Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Have an interesting or epic climbing story? Post it here.
Forum rules
Please do not use this forum to advertise, sell photos or other products or promote a commercial website. For more details, please see the Terms of Use you agreed to when joining the forum.
User avatar
benmangelsdorf
Posts: 35
Joined: 10/13/2020
14ers: 13 5
13ers: 21 1

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by benmangelsdorf » Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:43 pm

Since winter climbing season seems effectively over and I have had plenty of time to sit around and reflect on this experience, I feel that I may as well share it.

Near the end of this past January, I decided I wanted to climb Evans from Guanella. It seemed safe to me, I was familiar with the environment I was going to be in, and it didn't seem all that physically challenging. I had some new snowshoes to help me out in the willows, I had mapped out my route as well as I thought possible, and I was going on a Sunday, meaning that there would be plenty of other hikers around in case something went bad. The weather looked good, and I went for it.

Things started to go poorly pretty quickly. I forgot my hiking shoes (nice, right?) and had to turn back to Boulder when I was nearly in Golden. Got them, then got stuck in awful ski traffic because of the late start. Arrived at the parking lot and started the hike up. I left the Bierstadt trail and immediately realized that there were more clouds than I had expected. Oh well, I just wouldn't get a sunburn. I took off through the willows and realized there was a ton of fresh snow I hadn't anticipated. I broke trail and exhaustedly made it to the base of the steep gully I had to climb, and then I saw that there was a ton of snow there. I went up and arrived at the top without a ton of energy left, but I figured I must be close, right?

I decided to check on the clouds, and it looked bad. I hiked for a bit and then effectively found myself in a growing whiteout. I should have bailed then, but I decided to try and wait it out. It parted a bit, so I hit the Evans ridge. The only problem was that I got on the ridge proper rather than hiking below it on the actual trail. Running on fumes, I topped out what I thought was Evans... only to realize that I wasn't even on West Evans yet. Sigh.

The clouds were building back up, and the traverse over to Evan itself looked awful, and I knew I was too tired to keep going even if I had wanted to. I turned around, got to the gully, and found that my tracks were completely filled back. I half zombie-walked/half slid down the couloir and made it to the bottom. My legs were hurting and I was alone and I was cold and I was tired and I was mentally kind of broken from being stuck in a bit of a storm at the top. Then I saw my trail through the willows had filled back in again. I made a really bad decision here. Instead of retracing my steps, I decided on a new route that seemed more direct and easier to follow. Oops. After postholing in absolutely diabolical snow up to my hips for about an hour, I was almost too tired to carry on. At one point, I unknowingly stepped through a thin sheet of ice and directly into some freezing cold water. That was a nice addition to the day. I finally made it back to the Bierstadt trail and cursed my poor decision making skills.

All of that was enough to make me really tired, desperate and sad, but none of it was bad enough to warrant its own post. The really bad part happened when I was hiking down. The sun was beginning to set, I was out of food, my water bottle was frozen shut, and I barely had anything left. In fact, I thought I had barely anything left at the top of the couloir, so I must have been on empty for a bit. When I came to the top of where that little avalanche bypass trail through the woods is, I couldn't find it. I looked for a bit, yet I didn't see it. Confused, I decided to just jump over the little fence on the side of the road and hope to find the trail. BIG mistake.

I almost immediately realized what had happened: the earlier mini-storm had filled the trail through the woods back in, leaving me with little idea of where I was. I wasn't sure what to do. I had made an awful decision, and I was standing up to my belly button in soft snow on a very steep slope that seemed to go on forever. I felt stuck. If I went up, would the slope slide? If I went to my side, would it slide? If I went down, would it slide? I didn't wanna move. I didn't have any energy to plow through the powder. I had no idea where the true "trail" was.

I decided the best idea would be to go downwards. I don't know why I chose that, probably just because it seemed like the easiest thing to do physically. I started going down, and it only got worse. I started to panic. Not like an "oh s**t, I messed up" panic, but a real panic. I actually thought I might be in danger of dying. I was paralyzed.

Eventually I managed to calm myself down and I aimed upwards for what I thought was the trail, and I was right. It hadn't filled back in, I had just failed to see it. I felt like a complete moron. Not only had I made a super dumb and obvious mistake, I had seemingly risked my life in the process. And for what? To dejectedly eat a frozen Kit Kat on a random point on a ridge while lamenting my inability to make it to one of Colorado's most-summited peaks?

I made it back to the car and I was scared, humiliated, and beyond tired. I considered the idea that maybe the mountains just weren't for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the mistakes I had made were largely things that I could have controlled. More patience, more awareness, and better decision making could have saved me from that whole experience. In a way, looking into that part of my heart was a bit thrilling. But it wasn't the thrill that made me go back and summit Evans two weeks later, it was the fact that I thought I could improve upon myself, learn who I was, and become a safer person in the outdoors.

And all of this was from a solo day on Mt. Evans! Who would have thought!
76dorihe
Posts: 20
Joined: 6/21/2017
14ers: 45
13ers: 3
Trip Reports (1)

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by 76dorihe » Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:51 pm

Hired a guide to climb Keiner's Route on Long's. 1:30 am start. Just after leaving Lamb's Slide, nature called. No wag bag. Sorry, but I POOPED ON BROADWAY. My apologies.
76dorihe
Posts: 20
Joined: 6/21/2017
14ers: 45
13ers: 3
Trip Reports (1)

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by 76dorihe » Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:54 pm

Hired a guide to climb Keiner's Route on Long's. 1:30 am start. Just after leaving Lamb's Slide, nature called. No wag bag. Sorry, but I POOPED ON BROADWAY. My apologies. :thumbdown:
Attachments
image.png
image.png (1.07 KiB) Viewed 1066 times
User avatar
CaptCO
Posts: 1769
Joined: 7/14/2019
14ers: 58 14
13ers: 45 1
Trip Reports (5)
Contact:

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by CaptCO » Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:57 pm

76dorihe wrote:
Sat Apr 03, 2021 6:54 pm
Hired a guide to climb Keiner's Route on Long's. 1:30 am start. Just after leaving Lamb's Slide, nature called. No wag bag. Sorry, but I POOPED ON BROADWAY. My apologies. :thumbdown:
Hahahaha I’m just gonna stay quiet
"It's a thing if you want it to be a thing. What others think of something is irrelevant." -OldSchool

Proof is in the progress, patience is essence; I’m crazy as a fox

"The future no longer belongs to my generation"

DM @Capt_Alec for nudes
User avatar
Will_E
Posts: 247
Joined: 8/14/2018
14ers: 58 45
13ers: 84 2
Trip Reports (11)

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Will_E » Sat Apr 03, 2021 8:00 pm

benmangelsdorf wrote:
Fri Mar 12, 2021 3:43 pm
Since winter climbing season seems effectively over and I have had plenty of time to sit around and reflect on this experience, I feel that I may as well share it.

Near the end of this past January, I decided I wanted to climb Evans from Guanella. It seemed safe to me, I was familiar with the environment I was going to be in, and it didn't seem all that physically challenging. I had some new snowshoes to help me out in the willows, I had mapped out my route as well as I thought possible, and I was going on a Sunday, meaning that there would be plenty of other hikers around in case something went bad. The weather looked good, and I went for it.

Things started to go poorly pretty quickly. I forgot my hiking shoes (nice, right?) and had to turn back to Boulder when I was nearly in Golden. Got them, then got stuck in awful ski traffic because of the late start. Arrived at the parking lot and started the hike up. I left the Bierstadt trail and immediately realized that there were more clouds than I had expected. Oh well, I just wouldn't get a sunburn. I took off through the willows and realized there was a ton of fresh snow I hadn't anticipated. I broke trail and exhaustedly made it to the base of the steep gully I had to climb, and then I saw that there was a ton of snow there. I went up and arrived at the top without a ton of energy left, but I figured I must be close, right?

I decided to check on the clouds, and it looked bad. I hiked for a bit and then effectively found myself in a growing whiteout. I should have bailed then, but I decided to try and wait it out. It parted a bit, so I hit the Evans ridge. The only problem was that I got on the ridge proper rather than hiking below it on the actual trail. Running on fumes, I topped out what I thought was Evans... only to realize that I wasn't even on West Evans yet. Sigh.

The clouds were building back up, and the traverse over to Evan itself looked awful, and I knew I was too tired to keep going even if I had wanted to. I turned around, got to the gully, and found that my tracks were completely filled back. I half zombie-walked/half slid down the couloir and made it to the bottom. My legs were hurting and I was alone and I was cold and I was tired and I was mentally kind of broken from being stuck in a bit of a storm at the top. Then I saw my trail through the willows had filled back in again. I made a really bad decision here. Instead of retracing my steps, I decided on a new route that seemed more direct and easier to follow. Oops. After postholing in absolutely diabolical snow up to my hips for about an hour, I was almost too tired to carry on. At one point, I unknowingly stepped through a thin sheet of ice and directly into some freezing cold water. That was a nice addition to the day. I finally made it back to the Bierstadt trail and cursed my poor decision making skills.

All of that was enough to make me really tired, desperate and sad, but none of it was bad enough to warrant its own post. The really bad part happened when I was hiking down. The sun was beginning to set, I was out of food, my water bottle was frozen shut, and I barely had anything left. In fact, I thought I had barely anything left at the top of the couloir, so I must have been on empty for a bit. When I came to the top of where that little avalanche bypass trail through the woods is, I couldn't find it. I looked for a bit, yet I didn't see it. Confused, I decided to just jump over the little fence on the side of the road and hope to find the trail. BIG mistake.

I almost immediately realized what had happened: the earlier mini-storm had filled the trail through the woods back in, leaving me with little idea of where I was. I wasn't sure what to do. I had made an awful decision, and I was standing up to my belly button in soft snow on a very steep slope that seemed to go on forever. I felt stuck. If I went up, would the slope slide? If I went to my side, would it slide? If I went down, would it slide? I didn't wanna move. I didn't have any energy to plow through the powder. I had no idea where the true "trail" was.

I decided the best idea would be to go downwards. I don't know why I chose that, probably just because it seemed like the easiest thing to do physically. I started going down, and it only got worse. I started to panic. Not like an "oh s**t, I messed up" panic, but a real panic. I actually thought I might be in danger of dying. I was paralyzed.

Eventually I managed to calm myself down and I aimed upwards for what I thought was the trail, and I was right. It hadn't filled back in, I had just failed to see it. I felt like a complete moron. Not only had I made a super dumb and obvious mistake, I had seemingly risked my life in the process. And for what? To dejectedly eat a frozen Kit Kat on a random point on a ridge while lamenting my inability to make it to one of Colorado's most-summited peaks?

I made it back to the car and I was scared, humiliated, and beyond tired. I considered the idea that maybe the mountains just weren't for me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the mistakes I had made were largely things that I could have controlled. More patience, more awareness, and better decision making could have saved me from that whole experience. In a way, looking into that part of my heart was a bit thrilling. But it wasn't the thrill that made me go back and summit Evans two weeks later, it was the fact that I thought I could improve upon myself, learn who I was, and become a safer person in the outdoors.

And all of this was from a solo day on Mt. Evans! Who would have thought!
That’s a rough day, but a good reminder of how things can quickly go south in winter. Glad it had a happy ending.
User avatar
coopereitel
Posts: 45
Joined: 8/5/2019
14ers: 36 2
13ers: 16 4 1
Trip Reports (1)

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by coopereitel » Sat Apr 03, 2021 9:44 pm

I crossed tips today. Took an L =D>
User avatar
Conor
Posts: 1004
Joined: 9/2/2014
14ers: 41 6 6
13ers: 41 1 1
Trip Reports (7)

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Conor » Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:04 am

I attempted timpangos via timpanooke. Easy class 1, 4th of july and i had a time i was supposed to be home by. There is a switch back early on with a sign right in the middle pointing the correct way to the summit and the correct way to the falls. Of course, i didn't see it on the way up.

I went to the falls in my haste. And then i decided to climb up them. I could then see headlamps of people across a flat on the correct trail, but i was now all wet. And the shoes i had the laces came untied more easily when they got wet. And i was highly upset at myself. I started bushwacking thru scrub oak and i felt my shoe come untied. But i was in no place to stop and tie it.

I went to take a step and my shoe got pinned in some branches but it was too late. My foot had to come down because i was off balance. I felt a sharp pain. I found my shoe, got it on and eventually made it to the nice trail. I decided to limp another 4 to 5 miles to the summit and then back down.

Insult to injury was when I got to rocky ridge after the trails converge i was about to crap my pants. So, i found what seclusion i could and took a crap about 20 ft off the trail. Only a young couple, most likely on a date, walked by. About 5 minutes later a well meaning kid was trying to be supportive and told me "keep it up, you're almost there!"

On the way down i found the sign in the middle of the trail that i most likely had to step around to end up at the lower falls. I went to the hospital and got 15 stitches in the bottom of my foot. My wife was also pissed at me for a month for missing family festivities. There's a pic in my trip report linked below. I spent 3 days trying to clean the blood out of my shoe, but they had to be thrown away.

https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine
User avatar
Jorts
Posts: 455
Joined: 4/12/2013
14ers: 21 3 1
13ers: 60 12 5
Trip Reports (6)

Re: Part II: Personal Blunders in the Mtns

Post by Jorts » Sun Apr 04, 2021 6:30 pm

Conor wrote:
Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:04 am
Insult to injury was when I got to rocky ridge after the trails converge i was about to crap my pants. So, i found what seclusion i could and took a crap about 20 ft off the trail. Only a young couple, most likely on a date, walked by.
Laughed out loud at this. I can relate. I've been above tree line, seemingly alone having not seen anyone all day, only to have the first party turn up while I'm ass out 30 feet off trail fully exposed and vulnerable.
Traveling light is the only way to fly.
IG: @summityinzer
Strava: Brent Herring
Post Reply