Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

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spoony
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by spoony » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:39 am

Memorial Day Weekend, 1996: High-school junior me and my good friend (also a high-school junior) decide to ski Quandary. We have read books but have no real avy education or backcountry experience and we only have alpine gear (Volkl GS race skis and Rossignol Coupe De Monde boots for me) but we are young and fit so we plan on hiking most of easy East Ridge in hiking boots with skis/boots on our backs, and changing gear at the top. We depart the Front Range in my 1988 Jeep Cherokee and the drive up I-70 quickly reveals that we would have fresh snow to deal with...about 8 inches by the time we hit Breck and it is still snowing lightly. We pull off Highway 9 and park on McCullough Gulch Road. I don't recall their being any trailhead parking lot at the time. We start post-holing up through the trees and things are going alright, but when we get above timberline, the snow is dumping with virtually no visibility. At about 13,000 feet, we decide to bail on the summit ski because of the conditions and the fear of avalanche on the steeper upper pitch. The ski down is mediocre despite the new snow (lots of previously visible sharks were covered up by the fresh snow), but we arrive at my car safely to find...the battery is dead and there is nobody nearby to give a jump. We change out of ski boots, but it is still snowing and this is pre-cell phone. After about an hour wandering around and trying to thumb somebody down on Highway 9 with no luck, we try three or four of the houses/cabins with no answer. After about two hours of wandering around like idiots, we eventually talk with a super nice guy who lives about a half mile away. He drives up to my dead Cherokee to give it a jump.

Lesson of that day: turn off your headlights when pulling into a trailhead in the dark.
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Trotter
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Trotter » Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:53 pm

Jon Frohlich wrote:
Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:31 am
Trotter wrote:
Mon Mar 01, 2021 10:04 pm
Climbed Guadalupe Peak in west Texas... in June... With 1 liter of water.

Figured its only 3000 feet gain, and only an 8er. And I'll start at dawn anyways, so it'll be nice and cool.

Ran out of water on descent. Stopping multiple times for leg cramps. Temperature at parking lot was in 90s. Stupid.
Not exactly Guadalupe but we had a horrible adventure hiking over to El Capitan from Guadalupe. We misunderstood the advice we had been given and thought it would only take 30 minutes or so each way. Well....no. The terrain was awful and we were getting scratched up by cactus and thorns everywhere. The summit was farther away than we expected too. We had thought there was another way down (there wasn't). Everything cliffed out except the way we had come. We had to return by our heinous ascent route and eventually got back to the Guadalupe trail. Our little detour had taken an extra 4 hours not 1 hour.

El Capitan sucks. Never go there. At least not the one in Texas.
You know whats funny, I considered going for El Capitan because it looked so close. Now I'm glad I didn't. Some of those other peaks in the park are nice though
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. -Nelson Mandela
Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called Ego. -Nietzsche
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by CarpeDM » Tue Mar 02, 2021 10:18 pm

Great topic!  I'd say that if you have been around a while and don't have a story to share, you are either lying or you should play the lottery - cuz you live a charmed life.  Here's one from my early 14er-ing days.

You know that sign that warns you to stay away from the SW slopes/cliffs of Quandary?  Well, I nearly became one of the reasons that sign was put there.  As my third 14er, I had targeted Quandary.  It was late August, and I thought I'd try the Cristo Couloir route, because - duh! - it's the shortest route.  So I got started from the Blue Lakes parking lot, but couldn't find any signs of a trail.  As it happened, I came across a couple trying to do the same thing.  We each referred to our mint condition copies of Roach's guide and decided to go for the West Ridge route instead.  This started out really well.  We found the trail up the drainage, and we were able to get to the ridge without issue.  In route, I found out that the woman had done 18 or so 14ers, and the man had climbed one of them many times (can't recall which).  I thought I was very fortunate to have teamed up with this experienced, fit couple.  We get up to the ridge, and are just getting started with the class 3 stuff when it starts to graupel on us.  We were all worried enough that we were ready to abandon the summit bid, even though we were close enough to see people on the summit.  Cool!  We all have good judgment, and no summit fever, right?  Well, I wanted to go back the way we had come.  But the woman looked directly below us and said, I think I see a trail.  I said, No, I think that's just a runnel through the scree.  But she convinced her boyfriend, and I was too green and lacking confidence to stand by my beliefs.  And I didn't want to head back alone.  Safety in numbers, right?  So we started down that way, and - surprise! - it was steep and loose and not a trail.  But we continued down and did okay for a while, going slowly, often one at a time while the others sheltered from the inevitable rock fall.  But then we got cliffed out.  We had to downclimb about 30 feet of mid class 5.  I went first, since I had done some rock climbing and was more confident.  I coached them down this part - everyone was safe.  On the way down, it had begun to rain intermittently, eventually becoming continuous, and so the next challenge was to downclimb wet, angled slabs.  Again, we navigated the difficulties.  Finally, cold, tired, and with frayed nerves, we got back safely to the trail as it was getting dark - I think 7:30-ish?? - having started the downclimb maybe noon-ish.  I started to trust my instincts just a little more after that.  Of course, sometimes trusting my instincts wasn't a good idea.  And sometimes I still didn’t trust my instincts when I should have.  I still had (and have) more to learn, which resulted in a few more stories that I'll save for another time.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Paddy6069 » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:54 pm

On my 3rd trip to Colorado to do 14ers in July 2018 I decided to come for a week to solo a few in the San Juans. After being chased off San Luis by lighting the day before, I was extra motivated to get both Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre so I made sure to get an early start. I summited Wetterhorn mid-morning and there wasn't a cloud in the sky... But between Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre weather rolled in and rather than turning around I waited it out for about 2 hours. Late in the afternoon the weather cleared and I decided to scamper up the second 14er of the day. The SECOND I reached the top of Uncompahgre, from the other side I saw thunderclouds bearing down on me from the North West. I rushed down and for reasons I'm still not sure of, I decided to go back towards Wetterhorn (the way I came) instead of going down the standard route to Nellie Creek. The weather worsened and I ended up bailing down into the El Paso Creek drainage (I think that's what it's called...I can't find much info on it) which did not have a trail for me to follow. Deciding I didn't want to bushwhack down the steep drainage in the dark I spent a very cold, wet night without a tent or sleeping bag in the rain before bushwhacking for about 3 hours to reach the road. Finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, I walked back to my rental car at the lower Wetterhorn trailhead with my tail between my legs.

I now carry an emergency bivy when out in the backcountry.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Wish I lived in CO » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:24 am

Tried a water-resistant raincoat one time. Bad mistake. Was on the Bel-Ox saddle and I got wet on the inside with sleety rain / below freezing temps and gusty wind. I'm no runner at all, but I was that day, both to generate some heat and to get down quicker. Never again anything less than a full rainsuit. Years later got caught in identical weather circumstances, was miserable but a proper raincoat made it survivable.
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by justiner » Thu Mar 04, 2021 11:39 am

I've thought about packing one of these for longer hikes - a poncho/tarp combo:

https://seatosummitusa.com/products/ult ... arp-poncho

It doesn't look like it's the best of either world tbh, although flyin' brian did the triple crown with a poncho tarp, so there must be something to it. Be fun to experiment with. This or a bothy bag.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by TomPierce » Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:10 pm

justiner wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 11:39 am
I've thought about packing one of these for longer hikes - a poncho/tarp combo:

https://seatosummitusa.com/products/ult ... arp-poncho

It doesn't look like it's the best of either world tbh, although flyin' brian did the triple crown with a poncho tarp, so there must be something to it. Be fun to experiment with. This or a bothy bag.
I bought a Gateway Cape from Six Moon Designs a couple of years back, but all my trips since have been best served with a small tent or car camp:

https://www.sixmoondesigns.com/products/gatewood-cape

But I 'm now plannig on a mid-April kayak trip down the Colorado to check out a possibly (?) unclimbed tower, and I'll tote the Cape and a groundsheet along to test it out. Looks like a pretty cool piece of gear, but I think I'd also tote a light strap of some kind to keep it from billowing too much in a breeze.

-Tom
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by d_baker » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:01 pm

The stories about descending the wrong way into miserable hell is something I can relate to as well.

In 2007, a partner and I scrambled the N ridge of Neva in IPW.
Sitting on the summit, we decided to do a direct descent into the bowl. This was in Sept I believe.
On our ascent, I think I had noticed the cirque under the summit and it was rock strewn debris all over the snow/ice field. On the summit, that thought didn't occur to me though.
We didn't have axes or crampons.
We started our descent down the convex slope and it continued to get steeper and looser.
I told my friend that I didn't like what we were getting into. He said we could go a little farther and see if it improves and if it didn't we could turn around. At this time, I could also see the snow field.
Well we went down a little more and I said nope, not gonna do it!
He was like, 'you want to turn around and go back up that?!'
'Yeah, because I'm not going down this anymore!'

We parted ways.
I went back up several hundred feet (??) to the summit and went back to the saddle along the N ridge.
We met up on the trail below the saddle and he was like, you were right because that was fuckn stupid! Hr had to rock hop/slide/gingerly step across the snow slope.

He was and is, a much better climber than me and has climbed some classic stuff (Matterhorn, Cook, Assinoiboine, Cascades, Alaska stuff, etc) and his risk tolerance is higher than mine. He was also a climbing mentor to me for several years before this trip.
I was about two weeks removed from watching another friend take a ~10' fall while scrambling up the gully between Thunder and Lightning, and then a somersault slide on the slope below, so my mental state wasn't back to normal yet. (He walked away from that, but shaken, both of us.)

After that trip, I stopped climbing with that friend for a while. I was disappointed that he didn't stick with the idea of both of turning back, but thankfully it all worked out for each of us that day.
We stayed friends, but I just chose not to make plans in the mountains with him.
We would eventually climb together again.
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by headsizeburrito » Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:23 pm

I love that the dude in the green poncho is wearing jeans. :lol:
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by rijaca » Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:56 pm

headsizeburrito wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:23 pm
I love that the dude in the green poncho is wearing jeans. :lol:
I think I hiked/climbed all the 14ers wearing blue jeans. :mrgreen:
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the women 'round here start looking good"
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by WanderingJim » Thu Mar 04, 2021 9:58 pm

Worst mistake and worse injury (so far) was when I was packing up my camp and slipped on a rock or something and jammed my hand on a rock, dislocating a finger on my right hand.

Still climbed Mt Tyndall (CA class 2), but didn't trust the finger and hand to do Mt Williamson (CA class 3).
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Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by pizza-sandwich » Fri Mar 05, 2021 3:05 pm

new member. not my only mistakes, just some highlights.

early climbing at horsetooth. too broke for a rope so we bouldered around sans pad. i saw a little 40ish foot arete i figured i could solo (maybe 5.8 with my now assessment), got to a mini roof 30’ off the deck and was out of visible holds. panic. swung for a blind commitment and found a jug, pulled over. didn’t solo again.

the pass going into the texas creek drainage in the collegiates. warm front storms moving in that didn’t look too threatening and convinced my fiancé that we should stop to make coffee on the saddle. lighting struck the nearest prominence maybe 300yds west +200ft elev. we ran fast and now don’t do that.

a trail run i’m calling the rollins-arapaho pass super run in the indian peaks. late in the day, waves of warm front storms moving in, crossing arapaho pass just shelled and came to a gully in the trail still snow packed. it was about 15’ wide but closing in on 75deg with about 10ft of run out above 1000ft of air and rocks. the snow was soft enough to slice steps but so soft if it let go it would be... with lighting on the way i just anchored off my trekking pole and sent it. type 3 fun, 10/10 would not recommend.
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