2009 Travel-Climbing Log

2009 Travel-Climbing Log

Page Type: Custom Object
Object Type: Climbing Log
A personal log of mountains, peaks, countries visited and climbing routes. I've seen this on a few
others' profiles & thought it was a good idea!

January 2nd. 2009 (Mt. Democrat & Mt. Cameron)
The DecalibronThe Decalibron

After juggling which mountain to take a friend/co-worker on for his first 'real' summit since South Africa doesn't really have anything even close to what Colorado offers,
I choose the gentle summits of The Decalibron just south of Breckenridge.
Some good friends of mine were on Quandary that day and as tempting as it was to join them on the mountain, I wanted something new as a winter summit, in regards to Colorado 14ers.
So Dave I arrived at the winter road closure for Kite Lake west of Alma and proceeded up into an exceedingly windy Buckskin Gulch.

We successfully summited Mt. Democrat and once on Cameron Point, I called the rest of the day off. The winds were actually the worst I've ever seen. Actually HAD to sit down for most of the time!
Dave was happy with what he accomplished and experienced and for the most past, so was I. Though I need to get back and knock off Mt. Lincoln.
At least Dave will take some good memories other then skiing back home to Capetown with him.

Kite Lake Road & Mt. Democrat Mt. Cameron from the summit of Democrat
The Decalibron in Winter

January 11th. 2009 (Mt. Lincoln Attempt)
Hiking up Kite lake RoadKite Lake Road in mid-January

So after deciding to turn around at the foot of Hoosier Pass after seeing the winds sheer off North Star Mountain and Quandary's East ridge, we decided any attempt on Lincoln would be just plain misery. After all, temperatures are one thing but add high winds to that and the 'fun' factor has just disappeared.

We canceled Saturday and headed up early Sunday. Once we popped out of Gabe's truck at the winter road closure, we just looked at each other and shook our heads. The winds were terrible even below treeline- typical winter weather. We had a go of it anyway, hiked up to Kite Lake, took refuge in the outhouse and decided neither one of us wanted to deal with the winds up above.
We even brought harnesses and rope to fix a line in Bross' S-Gully to get some ascender practice in (descent). That wasn't even an option. Oh well, we got 7-8 miles of hiking in; been a mean winter already.
Winter can be such a rewarding climbing season and yet, the most irritating and aggrevating at the same time.
We had the clothing we needed for conditions as such and the experience to deal with it but we didn't feel like dealing with it.

After scouting around a little near the Quartzville Trailhead for an east-side ascent for next time, the sheering off the cloud tops above Bross and Lincoln confirmed we made the right (albeit downtrodden) decision.

Kite Lake Road Gabe looking back before our retreat

February 1st. 2009 (Mt. Bross & Mt. Lincoln)

Winter  09 on LincolnMt. Lincoln
Andrew Eldritch Apparently, David had such a good time, he vocalized this to a couple co-workers and one, Andrew, another South African wanted in on some of the fun! So, taking another newbie up a 14er and winter to boot, I didn't feel like repeating Quandary for the upteenth time. We launched out from Kite Lake again and headed straight for the 'S' gully on Bross and directly to the summit.
Crestone from the southCrestone Peak from a rarely seen vantage.

Andrew definately felt the altitude effects.
But we quickly remedied that with 2 Extra Strength Tylonals, ample water and some coffee.
Lincoln looked impossibly far from Bross' summit but I ensured Andrew the distance would pass very quickly. The hard part after all, was finished. The traverse was as easy as they come. It took us about 40 minutes to reach Lincoln's summit.
We summited Lincoln (finally!) and made haste to get down. Up until Lincoln's summit, we'd been graced with relatively calm skies. A rare treat on the Decalibron. Athough up on Lincoln, Andrew got a taste of the winds that David and I had to endure a few weeks previous. We both had every inch of skin covered and still shielded our faces until we got down on the trail back around Cameron Point.
It was a great day! If Kilimanjaro ends up happening in February of 2010, I'll be flying south to South Africa for an extra 3 weeks to say hi to my new friends and sight-see Mozambique and Namibia.
The Superbowl wasn't worth watching anyway.

February 7th 2009 (Crestone Peak attempt)

On the RidgeSteve Gladbach & Summit Ridge
It's been a fairly dismal winter up to now. I've only two successful trips out of a total six planned. But between working a standard 75-hr. work week and seemingly timed storms in accordance with my days off, I suppose what else can one expect? You can't just sit around and cry in your beer b/c the weather isn't cooperating, I usually have a mountain guidebook to read while I'm crying in my porter.
I met Derek (Furthermore) early Saturday morning (2:00am) for a single-day assault on the Needle. This was definately possible from Cottonwood Creek but we'd in it for the long-run.

Anyway, after a wrong turn up the wrong drainage (we left the bottom entirely too early), we discovered that we'd scrambled up to the South Ridge on Crestone Peak! At this point, Crestone Needle was definately out. But hey! Crestone Peak was possible!
We stashed our snowshoes, poles and extra fluids and continued up the South Ridge towards Crestone Peak. To our knowledge, no one's ever attempted this particular route. It was easy class-3 scrambling up to our turn around point.
I'm extremely interested in going back and doing some scouting on the 'crux' of the ridge, a pair of buttresses that block easy access. Once skirted however, it would deposit you a little more than half-way into the Red Couloir....probably not the best choice for a summer assault though. We turned around about half-way into the ridge.
We had a questionable but probably doable snow traverse to undertake and two buttresses to figure a way around w/o dropping too much in elevation. Derek brought a 50m 9.0mm and we both had harnesses and a light rack each.
Derek with Crestone Peak in the background.

We could have made the summit but neither one of us were looking forward to descending at dusk. The route finding was confusing and snow conditions had deterioated...and since we stayed high on the north side of Cottonwood Creek, we would have had to negotiate the boilerplate slabs (in low-light conditions) that we completely by-passed during the ascent.
We came across super-dry snow, concrete hard snow and later in the day back in the trees, unconsolidated wet mush. Any climb of these peaks would HAVE to be done first thing in the morning.
Things are dry in the Sangres at the moment.

The bushwhacking was heinous and physically abusive/draining.
It slowed me down too much & I think my slow gait contributed greatly to our failure. I left my 'A'-game at home. But with only two hours of sleep and no breakfast, I should have expected less then stellar results.
It's stupifying what we expect out of ourselves even when we don't set ourselves up for success.
Mountaineers are definately a breed apart!
It was a great day non-the-less and we still managed 5,000-v-ft!
Gonna try and get back in there in a couple weeks for an overnighter.

The Crestones in winter would be awesome.......we'll see!

February 20th 2009 (Vail Mountain night skin/ski)
3rd time this season heading up the Born Free run to Eagles Nest. In less than a half mile, it rises up about 2,300-v-ft.
The training for Denali this provides, especially since I'm walking up in crampons with my skis on my back is stupendous. My quads felt like peanut butter last night. About 1 hour 25 minutes up and 15 minutes down. Skiing down with a headlamp is a unique experience and a great one!
Seeing the town of Vail at night under a low cloud deck with light flurries was amazing!
They'll be many more night runs in weeks to come.

March 7th. 2009 (Snowmass Mountain)

Classic Pic.Long's Peak
This was my Colorado 14er finisher!!! And Snowmass Mountain definately did NOT disappoint. This mountain lived up to it's namesake.
I had a few friends bail at the last minute due to various reasons which, left myself and Steve Gladbach to tackle this snowy beast.
Over three days, we treked, snowshoed and climbed just under 24 miles.
We summited on Saturday during an incoming storm. Prolly not the best idea but in hindsight, it was a good idea due to the painfully clear and sunny weather on Sunday. This would have increased the risk for wet slides of which, there were a few that we saw on the approach.
Snowmass Basin Saturday Morning Snowmass Lake on Sunday Morning.
What a difference 24 hours can make!

We figured the snow on the headwall (after crossing Snowmass Lake) and the upper basin would be cramponable with the stretch of warmer weather we've had recently....NOT! It was thigh to knee deep powder all the way to the summit ridge. To say it sucked post-holing up a 42 degree slope to the ridge is an understatement. We left our snowshoes on the far end of the lake. That was a huge mistake.

The ridge turned into an M1-M2 climb under poor & deterioating conditions. Geneva Lake down on the west side didn't look much better than the eastern approach-still pretty desolate. We had white-out conditions for most of the day puncuated with silvery-bright recesses of light snow but the clouds always came back and socked the basin in.
Steve is a great hiking/climbing partner and I look forward to more outings with him this upcoming summer...great company & a great weekend.

March 14th. 2009 (Long's Peak)

Long's Peak is a mountain that attracts many people. However, in winter, those numbers dwindle to only the purists since any outing involves a long approach compounded by winds, snow and temperatures.
A snowy traverseDying Light

The way, in my opinion to climb Long's in winter is via Cable's. But that route doesn't lend much to Denali training in terms of correlation.
So we opted for the Trough Route since it invloves a snow climb instead of rock.
From summit of Tab.Mt. Shavano

Myself, Stephanie Lynn, John Kruck, Shawn Strauss, Carl and David met at Glacier Gorge at 5:00am.
Snow conditions were wonderful in the morning and as expected, deteriorated in the afternoon. For a winter day, the weather felt like early Summer/late Spring. We really made a mess of the Trough coming down between skiing, plung-stepping and glissading.

We must have stayed on the summit for dam near 45 minutes. A friend, Prakesh had followed us for most of the morning and it was nice to see him also setting foot on the summit. We all descended together. David and Carl climbed a dry Homestretch in AT boots and skied the Trough. It was painful to watch them downclimb dry rock in ski boots!
Absolutely great temperatures, great company and good spirits.
John was the only one who didn't summit.

April 20th-22nd. 2009 (Mount of the Holy Cross- Attempt)

Mt. of the Holy Cross on the way out. Taken from a small western shoulder off Notch Mountain. Turns out, this shoulder is the key to descending to E. Cross Creek safely. Getting to the base of the North Ridge is another matter!

Having a string of a few days off since Vail Mountain closed, I wanted to do something big. I love the Holy Cross Wilderness so I thought why not a jaunt up there? I could tag Holy Cross' summit again and get Holy Cross Ridge, a ranked centennial. Plus the other guys still needed HC, so a little something for everyone! Three days should do it. I was able to get Brian, Pete (fellow SP'er) and Shawn to come along as well.

The road closure to Holy Cross is at the bottom of Tigiwon Road, some ~8 miles away from the standard summer trailhead. We slept both nights at the Community House about ~5 miles up the road even though the nights were relatively mild.
Tuesday was a phenominally long day, labour intensive but stunning.
I personally, and Brian made it to a few hundrd feet of the summit. We turned around....a hard decision.
Pete had reached his threshhold and couldn't endure anymore climbing. So in lieu of the summit, we followed the best interests of the group and proceeded down. But it's these moments are when you realize why you're in the backcountry.
AngelThe Angel of Shavano

We made a good call with no doubts or regrets.
A long way out, to be sure but dusk from Halfmoon Pass was magical and worth every snowy mile. We were all extremely low on food and water with Pete and myself being completely out. Shawn and Brian were cool enough to pass the bottle, as it were. After a small break at Halfmoon Pass & a re-fueling of spirits, we set out for the cabin. Sunset on the Gore Mountain Range was breath-taking!

Pete built another fire back at the house, we ate, finished off the beers we brought and happily retired to our warm sleeping bags.
It was a long 3 days but worth every mile and F-bomb.
Despite no summit, it was a really great time...testament to how much good company can have on the overall morale of the group/climb.
Will be back to HC soon.

April 26th-27th. 2009 (Kit Carson Peak)

Mt. McKinley
In lieu of our approaching expedition to Alaska to scale the flanks of Mt. McKinley, Gabe wanted to get down to Willowe lake and climb Kit Carson and Challenger Peaks.
I've been to Willow Lake multiple times but never during the winter or spring. Some snow should definately spice things up.
So we headed down to the San Luis valley and the Sangre de Cristo's for two days with six people in tow, all of us good friends.

Turned out to be an awesome trip and worth every step in. We met Ted Mahon and his fiance, Christy up there on summit day as they were skiing. Small world. We were kinda worried that the small disturbance that ROARED through during the night would jeopardize the whole trip but those doubts proved to be fruitless!
The whole trip report can be found here. Kit Carson Peak in April.

May 8th-9th. 2009 (Mt. Shavano & Tabeguache Peak)

Higher portion of the Apron Starting the climb
Alright. T-4. I wanted to get out this weekend and climb something or run. Since the rental car had to back Friday (something I spaced out), my plans for the weekend were shot.
BUT, lo and behold, Shawn Strauss gave me a ring and said,
"Kiefer! Get your ass ready. We're going down and climbing the Angel of Shavano." Ok. No complaints from me. I used the next 2 hours to continuing packing till he arrived with Andrew (they drove up from Denver).
I grabbed my pack, already ready, my half-finished bottle of mead and headed out the door.
Crystal PeakCrystal

We met another guy, Kevin down at the Blank's Cabin Trailhead that night and since it was so bloody warm, we threrw the pads and bags on the ground and made do.
What WAS cool was watching a low fog/cloud roll in throughout the night. I didn't sleep. The other guys didn't fare much better.

Honestly, I didn't think the Angel was all that. It was too low-angled, too wide and in my opinion, not even a couloir.
But I CAN see how it is a really good place for beginners to cut their teeth. Glissading it was phenominal! Makes you feel like a kid again.
Shavano was pretty windy and for some reason, Tabeguache wasn't.
I like Tab's summit better.I thought the views were better. Three times up Shavano now and twice for Tab.
I know how that ridge will play out during winter. Seems I'll be heading back that way come December!

May 12th-29th, 2009 (Mt. McKinley)

Ice CruxLooking down
This was beyond imagination. Alaska shouldn't be part of the US. This place is amazing and Denali was everything I imagined and more. I just wish I could have had more time to explore the wilds and further up north. Great people, great food and wilderness that is thick and wet as it is water-logged. Saw a moose and a bear down on the Kenai Penninsula.
Seward was fantastic, Anchorage, though nothing spectacular will hold some great memories & Talkeetna was literally, perfect!
Maybe a trip back in the winter months to see the Northern Lights could be in order? By far the best trip I've ever taken.
Second to last day in Anchorage, three of us, Haliku, Cheese, Dan and myself decided to have a stroll up Wolverine Peak east of town in the Chugach Mountains.
Nice little sub-area and this place would prolly have some decent BC skiing come winter.
Expedition Report Here

July 12th. 2009 (Pacific Peak, Atlantic, Crystal & Father Dyer Peak)
Jumping the CrevasseJUMP!

Summit shotSummit of Hood
In preperation for our upcoming climb to Mt. Rainier, Shawn Strauss, Carl Dowdy, Marc Barella, Anton Soloyev and myself needed to all get out on something together. Whether that was going to be a ice climb, snow or at the very least, a stroll in an alpine setting, it mattered not. However, a snow/ice climb was preferred. Per Shawn's and Carl's idea, we decided to hit the North Couloir on Pacific Peak. Granted, Mt. Rainier wasn't going to have anything remotely this steep but it's a route that we all wanted anyway.
Stephanie came with us as well but since she was sans crampons, she unfortunately was forced to take the standard class-2 ridge, much to my dismay. The approach in was absolutely great on a sweet trail followed by some cross-country walking. Some great open meadows in this upper basin and surprisingly, fish in the higher lake and streams!
Fields of GoldFields of gold

The ice in the couloir was lean and short. Not much of a crux. It was a bit unexpected considering how late in the season it was. Surprisingly, there was still more snow then ice, but so be it. We brought a short rope and few screws in case we needed it but as the saying goes, "better to have..."
We gathered on top for a Rainier meeting for about an hour to discuss some logistics and planning and parted ways.
Afterwards, the guys headed down and Steph and I continued on over to tag Atlantic Peak, Steph's second time up there.
That ridge coming off Atlantic heading over to Fletcher looked like a REAL nasty bit of business.
We re-summited Pacific and continued on over and down the north ridge to tag Crystal and ended the day by crossing over Father Dyer Peak. The weather had threatened all day to storm but Stephanie seems to be a kind of 'good-weather good-luck charm' and we were graced with a clear and blue window most of the day.
I was happy because I had nabbed a couloir on my list for some time plus three centennial peaks I needed. Stephanie is a great climbing partner and I'm looking forward to many more adventures together with her!
It was a super cool day.
One of the better ones of 2009.

July 18th-22nd, 2009 (Mt. Rainier & Mt. Hood)

Lake IsabelleLake Isabelle
I can't really say why this particular trip went off so wonderfullingly well but I think most of it had to do with all of us being so well versed with each other
Some ExposureStephanie in the corner

and everybody hitting and seeing eye-to-eye on all levels.
Someone would pick up the conversation seemlessly and finish each others' movie quotes.
We had fantastic weather for Rainier and Mt. Hood and were wildly successful on both accounts.
At Rainier summit Rim, I ran into John, who spends part of his time here in Vail and part down in Texas. I mention this because I also ran into him at 14,200 camp on Denali earlier this year! We remembered each other.
Talk about a small world!!
Anyway, you can find reports from both trip on the following links.
Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood

July 25th 2009 (Mt. of the Holy Cross and Holy Cross Ridge)
Looking down...Palisades
Stephanie and myself wanted to hit Mt. of the Holy Cross and I specifically, Holy Cross Ridge (13,831).
We left Vail and met a mutual friend, Keith Kiggins and his friend, Maureen up the trail closer to Halfmoon Pass. We left Vail a bit on the late side this morning.
Those early mornings are so dam hard sometimes! Keith needed Holy Cross so we thought it'd be a good idea to just all go together.
The trip up Holy Cross was pretty cool. It'd been a LONG TIME since I've been to Cross Creek in the summer but the last 3 attempts were in winter. I wasn't used to seeing everything so lush and green. Cool perspective.
Stayed on the summit for a while and continued on down to grab Holy Cross Ridge, a ranked Colorado centennial. Didn't stay too long.
Kept going and crossed Halo Ridge which we linked to Fall Creek Trail and a LONG hike out. That fuckin ridge just wouldn't stop!
Finished the day with a great dinner in Minturn at Chilly Willie's with Steph's parents, who were in town on holiday.

August 8th. 2009 (Navajo Peak)
Teakettle MountainTeakettle

This was my first time exploring and poking around the Indian Peaks Wilderness. From what little I saw and came across, this is a really sweet place to have at your doorstep-at least for the folks who live up and down the Front Range.
From  Coffeepot Teakettle Massif

The approach in on a great trail is pristine and beautiful. Great little tracts of forest, stream crossings and peaks further up one hikes.
Stephanie and I were initially confused once we gained an upper basin. The peak we thought we were headed for wasn't Navajo but Apache Peak. So after consulting the topo, we abrubtly turned south and headed for the actual peak.
The climb up Navajo Snowfield was cool and even better once we reached the top. The drop on the other side, around Dicker's Peck was intense!
We climbed one at a time up what I would say would be the Northwest Face first starting out in a tight corner then angeling gently ever more to the north onto the face proper.
We found a cool 25' shallow chimney that lead almost to the summit itself.
We climbed that and did a minor traverse to gain the summit.

We intended to descend Airplane Gully but never found it. Instead, we descended what was probably an equally as loose gully till we reached the bottom and started the long hike out.
A really cool mountain! Would LOVE to get back up there and tag Dicker's Peck & the North Face proper.

August 9th. 2009 (Long's Peak)

First Rapel!!Shawn's first trad repel!
So, we got the opportunity to do another route on Long's Peak. I swear, this mountain will never run out of varying routes to the summit. I'm thinking Long's is THE PREMIER 14er mountain in Colorado.
I mean seriously, everything from class-3 scrambling/hiking to big wall climbing.
Stephanie, Anton and myself climbed up Kiener's Route on the east side. Kieners is the best mountaineering route of any Colorado mountain by far & away. A good long approach followed by a moderate snow climb. Then an exposed ramp followed by some good low 5th class climbing and more class-4 scrambling, a few more low 5th class moves and then easy class-3 scrambling. Great summit!
Trip report here via Stephanie.

August 17th, 2009 (Teakettle Mountain & "Coffeepot")

Point 13,832Stephanie & 13,832
I drove down and met Shawn Keil and Stephanie at the trailhead for Mt. Sneffels since they had taken off a couple days earlier to nab Sneffels and Handies Peak.

I drove Stephanie's Jeep down and we all conveined at a pull out. CODave and his girlfriend were there as well so we all drove back into Ouray for dinner, parted ways with Dave and drove back up & camped for an assault on Teakettle, "Coffeepot" and maybe Potosi Peak the next day.
We woke up at the early time of 7:00am and made haste for the pseud-famous 'outhouse' pullout.
Snowy ChampionMt. Champion
As far as outhouses go, this thing is Hilton style! Resplendant with stocked TP, air freshner, hooks for clothing, even a small picture and cleaning products!
The scree was the usual loose, irritating, nightmare. That slope flat out sucks! It's better then getting caught in the volcanic labrynth under Potosi though. Most of that slope cliffs out.
We bypassed "Coffeepot" and continued on over to Teakettle since it's ranked. The climb was fun, no concerns and was great to be back up there again.
We repelled down, I uncorked a bottle of wine I brought and we continued on over to Potosi. The wine was very, unexpected!

Upon seeing the nightmare of scree we would have to endure on the way back, we all pretty much agreed, "Fuck that!" Potosi would end up being nothing more then an endless scree battle on loose slopes. Granted, it's a Colorado Bi-Centennial peak with a fair amount of altitude, but I think it would be better climbed via its' North Couloir.
At least one could have the advantage of staying on snow.
So we backtracked to "Coffeepot" and climbed that instead which, ended up being just as enjoyable as Teakettle. The small but extremely short chimney is neat and you can jump down the short face on rope.
One sweet day!!!

August 18th. 2009 (Points 13,811 and 13,832)

Fall AspensHuerfano Valley
So there we were...sitting back in Ouray having dinner at that Irish bar (I forget the name) soaking in a great few days and I, nursing a good headache. Dam, those bloody things always incapacitate me. It's hard to even eat without cringing.
We still had another day at our disposal and we were a bit torn as to what to do. I wanted to drive further south towards Silverton and nab Vermillion Peak, another centennial but for Stephanie and Shawn, that would mean a hell of a lot more driving.
We started to come up with other options.
Lackawanna GulchLackawanna Gulch

In the end, we setteled on these two unnamed summits. They were still centennial peaks which was great because I needed them. Plus, they were a lot closer to home...minimize the driving.
In short, they were basically nothing more then a couple bumps along a long but mellow ridge.
It was cool to leave the saddle with Redcloud Peak and head the OTHER way while the throngs of people started to hike up towards the 14ers.
We met Sue Personett, whom I know from 14erworld. She was a really cool chic and great company to be with. We share a common love & interest for Huskies and Malamutes.
An easy but enjoyable day!

August 31st. 2009 (Mt. Champion, UN13,736, Deer Mountain, "K-49" and Mt. Oklahoma)

Stoicly CascoCasco Peak
This was a long day.
We initially started out following the ridge leading up to Frasco BM and I noticed the ridge we were on was too jagged from what the topo indicated.
We retraced our steps back to the saddle and walked the old mining road for a spell and contoured on up & found Mt. Champion.
The traverse over to UN13,736 was pretty standard class-2 and 3 scrambling, nothing to write home about.
Travis and I did a long walk out to grab "K-49" (have no idea why its named thus). Instead of backtracking to UN13,736 and over the ridge to Deer Mountain, we dropped all the way down into the next basin to refill on water since we were both out.
The descent was....I'll say aggrevating and annoying. Especially having rocks being kicked down on you with no warning from above.
Tyler and I reclimbed out of the basin, grabbed Deer Mountain which, turned out to have a few 'teeth' near the summit.
The walk over to Oklahoma was long and we were both tired at this point. We bushwhacked out in the dark, found the trail and sped out of there.
A good long, draining day. We need those sometimes.

September 7th. 2009 ("Huerfanito", Iron Nipple, Huerfano Peak & UN13,555)

Working our way up the summit...Mt. Peale
I drove down to meet Stephanie and Shawn again who were down the previous day climbing Crestone Peak and making an icy traverse over to Crestone Needle. The weathr was pretty bad.
I set up shop up Huerfano Basin, a long frickin way from just about ANYWHERE in Colorado. Once there, it's a beautiful basin! Probably one of the best. Autumn is definatly the time to go. Shawn had prior obligations the next day so he would only be able to camp. Stephanie and I continued on up the next day for the Lindsey TH with our sights set on other peaks this day. It's nice being off the '14er circuit' sometimes!
We hiked in on the long trail and eventually left it as we contoured on up to the south towards "Huerfanito". This little guy proved to be more exciting then we had expected. It's nothing more then a small ridge of rock really but it has some prominance (500ft), so we naturally enough, had to stand on top!

Blanca Peak reflected in a mid-valley stream

On the descent on the other side, I noticed a guy walking over in our direction. Ok, cool enough. He obvisouly knows enough about the peaks and the terrain in general to know what this pile of rock was. I looked at him for a few seconds remarking what a great morning it was. "John?" He looked at me after taking his sunglasses off,
"Kiefer!?" Then we both started to laugh pretty loud and heartily. "What the hell are doing out here? Of all places to run into someone! At least it's not Starbucks!" I said.

You see, John and I met at Applebees earlier in the year in Boulder for a pre-Denali meeting. As things turned out, he and Mark Yoder ended up heading up there with two other guys & got stranded at 11K camp for week due to weather. We eventually caught up with them, completely unintentionally. So to see him on the backside of an obscure 13er tucked at the end of Huerfano Basin was really amazing! I'm still shaking my head at the coincindence.
Stephanie caught up and we introduced each other. She was completely dumbfounded.

We parted ways and we continued on across the saddle and up to the high ridge to tag Iron Nipple (insert witty joke here!). Just a short rock scramble. We headed down and over to the highlight of the day, Huerfano Peak. Being over 13,800ft, it's a centennial peak here in Colorado. We spent a wonderful hour or so on the summit. Great weather, all the food & drink we needed and the company could NOT have been any better!
After long enough, we decided to continue on the ridge and tag that other summit WAY OVER THERE. It was a soft-ranked 13er, so at least it was worth the effort.

This ridge, being exceedingly long and seemingly never-ending was in hindsight some of the best class-3 scrambling I've ever done. It healthy mix of solid and loose rock while staying on the ridge crest at all times and downclimbing only when necessary. We had to pass over three false summits, one being nothing more then a gendarme. It took us 2 hours for the ridge but we were happy to have the summit finally. UN 13,555 was definatly a hard bugger to nab.
But after reading the summit log which, by the way, dated back to 1971! we observed that we summited the hard way. In my opinion, it was a well-deserved summit.
We descended some horrondous scree slopes and down (thankfully) a dry waterfall and bushwhacked our way back to the valley floor and to the truck.
A great night spent by the fire after a brutally long and exhaustive day.

September 8th. 2009 (Mt. California)

Mt. California was going to be as easy as it got. A simple trail to follow for most of the way followed by a class-1 tundra slope to the gentle summit. We were camped a few hundred yards from the trailhead so we slept in.
Nothing particulairly special about this mountain. We ran into the president of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society on the higher slope. We stopped & talked to him for awhile. Kinda cool but we called it early due to weather (which got bad) and had lunch back in Westcliffe.

September 26th. 2009 (Lackawanna Peak & UN13,660)

Sunset along Hwy.82 en route to North Fork Trailhead. (A little photo manipulation)

Wow. This day started off wrong and ended up no where near what Steph and I thought. First, we slept in late, like way late.
We started up the drainage following an incredibly scant, primitive trail. Fact, the animal tracks proved to be more useful then the actual 'path', if that's what it indeed was.
Snowy & cold!A Mighty Fortress

We took a wrong turn and kept on a straight course up into Lackawanna Drainage which, wasn't the objective for the day. We set out initially to grab Casco, Frasco BM and French Mountains. But, it gets better.
Instead of staying in the drainage, we started to veer up onto a high traverse and ultimately onto the west ridge coming off Casco Peak.
I was completely turned around b/c I thought we were on the ridge coming off Frasco BM that I had started just a few weeks earlier with Tyler. So I wanted to keep a low traverse to avoid the difficulties especially with fresh snow. We hit the ridge crest, found out we had to descend due to a sizeable gap and finally, after one more gully, popped out on the ridge linking "Lackawanna" and Casco Peak.
It was right about this time that we decided to scrap Casco and just finish the ridge loop over to Lackawanna and head down, call it good. We still had prior obligations that for some reason, we didn't think about earlier that morning.

Geesh! So we scrambled the ridge, tagged Lackawnna and headed down over 13,660 and through the dense forest below and got back to the car. Packed up and drove to the Crags CG west of Pikes Peak to meet our friend Shawn Keil who was finishing the 14ers the next day. We found Heather14 and threw up camp and hung around for a little while and gave some MUCH NEEDED attention to some neglected beers we brought. A bit of a cold night. Winter is 'round the corner.

September 27th. 2009 (Pikes Peak)

It turned out that a load of people ranging from regular hiking/climbing friends to co-workers and friends with no other association (what the hell does THAT mean?) all showed up this mornng.
CODave was there as well. A lot of us know each other through sites like 14ers.com and SP.
We had ourselves a short meet and greet and we're off like a Prom Dress.
Pikes is a miserable mountain.
It's flat, big, nothing technical (at least to the backside) and boring. But having a hot cup of coffee at the top was nice.
I invited Castricone7 along since he needed this mountain as well and it was awesome to finally see a good friend finish the 14er quest.
Awesome job, Shawn!!!

September 29th. 2009 (Casco Peak, Frasco Benchmark & French Mountain)

[img:559493:alignleft:small:Casco Peak]
Pete (Castricone7) and myself headed out to nab these three. I was excited to get up in this area again for basically the third time. By now, on this trip, everything was familiar and there was no mistaking where I was. About time!
The scramble up to Casco Peak proved to be pretty cool. Some decent class-3 stuff near the summit if you stayed on the west side of the ridge. The boulders were very slabby, ledgy & had a fair amount of exposure. It was cool looking at the huge drop/gap in the west ridge that only a few days prior, Stephanie and I were on and getting a bird's eye view of the ridge leading over to "Lackawanna".
I liked Casco Peak. It was a good mountain and in opinion, the best in the bunch.

Frasco Benchmark was ok. The dam ridge kept going on and on. Again though, some neat scrambling to be had if you stayed on the ridge crest itself without dropping. We were relieved to be on Frasco BM and gingerly took an extended break.
French Mountain was kinda ho-hum. It's a big mountain with lots of altitude but really nothing more.
The scree-skiing down one of Frasco's gullys was an absolute blast! Just the right mix of dirt and right-sized rocks made for some easy descending. Good consistency. The 'funnest' part of the whole day!

September 29th. 2009 (Mt. Peale & Mt. Tukuhnivitz, Utah. Arches National Park)
[img:142316:alignleft:thumb:Mt. Peale]
This was a very decent trip with Mike (Chicagotransplant), an extremly good friend. We went out to Utah per his suggest because the weather out here in Colorado was vile this weekend. Mike's never been to Utah so Arch's and the Moab Valley seemed like like a great place to start. We started out by hiking up a small 6er up Fisher Valley Road...UN6,475. Cool little jaunt. Nothing to write home about but it did offer some cool views.
Did a fair amount of hiking, some mountain biking, tons of sight-seeing and on the spur, decided to scale Mt. Peale and Mt. Tukuhnikivatz. Slightly windy up top with temperatures somewhere around 30 degrees.
I wasn't dressed nor did I have clothing for these temps so I had to bundle a shirt 'round my head Kiefer-of-Arabia style and throw on a pair of socks on my hands to keep them 'reasonably' warm.
We were back in town in Arch's sweating again a few hours later checking out the rock formations near Devil's Garden that afternoon.
A super-cool weekend!
Mike's trip report is here. Arch's and Mountains

October 25th-26th. 2009 (Capitol Peak Attempt)

[img:568267:alignleft:small:A Mighty Fortress]Glen and I set out to climb something big. At first, we thought something down in the San Juan Mountains would fit the bill but in lieu of a deteoriating weather forcast, we had a 1-day weather window. So much for going down and nabbing the Wilsons. Then Glen brought up the idea of doing Capitol Peak. Aaron Johnson has a killer page on this beautiful mountain.
Hmmm.....yeah, Capitol would certainly satisfy our 'big mountain' requirement, winter conditions to boot!
So, onwards towards Aspen, Snowmass and the Roaring Fork Valley!

We definately took a leisurely drive in getting there. It was a pretty good day actually in driving there and hiking in. Much more snow is up in the high country then what's seen from the lower valleys. I think the soothsayers and town locals were right in saying that this season is going to be a hard, wet and cold winter. Just what we need for some good, decent snow for the harder stuff later in the season
We did not summit but had a killer time being up there. Made it to the summit of K2, got some valuable winter beta for later in the year and a wonderful cup of coffee on the drive home late at night. Aw...shit. Hell, who am I kidding, 7-11 coffee tastes good after 2-3 days in the backcountry.
I put the trip report up at 14ers.com. Just follow the rabbit.