Monday, June 4, 2012

Just having some fun, Mt. Evans' style

I'm getting better at this. As my alarm goes off at three, I spring into action: I put on the rest of my layers, deflate my sleeping pad and stuff my sleeping bag, and break down my tent. By 3:30 AM, I'm on the road to Chris's.

Mt Evans, our objective: 14,264 feet, one of the most climbed 14ers in CO. We thought about which coulior, or snow climb, we would do, but we had to wait till we there and judge conditions for ourselves.

We arrived soon after we left, pulling in no later than 5 AM. Out we spilled into the parking lot, putting on boots without much talking. It was early, and we had a climb ahead of us. Suited up, we started the approach.

Again, almost too quickly to believe, we arrived at the snow field. The snow was already unstable: warm temps and early sun had already thawed the top layer. We threw on our crampons and got our ice tools, but stopped a moment to watch the sunrise instead of starting the climb. Standing at 12000 feet, surrounded by mountains, watching the sun come up over the front range... where else could anyone want to be?

A shot looking up the coulior. We went up the center of the photo; Chris went left around those lower rocks while I went right. We reunited where the two lines obviously merge and enjoyed some mixed climbing from there to the ridge.

I picked out a line on the snow, a coulior that looked like it made its way to the top of the ridge with only limited rock and good shade from the morning sun. Chris liked it, and we began our climb up the unknown line. Even though it was only my second snow climb in a week, I was prepared for this one. I moved quick, with good side steps and front pointing only when needed. The two of us quickly spaced out, with Chris moving left up a slightly different line that than merged with me under the rock band. About a dozen mixed climbing moves were mixed in then, but we made short work of them.

And all of the sudden, 7:15 AM, we were at the top of the ridge and done with the climb. We packed up the tools and hiked to the true summit, enjoying the amazing view.
Chris looking out from the summit at the front range.
The view from halfway up, looking out at the front range towards Denver.
I'm back in Golden, CO now, spending the day enjoying the beautiful town. Tonight, as I will be doing for the rest of the week, I am staying at Gordon Gulch, an area of National Forest Service land about 5 miles north of Nederland, CO that has free dispersed camping. The road is about as rough as my car can handle, but it's better than $18 a night!

Tomorrow I will be coming out of the peaks to meet up with friends in Arvada, CO for a happy hour and dinner. And tomorrow, or Wednesday I may do an early snow climb on Grays and Torrey's (Dead Dog Coulior) or hit up South Arapaho again (via Skywalker). On Wednesday, I also will be meeting up with Rebecca for an afternoon of climbing around the Flatirons.

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