Winter Came Early to CO


Click picture for more pictures from the weekend

Craig made it out last weekend (12/12-15) for some fun in Colorado’s early winter conditions.  The weather was determined not to cooperate, but we didn’t let that hold us back.  We went straight from the airport to some close-in ice in Clear Creek Canyon, where we met Bob, and had a full afternoon climbing ice.  We descended our route as the sun retreated behind the canyon wall – just ahead of the need for headlamps.  Craig and Bob did some more ice and mixed climbing on Friday, while some of us aspired toward a paycheck.  On Saturday, Ben and I were able to re-engage on the fun and after a few false starts made our way to Berthoud Pass to skin/ski a few laps to salvage what we could on a cold and blustery day.  We put in several good laps and a couple of thousand feet of vertical in a biting wind.  We retreated after a few hours to Murphy’s in Silverthorne and then on to Ben’s mountain retreat in the mountain metropolis of Heeney, CO.  On Sunday, 55+ mph winds kept us off of our intended climb and ski descent of James Peak, but we skied the beautiful Dry Gulch basin, which will require further exploration.

We had a lot of fun and it was great to see Craig back in his element and charging hard, as usual.  You can’t keep a good man down (or Craig, for that matter), so hopefully we’ll get him back out for some more mountain fun in early 2014.  Looking forward to his return trip already.

I am now back in much warmer Charleston, SC, for the holidays with my family.  I am grateful for what was an eventful 2013 and excited for what 2014 has in store.  I hope your 2013 was all that you could have hoped for and more, and that your 2014 exceeds all expectations.  Merry Christmas, happy holidays and all my best to you and yours for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Enjoying the Early Colorado Snow

1424449_10202163585908915_854200601_n We have been enjoying great snow here in Colorado since early November, and I have been spending a fair amount of time playing in it as my departure to the Himalayas creeps ever closer (only 16 weeks until we depart for Kathmandu)… crazy.  At left, is a picture of my young climbing partner, Matt Moniz, pulling a back-flip (yes, intentionally) on Berthoud Pass only two days after Halloween.  Matt, his dad, Mike, and I have been on a few early-season, backcountry outings on Berthoud Pass to climb up and ski down the likes of Russell Peak (12,300′) & Stanley Mountain (12,521′) as well as Colorado Mines Peak (12,497′) & Mount Flora (13,146′).  Everyone is feeling strong at this point in the training cycle, so it is time to step things up and get our bodies ready for the challenges that await us on our expedition.

IMG_1601This past week, we experienced the arctic blast that blanketed much of the US, but we used the opportunity to do some conditioning (getting used to tough conditions – i.e. frigid temps, snow, wind, etc.) as well as some training.  At least that’s what we tell ourselves to feel better (right, Bob Berger?).  Ben and I headed out this past Saturday in below zero temps with our pups (Camden & Tank) to climb Bear Peak (8,461′) in Boulder.  It’s not a terribly tough outing typically, but being a steep, snow-covered, 3,000′ climb to the summit in frigid temps, it more than met our needs for the day.  We made quick work of it and retreated from the summit to the warmth of the Southern Sun brewery for some much-needed electrolyte replenishment (beer) and nourishment (buffalo burger).  Another good day in the hills, even if my eyebrows completely frosted over (more pictures of the outing available by clicking either of the pictures above).  This outing, combined with the other ones over the past month or two, puts my total summits at 30, which leaves 10 peaks to go with 16 weeks until departure.  I think that will prove to be good training down the stretch as the Himalayas loom large on my horizon…

This weekend, Craig is coming to Colorado for some backcountry fun.  He has recovered nicely from this summer’s incident on Mt. Jefferson and he will be joining Ben, Bob and me (and maybe the Monizes) to climb some ice, summit some peaks and ski some lines.  More on that adventure to follow…