I find that viewing trip reports with large photos brings them a little more alive...
Wind is windy… no really…
I had originally planned on going with the group up Quandary on Saturday the 14th but as my shift at work doesn’t get out until 1am and I get to bed at 2am, the 4:30am alarm I had set was useless. So, rousing myself up at 7am, I decided to fall back on plan B which was Loveland Pass for Mt. Sniktau, Cupid, and Grizzly Peak D.
This would be my first ever attempt at anything above tree line in the winter and after months of saving and researching and buying winter gear, I felt like it was time to give it a go. (thanks again to all for the insurmountable information on winter gear through the forums!) I admit that I was a little nervous and worried about being alone and cold but that was all for not. When I got to the parking area, there were maybe three or four other cars with people either crossing the street to ski or getting ready to head up, the direction I was heading as well.
Winds were forecasted at 35-40mph constant with 50+ gusting and when I got out of my car to put on some of my bulkier layers, I quickly retreated back into the car to keep the -20 something wind chill off my hands and face. Finally, after much struggling in the front seat, I got back out and headed straight up to point 12,915.
Beginning the day with about 1000 feet of gain to 12,915
The winds were relentless, or so I thought until we gained the ridge, and actually considered turning back a few times before I even reached 12,915 but after a bit I was warmed up and had started building my rhythm so I decided to stick it out.
Looking back down towards the parking area
There were 4 others on trail and we all took the opportunity to say hi to each other and tell each other our plans for the day - Mark (red jacket) and Cecilia (yellow jacket), and two others with a dog (can't remember your names! sorry…). I put them in this trip report because they were there too and shared in the adventure and it really puts scale to these pictures... (if you see yourself in any of these pictures, message me and I can e-mail these and others! )
Just about to top out on 12,915
As I topped out on 12,915, the wind showed us it's true face - unabated and unrelenting. A few of us agreed that it had to be around 50mph sustained. My only gauge was that if I leaned back into it, I was almost totally supported by it. That, and the fact that every step you took was on an angle towards the direction of the wind and I felt like a V-8 commercial all day trying to walk straight. I was thankful I had microspikes because I though I would have for sure been blown into submission without traction.
At this point, after chatting with Mark (red jacket) and Cecilia (yellow jacket and poles) I decided to get Sniktau at the very least and then re-asses when I got back to 12,915.
Cecilia heading over to Sniktau's ridge
Wind is a very interesting force. It can be refreshing, annoying, powerful and dangerous. Huge spindrifts traveled up the slopes all day spitting any loose snow up in the air like tornadoes, creating a visual for the torrent we felt blasting us all day.
Spindrifts abounded everywhere...
It also leaves it's traces given enough time. Sastrugi abounded everywhere and in every possible shape and it became quickly apparent to me that it would be my subject of photography all day. I decided to get my abstract on...
What I thought would be the only picture of me all day
We all plodded on, fighting the gale, leaning into it to stay on a straight path.
Mark getting it done
I think at this point Mark headed back down... didn't see you the rest of the day
Mt. Sniktau on the left and Long's Peak dominating even from here
Sniktau, sastrugi style
After pushing through the wind on the ridge and messing around with the rock hard sastrugi the summit run of Sniktau came into view.
Cecilia pushing to the summit - can you spot her?
I slowly but surely put it behind me and gained the summit at about 10:40am. On top we snacked and Cecilia offered to take a few pictures of me (thanks again!), the views from here of Torrey's were pretty awesome too...
(photo credit: Cecilia)
Torrey's, Grizzly and an eliptical cloud formation - a sign of a very windy day
After texting my wife and chatting about climbs and jobs and all that it was time to head on to Cupid. As we left, we passed the two climbers I had seen with the dog that morning on their way up. They told us they had tried for Cupid first but the wind was even worse so they turned back and came for Sniktau.
On the way back down. Looks like the edge of the world. Pretty sure that's Quandary off in the distance, hope that group had a good day!
Me heading back down (photo credit: Cecilia)
(photo credit: Cecilia)
Another shot of Torrey's further down the ridge - I loved the glossy quality of the rock hard snow
...since wind is almost impossible to photograph, and to remind of the constant conditions...
The wind did get worse on the other side of 12,915 but I had the energy so I went for it. I gained the summit of Cupid at about 12:00 and I met up with Cecilia again. She was going to go on and try for Grizzly but I was feeling it pretty good and I had also started building a cramp in my right leg so I hung out for a bit, took some photo's and headed back to the pass.
Last few steps to Cupid (photo credit: Cecilia)
Taking it all in... (photo credit: Cecilia)
Do mine eyes spy Mt. Holy Cross in the distance?
Correct me if I'm wrong but Hagar, The Citadel, and Pettingell?
Overall, an amazing day! I can say that I am bitten by the winter bug. All my new gear was bomb proof - BD Mercury mitts and Asolo Ergo boots get my award for the day, and I never felt cold except when I took my gloves off to use my iPhone for videos and the area of my face I couldn't cover with my balaclava or goggles.
A few things I did notice however was I must have been clenching my jaw in the cold and wind all day and was sore and stiff when I got back to the car and I hard time breathing and getting full gulps of air through my balaclava. Any advice?
Cecilia, Mark, and the other two I met with the dog, it was a blast being up there and sharing the day with you guys, please message me and I can e-mail all the pics I have of you all. Hope to meet up with you again in the future! As always, thanks for reading! Blessings.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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