Continental Divide Traverse – 8.24.2013


Click picture above for brief slideshow – James Peak (13,294′)

I awakened at 3:30am this past Saturday morning to attempt a long traverse on the Continental Divide above Winter Park, CO, that I had been eying for a while.  Great friend and long-time climbing partner, Bob Berger, joined me for this full day on the Divide just south of Colorado’s Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park.  We started as the sun broke above the eastern horizon at Berthoud Pass and summited 6 peaks ranging between 12,500′ to 13,400′ before descending St. Mary’s Glacier to complete a 12-mile traverse with a 4,500′ vertical gain (and ~5,500′ of descent).

It was a great day in the high-country, although it seems that the seasons are already in transition up there.  It was a blustery day and we spent much of it in the clouds despite our early start.  We quickly ascended 12,497′ Colorado Mines Peak, from which we could see the rest of the long day ahead of us.  Most of the terrain was Class I or Class II, so we made good time across the subsequent peaks, which included:  Mt. Flora (13,146′), Mt. Eva (13,130′), Parry Peak A (13,391′), Mt. Bancroft (13,250′) and James Peak (13,294′).

The final ridge connecting Mt. Bancroft to James Peak was a slightly more interesting and engaging Class III scramble that added some much-needed spice to an otherwise straightforward day.  We reached the summit of James Peak by midday in a whiteout, so it was clear we needed to make a quick retreat below treeline.  We made it to my truck just as the thunder, lightning and rain started, so we timed our day well.  After a quick stop at The Buffalo in Idaho Springs for a burger and some mandatory electrolyte replacement therapy, our day was complete.

This successful traverse puts me at 20 summits, half way to my goal, with about 30 weeks to go.  Many of the weekends this fall look busy, so I’ll likely need the cushion to keep me on pace.  More to come…

DeCaLiBro Loop – 8.17.2013


Summit of Mt. Lincoln (14,286′) – click for brief slideshow

Carla, Camden and I set-up camp last week at Kite Lake in the heart of the Mosquito Range in central Colorado.  Kite Lake is conveniently located at the base of four of Colorado’s 14,000’+ peaks.  The following morning we set out on an ambitious climb, although not technically difficult, of all four of these 14,000’+ mountains via their connecting ridges.

The route is named after the first letters of each peak in the cirque:  Mt. Democrat (14,148′), Mt. Cameron (14,238′), Mt. Lincoln (14,286′), and Mt. Bross (14,172′).  Hence the name the DeCaLiBro loop.  It was a beautiful day, which allowed us to take our time and let some of the crowds clear out in front of us, so that we were able to have the final three summits virtually to ourselves.  Camden managed to wear through one of his shoes (after only 7 mountains – c’mon!  Gonna have to send those back!), but other than that we were none the worse for wear after a total vertical gain of 3,700′ over the 7-mile loop. It was yet another great day in the Colorado high-country.

For those keeping count at home, that makes for 14 peaks completed, or 26 more to go, with 32 weeks remaining to do so.  So far, so good.

10 Down – 30 To Go

Click for SlideshowAfter a relatively quiet week upon my return home from the epic outing on Mt. Jefferson, it was time to return to the hills.  I am very happy to report that Craig is mending well (his ribs were, in fact, broken).  Although he’s still feeling a bit roughed up (as one might expect), it appears that he’ll be back at it in no time, which is great news for all of us that were involved.  Happy healing, buddy!

In order to ease back into things, I chose to get in some altitude work while not doing anything exceptionally challenging.  For the past two weekends I’ve been sticking to the “dog routes” on some of Colorado’s beautiful 14,000’+ peaks (the 14-ers).  Camden has been my steady companion on these outings and has completed three 14-ers already.  That’s more than a lot of people in Colorado can claim, so he has certainly earned his mountain-dog stripes as of late.

Carla joined us for a quick 4.5 mile round-trip hike up the west ridge of Mt. Evans (14,264′) via Mt. Spalding (13,842′) on a beautiful Saturday morning.  We successfully got up and down prior to the midday thunderstorms moving in on us.  Camden and I repeated this success this past Saturday on Grays Peak (14,270′) and Torreys Peak (14,267′) in an 8+ mile day with 3,600′ of vertical gain in just over 4 hours, so he’s a pretty efficient climber on Class 2 terrain.  It looks like he’s going to be my climbing buddy on many of the 30 peaks that I have left to complete my self-imposed 40 peaks in 40 weeks challenge, at least on those that are Class 2 or below.