| Hoosier Ridge
With a Citlaltépetl, aka Pico de Orizaba, climb rapidly approaching, Jen and I are trying to climb as high as we can, as often as we can. But with avalanche threats and winter-time trailhead access issues, it's not easy.
Last weekend we trained hard by skiing and drinking beer. The weekend before that we did Grizzly Peak D. This weekend we thought we'd sleep at 10,000' for a couple nights and attempt Hoosier Ridge and Mt. Elbert. Most of that plan worked out.
On Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 a.m., we pulled into the empty lot at Hoosier Pass. The sky was mostly clear, except for a large, wispy cloud that blocked the sun, making the 5-degree air feel even colder.
Thankfully, the trail from the pass was mostly tramped down. But we wore our snowshoes anyway, fearing it might get worse farther up the mountain.
A view back toward the pass, with Quandary far-right:
This is about the time I felt the 5-degree air temp searing my cheeks.
But I found warmth in movement:
Here's a look at Quandary:
At the first "bump" on the ridge, we cached our snowshoes and pushed on up the wind-blown slope.
Fortunately, we didn't really need the snowshoes beyond that cache point, but there were still times when we postholed in drifts. And all those energy-sucking steps did suck. But, then again, snowshoes suck, too.
I was fully aware of the threats of frostbite, hypothermia and avalanches up there, but no one told me about Indians:
Or man-eating animals:
Jen was unfazed and just continued her push upward:
Apparently, the entire planet had clear skies, but that mothership of a cloud just hung out right above us, and it completely blocked the sun's warmth.
Alas, our objective finally unfolded before us, the highpoint on Hoosier Ridge (far left). Silverheels (right) will be our objective on another day.
At first the remaining ridge didn't look so bad. And, technically, it wasn't at all. But after climbing other parts of the Continental Divide over the years, I knew better than to think this would be easy. After all, being at high elevation for so long, with a lot of up and down – out and back – can wear you down pretty fast.
A glance back:
Really cool sastrugi formations were everywhere. This ocean wave-like formation, in particular, caught my eye:
The long ridge played tricks on us. At times, "bumps" on the ridge looked closer than they were. Other times they looked farther away. There were no reference points, so it was difficult to determine distances.
At one point I thought we were going to call it and turn back. But we still had some fight left in us, so we kept pushing on over the countless false summits on the ridge – in the cold, thin air.
Naturally, we started talking about where we were going to eat and have a beer, post-hike. Jen said, "Isn't there a new brewpub in Buena Vista?" I vaguely recalled hearing about a new brewpub, but I wasn't sure if it was open or not.
At noon we finally arrived at the highest bump on the ridge. Having lived in Indiana when I was in high school and college, I gave a little nod to the namesake ridge for which I have a subtle connection.
Sorry, I don't have any summit photos. I took a short video but it didn't turn out so great. And Jen was busy calling her dad to ask him to Google "Buena Vista brewery." Turns out, BV does have a brewpub now, finally. And it gave me the charge I needed to get off that ridge.
I did take a photo of Quandary from the summit of Hoosier Ridge:
And, then, Silverheels from Hoosier Ridge:
Our descent (which ascended at times) was uneventful and somewhat exhausting.
More sastrugi for my oxygen-deprived mind to hallucinate on:
We saw no one until we were almost back down to treeline. Shortly after 2:30 p.m., we were surprised to find a full parking lot back at the pass.
With wind-chapped cheeks, empty bellies and beer on the mind, we made our way to a part of Buena Vista we had never been – South Main. And that's saying a lot because we've been to BV dozens of times.
"Looks like you guys got some sun today," our Eddyline server said to us, as he brought us a sampler of house beers.
After thoroughly enjoying the food and beer at Eddyline, I took a look at the bouldering rock across the street. I was too tired to play on it, but I was able to press a button a couple times and take this pan:
Meanwhile, Jen took a rest in the living room and contemplated our climb:
Later that evening, at our hotel in Leadville, with half a growler of Eddyline IPA in my belly, I crashed hard.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):