Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This One Goes To 11 - Colorado 2010

It’s always a bit tricky planning out our Colorado vacation every year. When we first started going, I would plan them out day by day very methodically. However, I soon learned that Colorado is a state that does not much care what my schedule might be. A great example was 2008. We went in August, thinking it would be nice to get away from the broiling heat of our home at that time. I had a plan for us to do 12 mountains that year. Well, Colorado had a different plan for us, as it decided to snow on us August 15. Yeah, that put a little crimp in our plans. We still managed to climb 10 that year, but only after being chased off the summit of Mt. Yale by a hailstorm and a snow climb up Bierstadt. Last year the plan was to do 7, and more importantly finish up the Sawatch range. Once again, mother nature had a different idea. The thunderstorms seemed to roll in about 10:30am every day instead of noon, so we ended up only getting 6, and leaving one peak, Mt. Columbia, undone in the Sawatch. So I always preface my schedules now with the word “tentative” as weather conditions can never be factored into a schedule made a month before with any amount of accuracy.

This year we originally had planned to go for just a week. But then we just kept planning and planning, and realized we could afford to take another week, thereby extending our schedule to be able to tie up some unfinished business from the years before, and also dabble in some new ranges we haven’t visited before. So this is our schedule for 2010 (Tentative);

1. Pikes Peak (14,110’) – This will be our warm-up hike. I’m expecting it to be a little weird of course, as there is a road all the way to the top, a restaurant and gift shop. I am looking forward to having a hot slice of pizza when I reach the summit, honestly. We will not be hiking the road obviously. Our route will be the North West Slopes route, with a little over 13 miles round trip and 4,300’ of altitude gain. I always start out a little slow, so this will be a good starter for the trip. This also will finish up the Front Range peaks for us, as we have done all the others in previous years.

2. Mt. Columbia (14,073’) – The one that we missed out on last year. We climbed it’s neighbor, Mt. Harvard, our last day of climbing last year. We had hoped maybe for a long day that day to complete the range, but a thunderstorm had different ideas. So we will return this year and finish up the Sawatch Range. All the Sawatch mountains were fun hikes, and really climbing them was a big part of our inspiration to climb them all. We will also miss going to Breckenridge every year. After three years in a row, we really felt at home there. But it’s time to move on.

3. Humboldt Peak (14,064’) – I’m really looking forward to this one, our first foray into the Sangro de Cristo range. Our route will be the standard West Ridge route. I use 14ers.com for all our route information. It’s always fun when they say “rough 2WD drive” road to the trailhead. When they say “rough” road in Colorado, they mean “ROUGH”. It will be interesting to see a rough 2WD road. This is the reason we now drive our 4Runner out to Colorado instead of flying out and renting a car. There’s no security better than being in your own vehicle on roads like that.

4. Mt. Lindsey (14,042’) – Again, this one will be in the Sangro de Cristos. This one looks to be a very challenging climb. We will be climbing the North Face (standard) route, which is described as “Difficult Class 2”. So far, while I have found Colorado 4X4 roads to be rougher than they are rated, I have found the climbs to be slightly easier than they are rated. This trip will test that out much more, as we have this one and another one described as “Difficult Class 2” and one other climb that’s Class 3. We will see.

5. Uncompahgre Peak (14,309’) - After a couple of days rest in the middle of the trip, we will head to the San Juan Range. Here we will climb Uncompaghre Peak, the highest peak of our trip. We will go by the standard South Ridge route.

6. Wetterhorn Peak (14,015’) – I’m really looking forward to this one. Many people describe Wetterhorn as their favorite of all the 14ers. So far, my favorite 14er has been Longs Peak, and some have described this one as something of a mini-Longs. A Class 3 climb leads to the summit via the Southeast ridge. We will have our cameras at the ready for sure. Definitely thinking that this one will be the highlight of the trip.

7. Redcloud Peak (14,034’) and 8. Sunshine Peak (14,001’) – This will be the only time during the trip when we can get a double-day. Luckily, these are lower Class 2’s, so there should be no problems there. Of course, as we have learned over the years, we always must budget a lot of time for doing 2 in a day, and be able to get down fast if a storm rolls in. Backtracking the first peak on the way out is always a pain. So we hope all goes well this year.

9. San Luis Peak (14,014’) – San Luis Peak is considered the most remote 14 thousand foot peak in the US. A gentle but long hike will take us to the summit. Should be fun.

10. Mt. Sneffels (14,150’) – This is the other “Difficult Class 2” we have on our list. Looking forward to the climb and also being in the Ouray area, which I have not seen since I was maybe 7 years old.

11. Handies Peak (14,048’) – The Finale of the trip, an easy trip up Handies. Should we be lucky enough to climb all 11 of these peaks, we will bring our total to 36 of the 58 Colorado 14ers, or 35 of the 54 “Official” Colorado 14ers. Funny, we hope to climb 8 “Peaks” this year and only 3 “Mt.’s” … I just thought that was odd. Can’t wait to get back there and start climbing!