Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Date Posted:  07/08/2008
Date Climbed:   07/05/2008
Author:  Mooney Pilot

 Cody and Dad‘s Excellent Adventure  

For my son Cody's high school graduation present, I promised to take him on a mountain-climbing adventure to Colorado. I picked Mt. Yale because there is a paved road to the trailhead, and reports indicated it had less snow currently than some other 14ers. So on July 5, we arrived at the trailhead bright and early. Cody was eager to tackle his first 14er:


Initially the trail is very wide. Two hikers can easily walk side by side:


Be sure to take a right at this sign:


After the turn, the trail narrows but remains easily discernable:


At the first stream crossing, Cody asked how we were going to get across. When I told him we'd walk across on these logs, he thought I was kidding:


We were impressed with the well-maintained trail:


At the second stream crossing, Cody didn't hesitate:


Just as you break past the tree line, you will see the fallen remnants of a log cabin:


The summit comes into view shortly after tree line:


As we continued hiking past tree line, I noticed that Cody was having difficulty keeping up with me, which doesn't happen at sea level. At around 13,000 feet, he said he was getting dizzy and had a slight headache. I recognized these symptoms as the onset of altitude sickness. He agreed to descend back to tree line and wait for me at the log cabin, but insisted that I keep going. The weather still looked good, so I kept climbing. Here's a view of the summit from about 13,000 feet:


As I continued to climb, dark clouds started to build over the summit. People descending were picking up the pace. They reported seeing lightning at a distance from the summit.

I had traveled many miles from Livingston, Texas, to Mt. Yale and was less than 1,000 feet from the summit. But after much soul searching, I decided to turn back. During my descent, I looked back to make sure I hadn't made a mistake. This view confirmed my decision:


Cody was waiting at the log cabin as agreed and was in good spirits. It was a good thing that I turned back; it started to rain shortly after Cody and I began our descent. We both were drenched by the time we returned to the trailhead. Nonetheless, it was an excellent adventure for a father and son to share.

A few thoughts in conclusion:

1. Altitude sickness is a curious thing. Cody and I share many of the same genes and live at the same elevation. He can mow the yard much faster than I can. Yet he got altitude sickness, and I never have. Go figure.

2. The weather forecast called for the proverbial 20% chance of rain. I previously have climbed four 14ers, and this is the first time that I have been soaked by a steady rain. That 20% chance will catch up with you sooner or later.

3. It's OK to turn back.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Good decision
07/08/2008 22:17
to turn around. It looks like you had a good time despite not summiting. I climbed Yale with my wife and a friend on the 5th and we made it back to the trailhead at 1:30. It hadn‘t rained yet, but the clouds were very threatening. What time did you get soaked?

Mooney Pilot

A Good Time Despite Not Summiting
07/09/2008 01:22
I turned back at 1:00 p.m., so I‘m guessing that the rain started around 2:00 or 3:00. It was a slow, steady rain, and we had hooded jackets, so we still managed to enjoy ourselves.

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