| Mt Yale - East Ridge (Avalanche Route)
Mt Yale - Buena Vista - Avalanche Trail. This was my first 14er ever. I found out I was going at 10pm the night before. I have been getting into shape since May 2010 and I'm down 20 pounds so far, thanks to running and cycling - but no hiking and nothing at altitude.
So - where do you get hiking boots at 10pm? Why, Wal-Mart, of course! And only $20! (This ended being a grievous error)
Met my buddy at 104th and I-25 in Thornton at 4:30 am after 2 hours of sleep. After meeting another buddy in Jefferson and stopping for coffee at this place in Buena Vista, we were on our way. We started off at the TH for the Avalanche route, the eastern approach to the Yale summit, at 7:30 am.
Switchbacks and hiking through a forest to start off - already, my butt was kicked. Huffin' and puffin', left behind by my partners.
After a while you stop going north - you turn left and start going west and you get into a clearing up above tree line. Buddys waiting for me there, we had lunch and started heading west.
We ascended a ridge and then it became a matter of scrambling up and down over this ridge, with medium-sized jagged boulders and no discernable trail. Thought I saw a couple cairns along the way but their placement seemed arbitrary.
Buddys left me behind - didn't see them for about 4 hours. There were very few people hiking this route that day. Mostly I was alone, trying to select the least obnoxious route across these boulders to the next false summit - there were several.
I tapped out once I came in view of the summit. After ascending what I thought was the final slope, I came out into a clearing at the top of a false summit and was able to see and hear my buddys up on the summit. However, seeing the 3 rises between me and the summit, I gave up and started heading back down, discouraged and irritated at my pals for not waiting for me.
Snapped a pic from the highest point I made it to. Snapped several pics on the way down of the brain-damaging fields of jagged boulders, one after another, that you have to cross.
Buddy's overtook me on the way down, about halfway between the summit and tree line. They explained that they couldn't wait for me because they wanted to be off the summit by noon. Sinners. As it turns out, they made it off the summit at about 12:30.
Made it back to the truck at about 3:00. 2 nasty hotspots from the WalMart boots - one on each bunion.
Did Bierstadt a few weeks later just to get my confidence up. Much, much easier. And I had Merrell Outland trail runners instead of WalMart boots, which WalMart graciously refunded my money for, despite them being chewed up from the hike.
This weekend (Sunday August 1st 2010) the wife and I will take Yale via Denny Creek, which should be much more realistic than that Avalanche Trail, from what I've read...
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):