We began our grand adventure to Buena Vista Saturday the 1st to make camp so we could get an early start Sunday. At last our weary eyes finally convinced us to sleep, and in the morn, we were up at 5 and ready to conquer our mountain.
Starting off the trail!
I have a fear of not eating at every moment of the day, so I had pre-made hard-boiled eggs, a Clif bar, and of course, BACON. After munching all the way up the first bit of the trail, I was thankful for the previous month of hard workouts/hikes I did in preparation for this monster. We hiked up the first set of switchbacks shivering, but in great spirits. I even learned what a "barking spider" was. Funny, they seemed to follow us the entire way up the mountain. I like to take things seriously... but not too seriously. Laughter is the best way to overcome difficult things
Hangin out. Being awesome.
We had read a trip report from a guy who did it 2 days before us and knew there was a good deal of snow up there. I picked up a Black Diamond ice ax on the way to Buena Vista. I'm SO glad I did that. There was a lot of snow well below the tree line (about up to our knees), but it was frozen solid except for the post holes made by our ghost hiker. We followed his tracks, even got lost the same way he did for a few minutes, then found the trail again thanks to him. Without his tracks, it would've been a lot more difficult to navigate. Finally, we emerged from the trees and the first of the morning sun started to warm my fwozen wittle cheeks (on my face, that is. Well.... actually the other ones, too).
There was no snow at this point due to the sun exposure this part of the mountain sees, so that was nice for a while. We followed the cairns and I symbolically added a rock to my first one.
Once we got past the rocky switchbacks, we came upon a few snow fields, summit in full view. These were easy to just walk over until the incline really kicked in. "This is why I trained so hard," is what I was thinking. At this point, there was a lot less talking and a lot more breathing... Or trying to breathe. I've lived in Colorado for 11 years at 7500 and now 5400 ft, but once we were around 13 k, it didn't really matter. It's just freakin' hard to breathe up there.
A ridiculously steep climb straight up towards the ridge
Almost to the top!
After about an hour and a half up that snow and then extremely loose "piss me off" gravel, as I like to call it, we were looking at the ridge and getting our second wind. We could see a guy standing solo up on the summit. It was kind of weird because we saw him probably an hour before and I guess he was just having a grand old time up there. As we looked down, we could see another solo climber coming up the right side (our left looking down), and 3 other climbers on the left side (our right) with their dog. Those three climbers also did a trip report of the same day. Up the ridge we go...
To summit ridge we go!
He let me lead the way since it was my first time, warning me to take it easy on the icy ridge as we pushed towards the summit. Let me tell you something about that feeling...
On the ridge
I started breathing more quickly so much that I kind of started laughing... then felt like I should be crying when I looked to my right or left. Not because it was an insanely steep drop off, but because of the view. I hope that that rush never lessens as I climb more mountains. It's like when your favorite sports team wins a championship after sucking for so long, or when you're reunited with a close friend after being apart for years, or when you hear music that makes you so happy you're short of breath. Now that I wrote those, none of those are even close to what I felt... but maybe my smile can show you how happy I was.
My first summit over 14,000 feet!!!
Luckily that guy was still up there so he took our photo together. After hanging out for a bit, we began our descent, ice axes in hand.
All was great and well. We were elated and kind of sort of literally "on top of the world," ha. We passed the 4 climbers and the dog as we glissaded down. There was a point where we were running through the still-frozen ice fields... then came upon "the trail." Unfortunately there is a faux trail that leads to... NOWHERE. We quickly descended halfway down the mountain face we thought would eventually land us on a switchback, but realized we were lost so we had to climb back up (STRAIGHT UP) all the way to the ice fields. Ugh. It added about an hour and a half and probably a mile to our trip. Alas, through advanced problem solving skills and the fact that we're freakin' awesome, we found the trail. Man, it sure makes you appreciative of trails when you've been wandering around for a while. We didn't even mind sinking past our knees in the now slushy crap that once held our weight effortlessly. Gotta love making post holes! We jogged the rest of the way down to the trailhead, soaking wet, and exhausted. I couldn't have imagined a better day, honestly. Even getting lost, we learned a lot and always stayed positive. It was a lot more physically demanding than I imagined, but I had kind of mentally prepared for that. I never once regretted it, and I climbed Huron Peak the following weekend (yesterday the 9th). I am hopelessly addicted to this sport. More trip reports to come!
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