Divide By Ben Error

Descending to Rogers Pass with James/Bancroft/Parry in the distance

It’s the wonderful time of year when summer is still kind of holding on, but winter is clearly on deck and ready to leap in at any minute.  Whatever great feats were accomplished in the mountains were or weren’t accomplished and now it’s time to eek out every last drop of summer-conditions mountain fun before the snow flies.  Accordingly, Ben and I managed two impromptu local runs.  Oddly, they were the only times I managed to get up to the Divide all year. Continue reading

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Splendid Solitude

Shelf Lake

My theme for 2018 (most years, really) is to go out of my way to explore new places.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised, really, at how easy this often is.  Often times, new places aren’t all that out of my way.

Craving a late season leg stretcher and one more blast of alpine beauty, I teamed up with Brian for a little casual cruise up into the familiar (and spectacular) terrain of Glacier Gorge in Rocky Mountain NP.  I’ve been up in there in all sort of conditions and ended up at every nook and cranny of this incredible place.  But, as it turns out, there is still new territory up there.

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Humbled Again by the Gore Range

 

The traverse to Vista looked more complicated than I wanted to deal with.

The Gore Range. At this point I think everyone within a hundred miles of anywhere I’ve been knows of my obsession with them and my plan to, someday, pioneer a traverse from one end of the range to the other. Damn the torpedos, 2018 is going to be the year! [Insert a few weeks of obsessive research and ignoring of things I should have been doing.]

I was really looking forward to two nights out in the ultralight style and seeing some new things, but I was also worried that perhaps I’d bitten off more than I should try to chew.  When I described my plan to Brad, a fellow Gore Range aficionado and all-around hardman, his reaction was simple. “Wow. You’re nuts!” Hmmm. What’s more, I’d been stressed out about little details for a long time. So I decided to scale back on the trip and take in a few more scouting trips before tackling the whole range.

Turns out, Brad was right. My plan was crazy. The Gore Range is harder than you think it is.

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Nine More Wild Basin Lakes

Lake #1: Thunder, though from an unusual angle.

It’s the end of July and, predictably, I’m all in a tizzy about how summer is half-over and I haven’t gotten to do nearly as much in the mountains as I’d hoped.  I go through this every year and each year it leads to some ill-conceived, hare-brained fit of exploration.  This year’s indiscretion was a quick run up to the familiar environs of Wild Basin in RMNP and the hare-brained part of it was to see if I could connect the Thunder Lake and Bluebird Lake drainages, the two major valleys within this section of the park.  In the process, I saw a total of nine lakes, six of them off-trail and four of them new two me.  I also learned the perpetual lessons about hydration and sunscreen and what the lack of either does to your athletic prowess. Continue reading

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Broken Halo

Mt. Holy Cross, everyone!

It goes without saying in Colorado that mountains are only interesting once they reach 14,000′ in elevation. If you take a boring old 13,999-foot-tall pile of rocks and stack on a few more, well, just watch what happens! Boom! The clouds part, out come the trumpet-wielding cherubim, and you’ve achieved mountaineering nirvana. It’s all about the altitude! I’ve climbed a fair number of 14ers and a fairer number of 13ers, 12ers, 11ers, and (shhhh!) even a few 10ers (not even above tree line! How shameful!) and found that some of them are really nice too. And some of those vaunted 14ers? They’re really pretty dumb and a waste of time (I’m looking at you, Mt. Bross!) Continue reading

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Ski Big or Go Home

Our first Winter Park expedition was a HUGE success!

Several different sets of friends just sent me some amazing photos of the huge powder dump they were skiing in during an early-April blizzard.  My first reaction was “Wow, that would suck to run through!” That was the moment I realized that the 2017-18 ski season was over.

But boy howdy, what a season it turned out to be! The last two winters have definitely been “investment” seasons largely spent on the bunny slope or in the lodge with the kids; getting them toughened up and skilled up enough to really ski.  After a total of eight days at Keystone (four each winter), Joe (then 8) was tentatively tackling the easier blue runs while Ellie (then 4) was gamely snowplowing her way down the easy greens.  I (then 40-mumble) would sneak out now and then for an ambitious descent or two between shifts on the bunny slope. The investment has paid off in a big way! Continue reading

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Stupid Fun

Hey, let’s go race each other uphill on skis in the dark!

Top of Eldora in the middle of the night. If I look a little loopy, it’s because I am.

Some people (probably most people) would say, “No! That sounds stupid and painful and why would anyone do that!” A much smaller group of people would say, “Okay, that sounds like a logical and enjoyable way to spend an evening.  Where do I sign up?” Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re in the latter tribe. But to those in the former, you are also correct.

Please, hear me out. Continue reading

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