Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Post Date:  05/21/2012
Modified:  05/24/2012
Date Climbed:   05/20/2012
Posted By:  speach

 ECLIPSE at 14,196'   

It’s not every day that a partial solar eclipse comes along, and Eric and I decided to make the most of it!

The day started with a stunning ~40 mile bike ride from Lake Dillon to Vail Pass from ~10:30-1:30. However, this is a 14er post, so no more cycling talk!

Lake Dillon

Bike Trail between Lake Dillon and Copper

We acquired a pile of junk food from an off-name gas station, drove two hours to the Denny Creek Trailhead, and started up the trail at 3:40pm. A few hikers on non-summit strolls passed us without much discussion, but around 5:15, we passed a pair of gentlemen whose route beta convinced me to drop snowshoes. They seemed concerned with our plan of a nighttime descent and made sure we had headlamps. We felt so cared for!

The previous Mt. Yale trip report (and the two gentlemen) mentioned confusion at ~11,500’, but they failed to mention there are FOOTSTEPS EVERYWHERE. We ignored all of them, made our own heading much too northward (don’t follow them!), and ascended around 1,000’ on our own terms before finding the actual trail again. Joyous!

Exploratory hiking

Happy about locating the trail

Much to our frustration, the soon-to-be-eclipsed sun remained hidden behind the clouds as we continued to climb. All this trouble to get 3 hours from Denver and hike a mountain for naught?!? Grumble. At least there was a little cloud rainbow, and at least it was a beautiful day for hiking, I mused.

Rainbow in the clouds

But around 7:15 and 13,600’, just before the eclipse was supposed to be at its peak, the clouds cleared, and a sun that didn’t seem too eclipsed came into full view. Eric pulled out one of the pairs of the welding glasses he’d packed for us, and there it was! Eclipsing! The moon covered the bottom right quadrant of the sun, and it was nothing short of amazing!

The sun is eclipsed. But you cannot take an eclipse photo with an iPhone

Viewing the eclipse

Viewing the eclipse

We ate and drank and watched as the moon slowly traversed to the bottom center of the sun, and then decided this eclipse was super slow, and we might as well head up to the summit.

Heading toward the summit

15 minutes later, we summitted Yale. Those last few hundred feet are super fun. And, as if the fun climb and the eclipse weren’t enough, the temperature was in the 40s, and the wind was non-existent. Awwwyeah! The moon continued it’s creepy blockage of the sun, now being center and left, making the sun look more like a crescent moon. There were handstands and pushups and silly faces.



And still, the eclipse hadn’t stopped, so we went back down to our packs. We watched until the sun dipped below the mountains in the distance, still partially eclipsed by the moon which now covered the upper left quadrant. Goodbye eclipse.


I led the way down in skipping, mountain goat-like fashion, pausing for several minutes at ~13,100’ to simply sit and reflect on the silence and the sunset and the absence of humanity. We were miles away from anyone else. I love this feeling.

When we started downward again, it was much darker. Headlamps, on. We easily followed the trail until loosing it amongst the land of 1000 footprints. The darkness didn’t help, and we didn’t feel like backtracking. Instead, we scrambled downward whoknowswhere, figuring we’d just find and follow a stream to the trail. Fortunately, we came upon a meadow that looked familiar, spotted a campfire stone ring, and rediscovered the trail just before Delaney Gulch stream crossing at 11,200’.

The very last 1.25 from the Mt. Yale trail sign took perhaps an eternity, and I began to see things in the darkness that weren’t really there, but eventually we returned to the car safe and sound and extremely tired at 10:30pm.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Great work!     05/22/2012 01:47
I had a similar idea and went up Mount Ouray yesterday, I unfortunately was not as prepared as you with the goggles, but the sunset from nearly 14000K was quite spectacular none the less! Glad you got back down safe!

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2015®, 14ers Inc.