Peak(s):  "Castleabra"  -  13,803 feet
"Magdalene Mtn"  -  13,762 feet
"Anderson Pk"  -  13,631 feet
Jackson, Mt  -  13,670 feet
Powell A, Mt  -  13,580 feet
Date Posted:  06/30/2018
Modified:  11/15/2019
Date Climbed:   06/23/2018
Author:  Stratosfearsome
 202: Escape from the Prism  

Challenge:

Colorado’s 202 Highest Mountains (≥ 13,580ft with 300ft prominence.)

All Class 4 & Class 5 peaks solo.

No GPS. No Aid. No driving to the top or other mechanized shenanigans!

Leave no evidence.

Pursue original routes, help others achieve goals, breathe in the beauty of moments.

Stats:

Hardest: Peak Fifteen

Easiest: Square Top

Favorite Five: Jagged, Maroon Bells, Vestal via Wham Ridge, Crestones, and Mt. Emma.

Most dangerous: Jagged descent in an ice storm or Coxcomb rock fall.

Rappels: 3 (Dallas, Coxcomb, Fifteen.)

Toughest Backpack: Purgatory Flats to Ruby Lake with camp and rap gear (got off-route and dehydrated!)

Vehicle: White 1997 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4x4 (stock) “Pegasus.”

First 27 peaks: 2006 to 2014 | Final ~180 peaks: 2015 to 2018

Time spent digging Jeep out of snow drifts: ~ 12 hours

Favorite books read: "Shantaram," "Annapurna," "Touching the Void," "Over the Edge of the World," "Alexander Hamilton."

Theme song: "Look On" by John Frusciante

Anatomy of a Dream:

Shackled to walls inside my skull, I saw the world through barred windows. - "The Man Who Defied Time"

Truth is: I burned my life to the ground. I lost count of how many detox facilities, rehab centers, emergency rooms, and jail cells I woke up in. I failed out of college twice, got fired, hurt mentors and friends and lovers, and lost my family’s trust. I destroyed my dreams and my dignity. I was physically sick, waking with shakes and hallucinations and smoking two packs-a-day. I had no hope and no light in my life. I saw no picture of the future. I used to blame it all on bullying and childhood abuse and how demons of war and addiction pass from father to son.

But I am not that angry, lost person anymore. I understand that it takes courage to ask for help, and that meaning in my life comes through adventures, creation, and especially from loving and uplifting other humans and myself. Depression and addiction are indiscriminate killers, and being open about them is vital. I try everyday to live in a way that amends for my mistakes and my selfishness. And I have truly forgiven everyone, even myself. Life is too short to be a cauldron of rage and self-pity and sadness. Life is too complex and beautiful to spend it living in the past or the future. Today, I know and love “the now.” I know and love myself. I am grateful and amazingly lucky. I am free, healthy, I have a wonderful family, great friends, and a chance to better the world. Yet, I know I will always struggle against my darkness. Currently, I am back in college in my early thirties for something I love: Earth Science. The color comes back to my life after twenty years of self-annihilation.

In 2015, I climbed 70 Centennial peaks, finishing all but Culebra and Red. In 2017, I climbed 90 Bicentennial 13ers plus 25 14er repeats. It was a record year for me and the best one of my life (so far.) Here are some high points from Colorado's 101-202 tallest mountains and my final five...

Return of the Poet:

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Sawtooth Peak (12,343ft) in the Sierra Nevada by Mineral King. Dad took me up that slabby face when I was seven. My first real peak! What a gift.

Sky Sirens

I slog through snow in the sky.

Above twelve-five, I feel alive.

Peach-fire sunrise, tears sting my eyes.

I tip-toe up steep rocks and ice on saber-toothed boots, steel axes in hands.

I test anchors twice and yell the ‘go’ command.

If I fall, I’ll never land.

My life flows into something: a meaningful illusion and a restless feeling.

Today is a gold spring day, silver branches reach for the forever blue.

Surrounded by mountains, fossilized forms of long-dead Gods,

I re-forge chaos with peace, these towering cathedrals release me,

and I walk home under stars close enough to touch.

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Sayres Benchmark. April, 2017. Need to up my ski skills and come back for an X-rated descent.
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Time to Practice! Grand Couloir on Mt. Aetna
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Mary having a Grand day.
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Sunrise on Vermejo. Climbed Purgatoire, Alamosito, Vermejo, Red, Culebra, Red (again,) and Vermejo (again) by noon to beat the lightning!
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American Basin in July 2017
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Summited many peaks with these two beautiful humans / quality climbing partners: Lindsay and Mary. "Three of a Climb!" Thanks for believing in me!
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Potosi Peak summit plateau. Large enough for a soccer match! View north towards Sneffels, Cirque, and Teakettle.
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Gilpin to Mt. Emma. July 2017 via Yankee Boy Basin.
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Dallas and West Dallas view from Blue Lake. Climbed "T0" from Yankee Boy basin because of a crazy hail road closure.
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Coxcomb Peak July 23rd, à la magic hour.
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Cimmaron Spice! Coxcomb up climb (20ft left of standard.) Rapped notch and soloed up. Rockfall later cut rope.
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Red Cliff from Coxcomb Summit. Wish I brought the twins!
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Quarter Peak Summit. Mad Doodads! Half Peak (behind me) isn't half bad either.
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NW Pole! Fun, airy finish.
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Elk Herd on Pole's SW plateau, with Rio Grande Pyramid lurking behind like a mountain ghost.
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Rock Lake.
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Mt. Oso-faraway via Vallecito Rez. Most remote peak, from camp at Johnson Junction. Got rocked by lightning and hail down Roelle Creek.
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Hazel Lake outflow, by Grizzly Peak C (East of Jupiter) Between wild thunder storms (but I found the perfect cave.)
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Grizzly like my beard at this point. Spectacular views from the summit.
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Ruby Lake. Backpacked in from Purgatory, got lost and ran out of water. Also, Marmot's are super bold here. Bastards chewed through my day pack!
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Ruby Lake from high up on Monitor Peak. Then Animas before out-running the lightning. Ah, Monsoon life.
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Headed up Little Finger - N. Eolus Saddle to solo the formidable Peak Fifteen. It had rained for almost two straight days. August 11th 2017
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Summit of Peak Fifteen. Last class five peak of the top 202! Did one single line (with tag line and biner block) rap to the 15-16 notch. Wet and loose.
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Camp at 12,100ft by Vestal Lake. 11 Bicentennial Peaks in three days. All-time campsite! Wrote a little poem:

Grenadier Gratitude

I have seen sunshine battle snow for a mountain's soul,

then bend into colors beyond name.

I have heard stones fall from on high like cannon-fire.

I have breathed the sweet perfume of alpine rain.

I have tasted a thousand mineral mixtures in lakes and streams.

I have touched the highest places in Colorado.

I have found a peace never known in the maelstrom of my mind.

I will carry these memories and the shield of their power, always.

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View south to Jagged from the Peak 7 - Peak 6 ridge as snow hits. (Superficial storm.) Headed for fifth bicentennial peak of the day.
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Three Trinities, Vestal, and Arrow.
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Lookout Peak is awesome. South Lookout is on my radar.
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Last San Juan Bicentennial! (Pt. 13,691) August 20th. On to the Sangre Di Cristos!
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Tijeras from Lower Sand Creek Lake. Climbed that, headed west to dead man, up Pico Asilado, traversed to 13,020, then up and over Milwaukee Pass.
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Repeating the Maroon Bells Traverse with Mary in September. Love these peaks. I'll repeat the other three with friends. Marmot-munched pack. :/
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Descending "Lightning Pyramid," last October. Around 12.8k, close to the backpack I found and turned in.
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Descending Clark Peak in late October, back to Pierre lakes basin. ~100-200m visibility all day. Good thing I brought crampons and axe!

2018: Final Five

After busting up my ribs in a fall on Challenger's North Face in January, and only climbing six solo winter 14ers this year, I set my sights on bouncing back and finishing out the Bicentennials in May / June of 2018.

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5/10/2018 "Castleabra" west gully from Conundrum TH. 20 mile day with plenty of knee deep snowshoe post holing! Spectacular though.
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Climbed this gully just north of standard route. Really fun alternative. Not recommended without snow!
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Elk vibrations and the Sky Castle.
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Late May 2018, Silver King Lake, looking at "Magdalene" (13,762ft) Climbed from Rockdale lower TH. Brrr that double creek was frigid both times!
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"Magdalene" summit. Psyched for #199!
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Anderson Peak! Took the easy way (northwest ridge.) Achilles was a-killin' me since Magdalene.
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Views are primo, though. Hiked from Grizzly Rez. on Saturday morning. By noon the road to Ruby townsite was open! Oh well. C'est la vie.
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Upper Turquoise Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness
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J Bell and I attaining the ridge to Jackson by Turquoise Lake Two. Conned him and Mary into joining me on a "little" hike.
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Mt. Jackson's north summit ridge has one or two surprises!
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Atop Mt. Jackson with Charlie, Josh, Mary. Holy Cross Ridge behind. Penultimate Bicentennial. Josh and I have ropes and jokes for all kinds of folks!
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Mt. Powell - Kneeknocker Pass - Peak "C" near Vail. Solo for my finisher, like 170 of my Bicentennials.
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Mt. Powell from Knee Knocker (12,200ft) Soft snow, but down-climbed a class-three ridge to hit flat snow, then smooth sailing.
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Joyful yet a little melancholy to see through a dream, years in the making. I am overcome with gratitude and the beauty that surrounds me.
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Peak "C" from Powell. Over 400 13ers left in Colorado. Time to accelerate my adventuring! Just below where I found a Migmatite.

Rob's Next Revolution:

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Reflection:

Colorado's top 202 highest mountains are a fun, wild, and beautiful pursuit. They are mostly a hiking and scrambling challenge with a dash of technical climbing. Only five peaks require low fifth class climbing: Jagged, Teakettle, Dallas, Coxcomb, and Peak 15. There are seas of scree and many long days, but it is ultimately worthwhile. I consider myself an average athlete with moderate technical abilities and medium speed. This list is more about tenacity and a continuum of passion for getting outside and above 13,000 feet. And I have always felt most at home among mountains.

Fortunately, Mt. Powell is peak (202/∞) I will continue to enjoy and share and defend this gift of nature that I was given as a boy. I shift focus now to more technical peaks, solo winter 14ers, 13er skiing, and higher mountains outside the continental U.S. I will keep battling my darkness, day-by-day, and hopefully be a force of good for humankind. I appreciate you for reading this. I wish you safe, unforgettable adventures. Thank universe!

Rob




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
sunny1

Superb!
06/30/2018 14:12
Thanks for sharing your well-written story.
I like the poems (heartfelt, creative) and tidbits of humor strewn throughout.
Glad you found healing & courage!
I like the way the photos tell the story of your mountain journey.
Congrats on reaching several achievements!!
You'll find many more adventures. Life is great, isn't it?
Happy trails!


illusion7il

Great Report!
06/30/2018 17:47
Love your class 4 and 5 solo rule, but I would be lost without GPS. Congrats!


Stratosfearsome

comments
07/01/2018 09:21
sunny1: I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. Life is amazing now, indeed!

illusion: Thank you! I need to get a GPS for winter stuff, I think. I noticed you've been reaching tons of summits again this year. Cheers! Best of luck with your goals, man!


Mtnman200

Nice report and photos
07/01/2018 11:10
Nice summary of a long bicentennial journey. Congratulations on finishing, Rob!


Stratosfearsome

One journey folds into the next
07/01/2018 12:21
Thank you, Eddie! I appreciate all of your trip reports over the years - they helped me navigate and maintain enthusiasm. Hope you have a productive summit season.


Tornadoman

Excellent!
07/01/2018 22:12
Thanks for sharing your journey. Wishing you continued success in and out of the mountains!
The last picture of Peak C should be framed on your wall, it is superb!

-Andrew


Stratosfearsome

Andrew,
07/02/2018 10:56
Thank you. Good luck to you, too! I appreciate that. Peak "C" is such a looker! Need to go back and climb it.


CarpeDM

Congrats...
07/02/2018 11:42
...Both on getting the upper hand on your demons and for attaining this goal! I watched your progress through the list last year with amazement and jealousy (now I'm watching illusion7il speed through the list). It was good to meet you briefly at the Boulder Happy Hour a couple of months ago; I hope our paths cross again.


Stratosfearsome

Paths
07/02/2018 18:51
Thank you, Dave! I have felt that way, too, when I see people getting out to the mountains a lot when I'm otherwise engaged. I'm lucky in that I got to take two months off last summer to visit the San Juans and Sangres. A substantial part of me just wants to live the nomad life and climb mountains all the time. It was good to meet you, also. Perhaps i'll see you at the next one or at one of the gatherings. Cheers!


LIV

Cool beans
07/20/2018 09:20
Hey - great report and what a comeback - keep on the high mountain paths!


Stratosfearsome

Thank you, Liv!
07/20/2018 18:39
Happy adventuring to you, too!
Rob


bmcqueen

Congrats and thanks
07/21/2018 18:58
Congrats on finishing this project Rob and thanks for sharing your inspiring story! May the next 202 bring you the same comfort, beauty and satisfaction.

Brad


Stratosfearsome

Thank you
07/22/2018 17:49
Brad, I appreciate that. I hope so. Best of luck with your seasonal grid project (and others) - rooting for you!


MarkOtt

MarkOtt
08/01/2019 08:15
Wow!!!! I have been climbing COLO peaks for 5 decades & your story is truly inspiring. Sometimes I get worn out & wonder how many more years I can continue climbing. After reading your story I feel re-energized & hopefully will keep climbing for another 3 decades. I hope our paths cross in the future!


Stratosfearsome

Mark
08/23/2019 16:39
Thank you for the kind words, man! I think I remember seeing your name on the Peak 15 register. Something about 'direct from Turret.' Anyways, happy climbing and hopefully we'll run into each other in the back country. Cheers!
Rob


JChitwood

Inspiring
01/09/2020 20:59
Rob...I thought I had read all your reports over the years but somehow missed this one. I think I assumed you slowed things down after finishing the Cents on the last day of your 20âs but you were just getting in gear. Average athlete? I think not but such humility has served and will continue to serve you well in the mountains or whatever you pursue. I have greatly enjoyed your pictures, your poetry, and your success. Iâm sad to read you battle the darkness whatever that may be but am pulling for you to overcome. Good luck.


Stratosfearsome

Jimmy
03/07/2020 08:55
Thank you for the thoughtful words! I appreciate that and happy adventuring to you.



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