Peak(s):  "Grand Traverse Peak"  -  13,041 feet
Crystal Peak A  -  13,852 feet
Peak 10  -  13,633 feet
Peak 9  -  13,195 feet
Little Bear Peak  -  14,041 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,022 feet
Handies Peak  -  14,058 feet
Redcloud Peak  -  14,037 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,004 feet
Missouri Mountain  -  14,071 feet
Date Posted:  08/22/2019
Modified:  04/28/2020
Date Climbed:   08/05/2019
Author:  hellmanm
Additional Members:   dr_j, butterjam
 Camping horrors and 2 weeks of freedom   

Okay, time to start trip report #1. I wasn't sure my 2 weeks of hiking merited a TR, but according to some friends it did. Skip to the ^ signs near the bottom for the rock-through-window incident.

As of today (08/23), I'm sitting in CT about to begin a year of dreaming about hiking (aka grad school). I knew this would happen, so I told my boss that my last day of work would be August 1. With 150 hours of accumulated leave (aka getting paid to hike) in hand, I set off on a barely-planned adventure. I had a goal of finishing my summer with 30 14ers and 20 13ers, and to hit these round numbers there wouldn't be time for anything but hiking. I was at 25 and 16 -- there was a fair bit of work to do.

So, I promptly found a distraction. The first three days consisted of not hiking, but duplicate bridge. Yeah, the game for old people. I won't linger on it for long, but essentially I lost, I won, and then I won big. That's all. If bridge were played for money I'd have won some this weekend... but it wasn't, so I didn't.

Fast-forward to August 4th. I was in Silverthorne and had zero plans. One guy was looking for partners for Little Bear, but we were still discussing dates. One, who I had originally planned to do the Trinity Traverse with, was now making other plans (I got scared by Chris Tomer's forecast, and he was kinda on the fence too). So, that meant it was time for a solo hike.

I had hoped to climb something in the Great Obviouslyfake Reallyfake Endofacronym range before I left, and given my location this was the perfect time. The easier of a few 13,041' peaks caught my eye as a fine dayhike. So, with Grand Traverse Peak as my first objective, I car camped at the Deluge Lake TH and set off at an ungodly AM hour (3-something). Yay, alpine starts.

A few hours of slogging in the dark really opened my eyes up to the range. The trail up to Deluge Lake was relentless, as promised. It was narrow too, and after a day of rain all the plants were wet. Taken from the way down, this photo shows why shorts were a bad idea that day:


It was also empty. Like, eerily empty. I could hear I-70 for what felt like miles, and there was an an immediate sense that I was totally alone in the basin. Anyway, I told myself that on the way up, as I had forgotten my bear spray in the car and wished I had it with me. Note this situation, as it's example #1 of #WHERESYOURF***ingBEARSPRAY that happened on this trip. Luckily, no bears or mountain lions attacked, and by dawn I found myself near Deluge Lake.

As the sun rose, I immediately understood why people fall in love with this range. It was #LUSH AF, and it was all mine. Wildflowers, grasses, trees, and other green things whose names I don't know were everywhere. I was out of breath and my boots/socks were soaked, so I took them off and took a few minutes to appreciate the scenery while my feet dried and I changed into my extra socks.


Past the lake, 50 minutes of curse-worthy scree brought me to the saddle of Grand Traverse and Valhalla. The forecast called for potential storms around 10, and it was about 8:45 -- time to move. A short jaunt brought me close to the summit, where I faced a choice: go around a snow patch to the left across potentially loose talus, or stick to the ridge proper with the hope that the 15-20 unknown feet were snow-free and negotiable:


Spoiler: they weren't. So began my 1st of 3 stupid mistakes on this 2-week jaunt. I looked under the ridge and found a relatively short traverse across a slab that circumvented the snow. It was exposed, but it was snow-free. What better peak to traverse on than this one?! So, I did... and it was wet... f**k.

19696_05wet slab crossing

A few sketchy moves on wet rock brought me to drier, mellower terrain, and within another 45 seconds I was on the summit. There was a register there, but no pen, so I didn't sign it. The views of the Grand Traverse were pretty epic though:

19696_04please ignore the unflattering photo of the sleep-deprived kid on the left

At this point I was tired, and clouds were moving in, so I skipped Mt. Valhalla. It would have to wait, but a trip to Valhalla and "Snow Pk" seemed like another great excuse to explore a certain range, so it wasn't a huge deal. Another 45 minutes of cursing brought me back to Deluge Lake, by which time the clouds had faded and I slightly regretted my decision to descend. Oh well. Thanks, Colorado weather. At least the lake was still gorgeous.


The descent was largely uneventful, except for a couple of hikers who I'm going to call out. They were with their dogs, and 100 yards after passing them I found poop bag #1. I brought it up to them and asked about it, to which they replied "yeah, that's ours". I asked if they were going to pack it out... "yeah, that's why it's blue." Ok. Here's the thing: photo # 1 gives a great idea of that stage of the Deluge Lake Trail. I didn't trust them to find it on the way down. I took it down in an outstretched hand (that thing smelled awful), and soon ran into poop bag #2. They, along with some music-blasting assholes (I love ppl my age...) near the junction of the Gore Creek Trail, ruined the end of my day. So, back at the TH armed with one summit and two bags of dog poop, I considered my options for the next day.

My potential Trinity partner was going up to Pitkin Lake, and I thought about joining him. West Partner was a goal of mine, and it would be fun to do more exploring in the secret range. Still, I hate camping, and I really hated the thought getting my 50L pack ready when my daypack was already all set. So, I set my eyes on an objective that I'd eyed for a while: Crystal, Peak 10, and Peak 9.

Back when I was younger and dumber I tried the tenmile traverse. There were too many mistakes to repeat, but suffice it to say that I managed to miss peaks 3, 9, and 10. Figure that. I drove my car up to Spruce Creek TH, and channeled my inner 4-wheeler into my Subaru Forester to make it to the beginning of Crystal Creek Road. It went poorly, and I returned to the regular TH with something dripping from underneath my car. F**k. One ride into town, one poorly timed call to a friend who (unbeknownst to me) had put his 15 y/o dog down 5 minutes ago, and a few calls to other folks brought me to the conclusion that nothing was wrong. Apparently, air conditioners drip sometimes, and this was one of those times.

With my vehicular embarrassment out of the way, I went back to Spruce Creek TH. I car-camped and set off for Crystal around 5:15 that morning. I hadn't been fast on the Deluge Lake Trail, but I knew my way to Crystal Lake and was flying that morning. I made it to the lower lake in time for some alpenglow on Father Dyer and Crystal.


The route up Crystal was obvious, and I took the time to appreciate what might be my last trip to one of my favorite areas in a while. I had the basin to myself, and I thought a lot about my first summer in CO (2014, before not coming back until late 2017). I had messed up big time trying to get to Crystal Lakes at sunset in 2014 (like, in the wrong basin and cliffed out on Helen kind of messed up). I had also been rained out of Crystal Peak a few times, and made it to upper Crystal Lake successfully once. Today was finally going to be a great day to put it all together. Here's looking down at Lower Crystal Lake, where you can see the site of my 2014 FU (and subsequent scary af self-rescue -- up and left of the lower lake, but not all the way to the edge of the photo):


From the summit of Crystal, I looked over to a great peak from last year: Pacific Peak. For some reason, I imagine that someone somewhere calls it "specific peak", and the name kinda sticks. Taken from lower down, today's objectives were also visible: Peaks 10 and 9.

Specific/Pacific Peak and Peaks 10 and 9:


I was still feeling fast, and the traverse to 10 was a blast. The word of the day was "undulate" -- one of my favorite mountain words. Yesterday's had been "lush", but today had a different feel to it. Upon getting close to the summit of 10, I found a goat guarding the summit pole. The summit would have to wait. 2 minutes later, a snowboarder appeared from the other side of the ridge. He and I discussed his line, as well as how to deal with the goat. I eventually crept up when the goat wasn't looking (after checking for young goats in the area -- there were none), tapped the summit pole, and gave the animal some space.

19696_15can you spot the guardian goat?

A quick jaunt down the road brought me to the Wheeler Trail. I had great views of Peak 9 for a lot of the day, and I had a good idea of the challenge. Once again, clouds were starting to build, though. Unlike the previous day, this time I went for it.

19696_1619696_17 Looking up at the summit of 9, then looking back at Breckenridge with building clouds.

A quick note: Peak 9 sucks the life out of you no matter how you approach it. It looked so easy from the summit of 10, and even though I had climbed two peaks that day it seemed like it should've been a walk in the park. Something about it was just draining, though. I was totally out of breath after summiting, and with clouds approaching I had to focus to make good time back to the Wheeler Trail. I knew how to bail into Breckenridge ski area if the skies opened up, but that wouldn't have been ideal. Luckily, the rain held off (just like the day before), and I was able to enjoy a lovely knee-busting stroll back to Spruce Creek TH.

19696_1819696_19 views on the Wheeler Trail

It was now Tuesday afternoon, and once again I had plans to make. A couple of calls/texts to my potential LB partner proved fruitful, and suddenly I found myself back in Pueblo with an itinerary. A night of good sleep brought me to Wednesday, which meant it was time to finally head to Lake Como.

Now, I had read about Lake Como road, but I didn't realize just how miserable that thing could be. The "babyheads" started so early, and I really didn't get my Subaru anywhere close to 8,800'. At this point I had been joined by user and beer-bong enthusiast Kevin (butterjam). He got my forester to about 8,400', and we began the slog to the lake deeply envious of people with rock crawlers. A few miles in, we were actually pleased -- overcast skies had been helping with the afternoon heat. That changed quickly, though. 30 minutes of chilly rain ruined our pace, and what had been a pleasant hike turned into typical Lake Como misery. There were several moments of "people drive up this?!" as we progressed to the lake.

19696_20How To Total a Car 101

Now, my car was a mess, and in the chaos somehow I managed to forget my bug spray. This was a problem. When we arrived at Lake Como I had found a great camping spot, but it was next to a tiny pond. I told Kevin that I would've gladly taken a rock to the face in the hourglass if the rock hit a few mosquitoes on the way down. Seriously, I was eaten alive. That night consisted of worrying as much about West Nile virus as about the next day, and I slept poorly (the word of the day was "mosquitoes").

19696_22Heart of the REAL Mosquito Range

The day began rather uneventfully. There was a group of 7 military folks who were climbing LB, a father and two daughters, as well as one solo dude who planned to do the traverse. We all found this odd, considering that he didn't have a helmet. What's the saying? People who don't bring climbing helmets have nothing to protect? We all thought something like that. A curse-worthy slog up a gully brought us to the ridge, where we scoped out the route ahead. I had been worried about Wednesday's rain, as it meant the conditions in the hourglass might be less than ideal. It turns out that I was right. Here's what the base of the hourglass looked like:


Ugh. There was a full-on stream coming down higher up, and the lower conditions had made our hands and feet wet. At this point, rockfall hadn't been an issue, as the military folks had left for the W ridge and only the father/daughters were ahead of us. Still, as we approached the choke I found myself faced with two options. Option 1 was a high 4th/low 5th headwall that was dry, and Option 2 was to climb by the rope up 3rd/4th class wet rock. I went over the moves for about 15-20 minutes. Seriously, this was a bit of a Gerry Roach moment. "Consider your future" echoed loudly in my head. I knew that I could probably make the moves on the left, but I was seriously concerned about my ability to get down. Downclimbing low 5th with potentially wet feet scared me, and I just wasn't feeling it. So, I went with Option 3: stop. I went down to the base of the hourglass while Kevin climbed up to the summit, and I watched the mountain's shadow recede.

19696_24cool views down the Little Bear Lake drainage

Now, a quick word about rockfall in the hourglass. Up until this point, it had been a non-issue. This changed right after I went down. Every couple of minutes, I heard voices yelling "ROCK". By the time the rocks get to the base of the couloir, they're going about 100mph. they bounce 30 feet off the walls, and getting hit with even a small one will mess you up. I was lucky to only have one rock-shower while I was still in the couloir. When they come down, sometimes all you can do is duck/watch for headhunters.

A few hours of boredom brought Kevin back safe and sound. He had some interesting things to say about the remaining climb though. Apparently, the military group had inadvertently been trying out for the US soccer team. I had watched them kick a few rocks down the W ridge, but as they climbed above the hourglass they had dislodged quite a few missiles. Both Kevin and the father/daughters had been in the path, and they did a fair bit of rock-dodging on their way up. I couldn't imagine having to climb that miserable section with those speeding by, and (despite being disappointed in turning around) the rock show at the bottom was ample evidence that I made the right call. A fall resulting from rock-dodging would have sucked, and it would've been a very real possibility that day.

The slog back from Lake Como was uneventful. Basically, once we were clear of the mosquitoes the sun kicked in. A few hours of misery, then another quick battle with the babyheads on the way out, and we called it a day. With Wednesday/Thursday in the books and no new summits, I dragged myself over to Aspen for my next climb.

I had been planning to climb with Julian (dr_j) for a while. We met right before climbing Pyramid together last year (my group was at the same hostel -- the St. Moritz -- that he was), and we got together for Wetterhorn earlier this year. 2 things to know about Julian: 1. He drives insanely far to climb (from northern NM, every peak is a haul!), and 2. he likes to climb 14ers barefoot. His barefoot quest included our Wetterhorn trip, and with that in mind I thought it would be fun to find a climb that made him put his shoes on. We had originally planned for Chicago Basin, but we couldn't get train tickets. So, we moved to Crestone Needle. Bad forecast. Option 3 put us back in Aspen (where we originally met), looking at a climb incredibly similar to Pyramid: North Maroon.

Before our adventure on the bells, and while he toiled at his actual job, I took Friday to relax. I headed up to Linkins Lake for a quick jaunt by Independence Pass:

19696_2519696_26Photo 2 was from maybe 100 feet below the lake. Once you're there, the sight/sounds of the road vanish, just 3/4 mile off the road.

There's something about these lazy in-between hikes that I just adore. After 4 days of heavy elevation gain, 500 feet really does feel like a stroll in the park. For an easy hike on a clear Friday in summer, I was surprised to see only 10(ish) people. The weather was perfect, I had zero obligations, and I appreciated the time I had to reflect on my last 2 years in CO (despite the fact that I had 8 days left). I spent my Friday relaxing at the lake, aimlessly texting a few girls from town that I had matched with, and gawking at the wealth (today's word) around me in Aspen.

Friday night/Saturday morning snapped me back to reality, though. Julian and I departed around 3AM for North Maroon, and the forecast wasn't great. By 5AM we were getting drizzled on, and both of us were seriously considering aborting the mission:

19696_27Lots of clouds from the rock glacier

We ultimately decided that we felt safe enough to explore. We agreed that a wet second gully would be a no-go, but felt safe until then. So, on we went. The views of Pyramid (and everything, really) from here were unreal, which contributed to me accidentally dropping a nalgene halfway down the 1st gully.

19696_28My chief distraction on the way up

Great. At least I had enough water without it, and it stopped in a retrievable location. We pressed on, though, knowing our weather window might be small. At the entrance gully, who did we run into but Zac, one of my climbing partners and a companion of ours on Pyramid! He and his group were actually turning around, and that left gully # 2 and the summit to us and one other group of 2.

19696_29high in gully #2.

I was reminded of Pyramid in the second gully, especially up high. Steep rock/gravel-strewn ledges, goats in the area, and gorgeous, exposed climbing made for a challenging but fun ascent. The crux involved us handing our packs to one another as we made our moves, and we summited around 9. I was surprised by the difficulty/exposure of a few moves after the precipice, but there were helpful cairns that marked the path of least resistance.

19696_31Taken on the way down, here's the view from the precipice. Can you find me in the rocks?

19696_33 I was a little amped to have summited...

19696_32And Julian put his shoes on!

The way back to the precipice involved a few tricky moves, but ultimately went smoothly (albeit a little slowly). The crux, however, was another matter. So began the second of three stupid mistakes on this two-week jaunt. I didn't feel comfortable with a move at the top of the chimney that would've involved reaching for a left handhold with the rest of my body swinging over air, so I tried to find the 3rd-class bypass that I had read about. I found cairns, and ultimately found what I thought was a segmented group of rock steps leading down to easier terrain. Spoiler: it wasn't. After downclimbing a bit on wet class 3 rock, I found myself at the top of an 8-9 foot cliff with no good way to lower myself down. The wet rock above made it so that I couldn't really climb back up, and I suddenly found myself in a really bad spot. I didn't take any pictures here; I was a little preoccupied.

A part of me thought about a sit and jump. I had a small pack that I had left with Julian (who had made it down the crux relatively easily, as he was wearing approach shoes and made use of a few tiny holds that my hiking boots couldn't do much with), and I could move pretty nimbly. The likelihood of landing the jump was decent, but the consequences of an error were almost guaranteed injury. The other option, of course, was to make a few class 3 moves on wet rock with even higher fall consequences. I chose option 2. I ended up mushing a few loose rocks and dirt together to made a better right handhold, and I reached up for easier terrain. My foot slipped. F**k. I slipped forward, and luckily managed to find my footing before tumbling backwards off the small cliff behind me. Okay, time to breathe and stay focused. A few more minutes of handhold creation, and I tried again to raise myself above the wet area. I felt that with these moves, I was truly scrambling, not climbing or hiking. There was a lot of "fun scary" on this climb. This was "not fun scary". My second attempt let me find enough purchase to maneuver to solid ground, and I soon found myself back by the cairns looking for the real 3rd-class bypass. After finding it (and the bypass was a little wet, just for some additional fun), I descended below the crux area.

Oh, f**k. There was a small snowfield, which we had seen from below, that I was now on the wrong side of. There was no snow anywhere else on the route, so I hadn't brought my ice axe or traction. I could now see Julian, who at this point was just relieved to hear me after 15-20 minutes of silence. Below the snowfield was some rocks, along with a cliff maybe 20-30 feet below the rocks. I saw that I could cross the first part of the snowfield by sticking to the rock band and making moves in the tiny gap between the snow and the band. The second part of the snowfield (20ish yards) didn't have that option. Luckily, the snow was soft enough that I could punch my hands/feet in a bit and at least steady myself. Still, by about 6-7 yards in I was slipping and ultimately decided to rely on my skiing skills. I essentially side-slipped across and diagonally down the slope, controlling my speed and doing my best to control any potential slips. A quick slide into some dirt brought me across the snowfield and to safer ground. Time to breathe out. I knew that I had made multiple errors. I should've gone back to the crux and figured out how to descend the way I ascended. After encountering the snowfield, I probably should've gone back up again. I'm still replaying those sequences in my head now. I feel a little ashamed to admit it, but I felt SO alive in that moment. I was shaking a bit, and knew I had messed up, but the adrenaline was coursing through me. The summit of North Maroon had felt great, and was more of what I strive for in climbs, but this was a little bit of "type 2 fun" that I hadn't had in a very long time.

19696_56This was my mistake snowfield. Another example of shorts being a bad idea. Todays's word was "ALIVE".

After the crux, the descent down the gullies was a breeze. We met a few goats, took some more pictures on our way to the lake, and I got my nalgene back. Near the crater lake junction, we passed a few ladies from SAR who were looking for an overdue hiker. Apparently they'd received word that he was alive and unhurt, but his location was unknown. Happy that they weren't there to get me, and happy that it appeared to be a situation where everyone would be ok, I stopped at crater lake before heading back to the TH.

19696_35Million-dollar view, especially after a successful summit

After taking a few days off, I considered my options/needs with a week left. I had hit my 13er goal with Grand Traverse, Crystal, Pk 10, and Pk 9, but I needed 4 14ers. With no readily available partners midweek, I needed something I felt comfortable soloing. So, I set off for the San Juans. I knew that Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine would make for a very doable 3 out of 4 peaks.

I had originally planned to climb Handies Tuesday morning. With a clear forecast, I knew I could take my time. Unfortunately, sleeping in took priority that morning, and I found myself in Lake City around 3. As I assessed my options, it dawned on me that Handies would make for a fantastic sunset climb. Someone had posted about an attempt at this last week, and it seemed like a fantastic idea. As I drove towards Cinnamon Pass, I took note of the incredible work done by the Hinsdale County folks. I didn't take any pictures, but it's really incredible how quickly they get things going. I left the American Basin TH around 5:45PM and was greeted by this view:


Right away, I knew this was going to be a great hike. Maybe it was because of the mellow terrain, or maybe it was because of a few days off, but I flew up American Basin. This was the fastest I'd hiked in about 5 years. I was chasing daylight, feeling fresh, and fueled by the views. I snapped a few pictures of the flowery terrain on the way up, but I made it to the summit just after 7:30. The way down was reserved for picture-taking. My iphone 6 SE doesn't take great pictures, but this was too epic for the phone (or me) to screw up:

19696_4219696_43no filters, just an idiot with a phone camera

A quick trip down, 4 miles of scary subaru driving in the dark, and I was asleep at the Silver Creek TH. I left around 6:15 for Sunshine/Redcloud, feeling much slower than the night before. I had one thing to keep me at a decent pace though. For some reason, I always keep a decent pace when I'm chasing someone. I guess I'm way too competitive, but it worked that morning. There was one hiker ahead of me, and even with my sluggish mood I made decent time. There was a bunch of avy debris on the way up, and even a snowbridge. I skirted around it just to be safe -- a collapsing snowbridge would be no fun, even if it might've been safe this time.

19696_45 the snowbridge in Silver Creek

Handies gets all the wildflower love, but Redcloud gave it a run for its money. I arrived at Redcloud in decent time, but made sure to tell myself to take lots of pictures on the way down. For now, on to Sunshine (read that like Bill Belichick's "On to Cincinnati" btw).

19696_4619696_4719696_50 The basin leading to Redcloud

It didn't look so bad. The traverse was long, but pretty easy. The only thing holding me back was some mild leg cramps. I tried to hydrate well after Handies, but 14ers just take a lot of water and sodium to hike. I was cramping on the way up Redcloud, and was happy to have brought a gatorade with me that day. Well, at least that was a way to make Sunshine a bit more interesting. The views of Redcloud on the way back were superb, and I stood on the summit for the second time around noon.

19696_48Looking toward Sunshine

19696_49and back to Redcloud from the Sunshine summit

A quick stroll down, lots of pictures of a ridiculously gorgeous basin, and I had successfully summited 3/4 peaks for the week. It was Wednesday afternoon, and I had 3 days to get one more! This should be easy! More on that to come...


Upon arriving in Gunnison, I was feeling indecisive. I had loved the brief vacation in Aspen, so going back to hit Castle/Conundrum made some sense. Still, I didn't have 4wd, and all those road miles didn't sound like fun. I ended up settling for La Plata, as it was close enough to Independence Pass that an Aspen stay to wrap things up would still be possible. After all the hiking I'd done, I noted to my little sister that I'd be La Plodding up La Plata, but with a clear forecast and a short route it didn't seem like an issue. Speed only matters when you're on a tight schedule. I drove to the La Plata TH and settled in for another night of camping... or so I thought.

I woke up to a fair amount of light around. The moon was incredibly bright, and in the first few moments I thought it was 5:30AM already (my intended start time). I noticed a car light nearby and heard the sound of an engine. Someone's arriving/leaving the TH. Ugh, I'm tired. I rolled over to get a few extra minutes of sleep, and then I checked my phone. A little after 2AM. More sleep=good. Time to rest. The car moved, and the lights were now pointed directly at my car. Ugh. Maybe they're getting gear out? Either way, I want them to move so I can sleep. I turn on my phone light to try and get a glimpse. Still no movement. I tilt my head up, as I won't be sleeping with the car lights on me. My window gets dark for a quick second. CRASH. F**K. WTF WAS THAT. I jolt up, phone in hand, trying to figure out wtf is happening. Keys. Spray. "What the F**k??! Who is that??!" WHERE TF IS MY BEAR SPRAY? I grab my keys, fumbling for the spray. F**k it, just get out. I scramble out of my sleeping bag and into the front seat. Car on, no pants. No shoes. Legs shaking. GO. Just go. A car is driving away towards town. What's that plate? Light flash, no numbers/letters. Whatever. Just drive.

I drove toward twin lakes, figuring I'd be safer in town with cell service. As I drove, I tried to figure out what just happened. Somebody broke my window. But who? My first thought was that somebody didn't like that I was car camping there. I tried to tell myself that, because at this point I was seriously worried that somebody would be waiting for me in town. No, it had to have been some crusty local. I didn't even see the rock in the back. It could've been a hammer for all I knew at that point. I kept checking my phone to see if there were any bars. As soon as I got a signal, I looked for pullouts. I figured I'd be safer in a pullout than in town where a potential ambush could await. I was afraid to call 911, since I wasn't actively dying. So, I called *277 (state patrol). I've called patrol about road debris, crazy drivers on I-25...etc before, and knew they would pick up. They did, and after being transferred once (:///) I told them my story. As I waited for the trooper, I went back and found my bear spray and hatchet. I figured the spray was the best bet. Of all the things, what popped into my head at that point was the thought of the trooper finding me like this. Was it illegal to drive without shoes on? I dug through my suitcase and found some jeans. I had running shoes in the front seat and put them on.

When the trooper arrived, it didn't look like a cop car at first. It came from town, and it just looked silver. It slowed down, and my first thought was OH F**K. F**K. Put it in drive and be ready to floor it. The car pulled up behind me. I've never been so relieved to see red and blue lights come on. After retelling my story, the cop took a look in the back and showed me the rock that had come through. It looked to be a little smaller than a bowling ball. I asked if there might be fingerprints on it. He responded in the negative, and got rid of it. He then told me not to touch anything. After taking some pictures, he removed a little bit of the glass from the window. I asked him how to proceed, and he gave me his information and a case number.

Now thoroughly shaken up, I drove to Buena Vista. My Dad's on eastern time, and I waited for a suitably normal hour to call him. 4AM (6 ET) was when Luca (our dog) gets fed. Ok. That's only an hour (approx.) away. I waited in a parking lot, and after a thoroughly pleasant conversation with a guy who had drove drunk from leadville with a flat (just to hit on a girl at City Market!) I made the call.

Now, at this point my next thought was to try and catch the perp. I knew a fb post on would get some attention, so I formulated a post along the lines of "I have your plate and car info. PM and explain or I'll turn you in and you'll go to jail." Now, I had already spoken to the police. But he didn't know that. And, of course, neither did the fb members. So began the third of three stupid mistakes on this 2-week trip. The responses flooded in. "Call the police." "There's only 1 option here." ...etc. I wanted to say " guys, I gotchu." -- but that would blow my slim chance of getting the guy. I knew (s)he would have had to have been an idiot to turn themselves in, but at this point I had already realized that it may have been some methhead trying to break in -- probably not a burgeoning scholar.

Then, things got nasty. A few clever fb members correctly guessed my bluff. Ok, that had to happen at some point. The replies after that got more and more accusatory, with several members accusing me of just looking for attention. Others thought I was an idiot. One guy doubted the validity of my claim (he retracted it later though; we're all good). I'd like to publicly call out the following individuals for being jerks though :

Ray Blanco, Gray Slater, Audie Medina, Eric Schmidt. I hope someone throws a rock through your windows, you keyboard warriors.

So, the rest of my morning was spent cleaning up. It turns out that shattered glass gets EVERYWHERE, and I had a car full of gear. A gas station vacuum saved my life. A phone call with my insurance led to me going to a glass shop in BV. They didn't have the part I needed (after all, who would carry the back left window between rear roll-down and truck on an individual car?), and couldn't get it until after I had to leave CO. At the guy's recommendation I went to True Value and got some stuff. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not good at DIY projects. I got plexiglass, a box cutter, and gorilla tape. A few accidental slashes to my car later, and I had a VERY makeshift window. As of this writing, it's made the trip to CT, so I'm pleased with my handiwork. Here's the car window as of 6(ish) AM the day of the break-in. Note the position of the sleeping pad. I usually sleep with my legs curled and slightly diagonal. If I had been sleeping on the other side of the car I'd be injured/dead:


I spent that night decompressing in Aspen, and the following day I went up to Cathedral Lake to get myself together. I'm running out of photo space, but it was another great hike in between summit days. Here's one of the lake, which (after passing tons of people on the way up) I had almost to myself (3 other people) at 4PM:

19696_53Cathedral Lake

I had planned to join CO Springs HH frequenter and bada** climber Ryan Smith for his finisher on Mt. Lindsey the next day (Saturday). Unfortunately, half my camping gear still had glass in it. I also didn't feel like driving all the way back home without hitting my goal. I would've needed a carpool (driving to the Lily Lake TH with potential loose glass=nope), along with some gear. I felt bad, but I also had a message from Julian that he would repeat a peak with me that Saturday if I wanted. So, on to the final climb.

I chose Missouri Mountain, because I knew the area from 2 climbs of Huron and a climb of Belford. I knew the Missouri Gulch TH would be popular, but it was also tucked away enough that random methheads likely wouldn't come by. Still, my stomach turned when I realized I'd be car camping again. That night, I got maybe 30 minutes of sleep. Seriously. Every time I heard a noise, or saw the brief light of a car going by, the same feeling of that Wednesday night came back. It was hard to explain. I knew it was irrational. I knew I could sleep safely. But, that same feeling or terror, confusion, and helplessness came back every time. Vividly. That night sucked.

Still, when morning came Julian and I (along with his runner friend that he carpooled with, who was going for Bel/Ox/Mo) set off for Missouri. I couldn't get him to put his shoes on for this one, but when we got to a talus section before the ridgetop he gave in.

There wasn't much to say about the day, except that it was super windy. Seriously, the gusts must have been 30-40mph. After a couple months of pleasant weather, this was a reminder that winter is coming.

19696_5419696_55proof of summit, along with Julian's summit footwear

I was happy that the rock incident didn't stop me from summiting 14er #30, and headed down feeling proud. 30 14ers and 20 13ers isn't bad for 3 summers. I was leaving CO (for now) in shape, injury-free, and happy. If anyone has made it to the end of this TR, thanks for reading. This was some of the best 2 weeks I've ever had. Most of it was happy hiking, but even the scary times on N. Maroon, frustration in the hourglass, terror in the car, and sadness at the reactions online was valuable. I felt so unbelievably alive in these two weeks, and so self-reliant. I hope everyone gets to be as lucky as I was. Thanks especially to Kevin and Julian for climbing with me! I hope you're both able to finish the 14ers this year or next.

Ok, that's all. This TR is now over. Words of the day, from Monday-the following Saturday are: Lush, undulate, mosquitoes, "ROCK", wealth, ALIVE, sleep, regroup, sunset, cramps, WTF?!?!, recovery, and wind.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 31 32 33 35 36 38 41 42 43 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56

Comments or Questions
good report(s)
08/26/2019 15:20
Congrats on your successful climbs. Hopefully the glass breaking vandal gets impaled by a falling rock. Being from CT, I have never had a negative incident in CO. I usually know i'm home because within 15 minutes of getting on 91 from Bradley there are at least 3 A-holes to deal with.

North Maroon
08/29/2019 19:53
I also had an issue with letting myself down a wet ledge on North Maroon and struggling to get back up it. I actually bypassed the chimney both ways (honestly was following a very logical path on way up and didn't realize I was past it until I was on that overlook/precipice spot). That mountain gets scary fast if you get just a hint off route.

09/04/2019 20:01
Thanks for sharing your story and pics. Really entertaining!

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2023®, 14ers Inc.