| 3 day weekend? 3 peaks
Lets be entirely honest, I threw this in here so I could say I did 3 peaks in 3 days.
Start Time: 5:25 AM
MLW Summit: 9:04 AM
Return to car 11:28 AM
Total Time: 6 hours
Distance: 9 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3881'
In a dream I was driving up highway 7 and couldn't find the Longs Peak turnoff. I knew my memory was hazy since I hadn't been up to Longs Peak in several decades. I was, in fact, in my mid 50's and hadn't climbed it since I was in college. Highway 7 then turned into a dirt road, and I turned a corner to see an enormous excavation site, where Longs and Meeker once stood.
I woke up in a cold sweat, remembered that Longs Peak still stood, and that I was still in my 20's. Still, throughout the week I was haunted by an anxious paranoia and felt like I had to go verify this for myself.
I rounded up the culmination of too many impulse "steep and cheap" buys and joined 2 other cars in the parking lot at 5:25 AM.
The next 6 hours were beyond words.
"Sometimes there is so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in."
The Longs area is one of dreams and fairy tales. During Winter it is an entirely different but equally magnificent experience.
The most beautiful color, heart melting
The red glow of the sunrise on the face of Longs Peak is one of the most soul-fulfilling sights that one can take in. It was very cold and very windy (35mph sustained / 60mph gusts) but I stood at the Chasm junction to watch the sunrise and just stood there in awe. I didn't care about anything but just to look and watch the snow shoot off the peak and form tornadoes. I stood there for a song, then 2, then 3, then an entire symphony.
My original plan was to go up to Chasm Lake, but I looked up at Mt. Lady Washington and knew that was the right plan for me. This bad boy was climbed in about an hour, straight up from the Chasm junction.
A moment of my life I will never forget is climbing that final boulder, and being simultaneously blasted by the wind and the life-defining view of Longs from Mount Lady Washington's top.
Next was the decent and the return to the car. The first people of day appeared near treeline. They had their sights set on Chasm as I had, and were possibly swayed by my description of MLW's views. Driving home I was ecstatic from the notion that I didn't have to restrict myself to the summer for climbing mountains. This filled my heart with joy.
Start Time: 8:35 AM
Summit: 9:59 AM
Return to car 11:05 AM
Total Time: 2.7 hours
Distance: 3.5 Miles
After the previous day's success, I felt the need to keep the momentum going. My friend Craig told me I needed snowshoes, so after some quick research on Google images / Wikipedia page for snowshoes, and a quick trip down to Big 5 to buy a pair I was ready to go.
I originally intended to get Mount Flora to bolster my 13er count, but the conditions got the best of me.
It was snowing and the wind was blowing heavily as I drove up the pass. I got a really bad feeling about my prospects for the day.
Thanks to some preparation the night before, I managed to throw on my snowshoes without taking off my gloves, and started out following a trail which quickly disappeared after the first switchback.
Knee to waist deep snow
I trudged through some pretty deep snow until I got above treeline, where the wind thankfully had blown all the snow from the road, but not-so-thankfully started blowing a bunch right in my face.
Getting to the summit was by far the most difficult 1000' I have ever climbed. Above treeline the tornadoes of snow familiar to me now were running rampant and tossing me around.
Radio tower at summit
Neat structure at summit
Good picture of my tracks after the wind subsided
The single digit temperatures, quickly freezing water bottles and piercing winds were enough to make me surrender my goal of Mount Flora, but it was another incredible journey of solitude.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life."
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):