| Eric's 14er Finisher Weekend
Eric's 14er Finisher Weekend:
Route: NE Ridge
Date: August 14, 2010
Length: 8.0 miles
Vertical: 4500 feet
Ascent Party: Eric (Lostsheep), Britt (Globreal), John (Fepic1),
Randy (Randalmartin), Jim (Dancesatmoonrise), Jody, Jim
Eric contemplates Maroon Peak from the "Diving Board" on the summit of Pyramid.
Eric just turned 16. Despite his youthful age, he is a mature, talented and accomplished mountaineer. I've had the pleasure to climb with him and learn from him, and was honored to be invited on his fourteener finisher weekend. The plan was to climb Pyramid on Saturday, which Eric had already summitted twice before, then Maroon Peak on Sunday, for the finisher. We lucked out with some of the best weather we've had in recent weeks. Britt, Randy, and Jody camped at Crater Lake; Eric, Jim, John, and I planned to start at the trailhead at 3:00 am to meet them at the turnoff for Pyramid.
Moonset over North Maroon Peak.
Turns out I kept getting woke up and had to move to quieter quarters at 2:00 am, with doubts about even being able to do a serious route on an hour of sleep. So I let the 3:00 am start go and just slept in. I was very happy to make the trail by 5:00, but since I didn't want to wake Eric during the night to let him know I was moving, I wasn't entirely sure they knew I was on my way. Still, I was prepared with the route description, key photos, maps, and prior study of the route. I love a challenge, just not two hours' sleep challenge. Oh well, sometimes that's the way it goes.
Before long I was climbing the hill to the amphitheater, and was hopeful to see a headlamp up ahead. Turns out I must have been hallucinating. I just couldn't catch that headlamp. The good news is that it was starting to get light, and I could move faster.
First light beyond Maroon Lake
Pretty soon I was in the amphitheater, but no group. I was glad it was getting light.
Turning the corner to the east, I spied a group at the end of the boulderfield, getting ready to start the base of the west-facing climb to the 13,000 saddle. But turns out it was a different group; a polite group of college students who were home in Aspen for the summer. But then I saw Britt and Randy about 2/3 the way up the slope, with Eric maybe 100 yards higher. Smiles.
"Team Aspen" approaches the base, far right. Our group is about 2/3 the way up.
Note the large block at the start of the trail up this slope, in the photo above - it can be seen from across the amphitheater and is a helpful waymark.
Close-up of the shot above.
The sun was coming, allowing for some nice views.
Britt and Randy climbing the east side of the amphitheater, with Team Aspen below.
This shot's for Kiefer and Stephanie. My best to you guys on your upcoming plans!!
Capitol's SE ridge stands in brilliant relief against the early morning sun.
The Snowmass: Where'd it go?
We collected at the saddle, 13,000 feet. This is where the fun begins.
The saddle at 13,000.
I made the mistake of wearing Windstopper (TM). The stuff will leave you soaked. I'd hoped the lighter panels that Arcteryx puts in the sides would be enough to breath. The REI base layer doesn't breathe well either, so it was a bad combination, and I knew it. Better to experiment in summer. Anyway, I was chilled, and needed to get moving. Eric and Britt graciously handed me the lead for the remainder of the climb.
Team Aspen had passed us at the saddle. Turns out none of them had been on Pyramid before. They were content to put me in front, and I was happy to attempt the lead. Bill's route description and photos, plus the cairns, made route-finding a breeze. This worked out perfectly, allowing us to spread out a bit, as planned, due to the potential for rockfall.
Team Aspen makes their way up the start of the technical section.
Barton leading his team of youthful Aspenites up the green gulley.
The views from the summit were astounding on a gorgeous, windless morning.
The Bells, Snowmass, and Capitol, from Pyramid's summit.
Barton approaching the summit.
"Team Aspen" on the summit of Pyramid Peak. Congrats, guys!!
Eric brought up the remainder of our group. Here he is on the "Diving Board" at the summit.
Oh, gosh, it is a long way down!
Mafia Team Captain Eric leads his crew with an iron hand.
We had a great group for this trip!
"One more shot on the Diving Board!"
"Hey, me too!!"
After having some fun in the morning sun, we settled down to eat and relax a bit, spending quite a bit of time on the summit in fine weather.
The mountain goats decided to join us. Jodi was concerned, as they were coming right to the summit. She asked what we should do. I was in front, seated. I told our hosts that we were there for Eric's fourteener finisher weekend, and would they mind if we borrowed their summit for just a bit? They turned to each other, considered it, and politely loaned us their perch.
(I remember once a guy we called "Jethro" that had a run-down property and chickens. When asked how he got so many good eggs out of his birds, he used to always tell us, "you got to talk to them chickens!" It's true; animals like soothing talk. If you got the guts. Or no room to back up! : )
Our buddies came to see what all the fuss was about on their summit. We told them it was Eric's finisher festivities.
Eric lead the descent. He was stoked to find as much 5th class downclimbing as he could. I followed for a little while, but didn't really like the idea of challenging the mountain. There is plenty of easy 3rd class to get down.
The photos below make it look steeper than it is. There are some good steep sections, but they can be avoided. Mostly it's ledges. I didn't think there was any true 4th class if you stay on-route, but I'm no expert - to me, it's either walking, or something more than 5.0. Solid vs. loose, now that's what I'd like to see a rating system include.
It's fun to make the camera make it look steep.
Close-up shot from same vantage point as above photo.
Jodi downclimbs while Britt spots. (Randy Martin photo.)
Eric and I faced in for a lot of the downclimbing, though some of the other folks in the group did everything facing out.
Our group descends the mid-portion of the green gully.
Close-up of above shot.
Eric demonstrates the "cliff-traverse" ledge.
After a bit we came to what Britt was calling the "Leap of Faith." I was a bit worried because I hadn't even remembered this section on the way up. Either it didn't phaze me, or it's the Alzheimer's. Randy got a great shot of John's leap of faith earlier, during the ascent:
John leaps. (Randy Martin photo.)
The leap is really not a big deal, but we all wanted to get a great shot of Jodi doing it. Probably mostly because she was so worried about it. People can be so cruel.
Here we see Jodi carefully dusting her launch pad:
On the count of three, now, ok? One, two....Wait. OK, let's try again. One, two....wait. Ok, this time for sure....
Jodi takes the leap of faith, while Britt lends helping hands.
OK, Jodi, wait a minute, that was not a very good shot. Would you mind doing it again?
"Hey, Mom, what are those humans doing?"
OK, better. Much better. Jodi is beside herself. But also on the wrong side for the descent. We get one more!
With a little practice, Jodi takes the Leap of Faith in fine style!
Oh, yes, we all agreed, that was a great shot! Good work, Jodi!! And thanks for being such a good sport! : )
"Gee, Mom, it's a long way down."
In no time we were at the saddle, relinquishing the peak to its local residents. We made quick work of getting down. The day was now getting quite warm as we entered the drainage and made our way back to the trailhead.
Momma takes her little one back up now that the humans have left.
Nearing the trailhead.
It was a great weekend for Eric, and for all of us. He went on to complete the fourteeners with the successful summit of Maroon the next day. He was accompanied by Britt (Globreal) Steve (Sgladbach) John (Fepic1), Paul Perea, and Mike Smith (EmceeSmith). Please see Mike's excellent TR for Sunday's climb.
Thanks to Eric and Britt for inviting me to be a part of this incredible weekend, and congratulations, Eric, on finishing in style!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):