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 Peak(s):  Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
 Post Date:  09/20/2009 Modified: 04/04/2010
 Date Climbed:   09/19/2009
 Posted By:  LIV

 Three Fingers   

On Saturday, September 19, 2009, Bernardi (I met climbing the Dead Dog Couloir with Fierce Planet Meetup Group); and Nancy , a good friend with whom I trail run and share so many other common interests; and Lonnie, my 12 year old son, and I met at 4:00 a.m. in Morrison to make the 2 hour drive to Buena Vista to climb Mount Columbia, a 14,000 foot peak in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
The drive passed quickly as catching up on what everyone was doing was the order of business. Lon slept, as always, until we reached the trailhead.
We arrived at the trailhead at about 6:20 a.m., and Nancy and Bernardi changed shoes while I woke Lon and gave him a Rice Krispy Treat for breakfast.
We smiled for the "before" photo and headed up the trail at 6:35 a.m., and we quickly made our way up the trail.

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The path was covered with snow and ice as it had snowed about an inch the night before.

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We reached Horn Fork Basin and took the cutoff to Columbia prior to the sign - a shortcut that is well known, and one that I had taken before when I attempted Columbia several years ago.
We passed the rock outcropping and stopped for a quick food and bathroom break prior to starting up the scree slope to the ridgeline.

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It was difficult going as we had to step carefully as the ice had us slipping every other step. Once we reached the ridgeline, going was a bit easier.

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Anyone who has hiked Columbia is well aware of the numerous false summits prior to the actual true summit.

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We were all feeling the pain! But we kept on, and as usual, Lonnie left us at the ridge and smoked it, making the summit about 45 minutes before the rest of us. He was asleep on the summit once I arrived (one of his favorite things to do).
We ate our lunch pretty quickly as there was a looming cloud to the west. There were two gentlemen that joined us on the summit and took some summit photos of our group . We returned the favor. We all had a good laugh that the guy who made the sign put the wrong date on it (he put August 19, 2009, not September 19, 2009). So he scratched it off and we took the summit photo with the sign anyway!
Well, it wasn't the dark cloud to the west that chased us off the summit, but it was a huge snowy looking storm to the east that got our attention. Once we heard thunder we were all scrambling to get off the ridge. I ended up stepping on a large talus block that shifted dramtically, and fell backwards, landing on my right hand. As my fourth finger bent completely backwards at the joint, I knew that I just messed it up pretty bad. Although I don't think it's broken, it has got quite a bruise and is swollen - I may have torn tendons. This led to my newest nickname from Nancy, "Three Fingers Veraldi." Nonehtheless, we all laughed about the fact that when anyone slips and takes a fall, and people ask, how are you doing? we all reply, oh just fine!, but are truly thinking "damn that really hurt - wonder if I'm going to have a bruise from that tomorrow.
Since I never take photos on the way back down, and the weather changed rapidly from storm to sunny skies once again, I took the time to take a couple of my friends.
We were all very tired and sore. Lonnie slept the entire way back (oh, to be 12 years old -- ever remember sleeping everywhere??). Bernardi, Nan and I stopped at a coffee shop in Buena Vista and got some coffee for the way home.
What a great fall 14er - and an added bonus, Lonnie has summitted all of the 14,000 ft. peaks in the Sawatch.



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