued to push on sans headlamp through some of the more technical sections of the front side route. I took the last few switchbacks leading to the summit fairly easy—as full-on darkness had nearly settled in—and arrived at the trail post on the summit in 38:07. I continued up to the actual summit rock and topped out in 38:21—a PR on this route I rarely get to run. I feel as though my effort was kept in check by my reluctance to break out my headlamp, which may have helped me push in places I’m typically too spent to push. Yes, I gave it a decent effort, but you can only go so fast when you can barely see the terrain beneath your feet. I’d like to give the front side a decent time trial effort on a day where I didn’t get up a 14er in the morning and refuel on nothing but potato chips, coconut water, and coffee. I stumbled back down the mountain in the darkness like a drunken idiot since I was constantly on the lookout for mountain lions. 

Sunday, September 8th
AM—6 Miles—3:46—3,650’—Second Flatiron, Green Mountain, Second Flatiron
When I rolled into the Chautauqua area a little before 8am it was already unbearably hot. Oh well…I put on my sticky rubber 110’s and headed up towards the Second Flatiron to see if I still remembered how to scramble on slabs. The climb up was ridiculously slow and took 1:12 from the base of the Flatiron to the walk off. I was pretty amazed at how difficult it was for me to put my faith in the super solid rock of the Flatirons after spending a week climbing on shitty, rotten rock in the Elks. I then bushwhacked up to the summit of Green; scrambling up some of the smaller, lichen-covered slabs along the way. I tried to keep the trip to the summit as much of a bushwhack as possible since I generally enjoy a good ‘schwack. With a few minutes of lounging on the summit under my belt I headed down the front side of the mountain to make my way back to the base of the Second Flatiron. At the base, I sat for a few minutes to empty rocks from my shoes and debate whether or not I really wanted to do a second lap. I did…So without much more thought I headed up the rock and soon realized just how miserably hot it was. When I was climbing I made quick, easy progress. Unfortunately, I had to stop and rest every 5-10 minutes in an effort to keep my hands reasonably dry for climbing. This lap still went much quicker with me walking off 40 minutes after starting. I thought about pushing for another Green summit, but treating my dehydration took priority. So, I meandered down the access trail dodging the tourist hikers and stoned CU students back to the ranger cottage. It felt great to get back on some solid rock!

Time—34 hours 51 minutes
Elevation Gain—30,100 feet

This was a fun, yet exhausting week that saw the completion of the Elk Mountains 14ers. The Elks proved to be more mentally demanding than I anticipated with near-constant attention being required on the loose rock. However, I can still say with certainty that the rotten rock of the Elks was not even close to as bad as the rotten rock on the sub-14er South Wilson. 

With completion of the Elk’s 14ers I am now left with the Sangre de Cristo’s 14ers to wrap up my summer 14er project. I’ll be heading down this week with the intent of knocking them off in 4-6 days. I have to admit that the sub-14er Northeast Crestone has me a bit scared. Terrified, actually. During the entire summer no 14er has reached out and grabbed my attention like NE Crestone. That being said, I’m 100% content with not summiting this mountain if I see it in person and feel like it’s way above my ability level. If it’s flirting with my ability level or within it then I’ll give it a go. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the actual climbing is somewhat easy, but the route just looks ridiculously exposed. I’ve yet to have any problems mentally with exposure, but it seems like this route has the potential for that to happen.

Who knows? All I can say right now is that I’m sort of glad to finally be wrapping up this 14er project. It’s been way more exhausting than I thought it would be. Still can’t believe Homie tried doing all of these goddamned mountains in ten days…

Driving into the Lead King Basin

Scouting the approach to Snowmass Mountain. Sunset over Lake Geneva.

The climb up Snowmass Mountain :)

Perfect day to be on Snowmass

View of Snowmass from North Snowmass

Descending Snowmass

Still descending Snowmass

Still descending Snowmass :)

This sums up my summer pretty well...

Day of rest at the Capitol Creek trailhead. Capitol Peak looming in the background.

Early morning start up Capitol Peak.

Nearing the actual ascent of Capitol Peak.

Descending K2. There's a figure coming down the summit. That's me! (Photo: Dan Kesterson)

Traversing Capitol's Knife Edge (Photo: Dan Kesterson)

The rest of the route up Capitol. Not as bad as it looks...

The Knife Edge. Just don't fall...

View of the route up Capitol with the Knife Edge leading the way.

Looking down while ascending Capitol.

On the summit of Capitol...I think...or maybe Snowmass. Who knows?

Capitol Lake on the Capitol descent.

Capitol Lake.

Mean ass mountain goat on Maroon Peak

View of North Maroon from Maroon Peak

Descending Maroon Peak

View of the route up North Maroon Peak

Standing on the summit of North Maroon

View of Maroon Lake on the descent from North Maroon Peak