Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,344 feet
Ouray, Mt  -  13,971 feet
California Pk  -  13,849 feet
PT 13,660 A  -  13,660 feet
PT 13,577  -  13,577 feet
Mount Peck - 12,208 feet
Peel Point - 12,145 feet
South Monarch Ridge - 11,909 feet
UN 8845, 8,845 feet
UN 8730, 8,730 feet
Date Posted:  02/28/2022
Modified:  03/09/2022
Date Climbed:   02/01/2022
Author:  -wren-
Additional Members:   Jdwilson
 Mount Ouray 12er Rollercoaster & Other Feb Adventures   

February 2022: Month in Review

Summary

  • Total Peaks: +12, 307 Career
  • New Peaks: +10, 286 Career
  • Total Ranked Peaks: +11, 209 Career
  • New Ranked Peaks: +9, 200 Career
  • Ranked 14ers: +1, 31/53 (LiDAR +1, 31/53)
  • Centennials: +3, 37/100 (LiDAR +3, 37/101)
  • Bicentennials: +4, 44/200 (LiDAR +4, 46/201)
  • Ranked 13ers: +3, 42/584 (LiDAR +3, 43/584)
  • Ranked 12ers: +1, 9/676
  • Unranked 12ers: +1, 5/386
  • Ranked 11ers: +1, 5/468
  • Ranked 8ers: +2, 43/732

Peaks

  • 02/03: UN 8845, 8,845'
  • 02/06: La Plata Peak, 14,336’
  • 02/09: Tenderfoot Mountain, 8,624’ (repeat x3)
  • 02/10: UN 8730, 8,730’
  • 02/17: Tenderfoot Mountain, 8,624’ (repeat x4)
  • 02/19: California Peak, 13,849'
  • 02/19: UN 13660, 13,660'
  • 02/19: UN 13577, 13,577'
  • 02/27: Mount Ouray, 13,971'
  • 02/27: Mount Peck, 12,208'
  • 02/27: Peel Point, 12,145'
  • 02/27: South Monarch Ridge, 11,909'

Benchmarks

This Month YTD Completion
Total Peaks w/ Repeats 12/200 28/200 14%, goal 16.67%
New Peaks 10/200 22/200 11%, goal 16.67%
New Ranked 13k+ Peaks 5/150 10/150 6.67%, goal 16.67%
Human Powered Vert 27,092'/365,000' 61,192'/365,000' 16.76%, goal 16.67%
Miles on Foot 79.07/1000 207.6/100 20.7%, goal 16.67%

I'm proud of what I've gotten done so far this year, balancing school/work/conditions, but still got some catching up to do, hopefully my plan to go really hard in the Sangres over spring break works out!

02/03: Meandering in the Hills After Class

Peaks

  • UN 8845, 8,845'

Stats

  • Distance: 6.8 miles
  • Ascent: 1,509'
  • Difficulty: Class 2
  • Time: 03:02:49 elapsed, 02:51:01 moving
  • Pace: 26:53/mile elapsed, 25:08/mile moving
  • Vertical Pace: 990' VCPH* elapsed, 1,059' VCPH moving
  • Partners: Solo

*Vertical Change Per Hour

https://www.strava.com/activities/6627579335

21560_02
Open expanse of practically nothing for miles and miles in all directions.

I wrapped up school for the day at noon, and made a 10 minute drive east to a junction with US-50 and a BLM road for a much-needed outdoor decompression session. The walk was an enjoyable one, roughly half off trail and half on seldom used snow-laden roads. I covered much more ground than necessary as I wanted to be out for a few hours. I had a deer-broken trench to follow for much of the way, the whole area is very heavily used by animals. There's hardly any human development in sight from a lot of these low Gunnison Valley peaks and it's a great feeling having such quick access to total solitude when you need it.


02/06: Redemption in the Sawatch

Peaks

  • La Plata Peak, 14,336'

Stats

  • Distance: 9.55 miles
  • Ascent: 4,573'
  • Difficulty: Class 2+
  • Time: 07:20:54 elapsed, 05:00:01 moving
  • Pace: 46:10/mile elapsed, 31:24/mile moving
  • Vertical Pace: 1,244' VCPH elapsed, 1,829' VCPH moving
  • Partners: Jefferey (Jdwilson)

https://www.strava.com/activities/6642608100

21560_04
Getting closer to treeline as light floods the Earth.

The night before I had trouble getting to sleep and was not feeling good about the very early start time I had planned to catch sunrise higher up. I texted my partner around 8 PM asking if he was up to push it back an hour, but he was already asleep. When the time came to get myself ready I accidentally hit stop instead of snooze on my alarm and wayyy overslept. Sorry Jefferey! I did eventually roll into the TH at 5:45 AM, where he was unexpectedly still waiting for me and not upset about my late arrival. Super nice of him. I do typically travel solo when there are no objective hazards dissuading me from doing so, but I was feeling like some company would be nice for this one, so I took to the forums looking for kind strangers. (All my friends wanted to go ski pow, smh). He was down, so we made plans. I didn't think too much about his experience/fitness level since the hike is so straightforward, and anyone willing to get up that high in winter is prepared for a little suffering; I still should've inquired a bit which is my mistake. It turned out this would be his first 14er, but he did great!

21560_05
Some of the first good views along the route

Getting to treeline was quick and painless, without snowshoes thanks to the recent ample foot traffic packing out the trench to wonderful, flat quality. It was quite steep in places, but never ridiculous, and would be quite fun to boot-ski down later. Eventually we were at the base of the headwall, which actually looks quite steep and imposing upon first glance. Fear not, as its intimidation factor lessens the closer you get, and is never harder than a loose and annoying class 2+. I do have a high choss tolerance, but actually found it to be quite fun on the way up, and closer to class 3 than class 2. Definitely not so much fun on the way down, though. You could certainly opt for a short bit of trivial Class 4 a smidge to the left of the very loose, most obvious center line if you fancy less scree and more scramble. It looks quite solid but I can't totally vouch for it since I didn't get on it. Jefferey followed suit and made quick work of the loose 2+ garbage, and I could tell he would do just fine all day.

21560_06
The headwall. Possible class 4 is a rib at the border between rock/snow in the left-center of the pic. Much less steep than it appears here.
21560_07
The beginning of the gnar on Ellingwood Ridge. Photos taken from the East tend to make the terrain look so much more tame than it looks in person, likely because all the big steep notches and towers that add tons of gain and make routefinding such a challenge are hard to see.

I would be surprised if typical mid-winter conditions are very far removed from what we saw above 12k, save for when there has been heavy recent snow and low wind or some other abnormal period of weather. Of course, it won't be to a tee.

  1. Negligible snow up to about 13,000' - very wind scoured.
  2. Occasional drifts the whole way.
  3. Deeper snow (8-18+ inches), on and off supportive and all wind affected in some way, from 13,000' to 13,500'.
  4. Mostly hard and supportive wind-slab from roughly 13,500 to 14,000.
  5. A mix of talus, unconsolidated sugar, bits of wind-slab, and drifts from 14,000 to summit.


21560_09
#cloudsarentreal

Around 13,800' I started to pull away from Jefferey a little as I knew the summit was coming soon and we wouldn't be parted long. I stepped onto the summit a little before 11 AM. The air was downright frigid, the light was incredible as it had been all day, and half the view was obscured by a cloud in the process of swallowing us whole. Jefferey made it up several minutes later, clearly super stoked but also beat from his first day above 12,000 feet. He came prepared and did super well for his first 14er. A prime example for others, a defiance of the rude and gatekeepy "recent transplant" stereotype, and in winter no less! We shared kudos and I snapped a couple pics of him, and then we departed for a while again as I needed to move - my toes were turning to icicles in the bitterly cold temps, but I definitely didn't want to cut his summit stay short. I made sure he felt good parting ways and coming down on his own, we planned on where to meet, and I started back. The descent went smoothly, we met back up at treeline, and made our way to the TH quite fast with zero postholing or snowshoeing. The mental scarring from my shoddy, sketchy, sleep-deprived attempt of Ellingwood Ridge in November had been slowly healing, and this certainly helped. Felt super good to get it done, and I'll definitely have to come back for a winter Ellingwood Ridge again one day in the future to seal the deal.

21560_03
La Plata, (translated: "The Silver") Peak, really living up to its name on this day.

02/09: Sleepless Sunrise

Peaks

  • Tenderfoot Mountain, 8,624’ (repeat x3)

Stats

  • Distance: 6.33 miles
  • Ascent: 1,356' ascent
  • Difficulty: Class 2
  • Time: 02:12:29 elapsed, 01:58:12 moving
  • Pace: 20:56/mile elapsed, 18:39/mile moving
  • Vertical Pace: 1,229' VCPH elapsed, 1,377' VCPH moving
  • Partners: Solo

https://www.strava.com/activities/6656229263

21560_11
iPhone cameras never do sunrises justice, plus mine is finnicky and this is an especially bad pic, but this was easily one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever experienced, so vibrant and saturated.

The night before, I had gotten started on an assignment due the next day around 8:00 PM. Somehow I hadn't noticed while skimming through its description several days earlier that it was not a one-sitting type thing, and I ended up working on it until 5 AM to get it in by the deadline. While it's not great for the mind and body, I usually feel more lucid the next day when I just skip sleep altogether rather than sleep for 1 or 2 hours. So, I relaxed and watched TV for a bit and then just went out for a morning W Mountain lap. The sunrise was seriously S-tier and felt like a reward for the 9-hour grind I had just gotten done with. After getting through class thanks to the all-mighty power of Bang Energy I fell asleep super hard, hoping my mind and body would forgive me for the BS I had just put it through.

21560_12
Cotton Candy Skies


02/10: More Meandering

Peaks

  • UN 8730, 8,730'

Stats

  • Distance: 2.64 miles
  • Ascent: 725'
  • Difficulty: Class 1+
  • Time: 01:07:15 elapsed, 01:02:28 moving
  • Pace: 25:28/mile elapsed, 23:35/mile moving
  • Vertical Pace: 1,293' VCPH elapsed, 1,392' VCPH elapsed
  • Partners: Solo

https://www.strava.com/activities/6663955228

21560_10
L to R: 11er Tomichi Dome, 13er Chipeta Peak, Centennial Mt. Ouray. Didn't know it yet but I'd be pushing limits over there shortly...

After finishing up some homework I decided to take advantage of the nice temps and remaining daylight and took some old service roads up to the top of this plateau. It's unclear where exactly the summit is and the relative top of the mesa was good enough for me, but by all means discount my claim of this one if you care that much about 8ers, lol! Surprisingly nice views and a crazy big herd of elk (50? 70?) hanging out at the top. Feel bad for spooking them away :( Nice short jaunt and as always, so empty feeling out here in this part of the state.


02/17: Just Another W Lap

Peaks

  • Tenderfoot Mountain, 8,624’ (repeat x4)

Stats

  • Distance: 5.55 miles
  • Ascent: 1,219'
  • Difficulty: Class 2
  • Time: 01:49:59 elapsed, 01:43:20 moving
  • Pace: 19:49/mile elapsed, 18:36/mile moving
  • Vertical Pace: 1,330' VCPH elapsed, 1,415' VCPH moving
  • Partners: Solo

https://www.strava.com/activities/6698960181

21560_13
12ers Anthracite Range (left) and Carbon Peak (right) looking gorgeous as always over Western's campus.

To clarify, this route up "W Mountain" does not pass any signage or require any fence-hopping. There's fences to cross but if you know where to look they have open gates. Technically when I climb this peak I do not attain the true summit, rather a few dozen feet away, out of respect for the anthropological study site further south on the summit plateau. The north edge of the summit plateau has the best views and is good enough for me. Still gray-area access I think, but not very conspicuous and doesn't go anywhere that could damage the artifacts on top.


02/19: A Pleasant Scrambly Surprise

Peaks

  • California Peak, 13,849'
  • UN 13660, 13,660'
  • UN 13577, 13,577'

Stats

  • Distance: 14.43 miles
  • Ascent: 6,038'
  • Difficulty: Class 3
  • Time: 10:34:25 elapsed, 6:24:06 moving
  • Pace: 43:58/mile elapsed, 26:36/mile moving
  • Vertical Pace: 1,142' VCPH elapsed, 1,886' VCPH moving
  • Partners: Solo

https://www.strava.com/activities/6708804451

21560_17
The mighty Crestone Group, nearly 7,000 feet off the valley floor, making the Great Sand Dunes look not as "great" size-wise.

After a 2.5 hour drive from Gunnison surprisingly void of animals - that stretch of US50 is notorious for massive herds of deer/elk this time of year - I arrived at the dry, well-maintained, 2WD accessible Zapata Falls Trailhead around 6:30 for a not-so-alpine start. I did not take long debating the risk of leaving my snowshoes in the car, seeing as from the looks of it there would be absolutely no need for them. There wasn't, and I started east on the excellent Zapata Falls trail encountering minimal snow and ice along the way, stoked to be moving along at 3 mph in the middle of February. I had done very little research on the route. I knew that I had traction in case I needed it, I knew roughly how long the day would be, I knew that the only avalanche hazard to worry about would be cornices, and I knew that the ridges I would use to circumnavigate the basin that these peaks make up all looked very reasonable on CalTopo. Along my approach, I caught occasional glimpses of 13660 that gave me pause. I started to realize that it was very doubtful I would make it all the way up encountering only class 2 terrain.

21560_32
A bad picture of 13660 from the approach (false summit)


21560_33
Crestones at sunrise

Had I done a little bit of research, I would have found reports of a long, solid, enjoyable class 3 route leading to the summit. It was too late for that, however, so I continued along hoping for reasonable terrain and minimal cornice formation. I eventually left the trail around 10,450' and gained 13,660's west ridge. Moving up to 11,200', the terrain made a gradual transition from soil covered with 8ish inches of unconsolidated snow and easy bushwacking into scraggly, stiff, fabric-eating junipers on top of talus and blocky bits of class 2+. From there to treeline, the ridge moved more towards class 3. The bushwacking, however, did not let up, making for some very interesting movement. There is not much exposure or anything, just rugged terrain. It is very much like the lower section of Little Bear's SW Ridge, from about 10,000' to 10,700', but with more difficult movement and more vegetation. Really, the most accurate comparison is the very obscure N Ridge of Eldorado Mountain, for the select few of you interested enough in silly little low peaks to have checked that out. They have a strikingly similar character, the trees in both areas don't seem to care that they're growing out of rocks. My phone camera is broken and is very finnicky with focus when taking pictures of close objects, so I don't have much for pictures of this section.

21560_29

Taken from 11,950', almost 3,000' above the TH, looking back at the headway made thus far

It had become nearly certain that the majority of the route from here would be scrambling, but it looked totally reasonable and quite enjoyable, so the stoke was rising. I could tell that there would be occasional spots with cornices to watch out for, but it looked like risk could be mitigated quite effectively.

21560_30
Looking up at the false summit from just above treeline

I am not great with recalling exact details on route choice unless I take notes and tons of pictures (I did not) but I feel that most people climbing obscure 13ers aren't really gonna need or care about those minute details, or maybe even enjoy tackling routes with little to no beta, just a map and good mountain sense. Anyway, here are the important bullet points on the route from treeline.

  1. Minor bits of Class 3 leading up to 12,800, still largely class 2 and 2+ for much of it.
  2. From 12,800' to the false summit at around 13,400', the ratio of scrambling to walking leans more towards scrambling the higher you get. Exposure stays at a "considerable" rating, nothing too crazy. No notably tricky moves yet. There was significantly more snow on the last couple hundred feet of this section than the rest on this day.
  3. From the false summit to the true summit, exposure moves towards "high" in places, there are definitely spots where you could die if you fell, and there are two cruxy class 3 sections. Plenty of snow and some spooky cornices on this day.
  4. 1st crux: probably felt much harder due to snow. A narrow 10-foot section with a slightly knifey character. One of the only spots with nasty loose rock, and the most exposure of any bit. It was a snow bridge on this day, but I knocked off some of it until there was exposed rock to use since the snow wasn't nearly consolidated enough to trust my weight on. Borderline class 4 moves, but there might have been holds covered in snow that would make it easier. Also you could probably just "catwalk" it when dry or when covered in better snow.
  5. 2nd crux: a steep and exposed 15 foot section with big holds but loose rock at about 65/70 degrees next right below the summit. Arguably Class 4, could be negotiated into class 3 with some elevation loss.
  6. Numerous catwalky sections with plenty of exposure requiring very careful movement with the snow.
21560_24
1st crux. Definitely exposed enough to warrant plenty of caution and careful movement. Camera sucks.


21560_31
Looking back from around 12,900'


21560_27
Last bit to the summit

I eventually clambered onto the summit late morning and soaked in the views for a while. The views of Twin Peaks and the Blanca Group 14ers are stellar.

21560_26
Little Bear, with the WRD looking intimidating (right skyline)


21560_28
13er "Huerfanito" in the foreground, Lindsey and Spanish Peaks in the back

The descent to the 13660/13577 saddle offers up more intermittent class 3, and the exposure doesn't quite yet relent. Less serious terrain than some of the stuff on 13660's west ridge, but was still a little slow going with the snow. The climb up 13577 is very straightforward class 2 talus hopping. About halfway up, the winds, which had been nonexistent all day, decided to pick up to very high speed, and it was a little stumbly getting to the top.

21560_22
The way up 13577

The wind stayed really bad all the way down to the saddle with California Peak and a little ways past, I briefly considered bailing down into the basin but quickly decided that without snowshoes that would be very unwise. Luckily, they eventually let up again. There is a bump with 200 ft of prominence or so en route to California that can be bypassed with some annoying sidehilling or climbed over. The whole trip over from 13577 is class 2, and was quite dry on this day.

21560_23
Taken while making progress up California. Closest peak is the unranked bump, behind that is 13577, and dwarfing both of those is Blanca/Ellingwood/LB
21560_20
Twin Peaks towering above the San Luis valley 6,000 feet below

The summit of California Peak came quickly and I took the opportunity to bask in the sun since the wind had disappeared again. I've had crazy good luck with summit weather all winter and this one was no different, much appreciated! I have yet to be let down by views in the Sangres, it was gorgeous in every direction. Eventually I started down California's west ridge. It's all class 2, never steeper than 27-28 degrees and was mostly dry on this day. Seems to be the best winter option to avoid avy danger. Once below treeline, there were a couple spots with loose talus covered in snow that took multiple stabs at my ankles. Very unpleasant, but didn't last too long. Talus below treeline really just feels like a "f**k you"...soon enough I was back on the excellent trail and cruising back to the car, stoked to have gotten another winter day without snowshoes in. Overall this was a great day. IMO, as far as class 3 goes 13660's West Ridge is a classic that should not be skipped if you decide to bag this one, and an avy safe/usually dry winter option.

21560_18
13660's W Ridge from California's W Ridge (true summit hidden)

02/27: So This is What They Meant by "Pain Cave"

Peaks

  • Mount Ouray, 13,971'
  • Mount Peck, 12,208'
  • Peel Point, 12,145'
  • South Monarch Ridge, 11,909'

Stats

  • Distance: 26.08 miles
  • Ascent: 8,159'
  • Difficulty: Class 2
  • Time: 19:53:08 elapsed, 14:22:09 moving
  • Pace: 45:45/mile elapsed, 33:03/mile moving
  • Vertical Pace: 820' VCPH elapsed, 1,135' VCPH moving
  • Partners: Eric & Jack

https://www.strava.com/activities/6749733212

21560_34
The car, from Ouray's summit, 13 grueling miles of winding, up and down ridgeline away...

While planning out my peakbagging outline for 2022, one of the things that was very clear was that to finish the Centennials by the start of the Fall 2022 semester, during winter I would need to crank out every single one that was safe to do even when the snowpack was bad. One of these was Mt. Ouray - however, it was a bit of a problem child. It's not exactly the easiest peak to access in winter, and the only other winter report for this guy is by the infamous DadMike who did it for his obscenely difficult Winter Centennials list. Its prominence also means that you can't trust its forecasted wind speed, and it's notorious for getting hammered all winter. I had been weighing two really tough daytrips - one, 24 miles utilizing the Agate Creek drainage, in which I would surely be breaking trail below treeline for miles and miles. Two, a super long rollercoaster of a ridge run from Monarch Pass, the exact stats of which I wasn't sure on. I eventually settled on the ridge, which would take me over an 11er, 3 12ers, and hopefully Chipeta Mountain and its subsummit. I planned for maximum stats of 9-10k vert, 30 miles and 20-24 hours, and secured partners in two of the only other teenagers I know that would ever want to do this - my friends Eric and Jack, who have both done some seriously ludicrous ultra-endurance pushes on a bike. Neither had done much peakbagging, and it would be both their longest days on foot (as well as mine) but they were both eager to check it out and definitely more physically capable than myself. I knew for a fact that as much as I love climbing solo there was no way I could do this alone without having a total mental breakdown at some point along the way. Just not nearly hardened or experienced enough yet.

I picked up Jack and Eric from their dorms around 12:30 after a surprising 6 hours of sleep (sponsored by melatonin), and we made the short 45 minute drive up to Monarch Pass from Gunnison. We were all feeling the energy, but I could tell that they were slightly questioning if they should have gotten themselves into this...too late! We begrudgingly put on snowshoes for the first climb up S. Monarch Ridge and wasted no time getting to it, trying not to think about how far away sunrise still was. We removed snowshoes near the summit, soaked in the wonderful views of black sky and random summit buildings for 20-30 seconds, and kept moving. We would have to put on snowshoes again very quickly, and made the mistake of not just leaving them on a couple more times. Our naive hopes of a mostly dry ridge had already been shot - there was a ton of snow, sometimes supportive, but often very much not supportive and deep even in snowshoes. It was clear that wind had been hammering the ridge all winter as some of the drifts between Monarch and Peck were easily 3-5 feet higher than the rest of the snowpack. Trailbreaking had already begun, and we still had 11 miles to the summit of Ouray...demoralizing. Other than a brief routefinding error, the next 2 peaks came and went time-warp style, and sometime around Peel Point we started to get first light which was super helpful for mental state. Right around then, we also got a long break from trailbreaking, around mile 5 to mile 7. We also decided to contour around the last ranked/unnamed 12er since it was dry, agreeing to maybe get it on the way back (we would not). Things were looking up again and pace was getting a bit better.

21560_45
Sunrise! Ouray on the left, Antora on the right.


21560_43
Stoke = high! (photo by Eric)

Around mile 7, Jack let us know that he had forgotten to bring gaiters and thought he would be okay but was starting to worry about the snow that had made its way to his feet. He made the difficult decision to turn around, and got a ride from a friend from the pass. Too bad that he couldn't finish the day with us, but Eric and I charged on.

We were finally approaching the only piece of terrain that I was concerned about for the day avy-wise, and it wasn't looking good. Judging by how everything was filled in elsewhere, and the first whumph of the day we heard just a 1/3 of a mile before, there was no way we were going the way that we had planned. We got to the top of slope, and with plenty of snow and a terrain trap to the left, it was a very quick "nope" from everyone. Luckily, I saw a way to manage it well by descending the ridge to our right a couple hundred feet, veering into dense trees, and getting away from the overhead hazard - added a decent bit of mileage, but better than dying. After we got around it, we heard 5 or 6 huge whoomphs on safe terrain over the next couple miles, some of which came with shooting cracks, confirming that we definitely made the right choice. It was a relief to be able to get around everything knowing we were out of harm's way the whole time.

21560_46
Reroute. Track indicates we went further down sketchy slope than we did - stopped before start of convex rollover

From there, the trailbreaking got really hard for a couple miles. We slowed down to 0.7-0.8 mph for a bit, both agreeing there was no way we could have done it without each other. We were sinking over a foot on every step, and the snow was really heavy but not supportive. Just the worst. We were motivated by treeline, which was growing closer once again. We knew that soon we could finally ditch snowshoes and would be on mostly dry rock for a long stretch. With much effort, we finally gained the ridge to Ouray, and dropped the shoes. Huge relief.

21560_37
Eric & Ouray. Ridge goes around to the right, it's 2.5 miles miles to the top from here.

I was doing okay up until we reached the end of the flat/up+down part of the ridge. From there, though, right before the final push, my respiratory system started to fail me. My diaphragm was cramping up really bad. I panicked a little as my lung capacity seemingly dropped to half of what it normally is. I still can't say exactly what it was, but it was some combination of high average altitude, cold air, not being fit enough, having trouble eating, and the sheer lunacy of the route we were doing. Eric absolutely smoked me to the top as I rode the struggle-bus for the last 1,250 feet of ascent. I was crazy stoked to get on top, but knew that I was probably going to be forcing myself back to the car running on fumes and sheer rage.

21560_41
Finally...(photo by Eric)

There's not a ton to say about the terrain for this stretch. If you have hiked off trail in the Sawatch, you might as well have already done this section, likely several or dozens of times. There's a short 50-foot bit of class 3 on good rock that is very easily avoided to the left, but it was a nice little break from the head-down slogging.

21560_39
Eric looking out at the Gunnison Valley and soaking in the absolutely perfect windless weather
21560_38
Antora Peak from the summit

There was only one way to go from here. I was completely beat already but there just wasn't another option. I know I can dig really deep when I need to and I was gonna have to do it all the way back. I had completely committed so I had to follow through, and I was gonna make it no matter if it took hours longer than anticipated or if I puked (never got that bad though). If I brought a rescue team out into the mountains over nothing more than a lack of stamina, I would probably never forgive myself and have to retire from the mountains forever.

A short dialogue from mile 22...

Me: "Damn dude. This would be so much easier if I could just breathe. My lungs haven't been okay since we were on Ouray."

Eric: "Man. Can you take deep breaths like at all?"

Me: "No."

Eric: "....what the f**k are we doing out here?!"

There's really not a ton to say about the return trip other than that it redefined suffering for me. My breathing didn't return to normal the whole way back, my hip flexors started flaring up around mile 17, I could barely hold down food and water...Eric was miserable himself but was a great partner the whole way. I hadn't expected to be quite this destroyed, but the trailbreaking really got me. I thought I'd bonk like right at the end, not mile 20. My partner played a big role in helping me force myself back to the car at a reasonable 1.8-2 mph pace. "Don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done" was the mentality for the whole 8 hour push back. The sight of the car a little after 9 was heavenly, and I used all my remaining energy driving us back home. One to remember for sure...triple threat PRs for single push vert, distance and time. They're not gonna last long, I have work to do...hopefully one day stuff like this will be half as hard as it was this day.

21560_36
See you tomorrow, old friend...
21560_35
Parting views of Mt. Ouray



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Anima
User
Hell yea!
03/03/2022 09:45
Looked like a great day out there on Ouray! Helluva push! Congrats!


-wren-
User
Anima
03/03/2022 12:07
thanks, certainly a long one haha


Tornadoman
User
Insane day trip
03/04/2022 13:13
That is an insane day trip for winter! Congrats on having the guts to try it and the stamina to pull it off!


DEN200
Great effort
03/04/2022 16:39
I enjoyed reading your description of the NW ridge of 13660A. I made a similar mistake of climbing it in May 2012. I would call the lower tree covered portion of the ridge as "horrible". Better to avoid that section of the ridge completely.


-wren-
User
thanks
03/04/2022 16:58
Tornadoman - thanks, but zero chance I could have done it alone with the amount of snow! Nothing works the hips like some good heavy trenching.

DEN200 - I honestly found it enjoyable, but yes, many would prefer to find a different path of ascent to treeline. On this day, I just wanted to stay off of terrain over 30 degrees, although the south side would have been totally safe with the amount of snow and dense trees.


Will_E
User
Craziness
03/09/2022 09:38
That‘s awesome getting Ouray!



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