| TEXAS TORNADO RIPS THROUGH ROCKIES, Part 3.
During the first 9 days of my 2012 trip to Colorado I had climbed Mt. LIndsey, Mt. Elbert, South Elbert, Quandary Peak, Castle Peak, Conundrum Peak, Mt. Hope, Mt. of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross Ridge, Mt. Bierdstadt and Mt. Evans. (See part 1/Mt. Lindsey and Part 2/Mt. of the Holy Cross, of this report)
Day 10: At 4:00 A.M. I drove to Longs' main trailhead with a plan in mind but unsure of the final outcome.
It would be a very long day of climbing
The Loft., first up the steep and tricky not so popular Loft route to the connecting saddle,
Mt. Meeker's summit. then turning south to summit 13,911' Mt. Meeker
Longs from Meeker. from where I had a close up view of Longs Peak summit then returning to the saddle, (where I teamed up with to young locals who had lost the trail) and down climbing (class 4) to enter Keplinger's couloir
At the bottom of Keplinger's couloir.
Exiting Keplingersand up to reach the homestretch and the summit of 14,255' Longs Peak.
After some awesome shots of the entire RMNP mountains we got down via the crowded Keyhole route, which is no walk in the park.
Summit group shot.
Even after running the last 2 ½ miles down, it ended up being a 10 ½ hr. journey climbing the two tallest peaks in RMNP making a complete loop around Longs in the process.
Down the trough.
Day 11: I took the day off to give my tired legs a break and explore Estes Park with the family.
Day 12: We traveled south to the small town of Crestone where I had left some unfinished business last year, grabbed my big backpack and hiked for nearly 4 hours to beautiful Willow Lake, where I joined other climbers and camped overnight.
I woke up early on day 13 after sleeping poorly and headed up the nasty slopes above the lake at 5:15 A.M., it was tough going; the accumulated lack of sleep was killing me, my legs were dead.
On Challenger's slopes.
I battled against a few demons but slowly scrambled up to the top of 14,081' Challenger Point,
Kit Carson and Crestone Peak From Challenger. regained momentum then pushed on along the ledges and steep ramps to the summit of 14,165' Kit Carson Peak,
Challenger from Kit Carson. the last stop of my itinerary.
Humboldt and Columbia Point from K.C. Views of jaw dropping cliffs and sweeping valleys were topped off by the imposing presence of neighboring Crestone Peak, the monarch of the central Sangre de Cristo Range.
Needle and Peak from Kit Carson.
After feeding my soul with pure mountain energy for a good while I returned to the lake, broke camp, packed everything and hiked down quickly to the trailhead where my family was waiting for me by 2:30 P.M. for an 8 ¼ hr. day. Unlike me up the mountains, they spotted a big bear the previous night right outside the hotel.
After a heavenly meal in Crestone, we made one last stop at the Sand Dunes Hot Springs pool, the best place to soothe my aching bones after having logged 100 miles on mountainous terrain and gained a total of 42,700' of elevation on my endeavor in an accumulated time of 69 hours and 20 minutes.
Challenger, K.C. and Colubia Pt. from Sand Dunes pool. It wasn't until then that the tornado warning over the Rockies was finally allowed to expire.
(Though extremely rare, an actual tornado was spotted near the summit of Mt. Evans just five days after I'd been there)
Run far, climb high…
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