| good heavens i‘m stuck on mt evans!
this is a tr of a rock climbing route on mt evan's black wall called good evans. myself and two friends-nate and chris had decided to climb mt evans the week before. we had discussed the possibility of climbing the summit ribs, 5.8 routes near summit lake that lead to mt evans summit. our intention on climbing evans was to accustom ourselves to rock climbing at altitude in preparation for our attempt to climb the diamond on longs in august, which the three of us and a fourth would be attempting. a couple of nights before chris threw out the idea of climbing good evans which was graded 5.11a. we decided it would be a good test for us to see if we were ready for the casual route on the diamond which goes at 5.10. so our plan was set in stone so to speak!
though we didnt summit mt evans at any time i thought this would be a good way to introduce some people on this website to alpine rock climbing and what it could entail. i'll tell you now that we ended up having an epic 24 hr day on mt evans-not by choice. we were able to somewhat keep level heads and everything turned out ok-it could have been alot worse.
i had been hounding my friends to leave for previous multi pitch rock climbing days early! 4:30 would be ideal yet as twenty-somethings i couldnt convince them that this was a good time to wake up! we decided to leave denver at 7 for the drive up to mt evans. as such we didnt get to mt evans until probably 9. we continued up to summit lake where we gathered our gear for the approach. the approach followed the mt evans trail around summit lake then headed right following a ridge that towered over the chicago lakes eventually becoming the black wall. we had to cross a large snowfield at this point. at the other of the snowfield we encountered a large alpine meadow that tailed away to our left presumably toward biestadt as we met a hiker wondering if he was on the correct route to evans. we also ran across a goat at this point who meandered along as if we werent there.
this is where good evans began or ended i should say. to get to the start of good evans one had to rappel from this point. three sixty metre rope lengths to the base of the climb. the route then climbed 5 pitches and deposited you back at this spot where you then returned the same way you came. this was the retreat as far as we knew. with a large overhanging roof the climb was protected from foul weather leaving an easy scramble after the 4th pitch to the top.
we were finally at the base of the climb and ready to go! first pitch followed a flake system to the right then traversed left to a ledge. in pic 5 you can see chris leading the route. the route goes left of where he is up a finger crack gaining a ledge and large flake for the start of pitch 2 then a hand crack up to a pod that looks like a gray cleft a little to the right and above him. pitch three ascends the right side of the pod up a dihedral right through a roof to a ledge leading to the larger roof for pitch 4. pitch 4 then climbs the up to the roof then left depositing you at a large ledge and an easy scramble to the top!
nate had a hard time on pitch one and we spent a good deal of time getting to pitch two which wasnt suprising because the first was the crux pitch. chris would lead and bring us both up on a atc guide-a belay device that would act as an auto locking belay and bring up two people. as we readied ourselves for the 2nd pitch we noticed weather moving in and prepred ourselves to really up the pace. chris led, i followed then nate went third. as nate climbed we noticed he was having trouble and wasnt doing well. at this point nate decided he couldnt continue! crap what could we do if he couldnt go on our only choice was to descend and rap off the base of the cliff which had a gigantic steep snowfield and all of our shoes and gear was at the top.
it was decided that we would lower nate back to the anchors for pitch 2 and continue on, retrieving our packs and rapping back to nate then rapping off the base.
chris and i continued on as fast as possible because at this point the weather was not getting better and it looked like a storm was moving in. we climbed pitch 3 and it began to storm-lightning and rain! we were not getting rained on but nate said it was raining on him. we all had rain jackets and were ready for this but nate had to weather the brunt of it as we were protected by the roof. eventuall the storm move out and things cleared for a while. we finally made it to the top at 7:30!
following is the wall to the right of good evans
a view of chicago lakes during the storm
and looking down at the base and snowfield that we would have to figure out how to get down
chris and i immediately gathered our stuff and rappeled back down. i had a problem rapping as one side of the rope at one point was completely entangled and i had thought i had passed the anchors-luckily i didnt! we continued after we had collected nate to the base of the climb. unfortunately from here we were unaware of how far down the base of the cliff was! we set another rap and were fortunate to reach the base a large ledge w a 6 ft tall wall of snow behind it. we had reached the beginning of the snowfield. looking down it was plainly obvious we wouldnt be able to downclimb w/o killing ourselves. so we traversed left to where it looked like the field was the smallest and led to a boulderfield and set up another rap station! by this point it was getting very dark and i had not brought my headlamp though the other two had. we were also worried about people at home-chris had told his wife to start to worry at 7! we rapped off the wall and down the snowfield where the ropes ended 20 ft short of the boulders.
we knew we had a long hike ahead of us but were not ready for how long this would actually be. it was dark 3 people w 2 headlamps w the mindset to get to the summit lake saddle yet not knowing what lay between us and the parking lot. we started the long hike down the boulderfield and the traverse back to the saddle. maybe it was 9 when we reached the boulderfield? we traversed boulders where we were able to get water from the runoff, snowfields, scree gullys, grass, the biginning stream to chicago lake, everything imaginable. i was able to get a call out at midnight letting people know that we were ok and hiking out! chris's wife had called sar already who were going to head out at 5 the next morning. luckily she was able to call and cancel that. after that we continued hiking in the vague direction of the saddle. we were not able to ascertain which gully was the correct one that led to the summit lake saddle, the features we had seen during the day were of no help on a cloudy night. chris was getting impatient it seemed as nate and i were taking breaks fairly often as the exhaustion set in, at one point he started ascending to a ridge where he continued as we lagged behind. he yelled something from the ridge but we couldnt hear him because of the wind. it wa there at 3 in the morning that nate and i decided to stay put.it was three hours til sunlight we were ok and there was no need to push it any more. i had confidence chris could make it to my truck on his own as we were holding him back. the back window was unlatched and i felt sure he would figure that out fairly quickly. nate and i decided to hunker down between some boulders as shelter from the wind and get some rest. we werent especially cold, we werent mentally askew, we had enough clothing for us to survive 3 mor hours and we decided we could wait til dawn where routefinding would be easier. i was sick of carrying my rope for the past 6 or so hours around my neck! nate fell asleep immediately and i shortly after but not before i got out another phone call letting people know what the situation was.
i awoke very cold to the sun rising in the east and the relief that i could actually see where i was going! i woke nate up, who was sawing logs, and we ascended a ridge on which we found a trail leading back to the saddle! we had gone too far east at night passing the gully. 45 min we were back at the car where we found chris sleeping in the cab. he had walked right over the trail at night continued up and over the ridge then back down to the truck! car to car maybe just short of 24 hours. epic indeed!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):