The Search for History became the search for a cure

The Search for History became the search for a cure

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 21, 2011
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer


50 Years ago, my grandpa then head of US polar expeditions living in washington DC took his 3 boys to his home town of Alamosa, Colorado. Grandpa wanted to take his boys up to the summit of Blanca. They were able to drive all the way to the blue lakes (as best my dad can remember) and then were able to climb to the summit. My father was quite young at the time and remembers his dad (grandpa) helping him along to the summit while his older brothers waited for them up top.
One of the things they took with them was a couple of sealed coke bottles filled with interesting information from the times. Sealed up as a time capsule, they sought a great place to hide it on the summit.
They found a suitable ledge overhang east of the summit and started to remove rocks so they could hide the time capsule. In doing so they found that someone had already buried time capsules in this spot. They were old cans from miners in the early 1900s. Thrilled with the find they buried their time capsule and took the ones they found back down to the local museum in Alamosa.
BlancaPhatty7Old Miners Cabin

The road to the lake in those days was steep, but driveable and recieved far less traffic than it does today. Dad still talks about Grandpa pointing out the native columbines (grandpas favorite flower) and how the sat and listened to all the marmots whistling throughout the canyon.
BlancaPhatty8Native Columbine

BlancaPhatty6Whistling Marmots

Attempt number 1

Attempt 1
25 years ago my father and his brothers attempted to reach the summit of Blanca to recover the time capsule. I was 7 at the time and was deemed to young to attempt the hike. The expedition met failure when their jeep nearly slipped off the road, turning the planned hike into a hike back to town and rescue mission. They were able to rescue the jeep and everyone was safe, but no body attempted the summit this day.

Attempt number 2

Attempt number 2
Well here we are present day. Its been 50 years since Grandpa took his boys to the summit. We finally were able to get most all the family together in alamosa for a reunion. We counted 108 people in grandpas family, and we were missing a few cousins. As one of the activities we decided to make an attempt to go find the time capsule, and replace it with one of our own.
Dad is well into his 60s and was quite nervous about the hike. We rented a couple of jeeps and set out on the journey.
We left our hotel room at 4:30 am (despite my best efforts to leave earlier) and our party of 10 started the drive up. For whatever reason, driving up the road in the dark made it seem easier than it really is. We made it to the campground where dad decided he was done driving. So the group of strong hikers took off from there while i loaded Dad into my jeep and continued up the road.
Our group of 10 consisted of 2 brother in laws, 3 cousins, myself, 2 of my brothers (my 3rd brother woke up puking and decided not to go), my fiance, and my dad.
So in my jeep i had my dad, fiance, 1 brother, 1 brother n law and myself. Everyone else took off for the summit. 3 of them made it. Back to our adventure.
I knew i had to get dad as high as i could to help him make this climb. I made it to Jaws 1 and was 100% convinced that i could get beyond it, but dad was having flashbacks of hitchhiking to town to get rescued off the mountain and refused to allow me to drive any further. So we started hiking from jaws 1.

Altitude sickness sets in

Altitude sickness
Dad was doing great considering his age and physical condition. He was able to maintain a 1 mile per hour pace which was going to put us on the summit by noon. We made our way past como, the blue lakes, and to crater. The clouds were starting to build rapidly now and it was decided that we would have to leave dad and get a better pace to make the summit. We could already see the rest of our group descending the summit ridge towards the saddle.
BlancaPhatty3view from summit ridge

So we left and took off from crater lake towards the summit. Shortly past crater lake i began to feel the effects of altitude.
BlancaPhatty4crater lake reflection

By 13000 feet i was trying not to puke my guts out. I gave the time capsule to my brother, and with my fiance and brother in law, they scrambled for the summit. Shortly after, Dad caught up with me. I told him to press on, but i had to descend. I had been looking forward to this hike since i was 7 years old. And here i was stopped by a sickness for which their is no cure. When i climbed whitney i was able to push through because i had great weather and lots of time. On gannet peak, i simply puked about every 10 steps till i got back to camp. I just knew the pain that would come from trying to go further and decided it was best to not attempt it. Especially given the thunderheads forming.
So i sadly descended back down towards como lake. Dad pressed on and was almost to the saddle when the weather set in.
BlancaPhatty5Saddle Traverse

The stronger hikers had already passed me by and were heading back towards the jeep. Later i would see a note from them saying they hiked all the way to the road and had someone else pick them up.
The rest of my group made the summit and searched for about 30 minutes for the time capsule. They couldnt find it. and the weather set in and drove them off the peak. In the mean time, Dad caught back up with me and we descend to the jeep and waited for the rest of our group. They made it from the summit to jaws 1 in just under 3 hours (lightning is scary i guess?). From there it was a crazy jeep ride down. I cant believe how crazy that road is.

The cure

The Cure
So that is the trip, Blanca was summitted by 7 out of our 10 members. I was so happy for my fiance to summit a 14er.
So if any body is planning on summitting and has some extra time, dig around under the shelves just off the east of the summit. You might find a piece of history very valuable to me. A time capsule stashed 50 years ago by J Glenn Dyer. I would very much like to find this time capsule

In the mean time, I am planning a return trip already. I plan on riding my motorbike to lake como. hiking to 13000, coming back down to lake como. Camping. and summitting the next day and spending as much time as i can to try and find this time capsule. Using some prescriptions for altitude sickness, and hopefully i can get some personal oxygen bottles. I refuse to give up my dreams because my body has flaws at altitude. Please let me know if there is anything else i should try to overcome altitude sickness.
BlancaPhatty2Fiance and Myself


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