Slippin' and Slidin'
So here I am trying to drive up an icy road to the Greys Peak TH at six in the morning after a hundred mile drive that I only half remember, Ripping down I-70 with all my windows down, basting heat on fingers so I can still feel the steering wheel. This is pre-climb ritual for me that I do before any winter outing, I believe that when I get out of the car at the trailhead I will not be as cold. I don’t really know if this works, but I do it anyway. I get up the road maybe halfway when my tires start to spin, trying to get purchase on something other than what at this point I have determined to be a frictionless surface. No dice, after two minutes of the rev-slip, rev-slide, rev-curse and swear game I give up, reversing the mile down to I-70.
The Kelso Saddle from Greys
I am meeting my good friend Brian here to do a Kelso Ridge Greys - Torreys traverse, Brian said that he planned on sleeping at the trail head. Well now I was late, and with no way to communicate my failure to Brian I was out of luck, I wish there was some kind of invention that would let me communicate from my car to somebody in another car, perhaps a large megaphone, oh well the extra approach will be good for me right?
So finally we are on our way, cruising past Kelso (where a gaggle of mountain goats watched us from the summit, I am pretty sure they were mocking us) making our way to the saddle between Torreys, and Kelso.
The Kelso ridge, a class three scramble with a little class four crux near the summit would be the most technical climb I have done to date. It snowed the night before and the ridge looked somewhat snowy and icy, and I don’t have crampons. A slight conversation ensued:
Me: looks snowy
M: looks icy
M: I don’t have crampons
B: I didn’t bring mine either
M: do you still want to do this?
B: frickin’ A main
Frickin A indeed.
Near death mishaps and The Mystery
So we hit it, and it wasn’t that bad. The start was a little hairy, but nothing we couldn’t handle. It was a foggy day, with maybe a hundred feet visibility. It was already determined that we would not be able to descend the ridge, so we were in it baby. It was beautiful, deep powder allowed us to skirt otherwise sketchy rock formations, that is until we got to the knife edge, a difficult, slippery exposed spine that offered some big exposure. As I was approaching the Rambo knife edge of death my first near brush with destiny materialized. My right foot lost purchase, pulling me down and in mere reflex my left leg tucked under my body taking the brunt of my 170 pound frame right on the shin ripping my gore-tex gators, and making my face distort into a face that would make a grown man cry. After the initial shock I compose myself and realize I could have fallen off the face of the earth, this near miss makes me extra cautious on the rest of my ascent, sliding awkwardly across the knife edge, every few feet sitting on my manhood (OUCH). I cross the knife edge and get a ten foot granite formation looming over my head, like a beast ready to kick my ass off the mountain. I looked at it, it looked at me and we had a moment. After crossing the gentle giant Brian and I take a rest.
Ranbo knife edge of death
B: how goes it
M: I almost fuckin died
B: you look good
M: thanks, I busted my shin
(I go down to sit and nearly slide off the mountain)
B: I thought you were a gonner
M: yeah me too
We make the summit and do the normal summit victories dance. We traverse to Greys which is pretty uneventful, except for the normal crowds on the summit everything is good and we practically run down the Greys trail. It is here in the shadow of the mighty mountains a mystery unfolds. With search and rescue.
SAR: are you Brian and Chris
B: uhh yeah?
(Brians last name is Christianson, and my name is Chase, hence the confussion)
SAR: why did you call search and rescue?
M: I don’t think we did
B: is something wrong?
M: wait we are Brian and Chase, not Brian and Chris
SAR: are you sure you didn’t call us
M: pretty sure
B: I carry an emergency cell but it is off
SAR: OK well did you see Brian and Chris
M: no there were a few people at the summit and heading up the trail but no one seemed distressed
B: do you need any help
SAR: that won’t be necessary.
We made it back by three and went our separate ways until the mountains would call us together again. All in all the funniest climb I have done to date.
So who are Brian and Chris, was it us, or was it just a coincidence? Any information on Brian and Chris is Useful.
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