Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fun in the snow: no avalanches involved

I've been trying to get out into the snow as much as possible before school starts back up again, because I know it will be a rough semester with my large credit load. So last thursday Mary and I went out and did some skiing in the backcountry near Brainard lake. It was about a 7 mile trip and the wind was blowing very considerably. We had a blast though, and got some good exercise. Here we are at the lake:

Yesterday, James S, James Mc, Mark and I went to go climb Quandary Pk. in the tenmile range of Colorado. We got there at about 7:00am, but the wrong pulloff was marked and we started going up the wrong gully for about 5 minutes before I decided that something wasn't right, and that we weren't going the right direction (I've climbed it in the summer about 8 years ago so I had a vague memory of what the trailhead looked like. We finally found the right location once the sun had risen and we could see the mountains better, and got going at about 7:45. It was slightly overcast and snowing a small amount, but the sun expelled most of the cloudcover and the only thing in the air was blowing snow with the high winds. At about 10:00 we had made it to about 12,800 feet and had hiked 2.0 miles when James S decided that the wind was too much and that he needed to turn around. I don't think he had a down jacket or very good gloves, and his hands were quite cold. I didn't blame him, as the wind chill was predicted to be nearly -26 or something like that. James elected to go back with James so that we wouldn't be split up unevenly, and Mark and I continued. It was slow going due to the wind, snow and the altitude, as I hadn't been up a 14er since September. We managed to make it to the top at noon, and enjoyed a brief snack before heading back down. It was still very windy and cold. The wind would pick up drifts of snow and blow them in circles around us, encompassing us with snow from all directions. These spurts of wind would last for a few seconds, and then it would become calm again and we could see nearly 30 miles into the south park valley. Then the wind would pick up again and it would be back to 50 feet of visibility. Mark and I managed to get off the summit and follow the faint outline of our tracks all the way back to treeline, and then got back to the car at 1:50. On their way down, James and James made a snowman for us to enjoy. We got some grub at Beaujos in Idaho Springs, and then got back to Boulder at about 5:30 or 6. It was a very fun and exhausting day.

I'm thinking about going down to Co Springs this next weekend with the crew to try climbing Pikes Peak via the Crag's trail. We'll see how that goes. This weekend Mary and I are competing in "The Gun Show", a bouldering competition at The Spot. It should be fun.

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