| Mt. Bierdstat Take 2
Mt. Bierdstat Take 2
This is my second attempt at tackling Mt. Bierdstat with my friend and climbing partner. We first drove up Gnuella Pass in mid-December, in what would be her first attempt at high altitude winter climbing. Painfully close to the summit, we turned around and headed back home, humbled by the altitude, snowy scramble and cold winds. We left, however, with a desire to return so that she and I could stand atop Mt. Bierdstat.
On March 19 we returned to Mt. Bierdstat. This time we had a couple additional hikes under our belts. This would be my eighth 14er, while this would be her second climb, in addition to Mt. Sheridan, a ranked 13er. Overall, she and I were more experienced and ready for the day’s venture.
We drove up Gnuella Pass around 8 a.m. and began our ascent up the road. I felt confident in our climb today because already she was hiking faster than we had during the other three climbs we had done this winter. It was a beautiful winter day, with bright blue skies and of course predicted high winds. We decided to start the climb a little later as the winds were predicted to subside around noon to a manageable 30 mph, with 50-60 mph gusts. Thankfully as we began our hike toward Mt. Bierdstat through the willows and the marsh the wind remained at our backs propelling us, we joked, toward the summit. As we hiked we also did not want to bring up the note that the winds seemed much weaker than we anticipated fearing they would ramp up and make us eat our words! Fortunately that never happened.
Equipped with snowshoes we followed the trail through the marsh and up the ridge to the scramble section of Mt. Bierdstat. Once the deep snow had passed, we hid them beneath an obvious rock, and set off with our microspikes, relieved to be rid of the snowshoes and deeper snow. Before we knew it we were up on the final ridge and topping off at the summit! The predicted high winds were nowhere to be found, thankfully, and we enjoyed a perfect day atop Mt. Bierdstat.
Through the climb we had an interesting conversation about why we were each interested in climbing 14ers. I feel that none of us climb these challenging peaks for the same reason, so if you read my post would you mind commenting on some of your personal reasons for climbing?
Since I posed the question, I guess I should answer first. Fair is fair. But answering it is quite challenging now that I think about it…
Personally, I am an avid athlete and outdoor enthusiast. The two seem to go hand in hand quite well. I also get bored easily with routine. The tedium of life drives me to expand my horizon and seek out new experiences, places and challenges. They make the outdoors and athletics dynamic and constantly interesting.
At the same time, I look for the grand events to tackle. With my move to Colorado last November I decided to advance my hiking and climbing ventures by attempting to hike 14ers. I am a runner and just completed my first marathon last January. I hope to complete and Ironman in the near future. With all of these outdoor and athletic events, it is not about being competitive. My goal is to be happy with my experience. It is also nice to achieve something that few have attempted because the experience from the outset seemed too challenging.
There is nothing more rewarding than reaching the summit of a climb and standing atop one of the highest peaks in Colorado and having the whole world laid out in front of me, while also remembering the hard work it took to gain the summit. Similarly, there is nothing better than completing a race remembering all the hard work, training and soreness that brought me to the finish line.
In the end, I always reflect on and remember the journey that brought me to the summit or the finish line because that is the most important part. I have had great conversations and made better friendships on the sides of mountains as we battled steep climbs and high winds. I have enjoyed numerous sunrises and sunsets on training runs and bike rides. In the end, my entire life’s journey will be a wonderful collage of all these magnificent and unique events. I guess that would be why I have taken on the goal of climbing 14ers, running marathons and completing triathlons.
I’m guessing not all will understand my reasons or drive. Some of my friends, even my family, call me crazy; say that I have a screw loose. I agree with them and embrace that description because it makes my life all the more interesting!
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