Trip Updates

Posted June 12:

The drive from Nashville (June 6) was uneventful. We eventually landed (June 7) at the Crags Campground on the northwest side of Pikes Peak to begin acclimating. The thin air took its toll as we struggled up the easy slopes, but we did get to 12,600 feet and got to play in the snow. Jake loved it.

Afraid to sleep at over 10,000 feet on our first night out, we drove to Woodland Park and found a campground north of town.

On June 8, we got up and began our travels fairly early. Heading north on hwy 67 we eventually ran into 285, then went north on Guanella Pass Road to Bierstadt. The dreaded willows were in fine form with lots of marsh and mud. The weather was forgiving for our late start and we eventually made our way high onto the mountain. Though we were not intending to summit, we thought we would try, if our lungs would allow. We were able to get to the top and avoided a return trip to the mountain (or through the mud, muck, and willows). We now had summit 1, only 53 to go.

After the short climb we drove to Boulder to visit our friend Mark. On June 9, we hiked Green Mountain in the Flatirons, still trying to acclimate.

June 10, we rested and prepared for the real trip to begin. One of our major problems was our Yakima box was cracking. We could only speculate as to the reasons why it was cracking, but we had a major problem. We spent the day finding solutions to the cracks and then repacking.

We already needed to change our order of peaks due to the snow conditions. On the 11th we headed to familiar Leadville, to climb a few Sawatch Mountains while we waited for the thaw. Driving straight to the trailhead on Sherman, we started a late morning ascent in iffy weather.

A couple of climbers were coming off the mountain as we went up. They spoke of horrific conditions. We continued and eventually found what they were talking about. Strong winds, lots of snow, and a white out greeted us above the saddle. Soon we were very cold, but made the summit. 2 done, 52 to go, but Sherman was so cold it took its toll on our summer mountain clothes. We were not even at our official start date and had already taken a beating.

Going back to Leadville we went to Turquoise Lake where we found a camping spot as we licked our wounds. We took Friday, the 12th off to finish our preparations and, again, replan, for the real effort.

Posted June 21:

Jumping into the frying pan, on the 13th, we attempted Mount Antero. We actually decided to do Antero and Princeton first, because they are our least favorite mountains. With long 4WD roads, filled with noisy fumes, the climbs do not compensate for the roads’ nuisances. If someone wanted to do an easy route and drive as high as possible, then Antero and Princeton would be good answers; but then there is always Evans and Pikes too. We like to start at the 2WD THs.

There was a lot of snow on Antero but we made the summit amidst throngs of others. It was a crowded day on the short slopes.

The 14th was also crowded on Princeton. Jake lost a boot on the way up and everyone on the mountain joined in to help search and it was eventually recovered. Still not well acclimated, we climbed the snow covered rocks to the summit. 4 down, 50 to go.

Moving up the valley we headed towards Yale. Staying at the Cascade Campground we found the campground had new toilets but the water was extremely rusty and which we considered undrinkable. We ended up having to filter water from a creek so I guess the campground fee was to cover the new toilets? Leaving early on the 15th, we climbed Yale. Since our last visit to Yale, CFI had done some work on the upper slopes leading to the saddle which made an even better trail. The climb was very scenic, though cloudy. Soon we were on top and making our way down. Passing throngs of climbers in worsening weather brought out some candid memories. At least we did not read about a rescue.

Back to Crags Campground, we prepared to climb Pikes. As we approached the Peak from our parked Element we were surprised at the amount of snow on the slopes. Had they gotten even more snow since we had last visited?

Pikes was a hard climb due to the snow conditions with LOTS of postholing. Whatever kind of snow we wanted we could not find it. The upper ridge was very hard packed and Jake had problems trying to negotiate the slopes. Then we were on top. Hot coffee and doughnuts, tourists, trains, automobiles, and gift shops awaited us. Jake got his picture taken a few times and we were on our way down to posthole in the snow that had been hard pack just minutes before.

6 down, 48 to go.

Moving to Kite Lake we camped at the trailhead by the restrooms. Actually we sleep in the Element. Starting early on the 17th, we left for Mount Democrat. With the high elevation of the trailhead it was an easy mountain. Going quickly up the snow we summited and headed toward Cameron. After retracing our steps to the saddle we began the haul up the ridge. It is a great climb but we were still struggling with getting the right mixture of air. After Cameron's unofficial summit, it is an easy walk to the summit of Lincoln. Lincoln perhaps had the best of the three summits, small with a good view. From Lincoln we did the lengthy traverse to Bross (officially closed to climbing.) We touched the summit and raced down the hill. On a snow slope I tried a foolish glissade down a steep hard pack and dislocated my finger. We devised a splint and wrapped it slightly bent to ease the pain.

9 down, 45 to go.

Quandry was not far from Kite Lake. Soon we were taking up residence at the trailhead there. Heading off the next morning (18th) we soon found the familiar snow route. Above treeline was snowy, cold, and windy. We touched the top and descended. Living up to its reputation as a popular hike, the trail was filled with wanna be summit seekers, dressed in shorts, t-shirts, and some even in sandals. Hmm. I wonder if they found surfer girl?

We drove to Evans and found a spot to camp at Echo Lake. What a great area. On the 19th we drove up to Summit Lake and climbed to the summit from there. We had wanted to do the Sawtooth when we did Bierstadt, but that did not work as there was a lot of snow on the traverse. It was very cold and very windy. The water in our hydration system hose froze. We were not happy doing the short route, but combining the total of the two routes Bierstadt and Evans, we did 400 foot more elevation gain than on the combination using the Sawtooth and only a mile and a quarter less distance. Anyway, we counted it, though we would have liked to have had time to do another route later in the summer. In previous years, we had already climbed Evans via the sawtooth and it is a much more fun way to go.

After breakfast at the Echo Lake Lodge (ginormous pancakes!), we drove to Grays trailhead. We walked up the road to visualize whether the Element could climb through the huge ruts and holes. We did figure out a way to drive to the trailhead, but then that is not that amazing, there was a small Chevy car there as well!

On the 20th we started up Grays Peak. It was all snow above treeline. Surprised? Naah. I was beginning to get a blister in my lightweight boots. I am not sure if it was from the crampons, wet socks, or the boots, but it did hurt. The upper climb was cold, windy, and snowy. As quickly as possible we summited and left for Torreys. On the way down from the summit we were amazed by how many people were on the mountain. There were waiting lines on every route.

After Grays and Torreys we were off for Holy Cross. The drive down the hill from the Grays trailhead was memorable but easier than coaxing our poor Element up the road.

At the Half Moon trailhead for Mount Holy Cross we were met with rain. It rained through dinner, dog walking, and bedtime. Finally it stopped for a bit, before resuming. Our wake-up was at three, but we were awake at two-thirty to discuss the situation.

Most of the problems were mine. I had formed a blister on one heel over the last few days from the crampons or from wearing socks wet from snow and sweat. The blister had formed again and popped again. It was not nice. I was prepared to climb regardless but did not want to try the peak in the rain as it would have almost been assured that the third layer of my heel would blister. Another issue; my rain jacket was delaminating and I was not going to be able to repair it until an off day.

In the wee hours of the morning we decided to take Sunday off instead of Monday. We drove to Leadville, bought new gaiters and Gore-Tex running shoes (thanks, Jake and Amy for the Father’s Day gift), did laundry, and rested.

Monday morning we headed for the San Juans to do peaks San Luis, Redcloud, Sunshine, Handies, Wetterhorn, and Uncomparghe (list numbered 44-49), instead of the Sawatch Peaks (list numbered 14, 16 - 21.)

There was less snow in the San Juans so thought we might be a little bit faster and warmer.

Posted June26:

Leaving Leadville onthe 22nd we drove to San Luis, probably the most isolated Fourteener. We were fresh and the drive was fun as we felt like we were in a John Wayne moviedue to the old west scenery.

We climbed San Luis, a beautiful hike with no problems other than it was a long day with all the driving on dirt roads. Next, we drove over more dirt roads to get to Lake City.

From Silver Creek - Grizzly Gulch we climbed Redcloud, Sunshine, and Handies on Tuesday (23rd) and Wednesday (24th). They were great, but especially Handies, our new favorite.

We moved to Matterhorn Creek and did a long day climb starting at three for Uncomparghe and Wetterhorn. The climbs were good but they would have been more enjoyable if we could have split them into two days. Poor Jake stayed in the car all that time. He was happy to see us.

We are sort of on an off day, we are only backpacking sixteen miles, but not climbing.

Nick should be in Chicago Basin as we write. We will join him soon.

Jon and Laura should be leaving Nashville tonight, they will join us Sunday night.

By the way, there has been less snow in the San Juans.

Posted June 30:

We just got back from the Chicago Basin. It was a hard three days under generally miserable conditions. The weather was wet and getting wetter. The lingering snow has really slowed us down. Route finding has been difficult because of the snow and we are also just tired of everything being wet all of the time.

We did do three peaks: Sunlight, Windom, and Eolus. Circumstances did not allow us to complete the fourth peak, North Eolus. We are now only trying to climb the traditional 54 14ers.

After being battered by the trip into Chicago Basin, we had to take a rest day. We will try to make it up later or take a day longer to complete our list (we actually have a few extra days built into the schedule.) Seven climbing days in a row is about all that we can do without our bodies really complaining. Maybe, not having to climb two peaks and walk sixteen miles in a day will help too. The 28th was a long day.

Nick, Laura, and Jon are all with us now. It is fun just being in camp with them. They are also really helping us. For example when we arrived at Chicago Basin cold, wet, and tired Nick filtered water for us and helped us set up camp. We don't know what we would have done without him.

Posted July 2:

The San Juans are completed! We are finished with the way out west.

After completing Sneffels, we went to Navajo Lake Trailhead southwest of Telluride. We planned on doing Wilson Peak and Mount Wilson car to car (as a day hike). It was going to be a long day, but by doing them together we would be able to win back the day we lost after coming out of the Chicago Basin.

Leaving at 2:30 am we walked through the darkness. Finally we were able to turn off the headlamps around Najavo Lake. We climbed Wilson Peak, just a pile of loose rocks held together by friction, and then Mount Wilson. Fifty feet below the summit of Mount Wilson we got caught in a massive thunderstorm. We sat hunkered down for an hour and a half as the hail and snow accumulated.

By the way, Jake could not go on this trip. Jon and Laura stayed at the trailhead all day tending to him, we appreciate it so much!

Now we are back in Montrose getting ready to move and climb in the Sawatch Range again. We are very sore and battered. Our feet look like sausages.

Posted July 6:

We have been quite busy in the Sawatch Range. The snow is still bad in the Elk and Sangre de Cristo Ranges. On July 03 we did Mount Huron with Jon and Laura. It was a fun day.

Missouri, Oxford, and Belford were our July 04 celebration. It was not as crowded as we anticipated. With all the vehicles, we do not know where everyone was, but thankfully they were not with us.

We did not add pictures to the Missouri group pages yet and have not wrote reports for La Plata (climbed July 05) and Mount Elbert (climbed today July 06).

Tomorrow we are planning on climbing Mount Holy Cross.

All is well we are just praying for some snow to melt.

Posted July 8:

We went to Holy Cross and spent the night at the campground. The mosquitoes were carrying off small children.

Unlike the last time we were there, the weather was just about perfect. The only clouds we saw were the swarming mosquitoes.

After an early start, we climbed Holy Cross, number 32, and went to Leadville. We needed to do some serious planning with internet access by checking recent trip reports posted by others on Also, our tattered bodies needed a rest before our final push to finish.

Friday, we are planning on doing Shavano and Tabegauche and then going to the Sangre de Cristos to take our chances there.

Jon, Laura, and Nick will be leaving soon and Robin will be joining us. Jon, Laura, and Nick were such great help and encouragement, we hate to see them go, but we look forward to seeing Robin.

Our semi-regular posts will become less frequent. We have a lot of climbing to do and in not much time.

Posted July 13:

We are in Alamosa after a hot day in the Sangre de Cristos.

Last Friday we summited Shavano and Tabegauche. It was a hard day, but we were camped at our favorite campsite so far. From the camping area we could see forever over the neighboring valley and to the mountains south of Salida.

Friday night we said bye to Nick and hello to Robin.

Saturday morning we said good bye to Jon and Laura.

With Robin we drove to north of Alamosa and backpacked into Como Lake. It was very hot. After a late arrival we were in bed almost as soon as we arrived at the lake.

On Sunday we did Blanca with Robin and Jake. It was a fun peak. Robin who had just flown in from Tennessee climbed with us. She did great. Jake also climbed the peak without any help. Robin and Jake headed back to camp while we continued to Ellingwood Point. The traverse was great. We made quick work of it and were soon on the summit.

Monday we climbed Little Bear. We climbed with some of the climbers we met on Ellingwood. They were great guys and it was great to share the summit with Jason and to see the others again.

So, we have now climbed 37 peaks, not bad for a couple of old folks!

Mount Lindsey is next and then the peaks around South Colony Lake (Crestone Peak and Needle, Humboldt, Kit Carson, and Challenger.)

Posted July 15:

We are in Westcliffe. After climbing Mount Lindsey on the 14th, a great climb, we went to Westcliffe to say goodbye to Robin and hello to Ray and Monica.

We will be leaving for the Crestone group of mountains as soon as I finish typing!

We are planning on climbing Humboldt, Kit Carson, Challenger, Crestone Needle, and Crestone Peak. After hiking out on Friday we immediately go so to camp at the Culebra Ranch. We will not be in civilization for a few days.

We have finished 38 peaks.

Posted July 20:

Back in Leadville, we had to take a couple of days off before continuing our quest.

We climbed Mount Humboldt, Kit Carson, Challenger Point, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, and Culebra Peak.

After our rest we are heading for Aspen to climb in the Elks. Our plan is to do Maroon Peak, Pyramid, and North Maroon. We will still have Capitol, Snowmass, and Castle to do in the Elks, but we do not know the order we will do them in yet.

We have finished 44 peaks now, 10 to go!

Posted July 28:

We made it to Aspen on Monday, and after a confusing search for a campsite we found a temporary home at Silver Bell campground.

Tuesday we go up early and climbed Maroon Peak with Ray and Monica. It was a stiff climb with lots of route finding issues.

Wednesday we climbed Pyramid with Ray. It was a delightful day and we were home early to rest a little more.

Thursday morning Ray and Monica left taking Jake, the dog with them. We miss him already. After saying goodbye we left for North Maroon. It was not easy, but we made the top.

Friday we backpacked to Capitol Lake to spend the night. During the night and the next day we had bear issues. We climbed Capitol on Saturday. The famous traverse was good climbing on solid rock. The rest of the climb had loose rock, but was more solid than the rock on other peaks we have been on recently.

After climbing we made the return trip to our car and then went to the small town of Basalt for re-supplies and dinner.

Snowmass was an eight mile wet backpack trip to an overused lake. There were people everywhere and no one was obeying the few Forest Service rules. It rained all night, but we woke to a great day. The climb was uneventful. We went up the suggested route and then found a better one for the descent. After climbing it was a long walk out - and we have to climb tomorrow.

On Tuesday we climbed Castle Peak. It was a long walk on a road to 12,800 and then a short climb to the summit. We did get to do a long glissade down a snow slope that was in great condition.

We are done with the Elks! All of the peaks remaining we have climbed, so now we just need to repeat them. All the mountains are hard and they all go up.

We now have climbed 50 peaks, only four to go!

Oh, we still have to climb Harvard, Columbia, Massive, and Longs. We will get caught up with updating all of the pages later, we are too busy climbing now.

Posted July 29:

We climbed Harvard and Columbia today. It was a long, hard day, but after all they are 14ers. For some reason I did not feel very strong, but Amy flew up the mountain. Now we are relaxing in the Element at the RV Corral in Leadville. Tomorrow we will try to climb Massive. We are very tired.

Heard good news from Jon and Laura, they enjoyed keeping Jake; but then Grandma came and got him. I am sure Jim, the cat, will miss Jake!

If all goes well, we should be back in Nashville, Saturday night, August 1.

52 peaks climbed, 2 to go!

Posted July 31:

We did it! Wow there was some doubt but we did it. We finally climbed all 54 peaks since our start of June 8, 2009.

On the 30th we climbed Massive. It had a dusting of snow and a stiff breeze to spice up our outing. There were about fifty high school cross country runners from Missouri who shared the summit with us. They were good kids, but there was a lot of them.

After the climb we left for Estes. Luck was with us as we were able to get a site in the Longs Peak Campground. We actually paid for two nights so that we would not have to worry about moving the car before climbing.

We left for our climb of Longs Peak at 5:30 in the morning.

Hiking quickly we began passing climbers who were a bit slower than us and then began meeting climbers who had turned around. Their main complaint was the wind. It was a little stiffer than what we felt on Massive, but not as strong as on Sherman.

The wind slowed us down quite a bit, but we still mad the summit and were back down to the campground at 2 in the afternoon.

So we did it. Thanks to all that helped us. Our friends that helped in so many ways and then our acquaintances who were so very kind. They offered help, encouragement, and current trail and peak conditions. We understand and appreciate your role. Thank you.