Evans finisher group shotSince Evans is not an "Epic" climb I thought I would do a summary of the last 24 months and the 58 peaks that were conquered along the way. I thank God for allowing me to experience the beauty of his creation and be safe doing it. Many climbers lost their lives the last two years chasing the 14er dream and it did way heavily on my mind each time I would climb a new peak. May they all rest in peace and be experiencing the after life in the presence of the lord. I want to thank my wife and kids for putting up with me being gone so many weekends. Thanks to 14ers.com members and those who climbed Evans with Britt and I on our finisher. As you can see from some of the early pictures I had no clue what I was doing early on and even though I have learned a lot the last two years I have barely begun to scratch the surface. I have visions of climbing one of the 8000 meter peaks one day but for now it's just a dream.
How I started
After I suffered a major knee injury (Ruptured Patellar Tendon) playing basketball in 2007 I was determined to live an active life again. I had worked hard doing physical therapy to be able to even jog again and since a ruptured patellar tendon is worse than a torn ACL I was happy with just being able to jog. I knew I would never play competive basketball, flag football, or anything that required fast cutting or explosive jumping again. I thought maybe my best days were behind me and I would have to adjust to a less active lifestyle. My co-worker Lowell who watched my recovery day in and day out said we should climb a 14er. I thought I can do that it's just hiking/walking. I knew what a 14er was since I had always been intrigued by what it would look like to be up on top of one. I thought how cool would that be and was so excited to prove to myself I could do it after such a long layoff from physical activity!!! We decided on Elbert because it is the highest in Colorado. I think I did everything wrong on that first outing. Here are some of the mistakes. (1) We started at 9 a.m. and I could not figure out why some people were already coming down. (2) I wore Air Jordan shoes which had horrible traction. (3) I didn't have enough water and way too much food. (4) I sprinted up the first couple miles and then fizzled out at about 12,000 ft. (5) I didn't take trekking poles which would have helped with my bad knee. There were other mistakes but those are the ones that come to mind. I did not have a clue what I had gotten myself into. I had hiked before below tree-line but this was different. There were factors I did not plan for such as altitude, afternoon lightning/thunderstorms, staying fully hydrated, and pacing myself. Only three of the five I went with summited on Mt. Elbert on that day. I made it even though in hindsight I should have probably turned back. I pushed myself well beyond my limits to reach the summit. It was more difficult than I could have ever imagined. Shortly after spending some time on the summit admiring the views the rain started falling and I was the last one off the mountain that day. As hard as it was going up it was actually harder going down with my weak knee. I ran out of water on the way down and felt like collapsing several times. I thought, God please get me down. I just wanted to get to the car and drink water and I vowed this would be my first and last 14er. The effort and toll it took on my body was just not worth it. The next few days I was sore, tired, and felt like I had a bad hangover. About the 3rd day I looked at the pictures I had taken on Elbert after I recovered from the soreness. I looked up 14ers online and found this website (14ers.com). Thanks Bill!. I read where others talked about Mt. Elbert being one of the easiest in the state despite it being the highest. I read trip report after trip report and looked at countless photos of different peaks. I think you know where I am going with this. Yes I was hooked and didn't even know it yet. I started to get the urge, the itch, the whatever it is to try another one. The problem was, who would I get to go with me on my next one and which one would I try next? The Elbert crew had all officially retired as I vowed to do, so I managed to con some other friends into joining me on Grays and Torrey Peak. I did this selfishly knowing they were going to hate it but at least I would have company. I was only able to persuade a couple more sucker friends into going on the next peak until they all grew wise and started rejecting my invites. I was desperate and needed a "man date" so I did not have to attempt one solo. I posted my first request for a partner on the forum and to my surprise it was answered yes!!! I soon met several people who shared my same interests and passion for the 14ers. They became my climbing buddies. I no longer had to trick my friends into going. Before long I had 10-15 people I could call, email, or text at anytime and find someone to go climb with. I still had no intentions of climbing all the 14ers. At first one peak a month was enough to satisfy my hunger for the high mountains. Then it was one every two weeks. Toward the end I would climb a peak and be eagarly awaiting the next one a day or two later. It is kind of like a drug addiction, only I believe this addiction if managed correctly is a lot healthier. After climbing about 20 14ers I became obsessed with the checklist and I could not wait to get home after a tough day in the mountains to log on to 14ers.com and check off the box of the mountain I had just climbed. I would do this before I ate, showered, or did anything else. It's kind of sick I know it People often ask "Why do you do it" and I have thought about it for two years and still don't have a good answer. I have never heard a good answer from anyone else. I won't say it's always fun because there were lots of times it was not fun. I won't say it was for the views because many times it was a whiteout or I was concentrating on my next move and did not appreciate the views. I won't say I climb for the excersise because I could get exercise in the gym. I won't say it's to see wildlife because I'm afraid of bears, Moose and Mountain Lions. It's not for peace because making an exposed move that may result in your death if you mess it up is not so peaceful. So if anyone has a good answer why we do it i'm all ears. All I know is I feel more alive when I'm out there than anywhere else. Hey I think I just answered my own question! "It makes me feel alive"!
Here are some of my rankings of the 58 14,000 peaks.
Time to complete all the 58 peaks: 24 months
Favorite 14er: Crestone Needle
Least Favorite: Columbia (Scree Field From Hell)
3 Most difficult: Capitol, Pyramid, Little Bear in that order
Most Dangerous: Mt Wilson (lots of loose rock)
Favorite Range: Sangre De Cristo Range, Followed by the San Juans
Money spent on gear: Over $5000
Approximate elevation gained: 199,950 ft not counting repeats
Approximate mileage covered: 465 miles not counting repeats
Failed Summit attempts first try: Little Bear adverse avalanche conditions, Mt Massive threatening thunderstorms and bad vibe, Kit Carson adverse avalanche conditions and time, Snowmass postholing and time.
Coldest Summit: Quandary January 2, 2010 minus 0 windchill and ground blizzard
Best glissade: Crestone Needle coming off Broken Hand Pass
Best snow climb: Little Bear Hourglass
Most exposure: Capitol Peak had lots of places where there is no room for error.
Most overated: North Maroon is rated class 4 but there is only one small 10 foot section of of class 4 climbing.
Worst Day Snowmass: I injured my back, Lost my camera, Missed John's finisher party on summit, Waited 4 hours at car for the others to come down with hurt back, lost camera, and giant mosquitos bugging me.
Most underated: Eolus it's a true class 3 but I was surprised with the amount of exposure.
Easiest: Handies 3 hours round trip
Longest day: Mt Lindsey 14 hours then a long drive back to Denver.
Times cheated: 1 Mt Evans did not decend under my own power.
Most Illegal Act: I Climbed Wilson Peak Via the closed trail Silver Pick Michael made me do it.
Best summit views: The Marroon Bells looking over to Pyramid, Capitol, Snowmass, Conundrum and Castle
Partners I shared most summits with: Britt Jones (Globreal), Michael (Shogun), Eric(LostSheep)
Injuries: 1 back injury on Snowmass 100 feet from the summit crawled up touched summit and painfully made my way down.
Favorite Quote: "Summiting is optional, Getting down is mandatory"! Ed Viesters
Towns visited for the first time: Ouray, Durango, Lake City, Telluride, Aspen, Florence, Westcliff and others I barely consider towns.
Jeans??? Torreys Peak
First cigar at 14,000 ft Castle Peak
The Decalibron was one of the first times I used an Ice Axe and I felt like a real mountaineer.
Some of the early peaks Decalibron 4 peaks in a day
February 28th 2009 Mt Princeton. It was so cold that night and I had never camped in the snow and was ill-equiped to say the least. It got so cold that one of the guys in the morning went to drink some tea from his cup and it stuck to his lip. As he pulled it away it cut him giving him a bloody lip. All my water bottles had frozen and I had almost no water most of the day. Out of the 10 in our group only 4 summited I was one of them and it was a nice confidence boost that would get me through the next few peaks.
Most unprepared Princeton minus 6 with 15 degree bag
4 out of 10 made it on this day I was happy to be one of them on Princeton
A fast way down Broken Hand Pass my favorite glissade!
Best Glissade Broken Hand Pass coming off Needle
Favorite Peak and maybe picture of the Crestone Needle
We stopped here after climbing the Needle and it felt like I had gone back in time. Louie was a good bartender though.
Worst dive bar after a climb " Louies" in Florence
My dad had just recently recovered from having his kidney removed and summiting Culebra was something we were both proud of.
Most special summit Culebra with my dad cancer survivor
I don't think many would disagree that the death march up from the desert floor to Lake Como in heat is the worst approach in the state.
Worst approach you get the picture Como Road
I took about 4 pictures the entire day you can see why. I did summit and it took 6 hours to get back to Denver because the tunnel on I 70 was closed due to carbon Monoxide.
Coldest Summit Quandary 01/02/10
It was hot on Harvard and Columbia this day!
My friend Barry hiding from the sun. Hottest day on a 14er Harvard/Columbia
I had to roll out of a few of these post holes just to stand up again. Above timber line the post holing got worse. I did summit alone my only solo summit.
Worst post holing Huron picture of my partner waist deep it would get worse.
I had heard it can snow year round on the high peaks of Colorado but I didn't believe until I was caught in a blizzard that dumped 2 inches in less than an hour in early August on Mt Holy Cross.
Earliest Snow August blizzard on Holy Cross
This was just something I had always wanted to do. All I could think of when Johnny was taking the picture is what if there is some kind of lake monster that drags me under and they never find me again.
First alpine lake swim Twin Lakes Chicago Basin
What a great morning it was at 14,000 feet watching the sun come up on Sunlight Peak.
Best Sunrise Sunlight Peak
Many say this is the most scenic part of the state and I would agree Chicago Basin gets my vote for top three for sure.
Best camp spot below Twin Lakes Chicago Basin
I was nervous before North Maroon hearing all the people say how hard it was. I was pleasantly surprised that is was very much within my comfort level. Don't take it lightly but don't let the route intimidate you either.
Most overated North Maroon
If you want to see the goats in Chicago Basin up close just pee and they will be there to lick it up within minutes. They are after the salt in your urine or anything with salt such as the handles on your trekking poles.We were able to get really close to them.
Best campsite entertainment the goats Chicago Basin
When I first saw this picture I was like nope no way I am climbing that vertical wall. I put off Longs Peak for a while for that reason. For some reason pictures make steep sections look flat but on all the pictures I saw of the homestretch the wall looked vertical which it is not. I don't know the exact angle but I would guess 45-50 degrees.
Homestretch on Longs one of the more feared sections turned out to be easy.
I was more intimidated by Capitol than any other 14er in the state. The knife edge and the exposure was enough to make me want to avoid it. Chris invited me to climb it with his friend John about a year ago and I accepted. Even though I had not done anything harder than a class 2 I took advantage of the opportunity of climbing the class 4 with an experienced group. It was an Epic day and my most rewarding day in the mountains!
Most Exposure and intimidating Capitol Peak
This is one of those peaks you don't celebrate too much on because you know you still have to get down safely. "Summiting is optional, getting down is mandatory"
Most Rewarding Capitol Peak
The views from South and North Maroon over to Capitol and Snowmass were my favorite.
Best summit views from South Maroon looking at Capitol and Snowmass
Little Bear in the snow makes for a lot less dangerous climb than in the summer with loose rock flying toward you.
Little Bear as a snow climb was one of the best desicions I made.
Little Bear Summit with the San Luis Valley in the background
Kit Carson Ave on Kit Carson Peak melts out late every year. A group of us lead by Steve Gladbach attempted it after summting Challenger in May 09 and all failed. Although we were roped up going across the Ave the exposure and wet slide potential made for a very tense moment. We all decided to turn around before the summit and avoid what I thought could have been a disaster in the making with as soft as the snow was on the steep slopes.
Most uncomfortable moment Kit Carson Ave with loose snow
I had just climbed El Pico De Orizaba in Mexico 18,500 ft and came back to Colorado thinking 14ers are going to be easy after that. I soon realized although not as high as El Pico De Orizaba the climbing on about 40% of the Colorado 14ers is more difficult because they are more rugged and the approaches are longer. Lindsey was the first mountain I climbed after returning from Mexico and was slapped with a taste of reality a 14 hour day. Colorado 14ers are no walk in the park! Orizaba took 8 hours.
Longest day 14 hours Mt Lindsey
Here is my dad going up Wetterhorn on his first class 3. He was as nervous as I was with my first class 3 Longs Peak. He made it and his confidence soared. He had a great story to tell his friends at the senior citizen center!
Guiding my dad up Wetterhorn
Standing on Blanca Peak with my father Andrew Perea, Britt Jones(Globreal) and Eric(Lost Sheep)
Blanca Peak with Eric Dad Britt July 11 2009
I want to take a month or two off to spend time with my family and go easy this winter before attempting Mt. Rainier two times in the summer of 2011. Then I will finish off the year with a trip to South America to climb the highest peak outside the Himalayas Aconcagua 22,841 ft above sea level. I'm not real big on repeats so I will use the abundent amount of 13ers in our state to train for these two mountains. After that sky is the limit!!!
Youtube Video to be added later.