IntroductionThis is just a simple log to keep track of our 2014 trips.
See the 2013 Trip Log for 2013.
See the 2012 Trip Log for 2012.
See the 2011 Trip Log for 2011.
See the 2010 Trip Log for 2010.
See the 2009 Trip Log for 2009.
See also the 2008 Trip Log for 2008.
MARCHMarch 8: Cedar Mountain (Colorado)
March 2: Monument Canyon (Colorado)
March 1: Grand Junction Climbing Center (Colorado)
Do I really count this? It was my first time climbing in a gym. I went with Kessler, Shaylee, and my friend Justin.
FEBRUARYFebruary 22-23: Elephant Canyon/Lower Salt Creek (Utah)
February 14-17: Madonna Dome/Bald Mountain (Colorado)
Kessler, Shaylee, Kimberly, and I had planned to go to the Section House (cabin) on Boreas Pass for some peak climbing over Presidents Day weekend. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was for another blizzard! It seemed to be a common trip this year whenever we planned a trip!
We decided to head for Section House Friday night anyway. We didn’t reach the trailhead until 6 PM and we still had 6.5 miles to go on snowshoes. It was actually raining in Frisco, so the weather was actually mild, even though it was snowing heavily and was very windy. It was going to be a long evening.
Once we snowshoed 2 miles in, I remembered that I had forgotten something very important back in the car! I sent Kim and the kids ahead while I backtracked to the car. They would wait for me at Baker Tank, which is 3 miles from the trailhead.
I nearly ran and snowshoed as quickly as possible back to the car. I didn’t leave the car until 7:30 PM. The return two miles and then additional mile to the Baker Tank left me very tired. We sat down at Bakers Tank and had a snack before pushing on.
After Bakers Tank, there was quite a bit of trail breaking to do because of the recent storm. Kessler was out ahead and breaking trail. It was a full moon on this night, but with heavy snow, it was almost always behind the clouds. The wind was quite strong and we struggled up to Boreas Pass and thus to the Section House. Just before reaching the cabin, the moon did break out briefly, but was quickly swallowed again by the clouds.
We arrived at the Section House at 10:40 PM, but that was in good time considering the conditions. The only rest we took was the one at Bakers Tank.
We were all tired from the late night before, so we didn’t plan a big day. The blizzard was still continuing on and off throughout the day as well. It was a very warm night though and never dropped below 18F. After a very late start, I did climb Madonna Dome (12,331 feet/3759 meters) to the west of Boreas Pass. Kim and the kids decided not to try the climb in order to save up energy for the next day’s climb. The weather was OK with light snow and cloudy skies. I had to break the trail most of the way up to 12,000 feet, but the ridge was windblown after that. Avalanche danger was high, so I had to make my way by using a winding and non-direct route that avoided any avalanche danger.
From the summit, I had a good view of Bald Mountain, which would be our destination for the next day. The climb looked reasonable and I could pick out the route to the saddle and then along the ridge to the summit.
After climbing Madonna Dome, I returned to Boreas Pass and the Section House. With the trail already broken on the ascent, the return back was much faster.
Today was our big climb. The temperature got down to 9F (-13C) early in the morning and the weather was a mix of clouds and sun. It was windy, but this is to be expected at such elevations in the winter time, so the climb was a go.
We decided to climb Bald Mountain, a 13,684 foot/4171 meter peak which was the highest mountain in the vicinity of Boreas Pass. With the recent storm, we knew that avalanche danger would be high, so we would have to choose a route carefully.
We would follow the patches of timber and then wind swept bare ground (it had snowed a lot, but the wind strips the snow off the ridges and slopes in places above timberline) and hopefully reach Black Powder Pass (12,159 feet/3706 meters) without running into avalanche danger. If we found any dangerous slopes we would abandon the route and return to Boreas Pass.
We set off towards Black Powder Pass, with Kessler in the lead to break trail (even though 11 years old, he is the strongest trail breaker in the family). We stayed in the trees whenever possible even though trailbreaking was more difficult. Once in the heavy timber, I set off a fracture line. We were safe since we were in heavy timber, but it was yet another sign that avalanche conditions on open slopes would not be stable. We also say some pure white ptarmigans in the timber and we took some photographs of them.
We found a safe route up to Black Powder Pass, although it was strenuous, especially through sections of willows where I would constantly sink down to my waist in the willows and snow. The last part of the route was across a mix of windblown bare ground and very shallow snow.
The wind was really howling on the pass, but we took a break anyway. We still had a lot of climbing to do. There was once slope above the pass that I was worried about and we thought that we might have to turn back at that point. The route was steep, but we found the slope to be surprisingly stable, It was all stable windblown snow.
The ridge was a straightforward climb, but the weather was windy, so it was challenging. Most of the time we were on hard snow, but there were sections of bare rocks and boulders to cross. Bald Mountain is a mountain where even the false summits have false summits. We took a rest on some of the false summits. We couldn’t bypass them since we stayed on the ridge top to avoid any avalanche danger.
The weather was pretty good and the views were fantastic. To the west, it appeared to be quite stormy, while to the east it was mostly clear. We kept waiting and expecting to get slammed by the storm, but it stayed to the west. It appeared that it was even snowing at times down at Boreas Pass.
It was challenging, but we thoroughly enjoyed the climb. It was a great experience for the family and it is sad that more families don’t climb mountains in the winter time.
Eventually, it was time for the long journey back to Boreas Pass. It was still windy, but the storm seemed to still stay to the west. Climbing back down the ridge was faster than ascending and we even got a good butt slide in since the snow was so stable.
Once we were below Black Powder Pass, the wind tapered off a bit, but the storm decided that it had been held at bay for a long enough and the mountains disappeared in a mist. The storm finally slammed us. Since the trail was broken, it was still fairly fast going where we could find the trail, though we lost our broken trail several times and had to break a new one. At once point we had to climb 100 feet higher in order to reach our old trail (which we knew provided a safe route).
The storm was short lived and quickly passed over. It was fairly sunny once we were back at Boreas Pass. We settled in for a well-deserved rest and could be proud of our winter ascent of Bald Mountain.
We played games and I made some Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner.
We awoke to clear and cold skies. Because of the recent storm and clear skies, it was much colder in the morning that it had been for the previous mornings. My thermometer indicated that it dropped down to -15F (-26C).
There was a little breeze, which made it feel chilly, but we sure enjoyed the sunny weather. It was a good shoeshoe back to the trailhead. Once we were down in the trees it was pleasantly warm.
It was a great trip.
February 8-9: Resolution Mountain (Colorado)
The weather forecast was not good and we (Kessler, Shaylee, Kimberly, and I) considered cancelling the trip. It seems like every time we plan a mountain trip this year, there is a blizzard warning. I tire of driving through the blizzards as well. In the end we decided to try to go anyway.
Most of the time, we did snowshoe in a blizzard up to the hut, but there were occasional lulls where there would be moderate snow before returning to a full out blizzard. The route up to the ridge and treeline was still fairly easy to follow and was rather pleasant in the falling snow. Once we reached the ridge, the winds were really strong and visibility was poor much of the time. Any sign of the trail was gone, so we had to break our own. The kids had to break trail most of the time, because the adults would sink farther in the snow.
We eventually made it to the notch just north of the summit of Resolution Mountain and we descended down and found the Fowler Hillard Hut. The last part of the route and the descent were actually quite challenging due to deep powder. We were all pretty exhausted by the time we reached the hut.
The next morning the weather was still blizzard. There was an occasional lull or two, but we headed back out into the blizzard in order to climb over the notch. Once at the notch we stayed high because we through the route would be easier to find if we did and we went over Resolution Mountain and towards the ridge. We did get disorientated in the whiteout conditions, but eventually we found a trail marker. It was still challenging to find the route though.
Once we reached the part of the route where it drops off the ridge and enters the timber, the rest of the route was easy to follow. The weather got better as we descended as well, though there were still periods of very heavy snow and poor visibility.
I was a very challenging trip and we never did get any views, but it wasn’t a bad experience.
February 2: Sand Rocks (Colorado)
At sundown, I did the Sand Rocks Loop, this time bringing snowshoes. It was cold and breezy.
February 1: Cedar Mountain (Colorado)
Kessler and I were supposed to do a scout campout, but Kessler was sent home sick from school Friday. I wasn't feeling that good either.
In the afternoon, Kim and I climbed Cedar Mountain, completing the medium loop. We got through just before dark. There were many animal tracks in the snow and we saw several deer.
JANUARYJanuary 26: Sand Rocks (Colorado)
I decided to do a quick trip to the Sand Rocks after dark. I underestimated the amount of snow that would be up there, so it was more challenging than I thought. I did a loop passing over the highest point and back.
January 25: Cedar Mountain (Colorado)
I haven't been feeling well lately, so Kessler, Shaylee, and I settled for climbing Cedar Mountain. We completed the long loop. Conditions were good and the trail was broken.
January 19: Dock Rock/Lizard Rock (Utah)
Kimberly, Kessler, Shaylee, and I met Matt Lemke in Moab in order to head for the Fisher Towers. First we dropped off the bag of stuff we found on Elephant Butte.
After reaching the trailhead, we headed for Dock Rock. Impish was covered in snow and ice, so we climbed the slightly harder Chimney Variation which was in the sun. Once again, Matt lead and Kessler cleaned. Shaylee attempted the climb, but decided to come down. I followed and met the others on the belay ledge. The climb was pretty dirty.
Once on the belay ledge we did a very exposed traverse on the east side and to the summit. We had to do a two stage rappel off the icy and snowy north face. The rope was just short of being long enough for a one stage rappel.
After climbing Dock Rock, we headed for Lizard Rock. Matt lead the climb. It was a good one. Kessler followed and made the summit. I was very near the summit, but decided not to pull the final move above the flake. I wish I would have tried it. The skin and some of the muscle on arms were severely burned off in an industrial accident several years ago and I don't have the confidence on rock that I used to.
January 18: Elephant Butte/Bullwinkle (Utah)
Kimberly, Kessler, Shaylee, and I met Matt Lemke in Moab in order to climb Elephant Butte. I suspected that the route would be too icy to attempt, but we went to check it out anyway.
As expected, there was much ice and snow in the shade and the climbing was treacherous in places. The crux of the climb was completely iced up. We provided Matt a spot while he climbed the crux and he dropped a handline for us to grab on the way up. The last few feet were icy! There was a bag of gear at the top of the crux. I'm guessing that whoever left it threw it up the crux and was unable to climb it. The bag had a nice camera, some shoes, and lots of climbing gear in it. I redistributed it among Kessler's and my pack and from then on I had a heavy pack!
The ascent rappel went smoothly. Because the standard route was iced, we took a different and more difficult route up the left side of the butte since it was dry. We then traversed over to the final crack and climbed to the summit.
It was definitely an earned summit. The kids enjoyed it, but Kim didn't like it that much in the ice.
The descent went smoothly and we found the pool above the exit rappel to be frozen solid. This was a good thing since none of us felt like wading in ice water.
The final rappel had a huge icicle on it that made it much more challenging. We hoped that we wouldn't knock the icicle down on us! Luckily none of us did.
After climbing Elephant Butte, we decided to check out Bullwinkle. I thought that it would be a fairly easy climb, but my leg was too fat to fit in the off width. It was quite frustrating. Matt led the climb and Kessler cleaned.
It was a good day.
January 10-11: Shrine Mountain (Colorado)
The plan was to snowshoe to Walters Cabin on Day 1 and climb Shrine Mountain and Wingle Ridge on Day 3. The weather on January 10 was insane though.
The only thing I have to say about it was that I screwed up and should have cancelled regardless of our reservation at a hut. We decided to try anyway since we could always turn back. Besides the Shrine Mountain cabin is usually a good destination in bad weather since it's usually an easy to follow route.
The kids, my wife, and I left for home to drive to Vail Pass at 1:30 pm Friday. It was extremely windy on the drive and at one point on 20 mile road (between Hayden and Oak Creek) visibly was extremely bad. During one wind gust the road just disappeared in the whiteout so we stopped, but were quickly buried by the snowdrifts. Luckily we were next to the mine. Unluckily though, the blade they were using as the snowplow was also stuck in nearby snowdrifts. At times you could see, but when a gust came up you couldn't see anything. We could see that the mine brought a bulldozer to pull out the plow blade and we walked down to see if they could help us out of the snowdrifts too. While we were talking to them another truck became trapped in the snowdrifts.
Anyway, the bulldozer helped everyone out of the snowdrifts and the wild calmed enough (but still blowing hard) that we all got out of there. The rest of the drive went without incident other than the section of I-70 from Vail to Vail Pass was ridiculously slow and took several hours.
We finally arrived at the trailhead at 8 pm (we originally planned on 4 pm). I have snowshoed up to the Shrine Mountain cabins four times, including three times in the dark, and I know the route well so thought we could make it, even if it was snowing and blowing hard.
We made half a mile up the trail (a very difficult half a mile) before losing the trail completely and not being able to find the markers. We backtracked down to the trailhead since we knew that we could follow the road (closed in winter) up to Shrine Pass.
It sounds easy enough to follow a road in a blizzard, but it wasn’t. We lost the road twice and when we didn’t lose it, it was still extremely difficult to find. The wind was blowing hard enough and the snow was coming down hard enough that you couldn’t see from one side of the road to the other. In fact, with a headlamp on, any light would reflect back on the heavy snow so you couldn’t see at all other than snowflakes in front of your face. We would have to turn the lights off in order to look for markers. . By the time we were over the half way point, it was thought that it was be better to try and reach the cabin that retreat since we speculated that the freeway was probably closed by now anyway. We literally felt our way on the Shrine Pass road by looking for the packed spots. When you hit a deep drift, it was hard
We lost the road at the minor saddle and I set off to find it, which took maybe a half hour. We eventually reached the first sign at Shrine Pass and lost all sign of the road. While Kim and Shaylee stopped at the sign, Kessler and I set up due west using a compass in order to find the outhouses we knew were on the pass proper. We found them, but breaking the trail was difficult, even though it wasn’t very far. I set off south in order to try and locate the trail to the cabins, which I found once in the thick timber.
Kessler and I returned to the sign were we had left Kim and Shaylee and we told them we found the trail. We still lost it a few times, but since the timber provided some shelter, it was easier routefinding to the first cabin. We contemplated crashing in there (we accidentally woke up the occupants and they said we could), but we pushed on to Walters. We lost the trail several times, but found it until near the cabin. By the time we lost it there though the wind died down slightly and we could see the cabin. We broke trail directly to it and arrived completely exhausted at around mid-night. Two others were in the cabin and had hiked up before things got really bad. They thought no one else was going to come, so they moved their stuff and we crashed in there for the night.
Shrine Mountain cabins are actually some of the easier 10th Mountain Huts to get to in winter. I had never expected that it could ever be that difficult to get there. Since the hut was at 11,223 feet, I imagine that conditions on the mountain tops were really extreme.
Saturday was sunny, calm, and beautiful. There was no sign of the previous maelstrom. We were too tired to climb to the top of Shrine Mountain or Wingle Ridge, which is the usual plan. We head back for hope without incident, though we were very tired.
January 4-5: Swett Creek (Utah)
Kimberly, Kessler, Shaylee, and I were originally going to backpack in the San Rafael, but due to the amount of snow there we headed down to Swett Creek, which drains into the west side of Lake Powell.
Swett Creek did have continuous snow cover in all the shady spots, but it wasn’t deep and hiking was not difficult. We explored Milk Creek and some side on the way down. There were several minor obstacles in Swett Creek, but none were a problem.
When we got to the spring area, deep within the Wingate Narrows, there was a little running water and several pools. We found a little nook in the rocks that would fit our tent and set it up around lunch time since it was known that it would be easier to do more hiking in the dark than to do more setting up camp in the dark.
After setting up camp in the wind, we continued down canyon through the beautiful narrows. The hike was very windy from here on. Right at the end of the Narrows and just before the canyon opened up; there was a big swim hole, mostly covered with ice. We decided not to do continue down canyon.
Just before the pool, Kessler and I found an exposed moki step climb up the north wall and to the Kayenta bench. It was assumed that the route would be too difficult for Kim and Shaylee so we returned to the canyon floor and headed back up canyon towards camp. Just before camp we explored a snow and ice filled side canyon and explored it to the headwall. It was pretty tricky because of the ice and snow.
Since it was very windy we contemplated packing up camp and hiking back in the dark. We decided to stay and hiked back up canyon a ways until we could climb up to the Kayenta bench. Once we climbed up to the bench we explored the beautiful rimlands and climbed the highest butte around. The scenery was fantastic, but there was a lot of unpleasant wind. After exploring around, we headed back for camp. Luckily the wind died down after dark.
We awoke to a frosty, but sunny morning and packed up camp. It was a fairly uneventful and pretty hike back to the vehicles. We were relieved that the wind was gone.
Accumulated Totals and GoalsAccumulated Totals for 2014:
Days that I went hiking or climbing: 21
Summits Climbed: 10
Summits Attempted: 14
Rock Towers/Technical Buttes: 2
Rock Towers/Technical Buttes Attempted: 4
Technical Canyons: 2
Technical Canyons Attempted: 2
Overseas Climbs: 0
Goals for 2014:
Days spent hiking or climbing: 130
Summits with the kids: As many as possible!
Rock Towers: 5
Technical Canyons: 20
Personal Records SetFebruary 8-9
Highest February camp/sleeping altitude in Colorado; 11,540 feet (3517 meters) at Resolution Mountain. Previous February record was 11,490 feet (3581 meters) at Boreas Pass on February 27-28 2010.