High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Week(s) in Review: July 1-21—Highs and Lows

Monday, July 15th
AM—9 Miles—3:37—4,400’—Mount Shavano (14,229’)
My original intent was to tag both Shavano and Tabeguache. Plans tend to change when your visibility is limited to 20 feet or so due to dense fog. From the summit of Shavano I couldn’t see anything (especially the ridge I needed to take to Tabeguache). I decided to head down and try again another day. REALLY slow day…

Tuesday, July 16th
AM—9 Miles—2:49—4,300’—Mount Yale (14,196’)
My body didn’t seem to want to function above treeline today. Slogged to the summit in unimpressive fashion and returned to the Denny Creek TH in even less impressive fashion. Lot of big groups out on the mountain this morning. 

Wednesday, July 17th
AM—14 Miles—5:45—5,800’—Mount Harvard (14,420’) and Mount Columbia (14,073’)
The trip up to Harvard was a fun one—cruiser single track for the first 5 miles or so to treeline and to the edge of the Horn Fork Basin. Felt like someone was sitting on my chest and I had ankle weights on during the ascent of Harvard, though. At the summit some dense fog/clouds started rolling over the ridgeline and limited visibility significantly. I chatted with some others on the summit about the traverse to Columbia and almost decided not to pursue it due to the fog. The clouds then parted and the sun illuminated the ridgeline and Columbia. Guess that was a sign. Not really wanting to solo any 5.7 terrain I decided to drop well below the ridgeline to the East side. Eventually the boulders/talus relented and I stumbled my way to the summit of Columbia. I started down the western slopes way north of where the actual standard West Slopes route is, which resulted in my trip from summit back to trail taking over an hour. HOT and crowded day. After the run I was cleaning up blood/mud and noticed I had a gash in my left shin about 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. It probably could have used a couple stitches, but I decided butterfly bandages and peroxide would suffice.

Thursday, July 18th
AM—7 Miles—3:20—3,300’—Quandary Peak (14,264’)
With a little lingering fatigue/dehydration from yesterday I decided to get a relatively early start for this easy 14er before taking an easy day on Friday. I kept a well-below-casual pace and reached the summit in about 1:15’ish. About 5-10 minutes into the descent I miss-stepped and snapped my right ankle. Shit. Needless to say, the descent was long and painful. 

Friday, July 19th
OFF—Ankle Recovery

Saturday, July 20th   
OFF—Ankle Recovery

Sunday, June 21st  
OFF—Ankle Recovery 

Time—15hours 33minutes
Elevation Gain—17,800 feet                                                               

Monday, July 8th
AM—12 Miles—4:58—4,300’—Mount Sneffels Debacle
I started off with the intent of ascending Mount Sneffels. That didn’t happen. I knew I would top out over 14,000 feet so my natural instinct was to head up as soon as possible. Well, I did that. Finally when I reached Governor’s Basin I asked a Jeep guy which summit was Sneffels only to find out that I had went 3-4 miles in the wrong direction. Damn. So I headed back down to catch the correct road up Yankee Boy Basin when I made my way up the standard South Slopes route. I was greeted with careless jackasses above me who kept knocking down head-sized rocks in my general direction. The scramble up bald clay to the col sucked in my traction-less 110’s. I was relieved to finally hit the gully for some easy scrambling up to 14k feet. At the top of the gully I couldn’t figure out where the hell to go to reach the summit. I spent 30 minutes poking my head around to try to find access to the summit. I looked at every possibility. Except the V notch that you’re supposed to use. With no other people in sight I decided to head down and save Sneffels for another day. I was pretty mad at myself once I looked at photos of the route on 14ers.com and saw where I should have went. Oh well…

Tuesday, July 9th   
AM—7 Miles—2:14—2,700’—Oak Creek Overlook Trail
I couldn’t get outside of town to try Sneffels again since the brakes on my truck had crapped out. So I was forced to stay in Ouray and figure out where to run from there. Really easy pace on the way up and down. My legs are still shaky and haven’t fully recovered from my 100 miler yet. 

Wednesday, July 10th    
PM—1 Mile—0:42—600’—Hike on Old Horsethief Trail
Just wasting time while waiting on the brakes to get fixed on my Tacoma. I noticed a trail across from the mechanic and walked up a bit. 

Thursday, July 11th
AM—9 Miles—3:31—3,600’—Kendall Mountain (13,066’)
My legs felt pretty good for the first few miles up the mountain, but soon the fatigue from Black Hills kicked in again and I fell into a power hike to the summit. At the summit I decided not to run back down the road. Roads suck. So I began a bushwhack down the face of the mountain and eventually found myself in a drainage/deathtrap, which I followed all the way down to the jeep road. Loose rocks, wet rocks, mossy rocks, prickly plants, rabid mosquitos, vicious flies—this drainage had it all. It was quite the relief to reach the jeep road. 

Friday, July 12th
OFF—Hardrock Spectating
Drinking beer and telling someone else to stop being a pussy and get their ass back out in that electrical storm is hard work. I was glad to do my part…

Saturday, July 13th    
OFF—Hardrock Spectating
Sunday, July 14th
OFF—Hardrock Spectating

Time—11hours 26minutes
Elevation Gain—11,200 feet                                                               

Monday, July 1st to Sunday, July 7th
OFF—Recovering from Black Hills 100 and learning to walk again

Totals: NONE

Well, July is definitely off to a rough start. After taking the entire week off after the Black Hills 100 I slowly started easing back into things by trying an easy outing up Mount Sneffels that left me feeling like an idiot. I finally felt like my legs were starting to recover a little and started pursuing my 14er project again. One missed step on Quandary has me pretty debilitated in terms of running right now—swelling, bruising, pain, and numbness in my right foot. We’ll see how things play out the next few weeks. 

Experiencing the wildflowers of Yankee Boy Basin on the way up Mount Sneffels




My favorite flower. Hands down...

Last girly flower shot before getting into rugged, manly mountains.
At the col on Sneffels getting ready to ascend this gully.

Looking back at the col after ascending the gully. This is the beginning of my fruitless search to find the (obvious) way to the summit of Sneffels.

On the col on the descent from Sneffels.

Yankee Boy Basin. Mount Sneffels in the background.

Sweet waterfalls in Yankee Boy Basin

Heading towards the first aid station shortly after the start of Hardrock
I'd be ecstatic if this is the only thing I get to make out with next year...

Just below the summit of Mount Shavano. Horrible visibility.

This ridge is all that separates me from Mount Columbia.

On top of Mount Columbia with the ridge and Mount Harvard in the background.

Relaxing a bit on Columbia's summit before diving down this slope to rejoin the trails WAY down in the basin below.

Consequences of a misplaced step in the mountains...


  1. A+ for picture captions.

    and summiting mountains too, I guess. :)

    1. Thanks! I guess maybe an A+ for summiting mountains and a D- for descending.