| Gray's Attempt
My mom and I decided to attempt Gray's last Thursday. The weather report held steady all week that it would be clear until 1100, and then the snow would come in. At 0500 Thursday morning the NOAA report had changed in our favor, and snow wasn't projected until 1400, so we were confident that we would have a good shot at the summit.
We arrived at the winter TH at 0730 to find one other solo climber gearing up (Preston was his name), so we chatted for a minute and hit the trail. Preston opted not to use snowshoes, and I think he regretted it. My mom and I strapped on the snowshoes and hit the 4WD road, determined to make good time to the summer TH. The snow was falling steadily (damn NOAA), and the road had a couple inches of fresh powder. We made pretty decent time to the summer TH, but the steep 3 miles ate up some much needed carbs...
Once we crossed the bridge, the trail was non-existant, so we followed Preston, about 30 yards ahead of us. The wind was pretty strong and did a nice job covering his and our tracks as we went. The snow was inconsistent, so we kept the snowshoes on, and even the we were breaking through pretty deep in some spots. Just above treeline my mom was starting to give in to the thin air and weather. Being fairly inexperienced, her confidence wasn't holding up as the weather worsened. The typical winter alpine weather was really messing with her head... sunny and still to white out and windy within seconds, and she started to express concerns about not finding our way down. I did my best to convince her that getting lost between the two ridges up there would be pretty tough to do, and we trudged onward. I kept telling her, "just a few more steps, we'll rest, then a few more, and eventually we'll get there," and she was a trooper.
As we got up the ridge close to 13K, my mom started to experience some dizziness and shortness of breath. Knowing that she is asthmatic and noting her symptons, I swallowed my determination for a summit and told her we should turn around. I put on my best face and assured her that it would be stupid to continue and the I had no regrets about turning around, that it had been a great hike and the mountain wasn't going anywhere. I could tell she was feeling like she had really let me down, which wasn't the case at all... I knew the right decision was to turn around at that point. I kept her spirits up with joking as we forged a completely new trail down the mountain, since our previous tracks were impossible to find after the wind kicked up. As we tumbled our way down the mountain to the summer TH, the trail worsened and we both hoped our fellow hiker had made a safe summit and was also on his way back. My mom was BEAT, and couldn't seem to get her energy back, so I took her pack and we made it back down the road through several more inches of snow than had been there in the morning.
It was a great hike and I have no regrets about turning around, just more determination to make it next time (which will most likely be solo).
We stopped for a brew in Idago Springs and made the drive back to Denver feeling pretty exhausted after our approximately 9.5 miles RT hike in the high country.
Although we didn't summit, it was an amazing trek with some beatiful scenery to remind us why we did it... photos never capture it, but I took a few and messed with a few too... enjoy.
Layering down on the way up...
What happened to "clear skies until 1400"??
Alas, the summer TH...
Preston (no, we don't know him) leading the way
Here comes the sun?
I dunno what I was thinking, but it's kind of cool... err?
I told my mom she might want to invest in a more "rescue friendly" colored jacket
Mom and me!!
Gray's showing itself... sorta
Copehagen... my energy drink. Mom is exhausted.
Don't worry, owner, pretty sure nobody is about to tresspass?
I thought this was cool
Mom on the final stretch as the snow setteled in
A final look back up the trail