Aborted Attempts and Successful Re-dos

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Aborted Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by greenonion » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:14 pm

There have been some similar posts to this but couldn’t find this one per se. Recently was communicating with a fellow 14ers.com member related to this topic and thought it might help spur an interesting thread. What 14ers, 13ers, or any mountains, or adventures in general, did you originally abort a first/second... attempt, and then go back and successfully do later? Feel free to give reasons and details (or none at all). Also feel free to impart any lessons learned that could help others know it’s ok to “try again another day.” I'll start:

(edited: anywhere you see "fail" or "failure" below feel free to substitute "abort" or something else appropriate. Making a smart decision and turning around isn't a failure.)

- Kit Carson: failed twice then successfully completed on a third try after 7 years. #1 Tried in mid-June 2010 when Avenue was still snowed in and we had zero snow/ice equipment then. Not willing to risk sliding off a narrow/steep section which would have been the end. #2 A few years later went back with buddy and we ended up being too slow that day and were not prepared for a long hike out in dark. Went back the next year solo and completed KC.

- Sneffels: Failed once due to weather coming in. Successful the next year.

- Wilson Peak: Failed due to bad cramp in hamstring while crossing the ledgy section just past the upper saddle (not ROA, but higher). Went back a few years later on my 50th b-day and made it to top. Lesson learned: More stretching needed in advance of long/strenuous hikes. Plus, DON’T CRAMP WHILE ON LEDGES!! That was an eye opener.

- Capitol: Just plain stupid the first time, but it turned into a decent scouting trip. We started out way too late and then let the gulley side crossing of K2 intimidate us. Went back the next year with a couple of friends who were more experienced and did it in one long day. Went up and over K2 this time. Almost balked at the knife edge but was able to chill and make it across just fine. Funny thing was that the summit cone/block didn’t bother me at all.

- Elbert: Rough weather came in and bailed. Right call as it was a biggie. Returned next year successfully.

- La Plata: Tried this one this past June after doing Antero’s Little Brown’s creek route the day before. Early season and long route on Antero caused my IT band to flare up, so only made it up about 2/3rds of La Plata the next day. Returned in a month and did LP from the SW ridge route. Lesson: Stretch the damn hammys AND IT bands!!

- Shavano: Quit half-way up after trying this one with my daughter who was clearly too young at the time. Returned by myself a few years later and did it. Then went and did Huron with my daughter a different year when she was old enough (first 14er at age 14).

- Princeton: Insert eye-rolling emoji here… Was pressed for time, had shoes whose soles felt like glass while there was the oddest and slickest very thin layer of moisture on the rocks. Verglas?? Was slipping all over the place and didn’t have time to take it slower. Have not yet returned. Just broke my own dumb rule in that I haven’t gone back successfully for this one yet. BUT! There’s a lesson learned – be smart and don’t break an ankle (or worse) at altitude.

Having listed all of those I wonder how I’ve managed to get 33 so far. TAKING A LONG DAMN TIME! (am an out of stater too)
Last edited by greenonion on Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by Alpine Guy » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:24 pm

My nemesis? La Plata. The mountain of my nightmares. First try in 2002 was on Ellingwood Ridge and it just out-classed me. Followed by more failures in 2003, 2006 and 2017 - all shoulder season attempts in bad weather or snow. Finally redemption in 2018. Turns out the std route is actually pretty easy in summer conditions. And the funny thing is I still want to go back and finish the route from Winfield.
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by greenonion » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:56 pm

Alpine Guy wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:24 pm
My nemesis? La Plata. The mountain of my nightmares. First try in 2002 was on Ellingwood Ridge and it just out-classed me. Followed by more failures in 2003, 2006 and 2017 - all shoulder season attempts in bad weather or snow. Finally redemption in 2018. Turns out the std route is actually pretty easy in summer conditions. And the funny thing is I still want to go back and finish the route from Winfield.
Nemesis, or soul mate? I think you two are lifers. And don't beat yourself up over Ellingwood Ridge. Seeing that whole thing from the top of LP... wow. Shame that's not attached to another mountain, otherwise seems like it would be king of the traverses.
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by Tornadoman » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:57 pm

Completing the 14ers (with 42 coming as an out-of-stater, I had quite a few turnarounds.

Mt. Sherman- Attempt one, high winds and snow squall (from Fairplay side). Got it on the 2nd time from Iowa Gulch/Leadville.

Mt. Belford- Turned around due to blizzard conditions (in September). Made it close, probably around 13,600 but it became stupid to continue. Went out and completed it on the 2nd attempt several weeks later in almost dry conditions in early November.

San Luis- Bailed due to graupel/rain/dark clouds around 12,400 feet. Of course it cleared up by the time we were at the trailhead. This was in 2009, and finally were successful in 2017 going from West Willow Creek in Creede.

Challenger/Kit Carson- Packed in and weather was rainy/crappy all night. Didn't even attempt from camp as it was wet and foggy. Completed them a few years later on a bluebird day.

Capitol Peak- 1st attempt- Bad weather- Rained all night at camp and weather was moody the next morning, no way was I doing that one in bad conditions. 2nd attempt was as a day trip and my friend blew out his knee at the Daly saddle. We limped down to finish out that day. 3rd time was the charm, good weather day, great conditions. Sadly 2 people died the next day (we saw them when hiking back to the car), I always think about them when I remember Capitol.

Columbia- Tried via the SE ridge and there was a lot of snow left up high. We were postholing a bunch and bailed. Repeated via the same route a few weeks later and were successful.

Crestone Peak- Bailed in drizzly, windy, very low visibility at base of Red Gully. Successful on 2nd attempt.

Little Bear Peak- Attempted via the SW ridge and slipped on dry pine needles hurting my wrist. I continued only to realize that I had lost my helmet in the fall and at that point decided to bail. Drove 4 hours home and went to Urgent Care for the wrist (drove a lot of debris into it, some didn't come out for 3 months). I repeated via the SW ridge several weeks later and was successful.

Wilson Peak- Bailed due to stormy looking, gloomy weather with fresh snow. Reached the summit on my 2nd attempt the next weekend for my 14er finisher on a bluebird day (although snow was still hanging on between the false and true summit- Spicy).

If I added all the 13er turnarounds this would be a complete book. But I have turned around less overall the past few years by picking really good weather days for the longer/more technical difficult peaks, and doing walk-ups on iffy weather days. Personally I feel that if someone never turns around, their risk tolerance must be really high because I have found lots of reasons to turn back.
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by timewarp01 » Wed Sep 02, 2020 6:40 pm

A few days ago I climbed McHenry's Peak in RMNP via the Arrowhead arete. It was my sixth attempt on that mountain due to a mixture of bad weather, unexpected snow in unpleasant places, and wet slab. Finally getting a peak after that many tries is deeply satisfying!
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by cottonmountaineering » Wed Sep 02, 2020 6:56 pm

wheeler mountain in calendar winter was my nemesis, took me 3 times to get the right conditions
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by Gandalf69 » Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:08 pm

When I was 10, my 1st 14er was mt massive. I made it to saddle when it rained, snowed, and lightning everywhere. It took me ten years to return and summit on my next try. (I was in boy scouts! We did a 14er trip each year) I have had plenty of hikes since where I have had to return to "finish business"
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by climbingcue » Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:24 pm

I have been super lucky with only two turn arounds / failed summits in well over 200 peaks. The 1st one was Mt Sherman in January, I was hiking with a group that was way to slow and kept waiting for them. Wind got to dangerous and I had already climbed Sherman. It didn’t not really matter to me if I summited or not that day. My next one was Dallas Peak, we made it to the final pitch with only 60 vertical feet to go. Thunder at 9:40am, we all called it and made it down the mountain safely in the rain and sleet. Two weeks later and were able to successfully summit Dallas. This time the rain and thunder was at 11:30am, we had already rappelled down and packed up our gear. The keys to my successful history is cherry picking the best days and moving fast.

Consecutive months with at least one 14er, 40 months and counting...
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by nyker » Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:50 pm

Looking back, many of my failed attempts could have been avoided by choosing better conditions or being better prepared, but a few were just bad luck.

Torreys, had multiple failed attempts due to thunderstorms and one due to being sick when I should not have even attempted, but coming from out of state always at least wanted to give it shot.

Capitol - Two turn arounds, one due to unexpected thunderstorms and one turn back due to poor snow conditions. Just bad luck.

Lake Como 14ers. 1 turn around on the actual road: taking a wrong turn on the road based on wrong directions someone gave me years back - poor research on my part.
Two other turn arounds based on bad weather coming in on my attempt of Blanca / Ellingwood, so I went back a third time to get Ellingwood.

Decalibron - thought I could do these when I had some a stomach issue, I was wrong. Took two more times, once got Demo alone, then darkness came in (
we started too late in November) then came back to get the others another time.

Snowmass. I turned around once after not feeling it on the ridge, physically healthy, mentally not that day.

Mt Whitney - while I summited the peak on different routes before, once I turned around once due to really deep early Spring snow (foolish attempt at a day trip)
and once due to not being trained sufficiently on the MR long time ago.

My Charleston NV - 4x turnarounds, 3 due to heavy snowfalls and one due to avalanche risk I deemed to great (despite solid weather that day).
All trips were in deep powdery snow, so not ideal but circumstance had me there in mid winter so I gave it a try. Still summitless on Charleston...
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by CaptCO » Wed Sep 02, 2020 7:59 pm

Humboldt — 14ers member was tired so turned around before treeline during winter conditions, got my truck almost stuck on SCL the second time, summit 3rd “attempt”

Tabeguache — afternoon hike with dog on Shavano, gusting 50+ at the saddle and getting dark; called it after Shav summit. Came back for alternate route

Lindsey — Florida boy didn’t understand driving in snow, even with a V8 & Blizzak tires. Got totally stuck and barely winched out the next day in freezing temps; by the only Jeep who made it to Lily Lake TH late fall

Antero — slow going and moderate avy risk/blizzard turned around at 13k, came back and did LBC route instead

Oxford - Windy, cold, and hard snow blow on Belford first summit; called off Oxford. Next attempt postholing up to the gulch with snowshoes, sunset summit on Oxford. Follow friends advice to go down alternate gulley.. Get lost in the dark, run into a couple mountain lions, jump off some ice falls, and spend the night frozen in a tiny mining “cave”. Overdue automatically called S&R and I came back from being half-asleep to a chopper around 4-5am (1/2 mile from truck visible in daylight)

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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by SkiFree » Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:30 pm

so far I have been turned back 3 times trying to summit Bierstadt in calander winter with my dog.....1st time Not enough snow that resulted in random postponing through the large rocks above 13,000 that caused a cut in my dog's paw, 2nd time was the morning after a storm and it was too much snow since we were the first tracks up and my pooch was drowning in the snow. Then 3rd time was to windy and I didn't have any doggles for the dogs eyes

I am sure I would have a higher success rate with my dog if I took it more seriously, but at the end of the day the dog just wants to be outside and doesn't even care about getting to the top

That story of passing the two hikers before they perished on capital is crazy and would definitely stick with me!
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Re: Failed Attempts and Successful Re-dos

Post by KS Jude » Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:38 pm

Hard to call it a failure, after all we knew it was a fool's errand to begin with. Several years ago, upon driving from Kansas into Colorado we made our way up to Willow Lake and setup camp at 5pm. After eating a quick dinner we decided we should give Kit Carson's North Ridge a try, that evening. Well we we made it to around 12k when weather moved in stopping forward progress. Swiftly we made it back to camp. That night we had some bear trouble, necessitating three guys fitting into a tent that in my opinion was made for two people. The next morning, after our cramped night, we made our way up the North Ridge of Kit Carson and down Challenger Point for a memorable time in the mountains.
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