Starting at the parking area near the old Berthoud Pass Ski Resort, Lee and I started up an already broken trail through a small pine forest. Being from Cincinnati, the altitude quickly showed its ugly face and my heart was beating faster and I was breathing faster than I ever have before.
After pasing timberline we were on the exposed face of the mountain. Wind packed snow and ice was encountered after timberline and slipping became a problem.
It was a bluebird day on the way up, and pain in our thighs, burning lungs and soon-to-explode hearts couldn't stop us from reaching the top. We summited just after 11 a.m. to clear skies and sweet views of surrounding peaks. However, the valley was now totally obscured form sight by thick, dark clouds; a sign of what was to come.
Taking a 15 minute break on the top for photo ops, videos and general rest we noticed the clouds quickly rising out of the valley, coming to get us.
Deciding it would be a good idea to start heading down; as we were without any sort of bivouac, tent or anything else to provide shelter, we walked down into the cloud. In an instant, our bluebird day turned into a challenging walk in the middle of a blizzard. Visibility dropped to roughly 15 feet and we could no longer see the route we took to the top.
We had a problem that we didnt want to decend to close to one another for fear of one person falling and taking the other one with them, but at the same time walking to far apart with the lack of visibility would have probably caused us to get separated. We managed to keep a safe distance and started down to where we thought our trail was. However, in these conditions landmarks that we passed on the way up looked totally different.
Eventually we did make it to near timberline where we came upon a local snowboarder riding out the storm. He said the way we were walking was toward a cliff that would have surely killed us and he pointed us in the right direction for the trail.
After we got into the cover of the pines the snow's ferocity tapered off a bit and we were able to make it back to the Jeep unscathed.
Lee and I, even though we are from Cincinnati (Lee has since moved to Denver, I will go to Alaska in June 2006) love climbing mountains because the city sucks. Even though we got socked by a blizzard we still had the time of our lives.
I do reccomend this climb to a lot of people. It isnt all that hard and technical, but it has just enough to provide a solid challenge.