Peak(s):  Mt. Evans  -  14,264 feet
Date Posted:  07/06/2011
Modified:  07/08/2011
Date Climbed:   07/05/2011
Author:  nomadelmundo
 Betrayed by Best Friend - Mount Evans (West Ridge from Summit Lake)  

It's so rare that my wife have a day off from work these days and on top of that, she wants to do something with me. So the night before, both exhausted after putting the kids to bed, I mention that we can go check out Mount Evans and try to summit it being a pretty easy one. She's like, "sure." I am too tired to be excited, but I am. It was this time last year that I started doing 14ers, this will be the my lucky #13 and a dozen for Maximus, my husky-sherpard mix.

I figure since one can drive all the way up to Evans, I did not do much preparation the night before. After getting up, I check out "canuckcowboy" report, and looks pretty. I print out the West Ridge route starting from Summit Lake, figure it's only 5-6 miles roundtrip, which = 3-4 hours. Got some water, snack and Max eagerly jumps in the back of the Outback. We leave Monument ~ 830am after the nanny takes over the kids' care at 8am. I know, I know... it is a late start, especially when the weather report says 70% of thunderstorm AFTERnoon. Better hurry!

There's no traffic going through Denver.. on the road to the trail head, just had to be careful of not hitting any cyclists. Echo Lake looked pretty and a good place for a family picnic.


The drive was beautiful up to Summit Lake. My wife was not enjoying much as slight fear of height had gotten hold of her. We start our hike after 10am. There were signs everywhere saying "DOGS MUST BE LEASHED AT ALL TIMES." Thank God my wife had brought a leash for Max, because rangers were also everywhere. Don't worry buddy, soon as we are in the trails, you will be set free, I told Max as we started our hike. BTW, it's $10 per car to access the roads beyond Echo Lake.

It was a sublime day, low 60s, partially cloudy and almost no wind. I was glad to be soon away from the tourists in the parking lot trying to get a signal on their cell phone.


Quickly the trail turns into a class 2. Max always takes point.


While the wife takes the rear.


A mountain goat momentarily checks out Max from above, Max was oblivious or he might have investigated the goat may not end well for him as he's more likely to be hurt by the goat's horn.


We come across a chasm of some sort and the view looks awesome, I ask my wife to take a picture, which she does but then freaks out because of the dizzying drop-off.


Few more minutes, the class 2 becomes slightly complicated with some scrambling, the wife asks me how long would it take me to reach the summit. I'm like, oh oh... "probably 1.5 hours, but no worries we can go slow... " she says, "why don't you go ahead and I am gonna head back because I am so tired and I still have to do a PT test tomorrow and I don't want to screw up my knee..." There's not need to convince her anymore, once her mind is made up... well, I know there's no point in convincing her the otherwise. Besides it's already 1020am, time is wasting! We agreed that no matter what, we'll rendezvous at the summit which she will drive up in the Outback and greet us there. At least, I thought, I don't have to hike down... my poor knees are stil recovering from the Tough Mudder just over 1 week ago.


Max leaps forward thinking he's a mountain goat.


Soon we reach our first clearing, the view towards north was awesome.


The trail some times can be obscured by boulders and rocks, but Max was able to follow along the carins after some redirectioning.


The summit looks not too far away, but far enough. I was glad I didn't have to start below the tree line. I hate getting lost in the woods.


Max finds a patch of snow and falls in love.


Sometimes, I can become very superstitious on these hikes, especially when I am the only one on the trail today... This is the unlucky #13, and now it's around 11am and looking towards Grays and Torreys, I can't shake off the uneasy feeling of dark clouds rolling in. Better hurry but these newer Teva boots are starting to bother my heel more and more.

We reach the saddle and the sky gets even darker, and chill sets in. Then few drops start falling from the sky, almost as a warning calling for my retreat. I am glad the wife has turned back earlier, because she would turn here anyways.


Dark clouds and rain do not bother Max as he investigates a chirping marmot hoping for a playmate (revised from: "give chase to a chirping marmot" due to forum readers who thinks a husky is a natural born hunter that terrorizes wildlives.) He still acts like a little puppy sometimes even though he's 6 years old and weighs 50 lbs always wants to play.


By now, I have been fighting my right heel's blister for almost an hour and am pretty sure it has ulcerated already... it becomes annoying with each step especially going uphill. Of course, having underestimated this particular hike, I left my medical tape at home, so just have to suck it up and keep going. I am thinking that I am at least 1/2 way there.


I briefly go off the trail, which happens a lot when I am taking photos, almost scrambling up Mt. Spalding instead of following the cairns along the west ridge. After retracing my steps, I see Mt. Bierstadt getting plummeted with a dark veil of angry wetness. Have been there and done that. Last year, which was our 1st 14er and Max did not go. The plan then was to summit Mt. Bierstadt first, then traverse via Sawtooth to Evans. But after getting soaked by good sized hail and getting lost in the mist on Bierstadt, we decided to call quits and said yes to life. Anyways, I feel rain and hail pounding on my flesh now. I have no choice but to take my jacket out of the daypack. At least I brought a jacket, right?


We reach some difficult class 2 here, made harder by the wetness causing slipping havoc on while scrambling. I notice that Max was no longer taking the lead and trailing behind me. That's never a good sign. Animals have a good six sense. I figure it was the difficult big rocks which he always have difficulty jumping up... let's face it he's a husky and they are not built for leaping but for endurance. I turned back again to find he's now 20 yards below me. Then it happened! He gives me a mischievous grin and starts running the other direction! I should have named him "BOLT." I yell, whistle, throw rocks & cuss! But it was no use especially competing against the powerful crescendoing thunder roar. Now, Max always gets freaked out by sound of thunder even at home, so I realize out here it was no different. He's running back towards the parking lot to see mommy, well at least in his mind. And come to think of it, we have never encountered a thunderstorm on our 14er summit attempts... except the blizzard up on Sherman few months ago, but then again there were no thunder! Also, we were usually on the trail before sunrise and off the summit before 'noon. But it's only 1130am, and the weather man's wrong again, because the precipitation is 30 minutes to soon...I am not ready for it yet! I realize that I am at a point of no return. I know that we are almost at the summit, probably just few more switchbacks, and backtracking to Summit Lake would actually be a longer hike and perhaps a more dangerous one with the added slipping factor when going down hill. And not to mention, logistically my wife will be at the summit waiting for us, and I had no way of getting hold of her. So I chase after Max fast as I could and finally catches up to him after his several more attempts to outrun me in the wrong direction. I thank the heavens after I catching up to Max otherwise I would be posting on to see if someone had spotted my wolflike dog. We loose a good 30 minutes in this hide and seek pursuit. I am so glad that my wife had brought the leash, which I now secure to Max's thick neck and we go on a forced march. Several times he almost pulls me off the mountain trying to go the opposite way. Damn husky!

We reach the touristy summit parking lot at 1220pm. My wife is already there, she is happy to see us. We are glad to see her. She took a good nap in the car and her mood is now better. Hail has now reached its peak furry now, and a dozen bikers shiver underneath a shelter and most tourists are in their car. I force Max to take a picture with me as I place the camera on 10 sec auto-shoot mode, because no one is walking around like an idiot in this pounding hail at 14,000 feet to take any foto for us.


It gets cold quickly at 14,000 feet, freezing my ungloved hands. Usually, I always pack a neoprene glove for these summits, but who knew? However, there's still remains the summit to reach from the parking lot. My wife kindly refuses to accompany me to the summit as she swears seeing lightening earlier as Max lays comfortably in the hatch smelling like a wet goat. So I go solo.


At the summit, beyond the east ridge you can see Mt Bierstadt, Torreys and Grays in the distance (left to right respectively). The dark angry sky adds a nice 3D texture to the photos.


Conclusion: I am used to being abandoned by my wife on these 14ers hikes, some times as the height, rolling thunder, or fatigue that spooks her out. But I was appalled when my best 4legged friend, my trusted companion also bailed out on me today! What a traitor! But now I appreciate the sign ""DOGS MUST BE LEASHED AT ALL TIMES" because sometimes they can act like a cat and do its own thing! All in all it was a fantastic day and no matter how hard or easy each 14er is, they always teach me an invaluable lesson, and today's was: sometimes an act of betrayal maybe a sense of loyalty.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice Hike
07/07/2011 00:28
Glad you stayed safe.


"Amat Victoria Curam"
07/08/2011 17:54
thanks @ arianna2, another lesson learned & good to be dry
agreed @lordhelmut & presto that one should never under estimate any 14ers and always stick with the same rituals & know when to retreat
@ JA_son27, let me know when y'all be headed to antero again
@ Doctor No, yes they are
@ rickinco123&Unbelievable: WOW! yours comments & opinions are dutifully noted, and I applaud you for being the champion for the marmots, and other like-creatures. I am sorry for offending you and others who may read this post. However, perhaps you never had a husky or a dog for a pet, but I assure you that my husky, although looking like a white wolf, has no hunting instinct and only wants to investigate other creatures and to play with, much like a 3 year old son that never grows up. Perhaps I should leash up my children all the time too or let's really leash all hunters for they actually chase, capture and kill wildlives and ban guns all together. When that happens, I will be the first one to leash my dog at ALL the time to make you guys proud and happy... until then I'll be bear the shame of being called ”you fool of a took.”


Not to sound like a d**k
07/07/2011 13:36
But when a canine is exercising his ”6th sense” and bolting down the mountain to avoid thunder and lightning, its probably a good sign to take his lead. With the growing number of deaths and accidents on 14ers the last couple years, lightning has been directly and indirectly linked to most of these. We've all been in those situations, but Mt.Evans is no peak to test the waters. Its an easy summit to obtain and calling it before the s**t hit the fan might've been the better decision, since you could hike this at any given time, unlike other more obscure summits. I'm no messiah of climbing, but its gotten to the point where, in such a rapidly growing hobby, the odds of something going wrong will obviously increase, so I feel compelled to say my peace, instead of selfishly sitting back and watching the death toll skyrocket, chaulking it off to Darwinism.

Again, I'm trying to convey my concerns in a civilized manner, given the recent events of June, don't take them as a chastising, but rather a genuine concern for other peak baggers.


Nice report!
07/07/2011 14:41
I'm glad everything worked out for you! My wife and I turned around at 13,100 on Antero on sunday due to boiling ”Greybottoms”


The weatherman is wrong again ...
07/07/2011 19:49
Because the precipation is 30 minutes to soon! You've got to take this act on the road ... too funny. I'm in the same camp as Lordhelmut (but, different tent ) regarding the weather. Clouds and conditions in the photos above are nothing to toy with. Thanks for posting. Happy trails! (oh, and beautiful dog by the way)

Doctor No

Your best friend had the right idea
07/07/2011 21:12
I had a Siberian for fifteen years, and I can't remember once where his instincts were wrong.


Wet Blanket
07/08/2011 14:42
I take no joy posting a negative comment but your dog chasing wildlife is EXACTLY why your dog needs to be on a leash. Maybe its best the rangers just ban dogs all together.


07/08/2011 16:54
Your dog should not be chasing wildlife you fool of a took. Put him on a leash.


07/08/2011 18:28
Does it bother you at all that you are breaking the law? Does it bother you that other hikers who go up there to enjoy the wildlife have their day interfered with because you chose to break the law?


@ rickinco123 when the law is unjust...
07/08/2011 19:28
*please let the 1st innocent cast the stone... to answer your question: no it doesn't, just like when I hit 66mph on a 65mph posted highway... laws are set by few to rule over the many, by those who thinks man owns everything and others must conform to those standards, desires and other words let's leash'em up and take away their freedom... when were the dog owners ever consulted on these so called ”laws” when it was enacted? so now it comes out that you really don't care about the CHASING of the wildlives but just don't want to be harassed by dogs on trails... that I can understand, hey not everyone likes dogs, that's cool. But not just say so & please go home and leash your cat ... BTW there were no other hikers, and when there are it's usually the other way around when humans who come over and pet my husky usually brightens their wonderful day ... just remind me who you are by wearing a tee-shirt that says ”LEASH YOUR DOG” if I ever see you on the trails, so I'll be sure to stay out of your way and not interfere.


07/08/2011 20:06
When were the dog owners ever consulted about such leash laws? Hmm. When were the speeders ever consulted about such speed enforcement/laws? The leash law is there for a reason guy. Oh and I would probably eat your dog in a pinch, just saying. I do enjoy their company too though. You realize that a momentary lapse of judgment can cost your life in the mountains, right? Shouldve turned around with your wife. Nice photos, don't hate me because I call it as I see it.


Off-leash dogs
07/08/2011 20:10
I've was knocked over by a friendly dog on Bierstadt years ago. Next time, I am going to knock that friendly dog's ass off the mountain instead of me taking a tumble. No offense to the dog, but it's him or me. And he doesn't know how to read the trail regulations so it ain't his fault. It's his owner's...the dog has to rely on his owner to do that.

Oh wait, his owner can't read them either. And is justifying his lack of ability to read as well. Fantastic.


Decision Making
07/08/2011 20:08
The dog debate aside, if I recall correctly you were the one who did a snow climb of Quandary without water or enough food. Now you're climbing into a summer thunderstorm. I beg you, in the nicest way possible, to please, please, please start making better decisions. You're not only putting yourself at risk, but also the other hikers and SAR teams that have to come to your aid. I don't want to read about another death, especially of a father of two. The summit will always be there.


such love on the forum
07/08/2011 20:53
Thanks to those who are concerned and mean well... as my report shows that I have learned a lesson. In fact, I don't take Max on any hikes > a class 3 because of his inability to scramble, unpredictable nature of and having additional responsibility of watching out for him. That much have been said, the leash law in national parks has history less than 40 years, but they have been with mankind lot longer than most of have been alive.. if you truly studied history @flintster, you would realize how the ”law” came under effect and still much controversy exists...


07/13/2011 20:40
This site is full of people searching for the smallest thing to be concerned with and lecture you about. I loved every part of this report. A lot of you people are little more than boring, attempting to keep the reins on anyone who has any spirit of adventure at all. Yeah people die, all the time, constantly. You're not saving anyone by bitching at them. Why don't you go to Darfur if you're all such humanitarians.

”Next time, I am going to knock that friendly dog's ass off the mountain instead of me taking a tumble.”

Good luck with that, guy. This is about the stupidest thing I've read in a while.

”Does it bother you at all that you are breaking the law? Does it bother you that other hikers who go up there to enjoy the wildlife have their day interfered with because you chose to break the law?”
Does it bother you that you're such a nag? Does it bother you that you're dull and uninspired?

”please, please, please start making better decisions. ”

Please please please mind your own business, people do what they do and you're not the caretaker of the internet.

My apologies if this response wasn't called for by the original poster but its frustrating to read all the stupid ass complaints of total strangers on any post thats not squeaky clean. There's a difference between being reckless and making mistakes and the OP, clearly, is aware of this distinction.


Great pics
07/17/2011 13:48
I am looking forward to climbing Evans at the end of this month and your report gave me a very good idea of what to expect both timewise and as to the dificulty aspect. Your pictures are wonderful as well. It will only be my 6th 14er since I have only been hiking since last July. As for the coming prepared issue, it is a really good lesson you learned and something many others can and should take heed to. Even on a mountain with a car accessible summit, 14ers are not things to be toyed with, for sure. Thanks again for your post and giving me a good idea of what to expect.

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