My climbing partner Jason
and I talked earlier in the week and discussed that we both had kitchen passes for Friday (New Years Eave)! We agreed to do our own research and discuss later in the week what route we would try to take down. I used my new TOPO software to plan a trip that would take us to the summit of Mt. Lady Washington, then to Chasm View, and on to the summit of Storm Peak via the Keyhole Ridge. We were looking at about 12 miles and 4,400 vertical. We agreed that this climb would offer great views of some of our favorite routes and decided to go for it.
We met at the Longs Peak Ranger Station at 4:30AM and were on the trail by 4:45 after signing the trail register. We were not out to set any speed records on this trip and were satisfied to make steady progress on our way to tree-line. When we reached tree-line we were glad that we had not started as early as we normally would have due to how windy it was. The wind was blowing snow down the mountain and Jason did not have goggles. We decided to look for a wind break and eat something while we waited for the sun to come up. We reasoned that the sun would burn off some of the wind and weather.
We eventually decided that we would stay bundled up and move on slowly so that we wouldn't get overheated but could still withstand the wind-chill. We continued to follow tracks that stood above the trail due to the wind erosion until we left the trail and headed for the summit. This photo shows Our Route.
from just above Mills Moraine.
When we were about 2/3 of the way up the route I realized that the wind was not going to subside and made the decision that I was going to get to the summit anyway. Anyone taking a similar route should know that there are a few false summits (unless it was the blowing snow and low visibility that made it seem that way). At some point near the top I dropped my pack and poles because the pack was helping the wind to throw me off balance. The easy scrambling at the top was good fun, though it would have been more like rock hopping under calm dry conditions. It had been snowing for about an hour now, and the awesome views that we had set out for were still non-existent.
On the summit the wind was at a whole new level. I never stood up all the way on the summit because it was blowing so hard. I got a quick look at Chasm View and snapped a couple of bad photos while peering over a boulder that I was holding on to. I didn't waste much time loosing elevation. The Storm Peak leg of our planned trip was obviously the last thing I wanted to tackle after having climbed into the wind all day.
The wind did not let up and continued to blast us until we hit tree line again. In some sick twisted way I still had fun!!
This is the TOPO.
of our modified route.
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