To 13,000 and Beyond- back to the mountains.

The last mountain I climbed was the end of August 2016 with Sarah, and it was Blanca Peak at 14, 345′. I was injured a little over a month later, which lead to my surgery in June 2017, and my extended recovery.

I have been anxious to get back out there, I know it sounds silly but the surgery was one thing, it’s the mental part that takes time to get over it. I lost all of my confidence in the mountains.  It took me finally realizing that’s why I hadn’t been out in the mountains so much this winter, and I realized I just need to do it.

So fast forward to now, Ashley, Sarah, and myself decided to hike James Peak, a 13er on the front range. My only real goal was to get to 12K, and if I was having a hard time, we’d practice glacier travel, self arrest, then go home.

We started at the trailhead at 8AM, it was icy with rocks…very much late spring conditions all the way up to the lake.

St. Mary’s Lake with Kingston straight ahead.

We made our way over to the glacier, and began the up hill trudge to the flat meadow above.

Courtesy of Sarah Engel.

The sun was blazing, it was a beautiful blue bird morning, and I was down to my base layer with my pants pulled up above my calves. It’s rare when there isn’t howling wind coming down off of James Peak, but we got incredibly lucky.

We made it up to the top of the glacier and sat down for a break.

Courtesy of Sarah Engel

After some discussion, we decided that we would give the summit a try, I was feeling pretty good, and trying to stay hydrated.

We continued across the high plateau towards the base of James Peak.

Our trail!
Ashley heading towards James Peak, Courtesy of Sarah Engel
My beautiful strong friend Sarah!
My beautiful strong friend Ashley!

The higher in elevation we got, the harder it got for me to breath normally, I hadn’t been up above 12K in almost two years, so my red blood cells that helped me with elevation, had disappeared. Sarah encouraged me up the hills, telling me to take 50 steps then take a breathing break, then repeat. It really was helpful for me not to concentrate on the fact that I was having a hard time.

We made it to the last 200 vertical, and the clouds had started to close in and as I was counting to 50 for my last few steps up to the summit, it lightly began to snow.

That light snow, within a matter of a few minutes became near white out conditions, and remained as so all the way to the middle of the glacier.

Looking across at Bancroft.

As we headed down the mountain we had to select a spot in the foreground and keep moving,I continued to check the GPS as we made our way across the high plateau. I was mentally exhausted, and a bit out of sorts. The elevation was really getting to me, and I tried to remember to eat and drink, but it’s difficult when you are so tired. I wasn’t quite walking straight, and I kept thinking that I should turn down a different basin. When I was having these thoughts, I’d stop and check my GPS, it was hard to see more than 200′ in front of us, and I was trying to stay focused.

We finally made it back to the rock outcropping that we took our first break at, and located the edge of the glacier, we were home free!

We had also thought that we would be able to glissade, but with all of the fresh powder…it just didn’t happen. Sarah’s Jump-n Jostle Glissade. Sarah had a genius idea, click the link to watch the video.

Once down from the glacier, we worked our way down the icy path, which was now covered in about 3 inches of snow, back to the car. It was baffling to see the difference that 8 hours had made, it didn’t even look like the same place!

We though an ice ax shot was appropriate when we got back to the car, totally worked.

The drive back to town was….special, slick roads and steep turns– but we made it to WestBound and Down, for dinner.

Food could not have come fast enough and just as we finished eating, about to pay….the electricity in town blew. Like the whole town.

It was a great day, and we all made it home safely. I was glad that I had made it there and back without having any major mishaps. Though, next time I’ll make sure to have a larger breakfast and more water.

Thank you Sarah and Ashley for pushing me, I’m grateful for such wonderful friends and climbing partners.

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Lake City Ice Fest 2018

I have been going to the Lake City Ice Fest for about 4 years, it’s always been a blast! This year was no different and after last year the city took over the management of the Ice Park. They made some awesome additions, including a fire pit and a warming hut!

Three amazing thing happened this year at the fest, Sarah competed and finished all 4 laps on the ice wall,  our friend Jess who had been hesitant about competing, finished in 3rd and finally Greg won the Grand Prize Raffle that we were all unaware of!

Here are some photos!

The only spot of blue all day!
Greg working his way up the first Route!
Sarah nervously roping up!
Having completed the first route, and beat her time by 2 minutes- AMAZING!!! All Smiles!

Three quarters through the day it began to snow heavily, sideways. It was a blast.

As always, PUUUFFYYY COAT PICTURES!
Jess picking up her prize! WOOT! 

I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked to, but the snow left my nice camera in the truck.

Greg and I stayed to climb on Sunday then instead of climbing like we wanted to on Monday, we ended up driving home ahead of a storm. It was still another one for the books! Looking forward to next year!

Fun-time with our buddies! love my family. 
Sunday was a great climbing day!

Grey Rock

Sarah FINALLY got cleared to go hiking, which was amazing! We decided to go up near Fort Collins and hike Grey Rock at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon. I climbed this back in 2011, so it was really interesting to see just how much I remembered.

Though it is technically winter, we still have yet to HAVE winter… it was still dry and in the mid 40’s. Some years we don’t really get snow until Feb/March, and this is apparently one of those years.

Sarah, Bowie and I started off from the trailhead around 9AM, and started off over the bridge.

It was pretty quiet on the way up, not really many others on the trail, but it was so much more awesome than I remember it!

Bowie decided Sarah was alright, and we could keep her. 

We arrived at the big plateau at the base of Grey Rock, and realized that with the dog, we probably couldn’t get up to the summit.

Bowie’s first REAL hike!

We had such a nice hike, and Sarah finished strong! She was grinning all day long, it was so great to see her back in her element!

Ouray Ice Climbing 2018

It has been over a year since I’ve been down to Ouray…almost 2 years, but Greg wanted to spend a long weekend down there climbing for his birthday. Who am I to argue?

We decided it’d be fun to rent a cabin in Ouray with 11 of our closest friends and our 4 dogs.

After work Greg and I started to drive down, supposed to be there before 7, however one of the passes we were supposed to go over was closed, and continued to be closed for like 3 hrs. We finally decided to turn around and take a much longer route to Ouray, a total of 11 hrs in the car. We arrived at almost 11:30, walked the dogs, and Bowie got to meet his first dog that was not Jessie.

Our friend Jeff has a beautiful border collie mix named Zia, who was about 3 yrs old at the time, and they seemed to get along. Started playing, and what not, however when our friend Ashley and her husband arrived…. bowie wanted to eat their dog.  We figured it was just a stress anomaly, and went to bed.

Next morning we all woke up kind of later than intended, I decided rather than to spend the entire day climbing, I would climb a few routes, then go hiking with the dogs so they weren’t stuck in kennels all day.

I was happy to be there for Sarah’s first climb since the fall in South Dakota, May 2017.

Back in the swing of things!

I took one last photo before escaping!

I let everyone else enjoy their day climbing. I was worried about the dogs, they’d spent most of the previous day in the kennels in the car. I found a trail down the road from our cabin, and hike up a good mile or so with the dogs….then let them off to play.

Aren’t they so pretty…..

They were just so happy to be outside, it made my heart melt. I love the dogs.

When we got back to the house, we relaxed for a while and soon discovered that Bowie DOES want to eat the puppy, so he had to be put back up in his kennel. They took turns out the rest of the trip.

We had a large group meal, and then relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Unlike our first day, we decided to climb with the early shift and then the late shift– in order to make sure we had routes to climb. We were part of the early shift, and set up routes down in South Park to play on.

 

Greg!
Sarah and Dan

 

I decided to actually lead!
Me leading, taken from above.
I even got Ashley on ice!!
Greg S’nice leading!

Most of the group spend the morning climbing, but as the day went on couples, and friends started to leave. We went from 12 to 5, by the end of the afternoon.

I felt really solid climbing that day, and spend most of the day practicing leading. After heading back to the  cabin and eating a snack/walking our dogs, we decided to head over to Mr. Grumpy Pants and have a pint or two, then eat the wonderful dinner that Dan made us!

The next morning, Ashley and Scott headed back home by way of nordic skiing, and we headed in the Scottish Gullies section of the park below the lower bridge.

Standing on lower bridge, looking at upper bridge.

We had a blast climbing in this area, I was not feeling my strongest- but it was such a great day! We spent the rest of the day hanging out in the School Room before heading over to Ridgeway for pizza and beer at Colorado Boy. We were STARVING.

Dan serenaded us again!

After cleaning up the cabin, and following the owners instruction, we drove over to the Ice Park and climbed in the area right behind the cabin– the incredibly long routes that you can see from the bridge.

Greg set up a system for lowering down to the base using our one rope and I tried to get up the guts to allow me to be lowered… I just couldn’t, so Dan went down instead. These routes are incredibly long, vertical and such a blast to climb, but I’ve always been afraid to be lowered. I like to go at my own pace, and it scares me to have someone else in control.

My friend Sylwi just happened to be climbing near by, here is her being just such a bad ass!
Greg on the first route with his Birthday Goggles!
Chatting with Sylwi.
Lowering Dan!

Greg had set himself up an anchor so that he could take photos of us climbing, which came out amazingly!

View from the upper bridge!

Both Greg and Dan climbed that first one, then set up the anchor for the second one. They decided I was going first, and that they wouldn’t let me off the rope till I had climbed the route, bottom to top.  After some minute panicking, I finally relaxed enough to be lowered, and was so glad I did!

View from the bottom!

I was FINALLY standing on the bottom of that canyon, and it was beautiful!

At the top, I was elated, it was my first time actually climbing in this area, despite all of the times I had climbed at Ouray Ice Park. It was amazing.

After my one lap, Greg climbed his last lap up this long, beautiful route. I took photos from the bridge with the dogs.

Birthday Boy!

All grins!

Despite being a short climbing day it was such a blast! We stopped down in town to grab lunch with Dan before we had to make the long drive home.  Greg had an awesome birthday weekend, with friends, food, and climbing. I enjoyed seeing him happy, and I also had a blast. Such a great way to celebrate my favorite person!

Happy Creeks Year!

Waking up in sub 20 degree weather is quite a shock after warmer nights in Arizona, but once the sun starts coming up the frost starts to melt, and the steam from the coffee makes everything better.

After breakfast, letting the rock warm up, we all drove up the road to “super crack” area, and spent most of the day trying to get up cracks that were super difficult, even for our better climbers.

Fresh snow, warm rock.
Bowie wasn’t too thrilled that i wanted to climb up the rock, so he made it harder.

Greg squirming up Binou’s Crack
Nora taking a break in the somewhat warm weather.
Dan leading up a route that would take 3 hrs to get up…. by multiple people.
Doug working his way up some of it

At one point they set up a system to pull Dan up to the point where he had left off, it was quite the silly mess.

Watch the short video here!

I retreated an hour or two earlier because the dogs were getting cold, but i continued to watch them from the truck while listening to an audiobook.

They all finally retreated while the sun was setting, and we got a beautiful sunset shot half way back to camp!

After such an exhausting day, Mac and cheese was on the menu, along with a large fire and some beer. Dan , who I had no idea played guitar, serenaded us by the fire. I couldn’t have asked for a better last day of 2017, and retreated to sleep hours before midnight. It was such an amazing day, with difficult rock, and great company!

Sedona to Indian Creek

Probably our best morning so far of the trip, we woke up to the warm sun on the truck heating up the surrounding landscape.

Our truck set up is pretty sweet. 

We ate a quick breakfast snack, and coffee then packed up the truck and headed north west to Sedona and hopefully some hiking.

We stopped once we arrived nearby for breakfast, real breakfast, and coffee.

AMAZING TOAST

We decided that since we hadn’t bought anything this trip that we would pick up a few things in Sedona, and stopped at a GIANT art place.

SEEEE we really are in Arizona? We got new numbers for our house, and a ristra for the kitchen. 

We thought we’d stop and hike, but not a single parking lot had room, and we really didn’t have the time to wait. We continued up the canyon from Sedona to Flagstaff, which was an incredibly beautiful drive. I want to go back there so bad and spend time on my bike, and hiking.

Looking down canyon towards Sedona. 

We didn’t arrive at Indian Creek until 9 at night, set up our bed, and hung out by the fire with everyone for a while until we were too tired.

Tomorrow some nasty crack climbing in 40 degree weather, who could ask for a better way to end 2017.

Bartlett Reservoir

Waking up in a nice quiet hotel with out two dogs was not what we had planned, but after the shitty evening we had last night, it was welcomed.

After walking the dogs, and eating the free breakfast at the hotel, we packed up and headed out for a decent hike before we had to drive north towards Sedona. We set our sights on Bartlett Reservoir in Tonto National Forest about 45 mins north of Phoenix.

Bright blue water and Cactus, one of the more interesting places I’ve hiked in the desert and certainly beautiful.

We followed the trail along the side of the reservoir with both of our dogs in tow,  the sun shown down brightly, and not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day to be there before moving further north and to colder weather.

It’s strange to see a big blue reservoir with boats racing around,  surrounded by saguaro cactus, and other scrubby desert plants.

The dogs enjoyed the 5 mile hike, excited to be out of the car. Jessie waded in the water to cool down, and Bowie was very skittish of the water. That is very odd because the humane society said that he was a water bug, but very clearly they lied…he really is really leery of it.

On our way back from our turn around spot, we found a nice shady spot for snacks, and water.

We worked out way back to the parking lot, ate a quick lunch, and then hopped back on I-15 driving north outside of Sedona. We found dirt road in the Coconino National Forest, and camped off a road called Cedar Flats.

It was one of the most spectacular campsites, no bags of poop anywhere, a nice big fire ring, lots of wood, and a beautiful mountain sunset. It was amazing.

Udon with Ginger soy sauce, carrots, green onions and green beans, the most fancy dinner I made the entire trip!

It was a  relaxing evening, the dogs got to run and play, we had a nice fire with hot chocolate, s’mores, and a really solid nights sleep. Tomorrow we head to Sedona, then north through Flagstaff up to Indian Creek to meet our friends and climb for New Years.