Prelude to Kelso Ridge- First Fourteener, East vs West

Prelude to Kelso Ridge- First Fourteener, East vs West

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This was the prelude section of the above title and a few people recommended I post this part as an article, "to get some interesting feedback." LET THE RIDICULE BEGIN...

So if you've read the trip report dont bother reading this.

After looking through some pictures I again found myself wondering
about the misconceptions people have. Not in a argumentative way but in a
curiosity sense. Being a native of the enchantment of the New England
countryside the allure of "the bigger" mountains of Colorado, The High
Sierras and Tetons always gripped my curiosity. However much to my
disappointment I realized the difference to be miniscule in the grand
scheme of things.
How is it that these montains always made those of New England pale
in comparison?** After traveling and climbing in/at all these areas mentioned
is it the opinion of the non-climber that had created the mirage that is
The Western Peaks? Im NOT saying they're small but the starting points
are much higher as well. The sea level variations and height of land
starts don't allow for the true appreciation of these higher peaks.
One thing the higher elevations remind me of is lifeless masses of
rock, snow and ice -spare a stray marmot alerting others of my presence or
a nearby rockslide. Its an interesting parallel to the peril of mountain
climbing. Above 11K there is very little to remind me of the life I leave
behind every time I venture to such places. Except after technical
struggle do I learn to appreciate these higher places. Its only after
looking down do I realize my accomplishments and a finer appreciation for
life in general.
The antithesis to such places are the 4k peaks of New Hampshire of
which only four remain for me to experience. Aside of the 5's and The 6,
being above treeline is a rarity. The alpine zone is one of my favorite
places on earth. To see the vegetation and ecology, the struggle for
survival reminds me of certain aspects of my life and hardships. Yet being
so far away from those places physically, mentally and in time, I realize
the pettiness of my struggles in comparison to that of those less
fortunate. Something about hiking with tons of creatures great and small
all around reminds me incessantly of my love of, and for-LIFE.
The western summits and their technicality of ascent, their lack of
oxygen are in and of theirselves desolate places. The summits of eastern
peaks crackle with life. Yet the allure for me is to climb higher
mountains. Why? Is life to me a struggle that I am trying to overcome?
Or is it the lack of humility that make me want to defy death?
These questions may never be answered but one thing is for sure. I
feel a draw, like metal to magnet that calls me forth. The need for
challenge, for accomplishment and the high spiritual energy will forever be
my master.
Mt Washinton s Pinnacle GullyThe first pitch of Mt. Washington's Pinnacle Gully

** Clarification: The image of the western peaks that was created in 'my mind' by non-hikers/climbers descriptions.


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Viewing: 1-10 of 10

desainme - Jul 1, 2007 9:40 pm - Voted 10/10

well, didya

make it up Kelso?

eric b

eric b - Jul 3, 2007 2:28 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: well, didya

yup it was a great day, I wrote a trip report about it, thanks for the vote

eric b

eric b - Jul 3, 2007 2:29 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: so, are ya

not really other than making it on page 1, featured articles.


ml96361 - Jul 4, 2007 12:04 am - Voted 10/10


So true ! ! !

T Sharp

T Sharp - Jul 4, 2007 7:02 pm - Hasn't voted


The Western peaks are a mirage? Sea level variation? Life is a struggle to overcome? What is your point?
Climbing in the Himalaya, the Rockies, or the White Mountains, is still climbing, it is just very different. If it is climbing that brings you joy, fulfills you spiritualy, and challenges you physically, then it really does not matter where you practice.

Your challenge will be to stay in the moment, to make the most of each summit attempt on its own merit, and to quit comparing apples to oranges.
Otherwise you might find yourself on the Grand Teton, thinking this sure `aint Everest, or as perty as the Whites of home, and completely miss the Bald Eagle that just flew over the Range, or that little cluster of moss champion under your left foot.

eric b

eric b - Jul 5, 2007 7:29 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Huh?

maybe you missed the part that said not in an argumentative sense. Thanks for your feedback from "your challenge" onward is great stuff. The comparison is not one I am making to what is real or actual its to the mirage that was created in my mind at a young age by people's descriptions.

T Sharp

T Sharp - Jul 6, 2007 12:14 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Huh?

I read the trip report associated with this article, and enjoyed it very much indeed. I do agree with many of the points you make, and would enjoy a trail time discussion of these topics.

eric b

eric b - Jul 6, 2007 7:30 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Huh?

Haven't been to Montana yet but its on my list. I'll be sure to let you know when I'm out there-great pics by the way!


ericnoel - Jul 29, 2007 7:13 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Prelude

I think you are absolutely right. Elevation is not everything and is overemphasized in some areas ie Colorado. While altitude certainly has some correlation to ecology, oxygen and precipitation, in the end it is not a great shorthand way of judging peaks. I'm not sure that there is one but elevation is not it.

Having said that, I lived and hiked in the East for 23 years and now I live in the West. It's subjective, but I remain nonetheless convinced than West>East for mtns by a healthy margin. There is a preconception or mirage and it is perhaps sometimes a mirage, but often it is very real.

eric b

eric b - Jul 30, 2007 2:44 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Prelude

Seems its the people that haven't really experienced the wrath of the worst weather in the world are the ones who laugh at the peaks of the East. I agree with your point of view, thanks for your input.

Viewing: 1-10 of 10