| Flatlander bags 3 14ers in 3 days
Having planned this trip for Memorial day weekend several months in advance, I had plenty of time to train...and wait anxiously...but the day finally arrived. With my gear packed easily into 2 suitcases, I boarded a SW jet from St. Louis to Denver at 6AM. Soon I was buzzing west on hwy 70 in my neon green Ford Fiesta rental...yea, I'm cheap and can't afford a 4WD.
I planned on tackling Bierstadt and Evans via the sawtooth first since it was closer to the airport, then hitting Grays and Torreys over the next day or two. So I drove on up to Georgetown and up Guanella pass to have a look at what was in store for me in the morning. I took some pictures and headed back down to set up camp along the road at 10,300'. I didn't sleep very well and rose about 4 AM to prepare, then hit the trail about 5AM (May 25th).
It was mostly cloudy with only brief glimpses of the sun breaking through the clouds over the sawtooth. I stopped at about 13,000 feet for a snack and quickly got cold as the wind had picked up some and the clouds dropped all around me. Cool hoarfrost formations started to emerge on the grass, rocks, and anything else exposed to the wind. Suddenly I could see someone coming up the trail...I was no longer alone. In a few minutes I met Brian, a Denver native who was on his 7th ascent of Bierstadt, and we hung together for the rest of the trip to the summit and back down. Great guy, very friendly.
At the summit, Brian took a couple photos of me for the fundraiser I had organized around this trip. I decided that the sawtooth was not a good idea since visibility was poor, and I had heard that conditions were treacherous...Evans would have to wait for another day. The clouds lifted more and more as we descended, and nearing the parking lot I started to feel a gnarly headache brewing. After lunch and recuperation at the Alpine restaurant in Georgetown, I headed back to my tent to get some rest.
The next morning I drove over to Grays and Torreys, arriving at the summer TH about 7:30AM Yes, I made it all the way up past the parking lot in that little Fiesta...but I hesitated to go any higher by crossing a tiny melt stream containing a lengthy piece of exhaust pipe.
I ended up tagging along with three guys from Canon city: Aaron, Brandon (Rack City) and Ryan- all very friendly and fun to talk to. The wind this day (May 26th) was fairly extreme, with gusts upwards of 60 mph at times. Lots of people got blown over and many turned around before reaching the summit. I lost track of "the three amigos" for a while, but was happy to catch up to them near the summit. We made the summit just in time to see a blackbird soar across the top. It may have been nice to go for Torreys now, but I was low on water and had been battered by the wind for several hours so I headed back down. The trip back down was made more fun by glissading 400 feet down the side of Grays Back at camp I hung out with the three amigos until after dark, sharing stories and such.
The next morning (May 27th) I hit the trail pretty early again and was on the saddle between Grays and Torreys in a couple hours. The wind was much calmer today...until I reached the saddle when it started blasting me again. The wind kept up all the way to the summit of Torreys, where to my surprise I arrived just in time to watch a skier going down the dead dog coulior. Two lovely ladies arrived shortly after me, and one graciously gave me some water since I was low. I almost couldn't believe that I had just summitted my 4th 14er, and 3 in 3 days! I was pretty tired so I didn't stay long, but the rest of the hike down I was floating on a huge wave of adrenaline and high spirits. I broke camp and limped back down the forest road in my economy car, enjoying the puzzled looks of other folks in 2WD vehicles as I passed them walking from the lower parking area the road IS hairy in several places, but if you know how to drive and take it real slow you can make it without a 4WD vehicle.
Nothing left but to hit the road to DIA and a hotel room with a bed and a shower. It was a truly epic adventure for me. I met some good people, saw some awesome things and made a successful fundraiser out of it. I hope the donors get a lot of enjoyment from the photos and video I shared with them.
My youtube videos are here:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):