Saturday, February 17, 2018


On top of Black Mesa, Oklahoma's high point.

Now let's try something really different.

The last two weekends I met my adventure partners at 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. and we did long, tiring, cold 14ers. On both of those trips I went with really strong partners (Homie, Wes, and Derek on Culebra and Homie and Danny on Antero) and really benefited from their help. But it was time to up the ante, from a single peak in a single state, to three peaks in three states!

These aren’t just random peaks either, but state highpoints. What’s more we wanted to do it in a calendar day from our houses and none of the peaks were even in Colorado! Impossible, right? Well, no, if, like I did with the winter 14ers, you pick the right partners. This adventure would involve nearly 1000 miles of driving, so I needed a car and a driver. Enter Mark Oveson.

Mark owns a 2002 BMW M5 - the same car that was used to set the record for driving across the entire United Sates (since broken) in 31 hours, averaging nearly 100 mph for the entire trip. Installed in Mark’s car is a Valentine V1 radar detector and a Laser Interceptor laser jammer. Supplementing this hardware, he ran the Escort iPhone app which tracks speed traps in real time. All this equipment is useless, though, without a motivated driver. Mark was motivated.

Our most essential (and pretty much only) piece of equipment: the M5.
Six months ago, Mark gave up on his right ankle. Eighteen months of antibiotics post surgery didn’t save his cartilage and he had the ankle fused, effectively ending his quite successful career as an ultrarunner. He had his ankle fused in September and he won’t run again. This limited what adventures we could do together. Turns out, his ankle still worked well enough to handle the pedals in his Bimmer (pronounced "Beamer").

The peaks we were after might seem less impressive than my previous weekends, but this was the only weekend where I regretted leaving my helmet behind. Speeding through the inky blackness of eastern Colorado at over 100 miles per hour had me thinking we should be dressed more like a NASCAR racer than a mountain climber. I wasn’t dressed as a mountain climber either, though. I was in my pajamas.
Highpoints around Colorado. I've now done them all. The three eastern ones are the KNOHPIAD.
So, what peaks? Our first was Black Mesa in Oklahoma. After a 325-mile drive down to the trailhead we’d embark on our longest trek of the day: 8.6 miles and nearly 800 feet of climbing. Next up is the precipitous and ominous Mount Sunflower in Kansas. We’d finish up with awesome 360-degree views afforded by Panorama Point in Nebraska. All of these “mountains” were located very close to the Colorado border, so our adventure amounted to a circumnavigation of eastern Colorado.

In order to fit this into a calendar day, I calculated we needed to start at 2 a.m. Mark immediately chopped an hour off the total driving time and we met at 3 a.m. and were rolling by 3:06. We had a full tank of gas, a cooler full of drinks. It was dark. We pulled on our sunglasses and hit it.
Mario Andretti's long lost brother.
In the first two hours, we covered over 160 miles. Surprisingly, we followed another car for a good portion of the drive from Denver to Colorado Springs. Mark remarked at one time about this guy, “He’s absolutely fearless. I’m impressed. He must drive this route often at this time of night.” Our laser jammer went off a number of times, most of the time it appeared to be a false positive, but once it warned us of a cop coming straight at us. Derek and I were both impressed how well that worked. Mark explained to me that you never want to JTG a cop. That stands for Jam-To-Gun and means you don’t want to let the cop know he’s been jammed. Ideally, you get warned early, you slow down, turn off the jammer, and let the cop get your now-legal speed. Then turn on the jammer and drop the hammer.
Derek pacing himself for the night driving on the way back. Oops! He can't drive a stick. Dang. Bad parents, clearly.
I dropped the ball on navigation and when Black Mesa Preserve came up on Google Maps, we just headed that way. When we got close I read our guidebook description from the town of Kenton…which we didn’t quite hit. I did get a bit confused with the directions here, but the signage was all directing us to the Preserve and when we got there, it wasn’t the right place. Some helpful guys directed us back the way we came and now the directions in the book made complete sense. We lost 30 minutes here, but more importantly we wasted some gas. This would cause us some stress later.

The road signs here all face south. Our 80 mph speed when headed the other way may have also been a contributing factor, but the trailhead was very clearly marked as we headed back to the north. We pulled into the small dirt lot and Mark swung into action. In 5 minutes he had used the bathroom, pulled on his tiny pack, and was off down the trail. Derek and I took another ten minutes or so to get ready. Mark took off early because of his limited mobility.
Surprisingly nice hiking on Black Mesa.
I decided to run the trail until I caught up to Mark, so that I could chat with him. Derek didn’t want to run with me, probably due to his knee, but he wasn’t saying. Maybe he was still too sleepy for conversation. It took me 1.3 miles to catch Mark, who is obviously still a fast walker. The trail is nearly flat for the first two miles and then it climbs 775 feet up to the top of the mesa over the third mile and then another mile to the high point, which is marked with an impressive obelisk. Derek caught us with a half mile to go. He’s an even faster walker.
Derek atop the true high point of Oklahoma. I wonder how many highpointers cheat and just touch the marker...
We took some photos and even had Derek climb up onto my thigh and then shoulders so that he could sit on top of the marker. Mark celebrated the high point (not summit, though, as the top of the Black Mesa is actually in New Mexico, though it is pretty dang flat up there), by giving each us our own ziplock of four homemade marshmallow Rice Krispies treats. Yum.

Back at the car, we punched in the coordinates for the nearest gas station, which was in Boise City. Mark’s computer said we had 30 miles of range left. The gas station was 40 miles away. Mark slowed below the speed limit for the only time during the entire trip to milk as many miles out of the rapidly drying gas tank. The computer’s range readout went to 3 miles with 13 miles to go. We started calculating how long it would take me to run to town, get the gas, and wrangle a ride back to the car. The readout went blank with still nine miles to go. We were sensitive to any perceived change in the car’s velocity. With three miles to go, it would only be a minor inconvenience. By the time we pulled into the Toot ’n Tote’em for some high-octane petrol and some world-famous hotdogs, we knew that the M5 can go at least ten miles further than its computer thinks it can.
Glorious Mount Sunflower. Ah, the vistas from atop this "mountain."
Mark’s M5 is chip-limited to 165 mph, though he hasn’t tested it.The best he’s done was 149 mph on I-70. We hit a new top speed for the trip when we headed north on 287 out of Boise City. Mark had promised the M5 that if it got us to the gas station before running dry, he’d let it go fast again and immediately delivered, to the tune of 121, 132, 139. Did I mention that Mark was motivated? Having the right partners makes all the difference. Nowadays my only contribution is thinking up the adventures. Then I recruit partners and help me achieve it.

Mark's Escort app. Derek's in the back watching a movie and I'm writing this blog. I mean it's only 129 mph.
The drive to Mount Sunflower wasn’t nearly as arduous as it sounds. Thinking back on it now, I don’t even remember how many switchbacks were involved. Mark drove so smoothly it seemed,  at the time, like none. We parked at respectful distance from this hallowed ground and weaved our way, on foot, through the cow pies to the very summit. I think the word “spectacular” isn’t overstating things, but, for perspective, I think an Egg McMuffin is a sublime breakfast sandwich.

After crafting a suitable Strava track, we bid farewell to this solitary monarch, jutting so majestically out of the Kansas ranch land. We folded ourselves back into the M5 and once again unleashed the Kraken. It was on this next stretch of road where Mark set his personal record of 151 mph. Up a hill. On a two-lane road. A bit after this a road sign indicated a curving 90-degree turn ahead. Mark was approaching at 90 mph. I wasn’t overly concerned, but did say, “Mark, turn coming up.” He said, “Oh, so you want me to speed up?” We exited the turn at 98 mph.
Now we're talking. This got everyone's attention.
Mark was pumped up after his 151 mph record, but he didn’t want to repeat it. He proclaimed, “Under 100 mph from here on out.” Seconds after he said this, I saw that we hit 101 mph and I say so. He responds, “Oops, that was by accident.” A bit later we went into another one of those sweeping 90-degree turns at 98 mph. Clearly he had backed off considerably. Not!

Nebraska's Panorama Point
Finding Panorama Point was a definite low point on the trip. Our light was fading fast and our Google-Map directions were faulty, telling us to turn on non-existent roads. We did not pull a Michael Scott and drive into the fence, though. We continued north and Google re-routed us onto the roads from our guidebook, which started from I-80 to our north. These worked fine and finally found a sign saying the highpoint was near and to pay $3/person. We could have easily avoided this payment, but we made it as requested. We proceeded down a dirt road with a bit of a crown. Too much crown for the M5, slung about four inches off the ground, but Mark didn’t seem concerned with a bit of scraping.

It was cold and windy here, to be expected at a nose-bleeding altitude of 5,424 feet. I know this because I sometimes gets nose bleeds at home too, which is almost exactly this height. We took some photos and looked around and then hopped back in the car. A half-mile away Mark remembered that we didn’t get a Strava track. Ack! Mark turned off traction control, punched the 400-hp V8, and we spun a neat 180 degrees. Back at the highpoint, while Derek stayed in the car (he forgot his watch), Mark and I walked around in circles until our phones registered a tenth of a mile. This is mountain climbing at its finest!
Just in the nick of time. I mean, who would go highpointing at night? That's when we go cow tipping!
We turned our backs on Nebraska and were soon back in Colorado, speeding our way towards home. I took the wheel for the final 80 minutes to spell our MVP. His job was done and the IAD part of our adventure was in the bag. We arrived back at our start at 8:03 p.m. completing the FKTBM (Fastest Known Time By Me) in 16h57m.

This was my first real experience with high pointing. I guess I’m a high pointer now. Crossing that line is sort of like joining AARP for a climber. I’ve now done both, but, dammit, I’m still not retired. Probably this blog entry will get a lot of attention and I’ll soon be asked to speak all across the country. Though probably not at the high pointers club, since I’ve only done 14.
Enjoying the panorama at Nebraska's Point. This captures the true essence of highpointing...
When Derek told one of his friends he was going to do this, the friend shook his head and said, “You’ve done some crazy things in the past, but this…this?” I’m not even sure how to characterize it myself. It was more of a Cannonball Run than even a hiking trip. We definitely contributed a bit to global warming and since the high on Monday is supposed to be just twenty degrees…you’re welcome.

Our SPOT Track:

In case it isn't obvious KNOHPIAD stands for Kansas Nebraska Oklahoma High Points In A Day.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


This will be embarrassing for me. If you want to feel good about your abilities in the mountains, don’t go with any of my climbing partners.

I climbed Mt. Antero with my buddies Homie and Danny. I've joked before that going with Homie on a 14er was basically being guided up the peak. This was no joke. I was all but carried to the top of this peak by these two. On the one hand I was so thankful to have such compassionate, strong friends and climbing partners. On the other hand, I was quite disappointed that I was a net negative on this climb. I contributed absolutely nothing and was a burden on my partners. Now if I were paying these guys to guide me up this peak, that would be one thing. It has me seriously considering whether I should partner with these guys. I was somewhat okay with being a zero as a climbing partner, but I'm not okay with being a negative...
Taking a drink at treeline.
I didn't even add good conversation on this climb, as I could do little more than breathe heavily. I didn't take in any of the spectacular views because my head was down most of the time, following their tracks. There is no way I would have made this summit without my partners, my guides. I'd have turned around because of the cold. I'd have turned around with the track they made. I'd have turned around because of fatigue.

I obviously didn't plan to be such a burden and I wouldn't have gone if I had known it was going to turn out this way. I know I'm a wimp in the cold and I try to make up for it with gear. And I stay inside if things are going to be too brutal. I knew it was going to be pretty cold when I decided to go. My biggest problem is my hands and feet. My hands are pretty much taken care of by my huge down mittens and 14-hour chemical heaters. As long as I keep my hands in the mittens, I'm generally okay. Any manipulation I have to do without the mittens on can put me into trouble, but my heaters will generally recover my hands. My feet are a bigger problem.
We ditched the snowshoes and are heading up the grassy, soon-to-be-rocky, ridge.
For this long day out, I decided to wear my soft, single boots, because there was no technical climbing - it was just hiking. I wore these on Aconcagua, but my feet weren't in snow at all down there. But these soft boots are so much more comfortable for hiking than my double mountaineering boots, that I wanted to wear them. I wore two pairs of mountaineering socks, used chemical footbed heaters, and had battery-heated insoles care of my buddy Colby of Rock and Resole. So, I at least came prepared.

We met at my house at 3:30 a.m. and Homie drove us down to the trailhead for Antero. In summer, you can drive to over 13,000 feet on this mountain in a 4WD vehicle. In winter, you start just over 9000 feet and walk the road, which we knew was not only covered in snow, but tons of water had flowed over the road and frozen solid, some of it more than two feet thick. In anticipation of that, we pulled on the Microspikes at the car. We all carried snowshoes (slowshoes, they are called by people in the know) because the area supposedly got more than a foot of snow the day before.
I'm hurting and have still so far to go.
As we drove through Leadville the bank display showed a temperature of -10 degrees. Thankfully I didn't see this, though Homie did tease me a bit by saying, "Good thing Bill didn't see that temperature reading." Indeed, at the trailhead things were cold. Danny pulled on his heavier gloves right at the car and I should have put on my down mittens. I did have my big chemical heaters in my lighter gloves, though.

Within the first hour I asked Homie where the car keys were. I knew turning around was a real possibility for me, maybe a probability, and wanted to know if the keys were hidden down by the car. He said the keys were in his pack. I wanted to ask for the keys, but it was too early. I'd go a bit further and see how bad things got.

For the first hour and 45 minutes I resisted turning on my boot heaters because I thought they'd only last four hours, maybe less, and I wanted to make sure I got to the summit with them still working. If they died then, I was headed down anyway and would just have to tough it out. I wanted to go two hours, but I couldn't last. My feet were in trouble. Both Homie and Danny's feet were cold as well, though they didn't have the chemical and electronic help that I did. About this time we also had to put on the snowshoes, as the snow was now consistently deep. Danny took the lead here and stayed there. He's a workhorse through deep snow. I couldn't even keep up with these guys, following in their track. That isn't right.
Getting high on the ridge.
It seems I've been having more trouble at altitude lately, despite going to nearly 23,000 feet on Aconcagua on early January. I'm not sure, though. Measuring myself against these two, I'm always going to come out short, but how short? At what point should I seek slower, less-fit partners? Closer to my own level?

My hands were so cold putting on my snowshoes that I did a bad job of it and didn't get all my straps right. I also didn't bother taking off my Microspikes. Even then my hands were wooden by the time I had my mitts back on. I trudged on, not wanting to fall too far behind. They waited for me further up and Danny noticed my screwed up snowshoes and fixed them for me. I felt like a little kid being helped by his dad.

I asked Homie, "Might it be better if I had the car keys?" He responded, with some mirth, "Nope. I think they are good right where they are at." I knew he wouldn't make me suffer to the point of doing damage to my feet, but I wondered if he knew how bad things were for me. I could have pressed the issue and he'd have immediately given me the keys. He was just trying to help me to be strong, so that I could make the summit. I very much wanted to be strong. I wanted to make the summit. I wondered how much Homie's opinion of me mattered. Did I care enough to do damage to my feet? I did once. I'd done damage to my feet before with him on Maroon Bells.
This doesn't look like much, but even following in this track was brutally tiring. Danny is a bad man!
Once we broke out of the trees, we decided to leave the road we'd been following and head for a ridge that looked to be mostly grass and rocks - very loose rocks, we'd soon find out. There was still snow up here, but it wasn't very deep and we ditched the snowshoes. It was here that the altitude really started to take a toll on me, but my feet and hands weren't getting any worse.

Danny and Homie waited for me to catch up a couple of times and Danny even gave me some food, knowing that I usually fail to eat when conditions get this cold. Each stop, though, I'd try to get a drink of Gatorade. I did a reasonable job drinking, thanks to this effort and Danny and Homie, but I was still weak and slow.

Once we were on the ridge proper, we still had about 2300 vertical feet to climb this wrecked me. I had to stop often to recover my breathing and to ball up my hands to warm them and hence not able to grip my poles. All three of us did some leg swinging to increase the circulation in our feet to warm them up. Apparently, not being a downhill skier, which is where I learned this, Homie had never done this before. Just like everything that has to do with cold weather, it worked perfectly for Homie. His feet went from painfully cold and a concern, to warm and toasty. Mine remained on the ragged edge. I couldn't feel any heat coming from my footbeds, but my feet weren't numb. Instead, my feet hurt. This made me think that the footbeds had to be working. If Homie's feet were cold, mine should be in danger of frostbite.
Looking back up the ridge. That's Homie and I descending.
Danny and Homie waited for me on some bump on the ridge, before the final climb. There was a significant cairn here and Homie probably considers this some type of summit. I was grateful that they waited, but worried they'd be getting cold with all this stopping. I didn't pause at this highpoint because the terrain dropped down to a saddle and, tired that I was, I didn't need a rest to go downhill. The other two fell in behind me, but it wasn't long before I was off the back again.

The final climb to the summit, from the low point on the ridge, is around 500 vertical feet. This took me well over an hour. I think. It seemed like forever. Lower down on the ridge, a couple of times doubt had crept into my mind. I wasn't sure I'd make it. With just 500 feet to go, I had to go on. At least that's what I told myself. It wasn't quite as bad as climbing Aconcagua, but it was close. I frequently had to stop to catch my breath, despite moving so slowly. I counted my steps so that I wouldn't stop too often. On Aconcagua I could do 10-15 steps. Here I could do a hundred or more if the terrain wasn't too steep, but much less on steeper terrain.

I oozed onto the summit like a sloth escaping quicksand. Danny and Homie were sitting there having a picnic. It was beautiful, with a clear blue sky and white, shimmering peaks in every direction. But it was freezing and I was so wasted that I was mostly gazing at my boots while being bent over my poles. I sat down and Homie handed me a bottle of grape Gatorade. This flavor is one of Homie’s secrets. He claims it’s like antifreeze and will not ice up no matter how cold it gets. I downed most of the bottle. I was on top for only about five minutes before heading down. I knew those guys had been waiting awhile and figured they must be antsy to get moving.

As I started down I was acutely aware of my feet and how cold they were. I figured whatever heat my footbeds had been producing was over. Not only was it a long way down to tree line, but it didn’t seem a lot warmer down there, though it was out of the wind. I stumbled along, trying to move continuously but aware that I could be injured on such steep, loose, rocky terrain.

Climbing back over the bump on the ridge, when I wanted to go down, was annoying, but it was better than doing a long side-hill traverse. I moved along okay here, despite my fatigue. Two thousand feet below the summit we took a short break to re-group. Then it was down to the snowshoes for another break. Everything was getting warmer as I descended.

Back on our shoes we still had nearly five miles of hiking back to the car, but it was so much easier going than the upper mountain that we all rejoiced. It had to be the first time I’d ever been happy to put on snowshoes. I led the entire way out and that kept us together as a group. I regaled my companions with the intricacy of ski jump scoring. It was my only contribution to the day. Teaching Homie and Danny this valuable life skill.

Sunday, February 04, 2018


Ask a Colorado peak bagger how many 14ers are in Colorado, and you probably won’t get a simple answer. If you do and ask  three more climbers, you’ll likely get a few different numbers. It used to be that Colorado had 53 14ers, but that number seems to be expanding in the eyes of these voracious summitters. Now most people wouldn’t care, but in this select group, the pressure to climb ever more 14ers mounts. My wife “finished” the 14ers three times. First with Eolus (and North Eolus - one of those add-on 14ers). Then she decided that she needed Challenger - a 14er too close to Kit Carson to make the short list. Then, when climbing Castle for her second time, with her sons, she climbed Conundrum, another minor bump added to the 58 14ers that seem to be current number for this group. Except that 58 isn’t the number in winter. It’s 59. This is stupid and I'll leave it as an exercise to reader to work that out.

My buddy Homie has climbed all the Colorado 14ers. Four times. And is only 13 ascents away from his fifth lap through them. He’s done them all in winter. And he’s planning on climbing all of them in every month of the year. That’s called gridding. And, yes, it is as deranged as it sounds. Homie, is a complete nut, of course, but he has tons of experience and hence a good partner if you want to bag a winter 14er. I climbed my first winter 14er more than twenty years ago, before Homie climbed his first one. As I’ve said, he’s now done all 59 (?!) and I’ve done just 23. It’s not that I’m not ambitious. It’s that I’m really wimpy in the cold. And the wind. And the dark. And sitting on the couch watching football is just so much easier than doing a 14ers in winter. But, do have a smidgen of ambition and hence I try to get at least one winter 14er each season. By a twist of fate, my winter 14er total is nearly identical with Homie’s second time through them. So, we team up occasionally. He knows only to ping me if the conditions are easy and weather moderate. So, it isn’t that often.

But this was one of those times. He wanted to do Culebra and I hadn’t done it in winter. As an added incentive, my son Derek, who had done 47 14ers, hadn’t done Culebra either. There’s a reason for this. It’s the reason Culebra was my last 14er. Culebra is only Colorado 14er where access is restricted by the owner. The owner! He owns a 14er! How cool is that? If you're ever stumped for birthday present ideas for me, this is a good one. I’m not picky either. I’d take any Colorado 14ers. Even those silly add-ons 14ers. Well, except Cameron. That’s a lame 14er. Of course, I’m sure you’d get the best price on it, though. But I digress.

Derek steadying the monster cairn.
Derek just turned 20 on the 29th of January, a Monday, and for his birthday I gave him the chance at Culebra. I’d pay the permit fee ($150) and supply the guide (Homie). The only hitch was that I was going too. So we made plans for the coming Saturday. Our last time driving south through Denver on a Friday evening was emotionally scarring, so Homie and I both wanted to avoid that. We talked about leaving in the early afternoon and leaving later in the evening and going part ways to a motel, but Homie got sick and we fell back to the horrific departure time of 1:30 a.m. on Saturday. The deal with Culebra is that you have to reserve your spot ahead of time and you have to be waiting at that gate at 6 a.m. or you’re not climbing it. With a four-hour drive and no grace period, I picked up Homie in the middle of the night. Derek slept the entire way down and I’m not entirely sure he even remembers getting in the car. This is normal. He also drove all the way home, so it works out.

We met Wes and Corey at the trailhead and Carlos was right on time to let us in, take our waivers and our money, and send us on our way. Homie, Derek, and I skinned up the steep, narrow road while Wes and Corey, lacking the necessary skills, but possessing fitness by the truckload, walked. A couple other skiers started about when we did. One went right off the front and could see him far ahead of us on the climb. The other guy skied much higher and didn’t pass Derek and I until close to the summit. We found out later that these two were climbing partners. What?! They were never within sight of each other.
Nasty conditions
Derek and I quickly fell into our customary position at the rear. We aren’t that slow in normal company, but in this group we were the tortoises. We regrouped after 90 minutes and then Derek and I were able to keep up to tree-line. We ditched our skis here and Derek and I continued in our NNN boots with Microspikes pulled over them. Homie changed into a pair of LaSportiva running shoes with a built-in gaitor. He questioned this decision at the time, since the wind came up big and bad and the temperature dropped. Derek and pulled on our expedition mitts with heaters in them. Everyone put on their shells and googles. Homie’s feet got cold, but he recovered, dilating his capillaries by conscious thought. My feet got cold too, but lacking Homie’s superpowers, I suffered from there to the summit and back.

Derek bonked a bit here and fell behind and then sat and took a break to eat. I waited for him above, getting cold. Twenty minutes later, he joined me and we continued the rest of the way together. He seemed to be having slightly more trouble than I was, but we were both getting worked over so well that the difference was minor. Originally Homie wanted to get Red Mountain, a centennial peak (highest 100 in Colorado) in addition to Culebra and we were in. Now we were out. We rationalized. We weren’t even trying to climb the centennial peaks! Let alone in winter. If it was a nice day, sure, we’d head over and tag a new summit, but not in these conditions. That’s something best left to…mountaineers? No wait, we’re mountaineers. Uh…peak baggers, then.
Selfie on the summit. Derek looks a lot happy than he has a right to be.
We regrouped again at the “super cairn” on top of Peak 13,000-something. This is a common name for Colorado non-peaks. The other three must have been pretty cold by the time we got there and I told Homie, “Don’t wait for us anymore, because we aren’t going to Red.” Only Homie and Wes went for Red and that was the last time I was near them until we all regrouped back at the car at the end of the day. We split into three groups: the two elite guys off the front, multi-Pikes-Peak-Doubler Corey, and then Derek and I.  We trudged onwards and Derek and I were really feeling the altitude and the cold. Derek with his hands (his heaters weren’t working well at all) and me with my feet.

We got to the summit after more than five hours and fifteen minutes on the move. We sat down, but not for long. We drank a bit, but didn’t eat anything, as it was too miserable to hang out. We  couldn’t even see Red Mountain, less than a mile away. We struggled to take a selfie and then headed down. Derek delayed slightly to locate a worthy summit rock for his collection. I was tired and a bit clumsy and took great care descending the tricky talus. I didn’t want to fall and bash myself, or, worse, injury myself. Gaps would open between Derek and I but they never got to great and we’d regroup pretty quickly. The climb back up to Point 13,000-something felt really hard, but we moved continuously up it.

Descending back to our skis, Derek tried some glissading and had some very limited success.He prompted me to give it a go, but it wasn’t very fruitful. Back at our skis we took a break to eat something. I’d only down 160 calories (not counting the Gatorade I was drinking) all day. I was very tired, but not hungry. I forced down some food and we shared a 20-ounce Coke.

The ski down, all five miles of it, was very challenging in our soft Nordic boots. We kept skins on to moderate our speed, as the road was so narrow that the only way to control your speed was to drag a ski in the powder alongside the track. Snowplowing worked a bit further down, but the track was very lumpy and had plenty of rocks in it. It was a rough descent, but neither one of us got injured and I consider that a big success.

We got back to the car around 3:15 p.m. We had started at 6:30 p.m. so we were out almost 9 hours for just the one peak. Corey had finished 20 minutes before us and Homie and Wes arrived around 4 p.m. We bowed before them.

Our ascent was a bit over 5000 vertical feet spread out over 15 miles for the roundtrip. We were sufficiently worked that any thoughts of another winter 14er were banished from my mind. But in a few days I’ll be ready to plan the next one…though it might be for next year.