Ok, I will share my Princeton mistakes (or just fun story) story. It was my third 14er back in July 2003. My cousin had some ultrarunning experience and wanted to try the Nolans 14. He contacted them to ask what kind of experience they were looking for. He was told that the Southwest Ridge from Grouse Canyon trail head would be a good testing ground. So we looked at Roach's description and headed out. No compass or map (other than in Roach's book); no GPS.
Nice, sunny day (although I'm sure we didn't even bother to check the forecast). Good alpine start at 8:45 am. We almost immediately lost "the trail" but just kept going up the ridiculously steep slope until, a good 5 hours later, we came upon the ridge. With only Elbert and Massive under our belts so far, the long, narrow, exposed ridge looked . . . daunting. It was getting a bit cloudy but we weren't too concerned (because we were dumb). Naturally, we had no rain gear (we did luck out--no rain or lightning). Hell, all I had were shorts and a cotton t-shirt.
The more used to the exposure we got, the easier the ridge became. Some scrambling and a little route-finding and we finally made the summit--at 4:45 pm. Now we faced the decision of whether to descend back down the same way, with no headlamps or any form of illumination, naturally. I had my heavy Roach book with me and checked out the standard route, and how far the THs were from each other. We decided it was safer to descend via the standard route and then hoof it (hopefully hitch a ride) back to the Grouse Canyon TH. I don't think THAT was a mistake. We were thrilled to discover how easy going the standard route was after hours of stress! We ran out of water and food not too long after summiting. Had no water filter/purification of course. Ran into some campers that gave us some water!
At one point down the trail we were able to get cell coverage and I had the brilliant idea of calling a great friend to drive all the way to BV from Denver and to the TH to transport us to the other TH. I figured it would save us 2 1/2 hours of walking and I would make it worth his while. He rationally declined. So I called another great friend who was on a double date with his wife and another couple. All four of them instantly (crazily) agreed to the adventure! I gave him directions and they headed out. We got down to the standard TH around 10:15 pm.
I called my friend and discovered his car had suffered mechanical problems and they were stuck in Fairplay. (They somehow missed that they needed to take 470 to 285. So they headed west on 70 but knew they needed to get to 285. My friend's wife pointed out Guanella Pass. At that time it wasn't paved and was in fact quite rough in spots. He hit a rock and busted the oil pan on his VW Passat. Just past Grant, all the warning lights started flashing. Then tow truck.)
Then my phone died. Said to my cousin, "Well, let's start walking." Over an hour later, a friendly sherriff's deputy picked us up and got us back to our car at 12:30 am. Drove to Fairplay, bought prepaid phone card, called friend, rescued them, drove back to Denver, then drove them back to Greeley. Then rented trailer next day, drove back to Fairplay, towed Passat back to Greeley.
Ah the memories.