Peak(s):  Blanca Peak  -  14,345 feet
Capitol Peak  -  14,130 feet
Castle Peak  -  14,265 feet
Challenger Point  -  14,081 feet
Crestone Needle  -  14,197 feet
Crestone Peak  -  14,294 feet
Culebra Peak  -  14,047 feet
Ellingwood Point  -  14,042 feet
Grays Peak  -  14,270 feet
Etcetera
Date Posted:  05/27/2020
Date Climbed:   02/08/2020
Author:  blazintoes
 50 Shades of Spray   

Although inspiration is for amateurs, this TR Yikes Winter 14er Anthology inspired the amateur in me because after all I've accomplished on the Colorado misty mountain tops I haven't lost the art of listening. Humility was learned along the way and I am a forever student. Do you hear them calling? After all these years, me too.

There are no rules in Freedom of the Hills but there is an honor and reverence for the classy human powered strong way to scale a mountain. Getting bit by the 14er bug summer of 2012 while blazing up Quandary as the Colorado 14ers Initiative-CFI was working on the trail one worker bee said to me, "there are no easy 14ers". Perhaps she saw my naivety but oh contraire. There is a great sense of pride when topping a mountain the most challenging way under your own power and there are also easy ways like snowmobiles or trench poaching but there is also the best right way. Sometimes I took the bait and went easy, sometimes I just got lucky and a few times I've been rather proud. Unlike Yikes story that lists the peaks in order, mine will be listed in titled chapters because each year had its own unique story. The point of this story is to talk about when a chapter closes especially one we have loved a while, it can feel like the book is over, that there is nothing left to do or live for but it’s what made me who I am today, which is not who I was a few years ago and it’s easy to take for granted or underestimate my capacity to reinvent myself. We are who we pretend to be and have the ability to adapt, when one door closes another will open.

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Little buddy!

Time is like a flowing river, you will not touch the same water droplets twice. It is non refundable and I have spent a lot of time in the last eight years in the mountains but not once have I thought, well that was a waste of time except that time I hit an elk going 65mph on highway 285.

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Elk Smash

The evolution of alpinism began competitively because that is how my brain sees every athletic endeavor. As an adolescent competitive endurance runner with grit, that thought process is hard to break. Colorado is a fun playground for a competitive athlete and the 14ers website provides perfect breeding grounds for the ability to showboat and compare. The petri dish is easy to get sucked into and the lists begets further lists and entrapment ensues. While searching for purpose the arc of my story went from a competitive athletes dream playground to mastering technical skills to a false sense of confidence because success was often high, to a heyday and greed that fostered fearlessness to sadly being nailed to a cross then a long period of doubt therefore I might be to the great comeback and finally to just being satisfied with mediocrity.

Writing all this is to inform that being able to come back after significant injury to me is a greater accomplishment than climbing all the mountains in the world. As a patient with lack of control, immense fear and incredible helplessness; when injured in a deep way one contemplates suicide but I prevailed. I feel it's not what we go through but how we go through in life that makes a difference. As Bob Dylan said, life is not about finding yourself or finding anything, it's about creating yourself and about creating things. Truth. But to me life is about creating things with the people you love. Climbing now after my accident the end lesson I've learned is how I'm insignificant and I feel this not for sympathetic purposes but for learning about ego, my ego. Climbing mountains is easy and is not that hard considering someone with brain damage and considerable handicaps can do it. And although I haven't been fired or divorced yet, I want to be happy but first I must be strong. This is a story about my accident: Like Riding a Bike

Of the few lists I've been enslaved to, this one is about climbing the winter 14ers and I am the 15th person and 2nd woman to do this. Many of them I did solo because it's hard hanging out with a sober obsessed peak bagger. I love climbing mountains and the metaphorical mountain I climb along the way is my life long lesson. Rather than living in the injury and becoming my diagnosis I decided to set an intention to overcome fear. Why do I climb? Mountains challenge me mentally, physically and emotionally in a way few other experiences in life do. We live in a constant state of daily comfort with temperature controlled rooms, heated car seats and hot coffee available on nearly every street corner. While climbing I deal with a constant state of discomfort and learn to control the hierarchy of needs so I can safely get up and down the mountain while working with all that is weak, lazy and fearful within. Climbing significantly changed my life for the better and continues to do so. The skills I've acquired, the places I've been the few people I've shared these experiences with over the years have allowed opportunities to satisfy my spirit. We were made to do this!

2012 Ignorance is Bliss

During a bike race over Memorial Day weekend from Durango to Silverton I was mesmerized by the San Juans along the million dollar highway, which I had never seen before. Whoever jumps at the right time usually wins the race. Distracted, I didn't win. The following month my husband Marc and I drove back to southwest Colorado for some mountain biking. While having a beer at the infamous True Grit Café and chatting with the bartender about the Dallas Divide he said, "that is Mt. Sneffels, it's a 14er" and I asked, "what's a 14er"? He informed about 14ers.com and a drug addict was born. One quickly learns that climbing 14ers is merely an acceptable level of discomfort and while looking in the mirror, I always know a masochist when I see one. In less than 12 months I had completed the list, met two climbers I still call my friends, completed the Colorado Trail via bike and hike then acquired the Centennial bug and was quite naive about everything including what it meant to be a snowflake. 2012 was an easy snow year, aka a 'non winter' and while working through the list I'd occasionally convince Marc to join me. We completed and failed a few times with Elbert, Blanca, Uncompahgre, Crestone Needle, Democrat, Gray's, Torreys, Antero, Castle, Conundrum, Evans, Longs, Sneffels, Pikes, Bierstadt, Shavano, and Holy Cross. Obsessed I completed the failed missions and kept going.

12/21 Mt. Lindsay with Marc. Our first winter 14er together. We took the north couloir up in just microspikes and scrambled down the northwest ridge. On the way up I loved pushing the pace because it feels good to go fast in the mountains and also it afforded an opportunity to be a competitive jackass so when I happily called down below, "What are you doing down there?" He sharply screamed back, "I'm climbing a fucking mountain!" Payback was around the corner. On the way down the ridge, moving as fast as I could sweating my brains out while waiting for him I sat shivering in place and could not control the shivers. A mild case of hypothermia that he noticed and told me to keep moving. Also, improper clothing and equipment would have made an emergency impossible to deal with. But did I learn?

20019_31
He climbs

12/23 Pikes Peak via Barr-Pikes is secretly my favorite 14er because I see it every day from home and it always looks so proud. I've hiked up it many times, won a road bike race up it once, mountain biked up and down it with Marc, encouraged aholle88 to MTB up it too even though he cursed me on the way up. I've technical rock climbed and scrambled the beast, pounced up the Y couloir but this day would be my first winter camping trip solo because Marc likes camping at the Marriot so he bought me a Spot device in case of an emergency. How do you get water, sleep comfortably, stay warm or go to the bathroom? I learned.

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My favorite 14ers

12/25 Mt. Harvard before Christmas dinner. My family had no idea and they didn't really care. Like MadDadMike mentioned after completing my last list, "Are you ready for all of the fame and riches that come with being a Frozen 14er Member? Just kidding...there is none of that. But don't worry, your friends and family will be really impressed and will love hearing your stories. Kidding again...they will pretend to care and can't possibly appreciate what you went through to get here. Good thing we don't do it for any of those reasons." Horn Fork Basin is spectacular blanketed in snow. No bears, no bugs and no people. I was able to drive to the summer TH and blast up the summer route in microspikes and that's because I had no idea about crampons or an ice axe. It was a warm winter day and the reason Harvard was orphaned after going up Columbia in summer; when I looked down the connecting ridge, I chickened out. My pictures are terrible because I had a Nokia 3310 phone at that time. This was my 41st 14er and my ritual was to do that many push-ups on top.

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41 push ups

2013 Making Friends

1/5 Mt. Bierstadt Sawtooth to West Evans solo. I read about an I Man group on the forum that were planning on the Sawtooth in winter and thought I should join them but was not bold enough to invite myself. Instead I decided to head up a couple hours after they did with just my microspikes. After fighting with the willows down low because I didn't own snowshoes I watched two big black wolves chase and flank their prey then launch and attack a snowshoe hare, which was invigorating to see. Once on top there were two young guys dressed in their homecoming suits and ties that asked me to take their picture. Perhaps that's when Instagram was acquired by Face Book? I warned them about the wolves and then they told me about the guys that headed down the Sawtooth and when I looked over the ledge I could see their tracks. Feeling smart and bold I thought if I hurried maybe I could catch up? At Blazintoe speed about half way across all of a sudden I had no traction, twisted and suddenly was on my back sliding downhill careening toward the aptly named Abyss Lake. I hammered my heels back and forth into the snow hoping I would stop and suddenly a foot stuck. My heart stopped and the awareness of my idiocy now finally catching up so I dug both feet in, took off my backpack, sent a Spot then put on my microspikes. I looked up, pulled out my GPS and noticed I'd fallen 110' and went 18 mph. Not fun. On the way back up I punched holes into the snow and crawled back to the top of the Sawtooth then thought there's no way I'm catching those guys now. On the way to West Evans I could see tracks down and out Evans' west ridge that would head back to Guanella pass. Once on West Evans I had a feeling that Marc's grandma Dora died and she was there watching over me. She had been sick and hospitalized for a while. If there are angels, Dora was one of them and I felt like she was flying high that day heading towards heaven. I remember shouting toward the sky, "bye bye sweet Dora, I'll miss you". On the way down West Evans I saw bighorn sheep and a snowshoe hare hopping over the frozen tundra. They are big furry white bunnies and I wondered how it's big fat butt didn't sink into the snow as it clumsily hopped about but perhaps that's how fate fell short to the wolves, hopefully that doesn't happen to me I thought. The worse part of the tracked out descent was occasionally I'd punch through and down low I'd punch through every 2 out of 10 steps. I drove home and Marc made chocolate chip cookies and those were the best cookies I've ever had. Warm, gooey and sugary. Then he told me that Dora had passed and I said, I know. I reported the wolves to the Colorado Division of Wildlife and you can that do here. A ranger called me about a week afterward and said they get a lot of these but my story seemed plausible and I had GPS coordinates so they investigated but informed there are no wolves in Colorado and what I saw was a hybrid coyote so I replied, "then a coyote and wolf mate"? He laughed and assured me that I did not see wolves. He then asked what kind of protection I carry and I replied none so he encouraged me to get an air horn because it scares all wildlife. He's right 'cept for the marmots aka The Mountain Devil, which aren't afraid of anything. Finally I suffered from drop attacks for months after reliving the fall down the Sawtooth.

20019_07
Sawtooth

1/19 Mt. Sherman with Marc. After I confessed that I fell down the Sawtooth Marc bought me a Grivel G-1 mountaineering axe from REI. What kind of husband would get the gear and encourage his crazy little wife to go out and play? A good one. We decided to test it out on Sherman but really the only place on the entire mountain to do that was on the summit but I felt and looked so dang cool! Sherman was busy that day with 20+ people heading up. On the way down I practiced sliding on the ice that built up on the road and jammed my axe into it but had no idea what I was doing. Feeling like a kid on the slip n' slide I definitely could've been an essential team member on the ascent of Shermapangma.

20019_04
Shermapangma try outs

3/2 Grays Peak was another busy day and a small group was heading toward Kelso ridge. A younger kid in the group decided he was in over his head and chose Gray's instead. I convinced him to follow me and to stay out of avalanche terrain so we veered down low into Steven's Gulch and post holed to hell. We had the summit to ourselves and it was very cold so we didn't linger. On the way out we crawled on top the willows and didn't punch through as much. The snowshoe hare taught me that trick.

20019_58
Snowshoe Hare

3/15 Humboldt Peak via Rainbow trail and east ridge solo. I still didn't own snowshoes and after this trip decided it was time. My first pair were from Costco. Puffy clouds rolled in and I could't see so I waited on the ridge until weather cleared then watched a mountain goat launch at me. They are agile and can climb up and down cliffs that are inaccessible to most creatures. Maybe I should learn to climb I thought as I studied the Crestones from the top.

20019_02
Don't give up. He comes the sun!

That summer nearing 14er completion I met Tony Angelis on Capitol then the very next weekend met Joe Jarosz on Wilson Peak and I still climb with these two amazing people I call friends. Joe and I completed 3 of the 4 great traverses together that summer and I did the Crestone traverse solo. Remember the dance off competitions? I had one on The Needle, dancing with myself, my 14er finisher and I didn't win that competition either.

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Dancing with myself

2014 Fat Bike craze

After the 14er bug comes the Centennial craze and any time I could duathlon it with my mountain bike I would. I've biked up and down quite a few and with winter coming it was time to fatten up.

1/18 Quandary Peak east ridge I joined a 14er winter opener, learned all about snowflakes while hoping to make friends but it was very windy and miserable on top. Besides I just bought a new fat bike and wanted to play with it since Quandary was the first mountain I biked up in summer but there were way too many people to contend with during the winter opener. On the way down I ran into a coworker and over the summer together we helped build part of Gray's trail with CFI, he was training for Denali and it was good to wish him luck. He's all brawn and a lot of brains since he's part of our IT department and probably knows how many times I'm surfing mountain porn. I asked, he smiled and I haven't been fired, yet. When I got back to my car, I took my fat bike aka Fatso out for his first ride up Mt. Silverheels and was thankful for the rock shelter on top to hide from the wind. The ride back down got my gears rolling, so the next day...

1/19 Mt. Elbert with Fatso solo. I fell up and down the mountain much more than I biked and can't believe I dragged Fatso all the way to the top but I made a cool descent video, wrote a poem and posted a TR that attracted FireOnTheMountain because he likes bikes almost as much as I do. Even though getting snowflakes was addicting, I was more addicted to bike racing, got hooked on Fat bike racing and was Colorado state champ that year. Winner!

20019_55
Fatso is a Red Bull Champion!

The first time I rode a fat bike on snow I convinced myself that I was capable of fantastical feats like going up and down Mt. Elbert.
T'was 10 days before Christmas and all through the house
'Tis the season to imbibe and indulge then feel like a louse
Whiskey and brownies, wine and cheese go down without a care
In hopes that my neglected fat bike "Fatso" forgets I am here.
While sipping on Malbec and tending to my coq au vin
I merely needed little inspiration to stop the binge.
Near perfect conditions cause bikes and gear to clatter
Fine, I'll spring from my bed to see what's the matter.
Away to snowy mountain tops I flew like a flash,
Tore open the hatch then mounted Fatso with my fat ass.
The marshmallow look of the soft trodden snow
Sent thoughts of soft landings to my body below.
Ice crystal clouds warn of later wetness to appear
Be swift now there must be reason no one is here.
Where is everyone on the eclectic day?
Hey, hey, hey who wants to play?
With no special talents, just unrelenting curiosity
I blaze the trail in no record breaking velocity
On legs, on lungs, on Fatso, Let's go!
Nearing the top enveloped in abhorrent snow.
With 4 psi in front and 6 in the rear
I dash away knowing the end is not near.
To abscond with a rigid fork that rattled my brain
Down Mt. Elbert my numb fingers scream I am insane.
The soft pillowy snow,
Caused a whipping to and fro.
Laughing hysterically, child like on my fat bike
An adventure orthogonal to a mere hike.
A falling barometer and south wind cry
A setting sun behind fluffy clouds waves goodbye
The road is near,The silence is clear.
Alas, safe and sound once again,
In the morning I'll remember why I'm in pain.
Meticulously clean the rust from my gears,
While scheming and dreaming of future plans for next year!

3/17 Blanca solo. Hoping to get one more snowflake I biked up Como road until snowline, stashed the bike, and scared myself scaling up the summer route with crappy snowshoes when a storm rolled in and I was blinded by snow. I sent several Spots but Marc was watching his fancy pilot RADAR at home knowing I was caught in the storm and also wasn't getting my SPOTS so he called SAR. I was thankful to have a GPS because the storm filled in all my snowshoe tracks and I followed the orange track line on the device on the way out. Once I found my bike and on the descent the storm passed and I could see the SAR vehicle with lights flashing looking in and around my car. Once there I explained myself and called Marc. Some solo privileges were temporarily revoked.

20019_67
Do you see my tracks? Me neither

Tony to the rescue. My new friend and partner who taught me that there are friends there for a reason, a season and a lifetime. He met me early that spring to climb the Apostles and that was my first time on crampons. Tony is an old school alpinist and the first to solo the Bells traverse in winter. Rock and Ice article He's a patient teacher and taught me the fundamentals of alpinism. After traversing the Apostles west to east, learning footing techniques in crampons, glissading, plunge stepping, self arresting and scrambling; I was hooked. That summer he also taught me traditional climbing and that opened a whole new chapter in my crazy little brain. But his real passion is free soloing that teaches complete calm and peace, which seems counter-intuitive when putting it into words. I've soloed all the centennials Dallas Free and many other climbs.

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Friends for a lifetime...schwing!

2015 Learning Winter Mountaineering

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Free solo days

1/17-2/15 Pikes via Crags, Sopris, Maroon Bells training, Bierstadt, Quandary. The beginning of the winter I repeated some climbs for training. Repeats are a treat. Also Tony taught me winter mountaineering skills all along the Bells and also ice climbing; now a new addict was created.

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Snowbells

3/19 North Maroon with Tony and I swore I would never hike up that damn road again because it is a baton death march. We saw Abe and DadMike's tracks along the traverse but we didn't have time to traverse and make it back by the end of Winter Solstice but still was quite proud of getting up this monster in proper winter conditions.N Maroon TR

Over the summer I rock climbed a lot, finished the Centennials, broke my foot and made some more friends.

20019_56
Fetter Foot

12/27 Evans solo duathlon and biked to summit that was very cold and windy but not for the herds of elk and sheep, they love the snow. Conditions report

12/28 LaPlata solo and again it was cold and windy. Once on top there was another climber on top and I wondered how he got there because I never saw him on route. He was building little rock cairns and I shouted "hello" but with the wind he couldn't hear so I flanked him and waved my hands when he jumped 10 feet high. I scared the crap out of him and we both doubled up in laughter. He asked me to take a picture of him then pulled out a flag that I've seen in many trip reports for Shylah his neice. I jumped up and down and said, "it's nice to finally meet you MadDadMike, yay!" We blitzed down the way I came up, exchanged numbers at our cars and would have many adventures together.

2016 Year of the Unicorn

1/1 Bross/Lincoln/Democrat/Cameron solo got a late start, was teased by some snowmobiles that asked if I wanted a ride but I didn't take the bait and since they were playing around Kite Lake I decided to go up Bross first, connect to Lincoln via Cameron then finish on Democrat and down Buckskin ridge, which is an awesome efficient winter route.

1/2 Shavano and Tabeguache solo via the Angel with freshies that two skiers glided up and down. How I envied their mode of travel when I broke my cheap snowshoes on the way down and post-holed all the way back to my car.


20019_05
Full send

1/3 Mt. Massive and North solo. Worried about not having snowshoes and no way to fix my conundrum I had plans to meet Snow Alien who I climbed Peak 15 with over the summer at the Fish Hatchery for Massive. I mentioned my snowshoe debacle and with her on skis didn't think I'd be able to climb but she said there was a group that went up yesterday so it should be tracked out. On our way up we met Mickeys Grenade and he agreed I shouldn't have a problem but then asked if we were also going for North Massive and still a bit naive I asked why. I learned you're not a true snowflake finisher unless you also get North Massive because Aron Ralston did it. Ugh. She got North, I got both.

1/7 Yale solo out n back. DadMike suggested MSR Lightning Ascent snow shoes and they are awesome except when you post hole in them. One too many post holes later in the warm slushy snow below I screamed "Fuck you" not realizing I had an audience as another hiker sat idle watching my ungraceful ways. He laughed, I laughed then waddled back to the car. The rime ice that day was mystical.

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Rime is beautiful

1/23 Torreys via Kelso ridge wtih Trabucco and a couple of his friends. Fire asked me the night before what I was doing over the weekend and I sent him my forecast, cloudy with a chance of meatheads. That was my first and only time taking pictures with a Go Pro (not mine). The whole day was definitely not my style.


20019_06
The Bros

1/29 Princeton solo It was so windy that day when I got my bike out and ready it flipped over in parking lot so I drove to Buena Vista thinking of calling it quits and called Marc to tell him now I know what it means when said youth is wasted on the young. He encouraged me to be smart so I drove back, biked up the road and crawled to the top at sunset. "Tag, you're it" I said as I slapped the summit, sent Marc a Spot then hiked down to my bike and that was the best downhill fat bike ever! I never stopped or used the brakes and did it in the moonlight. Super fun and smart!

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LIttle Miss Smarty Pants

1/30 Kit Carson and Challenger via the Pencil couloir, down Kirk Col up KC's north ridge and finally down Outward Bound couloir. This was really stupid, I knew it was stupid and I never wrote about it because it was stupid. The only reason I didn't die is because of the spring like snow conditions and the only reason I was able to day trip was because I had my fat bike, Willow creek was tracked out and I could see tracks going down the Kirk Col but I don't recommend this route in winter for obvious avalanche potential reasons. Unfortunately success on the route build up a sense of ten feet tall and bullet proof mentality, which was exactly what I needed for Snowmass.

20019_39
You big dummy

2/13 Snowmass and North with FireontheMountain and DadMike in 20 hours. Was this the first ever winter day trip of Snowmass? Snowmass TR

2/21 El Diente to Wilson solo 21 hours. This was the loneliest day of my life. I upgraded to the DeLorme tracker, which is now Garmin and Marc usually sent encouraging messages but was busy flying all day and couldn't send any. At least I could focus because I knew this was going to be harder than Snowmass. I regretted not getting Wilson Peak knowing I'd have to drive all the way back here and do it again but it was smart to leave the cherry unpicked. Weary eyed and stupefied the next morning while getting gas for my long solo drive home, I drove away with gas hose still attached to the car. Whoops. Wilson Traverse

2/27 Antero solo I could only bike two miles up the road because freshies on fatties uphill sucks but there were faint tracks along the route and I glissaded 1000' back down to Baldwin Gulch and had a fun albeit short fat bike down.

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Nice guys don't finish last Alec

2/28 Pyramid with Monster5, DannyG23, and Mojah. The Maroon Bells were busy this day with a group going up the Bells and Monsters group going up Pyramid and since FireontheMountain ditched me I got to meet and climb with the A Team. DannyG and I sang songs then he asked what are you singing so I told him 'Can't Feel my Face' by The Weekend and he said well you sung it so bad it was impossible to tell but that's probably because my face was frozen, regardless DannyG is a funny guy, Monster is a fast guy and Mojah is a super nice guy. We celebrated with beers later in Aspen and I marveled at all the imperfections that were simply perfect. Perfection on Pyramid TR

20019_40
My friends take better pictures

2/29 Castle and Conundrum solo I biked up to Ashcroft then forgery is flattering so I took the northeast ridge up because DadMike is right, it's a 'fun, avy-safe, route with a mix of rock and snow that doesn't exceed class 3...a nice winter alternative to the boring standard route.'

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Forgery

3/4 South Maroon via Bell Cord solo with Fatso. I'm not proud of this one because I knew the Bell Cord was tracked out and also I wanted to do the traverse but to put a notch on the headboard I biked up the road and uneventfully got up and down safely. Somedays you're a hero but that day I felt like a zero.

20019_72
We can do this the easy way or the hard way

3/6 Missouri, Belford and Oxford solo I started at 11pm wanting to watch sunrise from Belford and Oxford then traversed over to Missouri via Elk Head pass thinking I could get on the east ridge but it was tedious so I dropped down and picked up the ridge from Iowa Peak tagged Missouri then came down its northeast ridge that was quite enjoyable.

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Belford Sunrise

3/12 Longs with FireontheMountain in 9 hours round trip via the Trough and he says we cheated because it was a glorious sunshiny windless winter day, hooray!

20019_09
Cheaters

3/18 Little Bear, Blanca and Ellingwood solo 10,229' vertical and 21 miles at 21.5 hours. I biked up to 10,000’ then went up the hourglass and brought some flowers for the top. My friend Tom Dimler who lost his mother said she liked reading my trip reports so I decided to decorate the top for her. The traverse over to Blanca was fun and fast and I never had to use any gear except my spiky things. I didn't stay on the ridge to Ellingwood because I remember there is a notch in the ridge that I was unsure of. The trek out was fast because there were about five people out that day tagging various peaks but I was the only one who did the traverse.

20019_59
For you Mrs. Dimler

3/19 Crestone’s 8577’ vertical 15 miles in 16.2 hours with Furthermore and Mojah. I thought the A Team was fast until I pretended to keep up with Furthermore. My legs were a bit tired from yesterdays traverse and I was glad to have Mojah there to talk to, unfortunately we had another cloudy with a chance of meathead forecast on top of the Peak but parted seas down the Red Gully. Crestones TR

The summer was amazing and the fall was a fairy tale. My body was there for my abusement. My climbing resume was on Operation Warp Speed but on November 9th while riding my bike home from work an 85 year old woman hit me from behind while going 40 mph and traumatic amnesia prevents me from remembering. However there was dignity in making my new body work and stop feeling pity while stewing on regret. Every time I crossed the line during any endeavor I justified a new normal. I commuted to work on the same road not suited to bikes for so long so many times and had a superiority complex thinking I always had the right of way. Even if I were riding on that road lit on fire, the driver would have never seen me and I'll never know what really happened. I didn't deserve to get run over by a car but I strongly believe that I would be dead by now had I continued to push the limits. Mountains to climb

20019_42
Petroglyph Trail Tattoos

2017 Older and Wiser

The first time I got to ride a bike post accident my world came crashing down. Marc set up my fat bike for my gimpy body and watched me like mother hen. I saddled up thinking I could blast off twisting the pedals round and round and feel the desired burn in my quads. Instead the freedom I cherished, the independence I relished, the strength and power I remembered vanished. Stripped of all magical powers but the mental capacity to know what I used to be able to do shattered my heart and soul. I put the bike down, walked into our house and cried my brains out. How am I ever going to be able to ride or climb a mountain ever again? Feeling like someone took me apart and put me back together the wrong way I became a compensatory master and refused to give up. If I learned how to walk again then I can learn to ride and eventually climb again. Believing the original poison is often the best medicine I went out nearly every day to either hike, bike or climb to teach my new body how to move while respecting my limitations. Joe came out that summer and I repeated Dallas and Thunder Pyramid. I climbed a lot with Fire, Mr. G and a new friend Victor. Also I got on the bike as much as I could and eventually started commuting to work again and celebrated my one year anniversary with Marc at the spot where I got hit. Eventually I became strong enough to go snowflake chasing.

20019_50
My favorite peak bagging buddy Joe!

12/21 Capitol solo via Capitol creek. There was a trail head post that said with good driving you can get to the summer TH and I did. Starting at 3am I was able to fat bike up a few miles and got to Capitol Lake at daybreak which was a treat and I was committed. I ignorantly chose a bad line up to the Daly Saddle but there wasn't much snow. I stayed on the ridge because the winds were light and once at K2 hammered in a piton and backed it up with a cam, single rapped the crux with a biner block and left the rope to prussik back up to salvage all my gear. This was a very long miserable lonely day and I hated every minute knowing I was doing it just to complete a list. I wondered why this mountain gets so much attention? Then I learned that the climb didn't count because I started before Winter Solstice, which just infuriated me and proved my point that Capitol doesn't deserve this much attention just because it's an arbitrary high point.

20019_36
A Cap in my ass

12/22 Wilson solo via Rock of Ages with my bike. I was tired, started late but I know a secret way up and I'm not telling. Secret route

20019_22
Alright then. Keep your secrets.

12/23 Huron summer route with Fatso again and finally had a super easy day. But I still wasn't hooked on snowflakes, yet.

20019_17
Generation snowflake

12/29 Vestal with the A Team. Monster, Fire and DadMike teamed up and I pondered if I could get the snowflake Centennial bug. I've been up Vestal 3 times now and each time with amazing people and that's what I remember most. TR

12/31 Chicago Basin and Jupiter solo. After success on Vestal on the hike out together at the Elk Creek and Animas River junction; heaven was on the right, which is the way the boys went and hell was on the left. I veered left and hiked a few hours until I found a suitable tributary spur off Needle Creek where I could chisel through the ice to get to the flowing water. Housekeeping chores solo in winter is a lot of work so by the time I made camp, filtered water, readied my backpack, made a fire and ate dinner it was time to zip up my bivy sack. I set off at 3am and made good time up Needle Creek when I ran into another climber coming down the trail. I was elated to see someone else so early and shouted, 'good morning' and they walked by like I wasn't there. I pinched myself and wasn't dreaming but made it to Chicago Basin much earlier than anticipated then decided to hike up Jupiter staying on the west ridge. This was my third time on the mountain but I was able to see Twin Lakes. Furthermore and DannyG were there a couple days ago and are the first to get the Spire in winter. I could see tracks all over the basin, which made my solo work relatively easy. Thank you gentleman! But I wondered who I saw at 4am? I decided to finish with the Eolus' and once on top of North Marc sent me a DeLorme message that read, 'remember where you were a year ago and now look at you. I'm so proud. Keep going little Skrat!' I balled my eyes out. A year ago I was in the emergency room with a hip fixator, a paralyzed right leg and a mild infection from the external rods drilled into my pelvis.

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No more scaredy skrat

2018 Anti DIPSHITS

In 5 years who will give a shit that I climbed the Colorado 14ers in winter? Searching for purpose and meaning while peak bagging, riding, climbing and back to doing my thing without telling anyone or posting about it anywhere or what I call top secret weekend warrioring and it is seriously liberating in a way that I’d never considered it might be and I needed to live life for my own pleasure, not social media. The invitations I get are more sincere because the people who matter still get in touch. The old me used to post for self aggrandizement. Going out, taking pictures just to post and then immediately writing took away from living authentically. Last summer I could at a precise moment admit to myself that I was doing whatever I was doing solely for the bragging rights and I felt dirty. Brain rehab taught me to appreciate working hard on objectives that I never had to work on before i.e., me and my poor habits of believing I'm invisible and superior to scrutiny. I never felt a bond with any of my partners like I used to and kept wondering why I felt like a 5 pointed star trying to fit back into the circle then coined the term DIPSHITS =disingenuous ignoramous posers staging heartless instapraise tales of subterfuge. Anger and hatred are strong motivating forces too. I had some low points during the healing process and this year takes the prize.

1/7 Columbia solo I was able to drive to the summer TH and blasted up the west slopes light and fast without snowshoes and just a day pack. I felt good and thought this was a very nice winter route since I went up via the Colorado Trail in summer of 2013.

1/8 San Luis and Stewart again I was able to drive to the summer TH and put chains on the front tires of my car to get through the two sections of ice on the road. This was an amazing solo day. I felt good, was moving fast and decided to also tag Stewart peak via Baldy Alto remembering the awful time I had on these peaks summer of 2015 because of misdiagnosed giardia. The beautiful weather and an easy drive back home allowed me to scheme and dream of finishing my winter peaks.

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La Garitas have the 2nd best views

1/14 Culebra via Opeartion White Snake. The standard route was tracked out because Colorado was having another non winter allowing for many snowflakes to be captured. The summer route is serpigenous and I wanted nothing to do with it so made my own route straight up the north ridge. The main group stayed on the summer route and I could see one hiker who started late heading for me knowing I was their rabbit. I hate being chased so I turned and burned destined to not be caught. The Culebra range IMO is better in summer because the geology is marvelous.

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Operation White and Dark Snake

1/15 Ice and North Apostle via DadMikes tracks. On the 13th I was having a bad day, my legs felt like tenderized meat and feeling like a sled dog in Jack London's Call of the Wild I plunged into the willows and reverse osmosis swallowed me whole. Knowing the route was tracked out I went back for it and my consolation prize was hitting an elk going 65 mph on highway 285 that caused a bit of survivors guilt. Marc temporarily revoked my snowflake privileges.

2/9 Jagged via Vallecito I begged to go and had an unfortunate accident. TR

3/3 Holy Cross via Fat bike and slowly recovering from a bad case of whip lash I was able to bike up to the summer TH without dismounting once. Once Fatso was secure I made my way to Half Moon Pass where I met a nice skier named Jonathan and we chatted about an hour because he knew who MadDad and Blazintoes infamously were. I was still sore spiritually from the accident and talked about it just to hear myself think. People will never remember specifically what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel. We exchanged numbers but he never called and I don't blame him. An hour behind now and dealing with a case of frozen toe I made my final jaunt to the top at sunset. Marc sent a DeLorme message immediately that said, 'you know better than to summit this late'. I wrote back that I can continue the ridge and there's a hut on the other side. I got the the shelter at midnight but it was locked so I decided to build a snow cave to get some sleep so I could see the avalanche trap on the east side towards Fall Creek. I was glad to have daylight the next morning to navigate back to the trail rescue Fatso and had killer tailwinds on the way out.

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Holy Cross Sunset

3/9 Capitol via Moon Lake, I used Mr. G's GPS tracks and found Andrew Hamilton and ScreeSurfers tracks up. Why would I go up this peak that I loathe? Because I respect the rules but if you ask me which summit feels better, this is a rhetorical question.

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Mr. G knows things and sometimes he tells me

3/12 Sneffels and Teakettle solo with Fatso and this so far was my best winter 14er. I finally had happy positive thoughts that fueled me, soloed the crux and misty clouds enveloped me while marveling at the Dallas Divide. On the way out I had time and decided to blast up Teakettle and saw tracks. Who goes up here in winter? The warm unobstructed sun turned the road into a mud bath that trashed my fat bike and me on the way down and a construction worker asked for a ride and I shouted back, 'sure if you can catch me!' He probably could have because I had my handlebars turned backward. Operator error.

20019_18

3/17 Wetterhorn solo with Fatso and I felt like shit with tired legs moving too slow to contemplate both Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre as a day trip. Heading toward the prow and wanting to shed unnecessary gear, I cached my snowshoes and sticks. After the summit and looking down the final pitch it looks inviting to head straight down the west face then curve around back south in hopes that you can bypass all the rock ribs. Don't do this, ever. Sure I found an alternate way down and have the first official descent that I call the HTFU Chimney, which all happened before the invention of self esteem that is a bit overrated. The devil you don't know is almost always worse than the devil you do know. Staying true to myself, if there's a hard way to go, I will find it.

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First descent

The rest of the year and through 2019 fueled by rage and wanting to get my leader head back I made a trip to the Bugaboos with another one of my awesome partners Jared Bryant, played in canyons, did some stellar climbing with one of my best leads according to Mr. G on Cosmosis, climbed Hallets Chimney in full glorious alpine snow, rock water and ice conditions, did some bike packing, climbed in the Black Canyon, taught myself rope solo and aid (still learning), did the Grand Canyon R2R2R, repeated with Joe and Tom Cathedral and Grizzly, did the Tetons traverse, a 50 mile MTB race, Curecanti needle, swapped leads on Capitols NW buttress when I finally made peace with this mountain, and at last on my 3 year bike accident anniversary I swapped leads with Victor on Ruper in Eldorado Canyon. Micheal Levy was the biggest help and one of the best climbing partners I've ever had. If he hadn't convinced me to follow him up Hallet or the Tetons I might have quit. Thank you Micheal!

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My badass friend Michael Levy

12/24 Horseshoe etc with Zero visibility and had to give up on getting the entire ring of fire. This was a lame day and my right leg aka Elvis was doing a jig. My L1 vertebra had what is called a burst fracture. The Orthopedic surgeon had to vacuum chunks of my spine off my spinal cord which caused bruising and temporary leg paralysis because of the nerve damage. I think about my leg every day. An athlete understands cardiovascular pain very well. There is pain that you use and pain that uses you. Cardiovascular pain can be intoxicating and teach you how hard to push through the pain. Nerve pain is pain that uses you and something that is uncontrollable. My nerve regeneration process is much like an imperfection in an electrical circuit and sometimes I have bad days like today. I didn't trust Elvis at all and felt like it was tracking leftward even though I could look down and see it moving parallel and in line to the right but needed my brain to see this and compute the sensations. Since the weather was marginal and my leg was dancing I turned around at Peerless Mountain. Also, I had to work a 10 hour shift on Christmas in Urgent Care the next day. While at work I bent over to help a wheelchair patient and felt a sharp zing across my low back then the pain seared down my Elvis and inner thigh. I rubbed my low back all through my shift and a nurse asked, "hey, why do you keep rubbing your back?" I replied, "Oh I think I pulled a muscle" hoping this was the case. After a bottle of wine at my moms house for dinner and an Epsom salt bath that I couldn't sit in I drove myself back to Urgent Care at midnight and was told I had another disc bulge but this time we can be conservative and do an epidural steroid injection.

2019-Tough Times

Do you know the #1 cause of back surgery? Back surgery. Was it the bike accident, falling head first off Jagged, crashing my bike again and needing 5 stitches in my head (Hey get a MIPS helmet, they work!) or doing a max bench press or burning the candle at both ends all day long every day? My 5th cervical disc ruptured in October and I had to get an ACDF-Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion in November. I lost all my upper body strength and was told no climbing. I couldn't anyway. I was allowed to hike so I hit the Texas and Alabama state high points and also played around in Moab and Vegas but shhhhh don't tell my PT. After recovering from the steroid injection and neck surgery now 1/3 of my spine is fused and my mobility was limited but I could still hike then eventually bike.

2/27 Rogers via Fat bike reminded me why I love duathlons. We were having a stellar snow year and I was unable to enjoy it because of the back to back spine issues reminding myself you're only as strong as your spine. Take care of your spine. Soon after Rogers feeling desperate although we were having a proper winter with conditions on the CAIC website listed as black many times. The Hinsdale Sheriffs house got mulled over by an avalanche and I drove all the way down to Lake City to try Uncompahgre only to find this (see pic below). Avalanches never hit twice, right? Fool me once, shame on me. This was now my second time driving out to the San Juans to finish my winter peaks and getting shut down.

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Low hanging fruit

3/13 Oklahoma to Deer Mountain. Oh Deer. There's some tricky navigation through the Frying Pan Wilderness, which I've been through a few times and it was good to get my eyes on the six centennials in the adjacent areas. I have my bearings now.

20019_73

I worked a lot, played in St. George, was a tourist in Madrid did the 4 pass Loop with JQ Divide and winter was knocking on my door. I had to finish or I would regret this forever.

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I actually took a good picture

12/25 Bierstadt Hike before Christmas dinner and the snow felt like fresh frosting on stale cupcakes. This was quick and easy and I was reminded of the last time I did this in spring after my accident with my fat bike and it took 16 hours. I wasn't ready to solo snowy peaks 6 months after my accident. Too much too soon.

2020 Never Give Up

1/1Antero-With CaptCo. He was becoming the new 14ers bully target and I lent an olive branch. He's all ears when I mention to eat before you want to, drink when you don't want to and get ahead of the pain and cold because they take an immense amount of heat to rewarm all creating certain unnecessary energy drain. Conserve energy and economy of movement coupled with reasonable speed. He also respects when I preach that there's a time and place for lazy in the mountains and that time is never. We had a good time together. He has such a climate of appreciation for the environment and this always produces people who seek immersion in the wilderness. He drove and I battled the sleepgry demons. The older I get the more mad I become when I can't sleep when I want to.

2/8 Pikes-Ski and Quandary training

2/13-15 From Mill Creek I day tripped Red Cloud and Sunshine driving from work the night before doing the peaks on the 13th and driving home to work the next day. This was a very steep unenjoyable route. At least it gets the job done but it really did feel like work the whole time. Super lame and super boring. Also wallowing in snow down in the trees felt like swimming uphill going nowhere. The next week I finally finished! TR

Yep I drove all the way down there again and computed my driving mileage for getting the 14ers in winter: 22,338 miles in 50 trips and spent about $5,500 in gas. Oh and I had to buy a new car!

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Red Cloud and Sunshine

I'm still standing!

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Three and one year anniversaries

The biggest lesson when putting together this trip report is that I'm a poor historian with regret. Learn from me, Amy, the path of most resistance who knows that the intuitive mind can praise the mountains but the rational mind will have contempt for going up and down the stairs at home and I will probably have to go up and down twice because I forgot my socks. There were some low points to my recovery and I allowed myself to be fueled by anger and hatred because I couldn't do the things I used to do. I told myself to feel the feels meaning the primary feelings cannot be denied but do not act on them instead think of the next opposite feeling and act on it. There is value in documenting your adventures. There were so many shallow minded reasons why I stopped taking pictures, documenting, nixed social media and writing. Keep a journal, write everything down and organize you pictures. I spent weeks going through pictures and sometimes would look at one and have no idea what mountain it was also, I'm still not organized. Some writers on this site write good trip reports like Supranihilist, SnowAlien, Jay 521, WildWanderer and DadMike and some I wish would write more like Boggy B, Keifer, ScreeSurfer and RajZ06 and some I will miss like Gladbach and Dancesatmoonrise. Documentation is key!

Also, I haven't scared off Marc yet.

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Pseudosycophant with gas lighting tendencies

As 14ers makes its predictable arcs I've learned to treat it like Capitol Peak and set boundaries with the attention seekers, myself included. While I'm out there all alone climbing mountains and harassing wildlife I have deep thoughts about shallow things like why do we close open areas down for raptors? What about these little frogs? They seem more fragile than raptors who can fly. Isn't that speciesism?

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The earth, like the sun, like the air belongs to everyone-and to no one-Abbey

There have been many times I've been afraid but fear not kid, you'll move mountains! And I still have mountains to climb.

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The early climbs were endurance tests and I always found myself equal to them.

The greatest lesson I learned through my mountain climbing arc is adaptability.

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Quite spectacular to stand atop peaks and look out at all the peaks you've climbed and reminisce.

Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple. How can I get back on a bike when it almost killed me? Sometimes life is like a dirt road. Winding chattering washboards and sometimes they are silky smooth but the best therapy is taking a long dirt road to no where on my think tank at 15 mph pondering life. I still ride, I still climb and I still enjoy life because I get another chance to live. Believe what you may but I had a friend tell me I get to live again because God is not done with me yet!




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
aholle88

Documentation is Key
05/27/2020 21:04
Spoken like a true health care worker!

Awesome write up Blazintoes, very cool!


supranihilest

Holy !*%#
05/27/2020 21:17
Amy,

This is one of the best trip reports I've ever read here, and it's because it's not a trip report. It's a life report. As someone who, like you, is absolutely obsessed with climbing and the life changing, life giving effects it's had on me, so much of this spoke to me. It's funny that you wrote this in a similar fashion to Yikes' winter anthology, because his is one of my favorites as well. I guess it's the biggest, most difficult journeys we remember the most, huh? Thank you for this inspiring, heartfelt writing. There's something for everyone here.


Monster5

Amy Blazintoes.
05/28/2020 15:16
Read it all and appreciated it. Good to see where you've come from and where you're going - by bike, foot, or both. This TR wasn't all about yourself either; thanks for showcasing the value in partnerships between you, Mark, and all else.

PS I know whose footsteps you saw on Teakettle.


stephakett

I loved it
05/28/2020 16:16
This is such a great story- thanks so much for sharing!


mtngoatwithstyle
Amazing toes!
05/29/2020 14:42
Amy,
I do not know you personally, but reading your journey through Life and what makes you keep wanting to move ahead despite challenges resonates with me deeply. Thank you for sharing with us. My motto has always been Churchill's "Never, never. never give up". Happy trails!


seano
Hard core!
05/31/2020 12:57
Some of those trips, like the winter Vestal to Chicago Basin link-up, are truly hard core. Waking up in a bivy before 3:00 AM in the winter takes serious drive.

I also appreciate the honest writing. When you photograph and write about your adventures, it's sometimes hard to be sure you're still doing it for yourself.


FireOnTheMountain

Cheaters Always Prosper
06/04/2020 19:10
A life of mediocrity is a fine place to be Amy! Man, awesome memories you shared here, and stoked to be a part of a couple of them. 'Member when I ran into you at the col in Bugs, wtf, its Amy?!

Glad you healed up man and your outlook on life is just as fun and healthy, I think, as it was when I first met you. Climb (and bike) on Amy!


pcj127
Wow
06/10/2020 22:09
What an amazing journey.

If ever I need a sonogram I hope it is you, and I can be like "holy s***, blazintoes just imaged my kidney', and perhaps I'll be able to osmotically absorb some of this awesome.


Dad Mike

Boom
06/18/2020 16:09
First of all...thank you for giving me something to read on my 20 hour drive from Colorado Springs to Sacramento. I loved every word of it and so happy to have played a small part. If we didn't randomly run into each other on La Plata that day, I might not have this fun bump on my head and this awesome story to tell. : ) The days that we spent in the mountains together were some of the best I've ever had. I have such great memories from Jagged, Ellingwood Arete, Snowmass in a Day, and Winter Wham. Thank you for digging so deep into your journey and sharing it with us. And thank you for inspiring me. You are the biggest overachiever I have ever met in my life...and so humble about it. Some of the trips you pulled off were just insane...and that's not considering the leg you broke, head you cracked, spine you mangled, car you destroyed, etc. I said it once, and I'll say it again...Superwoman lives and her name is Amy.


Boggy B

WINNER
10/08/2020 13:04
I laughed pretty hard at this:

With no special talents, just unrelenting curiosity
I blaze the trail in no record breaking velocity


Love the photo collages, the humor, the honesty, and the growth. Future you will be really happy you wrote all this, too.


AnnaG22

What a read
12/19/2020 18:20
Thank you for sharing this anthology!


Sbenfield

Awesome
12/24/2020 21:51
Great report



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