Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Date Posted:  08/03/2008
Modified:  08/04/2008
Date Climbed:   07/30/2008
Author:  droidly

 Redcloud Freeway  

This was to be our group's first 14er. My wife and I left California on July 27th and met my brother and his family traveling from Price, Utah on the 28th in Grand Junction, CO. We arrived in Lake City around 4pm amid a massive thunderstorm. We were afraid this was a bad omen…. however we apparently brought California weather with us as we experienced perfect weather for rest of the trip!

We rented a cabin north of town and after settling in we prepared for the week. Tuesday morning we drove up to the Silver Creek and American Basin trailheads to scout out the conditions. The road was in great shape, although the stretch to AB was challenging but we were able to drive to the upper trailhead. We returned to Grizzly Creek and hiked in about two miles in order to acclimatize. We all had no difficulty and were anxious to get started!

Wednesday morning we got up at 3am and made it to the Redcloud trailhead by 5:30. There was a group of 14 guided hikers who had already started ahead of us.

5:30am at the trailhead...
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Still dark..up the initial slope...
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Starting to lighten and still climbing...
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This is the view as you leave the forest...
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From a distance you're seeing the first avalanche field..
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This is destruction downstream of the avalanche(photo taken on descent)...
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Another view of the avalanche from above(photo taken on descent)...
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This is the second avalanche field which is much larger...
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Looking up towards the first talus field..
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A shot from the north end of the basin looking back at Handies...
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This is a beautiful shot of a seasonal lake at the end of the basin...
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Chug chug up the hill..don't follow the erosion path...
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FINALLY the sun breaks over the ridge...
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Up on the saddle we take a well deserved break...
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Looking up the start to the summit...
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At the 'false summit'... looking down the trail.. feeling a little vertigo at this point...
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Okay..this is it.. the final push!
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Looking up to the summit...
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I dedicate my first 14er to my good friend Kurt Luhrs who passed away from ALS several years ago. Kurt was my friend and mentor who was an exceptional teacher and athlete. A world class gymnast and climber who conquered peaks in Colorado, Washington and Europe, Kurt unselfishly dedicated himself to training young people and his loss is great to the climbing community. I dedicate this hike to Kurt and his wonderful wife and two children. God bless them.
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The group takes a snoooze....
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This trip was quite amazing and much more challenging than I had imagined. As I was struggling up Redcloud I recalled two quotes from 14er members that resounded with me. Forgive me for not remembering the posters names but I found these two quotes to be very true ( and I paraphrase):

"…the only way to train for 14ers is to climb 14ers…"
I trained and climbed trails here in SoCal, but nothing could complete my training until I actually climbed a 14er. The distance and altitude were something I couldn't anticipate. After finishing our second 14er we finally felt semi-prepared!

"…cardiovascular training is important, but climbing is about endurance…"
I could not imagine how hard the final two miles were from Redcloud. It was a killer. I brought a gallon of water and drank every drop. I was so exhausted that I could hardly sleep that night. The overall exertion was something I have not experienced. Handies was much better as I was relatively coherent at the end, but still… the two climbs were very consuming.

My hat is off to all you climbers who consistently hike these peaks. On top of Handies we met a group who was doing 14 14ers in 14 days. I was amazed! I could not do that. I was barely able to do two 14ers in three days! As we were climbing we met many people who powered past us like they were rushing through the mall…. I bow to your athletic skills! It is much harder than I anticipated and I have a great respect for you dedicated climbers who tackle these mountains every weekend. It is hard to do!



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