Peak(s):  Eagles Nest A  -  13,420 feet
"Pk C"  -  13,220 feet
Date Posted:  11/27/2013
Date Climbed:   09/06/2013
Author:  docjohn
 Late Summer in the Gore Range Part2: Damage  


The morning was cool, the sky clear. My cereal went down, the caffeine providing pharmacological support. I moved up
the Kneeknocker trail east, slowly stretching out, absorbing the aches from yesterdays ordeal.
Peak C

The sun gleamed on the walls leading to the Powell-Cataract Creek pass and I felt the warmth. I topped the pass and
looked up at the ridge leading to Eagles Nest.

Looking South at Pass Cataract Creek to Kneeknocker Basin

Lower Slopes of Eagles Nest

As I understood the route descriptions, the key was to get up to the low point, then scramble to the summit. I thought I
could see the way, but the low point was hidden from this southerly view point.
Steadily I traversed over talus, under some giant boulders, then a likely gully. This branched, I took the right. I met the
ridge--nope this wasn't it. I moved down and took the left brach, wider and indeed! a trail, kinda. Up it I climbed, past a skinny
area. Up on the ridge I saw a cairn!. This is it, great!
Nope. Sheer cliff to the east, below me, the ridge toward Eagles Nest dropping, but armed with several towers. Not right.
What's with the cairn??
Down again further, over to another gully, up it all the way and... nope wrong again.

Not the Route! Complicated Ridge Structure Eagles Nest

But I could at least see the low point about an eighth mile away, after that a veritable walk up to the summit. But the drop
down about 600 ft, traverse over to the correct gully and up should take about another hour, then the summit. It took me about
thirty seconds--not today.
So back the way I came, only I decided to go through and over the huge boulders. And there the awful happened. Somehow
on a chimney stem maneuver, my camera case opened and out dropped two thousand bucks of camera gear, down four to six feet
onto granite and into the cracks between the blocks.
I got to a flat spot, ate and drank. The day was nice, the clouds fluffy, no wind and I broke if not lost my digital photography
equipment, los...,er off route on Eagles Nest. After a bit it was time to attempt a camera rescue. I dropped down onto another set
of blocks, traversed under where I dropped the gear, and LO! the camera was sitting on a ledge in the shade! A little further down
sitting on a rock was the ultrawide lens, intact, dented! I safely stowed them, and returned to my sunny flat spot. The filter on the
lens was dented, the camera had a scrape, both lens caps were gone. The camera turned on, took a frame, the on-camera lens worked.
I put on the ultrawide and it worked!! I looked around, was I being punked?

This shows why you use a filter on a lens

So with that near miss incorporated, I moved on, enjoying the hike back up to the pass.

Peak C from Pass South to Cataract Creek Peaks D E F Distant

The scenery of Peak C was great and I took a lot of frames. The walk down was all on grass, then I met the climbers trail back to camp.

Rain Begins Northern Sawatch Distant

It rained again,I ate, did all those things one should do in camp and went to sleep.
Okay, the third day. I survived the ordeal to Peak G and F, the near catastrophe on Eagles Nest; I can do Peak C. Again a blue
morning, up the basin, south up the easterly gully to 12000. A minimally defined traverse over to the Peak C couloir went smoothly.

This is Why You Should Climb Peak C on Snow

In the shade all the way, I labored up the scree and talus. There were two or three spots needing some third class, then the
top in the sun.

In the Sun Peak C Couloir

4th Class Slabs Out of Peak C Couloir

I took the fourth class slabs up, and worked up to a ridge point. Is that the summit?

Not Peak C Summit

Can it be that easy? NO! there's another ridge point, carfully climb it, drops either side. Then what I consider the crux.

Difficulties Below Peak C Summit

Not mentioned in any of the guides or on web sites. A six foot drop, not protected, the summit cairn visible forty, fifty
feet away. Fine, I pivot on a belly roll, mantel myself down slowly, where my feet hit a nice four inch hold not visible from above.
A hop, skip and a jump and I take pictures from the summit.

Summit Cairn Peak C

I figured that I was on borrowed miracles, considering the last two days of misadventure. I reversed the route, making the
moves slowly, and descended to the couloir. I took the east side bypass instead of downclimbing the slabs. Down the narrow
couloir, out in the sun again, easy traverse over to the access couloir.

Mt Powell

Pass South of Kneeknocker Basin

The views of Mt. Powell and Kneeknocker basin were great, the sunshine hinting at the autumn rapidly coming to the high country.
I more or less slide my way back to the climbers trail to return to camp. And I meet two climbers. Its 11:00 or so and they carry a
rope. We trade tales and move on, I am surprised I could talk intelligibly, three days out.
I break camp quickly hoping to be back at the truck without getting wet. I follow the climbers trail all the way to the Piney River
trail, passing the other climbers camp. There are people at the river, I don't care. I seem to be moving steadily, the clouds are building,
thunder is heard.

Middle Ripsaw Ridge Peak F to the Right

I pass a hiker, watch out for a moose and her calf down the trail he says. I wave and smile, nothing can stop me on my mission: get out alive.

Here It Comes

Calm before the Storm Piney Lake, No Moose

One mile from the parking lot, lightning begins. A party at the lake lodge is underway, camera flashes popping. I count seconds
between lightning strikes. Just as I see my truck, two hundred yards away, the time is down to one second. The wind suddenly blows
as I smell the rain. I run to the truck, find my hidden keys, open up the back and slide my pack in as the downpour begins with a final
crack of lightning. I launch into my drivers seat, slam the door, trying to settle my breathing and listen to the raging of the cloudburst.

Peak C Before the Deluge

Maybe I would be safer if I hiked with the shooters on holidays and worked on weekdays like regular people. Maybe not.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

11/28/2013 15:12
Awesome Docjohn! I still need Eagles Nest! Don't know how many times I beat the rain, but at least once where I got caught high in the basin, not fun!

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