| Flowers, rocks, lichen, and wandering above the clouds in the Sangre de Cristo.
A multi day expedition into the wild rugged northern Sangre de Cristo.
As with any expedition, the members must be assigned individual responsibilities and complete their tasks with efficiency, intelligence, and bull headed determination to reach the summit.
Climbing Team: Colin – routefinder, lead climber on 4x4 roads and ridges, 4x4 driver, tactician, chief teller of crude jokes, and troubadour
Craig – cheerleader, nature photographer, chief listener of crude jokes, and responsible for irresponsible behaviour of the dog
Amanda – lead technical climber, sense and sensibility, responsible for ignoring crude jokes and trying to keep the dog from listening to Craig
Support Team: Justin, his brother, and Gia – in charge of fire building, fishing at the lake, and bringing extra beer in case we ran out.
It had been a while since Colin and I climbed anything so I agreed to meet him down in the Sangre de Cristo for a multi day expedition to ascend few intense class 2 13ers. We ended up by Hermit Lake below Rito Alto and Eureka.
We got in a bit late Friday evening and Colin and Justin had already set up the campfire. Due to a few storm showers that afternoon, the wood was a bit wet. We went through a bit of boy scout fire starter trying to keep it going. To make a long story short, we ended up sitting around the campfire for quite a while. At 3:30 am we made the call that if we went to bed, the odds of getting up early enough to climb something were poor.
Expedition Day 1: Rito Alto Peak: 13,794 ft
That is how we ended up doing the campfire start.
I woke up Amanda after a bit of prodding and poking. She was having some trouble taking me seriously. By the time we got ready, Colin was in his truck asleep at the wheel. I woke him up. He turned around, said "You're coming, Amanda?! Is my backpack in here?"
We headed up the rough 4x4 road in the dark for a ways, until I finally just said "This sucks, let's get out and walk." That was at about 4:15am.
We wandered up the road in the darkness of a moonless night.
Shhhhhhh! It's sleeping!
As the sun began to rise, we were rewarded. The views from Rito Alto's south ridge were spectacular.
We were above the clouds and well above the Westcliffe valley.
No! Not the sun! AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!
Pikes Peak off to the north.
The Sangre 14ers were to the south. Thin wisps of clouds crossed the ridges in places.
If this was a 14er, we never would have gotten away with climbing in cotton. The synthetic clothing industry representatives would have shot us on the spot.
We were back at our car camp by Hermit Lake at around 9am after stumbling down the route and road. This was the most difficult and treacherous portion of the route. It's very difficult to walk without falling after drinking too many beers and a little tequila, climbing a mountain, and not having slept in over 24 hours. Obviously, we napped the day away.
The evening campfire went much better than the previous night. The lack of rain on Saturday dried out the wood in a hurry.
Expedition Day 2: Eureka Mtn A: 13,507 ft
We slept in on Sunday until about 8 am then drove up the road to Horseshoe Lake. We started at about 9 am and reached the summit of Eureka around 11am. We were back at camp around noon. The most treacherous and potentially deadly portion of this climb was avoiding the temperamental Dr. Seuss plants. I guess a botanist might call them goldenrod or tarweed or something latin sounding. Don't get too close. I hear their bite injects a venom that causes delusions of grandeur and an irresistible urge to skinny dip.
Oh crap, they woke up!
I don't need no stinking crampons!
Dog on a ridge.
Fire! Note: no petroleum products were used to start or maintain this fire!
Wildfire fuel suppression volunteer work.