It almost seems like I have to be plain grumpy at someone in my life in order to get any real climbing done. I’ve often wondered why that is, but really, if I want to pull off a serious climb or do well on a big exam, I either have to have every star aligned without exception or I have to actively have a real gripe over something. For my first romp in the Colorado hills, I was cross over my buddy being cross when I got cross over something stupid...and the climbing was great.
On November 22, 2009 I left Fort Collins, CO at 5:00a.m. in pursuit of a 14er. It was late, and it was snowing when I got up to Loveland Pass. Grey’s and Torrey’s were accessible from the pass, I had read, and the weather said it could snow as much as two inches. The weather report was right, but had failed to clue me in on the winds that Martha would later tell me kept her out of the hills that day.
I gained the ridge by 8:00a.m., and found it painfully slow-going, not due to the snow but the wind. It was cold, and I loathed the thought of descending back to the pass, walking right into the wind that three months later emptied my bank account in the name of Feathered Friends. When I reached the small pass between one of the 12,000 foot peaks and Grizzly Peak, I noted that I was still warm enough, but horribly behind schedule.
On top of Grizzly Peak I stumbled onto two wind shelters, and onto the fact that I was within thirty minutes of my turnaround time. I was two-thirds of the way to Torrey’s, and as I slid down the ridge towards what I thought would be my first 14er, the weather lifted and I saw how much remained in for me to climb that day if I were to be 14er-worthy.
In retrospect I should have studied the area better and known that reasonable descent routes down exist all over both Grey’s and Torrey’s, and that a good hitch-hiking would have put me back at my truck within an hour had I just gone for it. But ignorance inspires quick decisions, decisions that I’ll forever regret.
Grizzly Peak, a fun 13er in all fairness, was achieved, as was my first taste of frostbite on that one corner of my cheek that simply could not be covered if I were to have any real visibility.
Nick Lysek (DudeThatMustHurt) helped me redeem some of my pride at the end of that week as we barreled up Quandary Peak (a pretty basic 14er) in two hours flat, but the next winter time I have in Colorado will find me armed with skis, snowshoes, my Feathered Friends, and whatever is necessary to run the ridge from Loveland Pass to Grey’s and Torrey’s.