| A "Super" Sneffels Finisher
Summers are all about goals for me. It's not that I dislike the cold season - I just find so much more motivation in longer days, running streams, abundant wildflowers, and sleeping out under the stars. The past couple summers were not at all 14er-centric. Instead, I opted for some big bicycle rides that occupied my every summer moment. But this summer was different - I felt the strong urge to finish my list of 58 peaks that I began in 1980. Plus, my dad and brother had both completed all 58 14ers, and some good old-fashioned family ribbing convinced me that it was my turn to finish.
Seeing the goal before me, I knew it would be tough. I still had nine peaks to go, and they were beasties: Crestone, the Wilson Group, Chicago Basin, and Sneffels. Then, my friend flintster and my brother threw a curve ball at me by claiming that my 1981 summit of Elbert was invalid. The evidence was inconclusive - the "summit" photo clearly appeared to be well short of an Elbert summit. Okay - now my list grew to 10 peaks to finish this summer... sigh.
The beginning of the summer goal seemed to go off without a hitch. Elbert, Chicago Basin, and Crestone were all achieved with relative ease. "Wow, this won't be nearly as tough as expected", I thought to myself... until...
monsoon season commences...
And with that, the Wilson Group does not go as planned, and my group has to bail on Wilson Peak in early August due to inclement weather. With Wilson Peak and Sneffels left to finish, my hopes for a 2013 14er finisher were starting to fade. But then, my brother suggests that we get back over to Silver Pick Basin on the Thursday before Labor Day weekend, get Wilson Peak done on Friday, and have Saturday or Sunday set aside for a Sneffels finisher. It almost seems too easy, but the weather would really have to cooperate to make this work.
We roll into the Rock of Ages trail head at 1:00AM on Friday, get a couple hours of sleep, and then up bright and early at 4:00 to launch an attempt at Wilson Peak. Here, we teamed up with GeoJed, who was going for the entire Wilson Group and Gladstone that weekend. The Wilson Peak summit was superb, and we were blessed with a perfect weather window. I don't know if it showed, but I know I was smiling at the top of Wilson Peak because the finish line was just on the horizon (literally, as I was staring across the valley at Sneffels). A wave of emotion ran over me as I could picture us all on Sneffels on Saturday.
Me, opieclimber, Eric, geojed, and halfdomer at Wilson Peak summit
a Sneffels finisher looks promising!
post-Wilson Peak. Ready for Sneffels.
Guinness and Irish whiskey at O'Briens in Ouray
Saturday morning arrives and I can't tell who is most excited - me, or my friends and family who have converged on Ouray to help me celebrate a 33-year journey. I must say that I can put no price tag on the companionship and dedication that this group of friends and family have provided during my quest. These fine gents and ladies made long trips and gave up their holiday weekends to be with me until the end. I owe them my full gratitude for sacrificing their time to join me in a finisher. Thank you all!!
There are really no words to describe the final leg of this journey. I'll let the pictures below tell the rest of the tale. We decided to go with a theme, and this put the perfect touch on my final peak. I will never forget the looks on other climbers' faces as they passed us, trying to figure out if we were for real, or if the altitude was affecting their vision.
Here is the cast:
Super Girl (Allison)
Wonder Woman (Sarah)
Captain America (Scott)
Fat Batman (Randy)
Captain Caution (Eric)
The Flash (Andy)
Kick Ass (Jared)
The Hulk (Gene)
"That way to the nearest McDonalds"
"You are safe, citizens... carry on"
The Flash set a new 14ers record with 58 in 5 minutes, and a side trip to the Grand Canyon
Captain Caution advises Fat Batman on the dangers of Krispy Kreme
Super Heroes, unite!
Captain America completes the family trifecta
I hate it when The Flash photo-bombs a perfectly good summit photo
Is it really a summit if you use your golden lasso to reach it?
Truth, justice, and one helluva finisher party!
You could totally launch off that Class V ledge, Man of Steel...
This super couple will defend Sneffels to the very end!
This loose talus is no match for my bulging pecs and titanium shield.
Kick Ass ponders the meaning of life (or who just needs a whoopin')
Wonder Woman directs the notch move
I hope Fat Batman doesn't get lodged in the notch
Supergirl requires minimal effort to reach the summit.
Captain America and Supergirl examine the route... or discuss some minivan options...
Heroes on the descent.
58 with an asterisk... so wrong...
My wife, companion, and best support person a guy could ever ask for! Thank you, honey!
While this was the finish, it is by no means the end. To quote the great Steve Gladbach, "I am out exploring God's creation"... this is what the mountains mean to me too. Everyone has their own reasons for venturing into the high country to attain a summit. For some, it is to ski all the peaks. For others, it's to get them all done in record time. And for others, it's simply to spend time with family or friends in this land that The Creator has gifted to us. Whatever your reason is for touching the summits - DO IT EVERY TIME! Don't go out there just to check a box on this website, but rather to meet that inner need that brings joy, peace, and a sense of harmony to your life. I have made so many friends in this climbing/hiking community, and I can only look forward to my next adventure out there in the hills.
Peace, and thanks for being with me on this journey...
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):