|Peak:||Crestone Peak (14er)|
|Range:||Sangre de Cristo|
|Date of Information:||02/02/2013|
This was without a doubt the most exhausting day I have ever had climbing 14ers in Colorado but also one of the most rewarding. Yesterday all 7 of us Kevin (Kevin Baker) Otina (bergsteign) Ryan (Dchild10) Prakash (maverickmanley), Heather, myself (another Ryan) and Sophie (my dog) successfully summited Crestone Peak after a brutal 18 hour day. 11.25 hours up and 6.45 hours down. The term of the day is "post hole."
We started at 4am and the first 2 or 3 miles we wore microspikes which helped with traction. After that it became time to put the snowshoes on as the snow got deeper . . .and deeper . . . and deeper. The rest of the approach to the Crestone Peak was brutal as we worked our way through knee to thigh deep snow while wearing snowshoes. While the snow sucked the views were absolutely spectacular.
We ditched the snowshoes just below the base of the peak as temps were warm enough . . .or at least I was working hard enough I could temporarily wear a tshirt. By the time we were at the base of the Red Gully we had already been on the trail 8 hours. We thought the snow would be more compact and be able to crampon up. The whole upper peak was covered in snow and frost which made us pause. We were confident enough that the snow in the gully wouldnt slide but decided to stay high left on whatever rocks we could find just in case. Stilll we post holed the whole way up in crampons. The snow up the Red Gully was as my good friend Jeff Golden (SurfNturf) would say "about as supportive as a strippers father." At the top of the gully we thought the worst conditions were over but we were wrong.
Countless times during the day we though we would have to turn around but with a good team helping eachother out we succeeded. The final 65 feet gave us the most pause. However, we worked together helping each other find hand, feet, and ice axe holds taking an additional 30 minutes as we very carefully traversed and climbed over frost and sugary snow. We finally summited at 315pm and knew we had to turn around right away to get down the Red Gully before dark. We spent less than 5 minutes on the summit. Again we helped each other down the top section taking our time and then carefully made our way down the Red Gully. We were able to carefully plunge step our way down a majority of the Red Gully. We still had to be very careful though. We got back to our snowshoes at the base of the peak just as it was getting dark and began the long endless walk out.
Kevin had done the traverse two weeks ago. I asked him how much more snow there was this time than last time and he said "oh about 2 more feet".
Photos (click for slideshow):