Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"First of many"

3:15 AM: My alarm goes off. Warm in my bed, I silence it and ignore it for a second. But then it clicks: you're about to climb with Chris Warner; time to wake up!

I made it to Chris' house a few minutes past 4 AM, where we said our rather chipper hellos as I got introduced to Randy, a friend of Chris and another partner who would be joining us today. Introductions aside, we load the truck and go.

Our destination is Skywalker coulior on South Arapaho, a 13,300' peak in the Indian Range just outside of Golden, CO. In all of my planning, this had been my most-anticipated climb. And now, it was going to be the first climb I attempted since arriving.

We arrived at the 4th of July Trailhead in the Arapaho - Washington National Forest around 4:45 AM. The early start was necessary to minimize the risk of avalanche: as the sun warms the snow, it becomes increasingly unstable. Our approach was brisk, and soon enough we were at the foot of the coulior (a coulior is a gully in a mountainside, often used to describe ones with snow). We popped on our crampons, got our boots and crampons organized, and grabbed our ice tools!

The climbing was steep ice, consistent 30-40 degree slope, with sections that got steeper, especially as we neared the top out. The photo to the right is the view from about 1/2 way up, and the one below shows I and Randy working our way through the last few feet of the climb!

From there, we followed the ridge to the summit, arriving at 9 AM! Watch the video below to see what I saw.

Tomorrow, I'll be meeting back up with Chris for some roack climbing around Eldorado Canyon State Park. I'm taking the morning to move my stuff to my campsite: I'll be staying at Golden Gate Canyon State Park tomorrow and Thursday night.

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