Mt. Evans - 14,264 feet
Mt. of the Holy Cross - 14,005 feet
Mt. Evans - 14,264 feet
Mt. of the Holy Cross - 14,005 feet
|Exactly where I didn't want to be|
For me hiking in CO began in 1995 with obscure peaks on the west side of RMNP and surrounds. Green grass, blue skies and no one but your friends once you leave the TH.
And then entered the 14er list and the goal of completing it. That goal was framed pretty much contemporaneously with discovering my roommate's copy of Roach's while stuck in Denver in the summer of 1999. There was a 14er fever of sorts at our apartment for awhile, accompanied by the standard symptoms -- the Harvard/Columbia twofer, the Missouri/Belford/Oxford threefer, and (at full-fledged fever) DeCaliBron.
That copy of Roach's fell into disrepair over the next two summers as we ticked off as many as we could manage. At some point I went to REI to buy another copy of Roach's. I came across Dawson's, thought the photos and maps weren't as nice and was mildly perturbed that there were two volumes -- but I figured that a different guidebook might be nice, so I bought Vol I.
A couple years later I dusted off the Dawson's and actually started reading it. You mean people ski these things? Fast forward a couple of weeks and I found myself skiing down the creek bed below Castle's north face, squeezing out every last bit of fantastic CO corn.
Now that's a great way to check an otherwise dusty, crumbly mess of rocks off the list. And I didn't see a single person the entire day? This Dawson guy might be onto something here.
The following January Chris Davenport started his project. I was fascinated and devoured every last bit of the hype. But the peaks he was skiing seemed so far away from anything reachable. At some point after a few years of skiing one or two peaks in the very late spring, the ski list seemed at least possible. I still wonder whether it is.
But spending $200 on Culebra or finding yourself on the side of Antero with skis on are sure symptoms that the 14er skiing thing may have reached disease level. May as well embrace it.
Once I admitted (at least to myself) that I had a problem, I told myself that I would try to go about it "smart." Whatever you do . . . don't find yourself near the end with only the hardest peaks or the furthest away remaining.
I tried to do at least one hard one and at least one far away one each season. And it worked for a while. Going into the 2016 season I had yet to finish any of the ranges and I had knocked off a few tough ones. But as the list gets smaller, the options get fewer and all of the logistics -- time away, snow conditions, weather conditions -- seem to define possible. And this season that ended up translating into a few Sangres and not much else before I was getting crushed at work again and there was no way I could get out of town in spite of the great conditions left everywhere.
So while I had left Evans as an attractive possible "finisher," I couldn't say no when the chance for a dawn patrol presented itself. I stalked the lady at the Idaho Springs visitors center and was the third one up the road on June 2, the first morning the gate opened.
The approach in my car took less time than the Sangres approaches on foot and the hiking was quick. Tic tic tic steps up the refrozen corn.
Only a couple hours later and the skis were on. Oops, the GoBro isn't doing much good still plugged in at home. But I bet the battery is fully charged. Haven't seen a summit marker in awhile:
(Extra points if you can ID the crampon case's former use)
Skiing down and around S side brought me back around to the N side.
There was a fortunate strip of snow that led to a brief billygoat across to where the good skiing began. One advantage of skiing "ice" at 7:30am is that you don't break through to the rocks in a 4-inch snowpack .
The still frozen snow was fast and smooth.
2.5 hours car to car was a nice change from the Sangres. Cross the Front Range off the list. At my desk by 10:30am.
So that was that, end of 2016 ski season. Until I got a text from Carl on 6/26/16 with Dr. Jon's instachat post from his Saturday Holy Cross outing. After a long day at work on Monday, I found most of my ski gear and headed for Tigiwon Rd. I picked up some deep woods Off at the gas station in Minturn. After years of waiting for the road to open up to a ski line worth skiing, I was headed up based upon Dr. Jon's report of "top to bottom skiing" for whatever that was worth. At least this post had a photo of the summit.
I awoke from my 15 minute Hamilton nap at 12,000 ft. to a sunrise behind the Gores.
My iphone then informed me that there was no space left and apparently deleting photos and videos doesn't remedy that fact. Trusty helmet cam will have to do.
The summit came quickly and the line was, in fact, in from the summit. Ski conditions were at least advanced intermediate, with a runnel down skier's left side cutting off about 1/3 of the skiable snow and the remaining 2/3 of it "variable" at best with exposure to some interesting hazards.
The slog down to the Bowl of Tears and out from there was as advertised. I ended up flat on my back, turtled on my A-frame multiple times. Couldn't get up without removing my pack first. Too bad the helmet cam card was also full by then -- it would have made for better footage than the skiing. One problem with this loop is that you don't ever actually see the Cross Couloir from afar. alexhenes was kind enough to send me this photo from his more circuitous route on 6/25/16:
The terrain down to and from the Bowl of Tears was beautiful and on balance it made for an enjoyable true end to the 2016 ski season and the Sawatch. And it left me plenty of time to contemplate how I found myself where I was and am and exactly where I didn't want to be -- with the 2 hardest 14ers left and the others about as far from Denver as they get. Oh well, see you in 2017, when unfortunately I will also be one year older (cue Warren Miller clip).
|Comments or Questions|
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