(Hikes & Climbs of 2012)
I was about to call it when Brian climbed back down to me and said, "You got this!" We were no more than 80 feet from the top of Longs Peak, a long hike and climb indeed on the far east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Also, one of the most deadliest mountains in the United States.
I knew I was at one of those "no fail" points and the slick rock and steep grade were certainly messing with my head. Brian Srba went on like a mountain goat in his element and I finally just said, "OK" and was headed up behind him at a much slower pace.
2012 had proved to be a great year in the mountains, but this last stretch seemed somehow different than the others.
In January my son and I braved blowing snow and sub zero windchill on Mount Lincoln just outside of Alma, Colorado. We had flown in the night before and got after the climb at 5am. At 13,000 ft the lack of time at altitude gave Beau a splitting headache. We called it a day and headed for the warmth of Gary Greene's cabin at the base of the mountain.
Days later John Pribble and Andrew Butler were with me as we hiked the deserts of New Mexico and Texas and went to the top of Texas on Guadalupe Peak on a brisk January morning.
I would return to Lincoln less than two months later with John Pribble, Brian Srba, and Ryan Sammons. In the next 72 we hours we would summit 5 different 14,000 foot mountains through sub zero temps, serious winds, and high snows. It was one of the most magnificent weekends above the treeline for me.
The summer brought a family trip to British Columbia and Beau and I again took off on a mountain adventure on Black Tusk. It turned out to be a 18 miles, 5,000 foot gain through tough melting snow. But the view... Weeks later we added a strech of the AT to our list and a climb of Katahdin in the North Woods of Maine.
Now here it was August and I was back in the Rockies and contemplating the last bit of Longs. If not for Brian's encouragement I'm not sure I would have completed the climb, which would have been a shame after a 2 am start, getting through a migraine at 4 am, and making it through the Trough, and the Narrows with gusting winds.
When I took my last few steps on to Longs summit I was welcomed by the sun, but the warm rays were no match for the August cold monsoon. We snapped our pictures and tucked down for shelter from the wind for ten minutes of peace.
When we started that early morning there were scores of people on the mountain. Head lamps all the up the first thousand feet, but when we reached the Keyhole, most of the masses had turned back with one strike of the wind from the northwest.
As with any summit, the peace does not last long...always waiting for you is more work, the descent. Every mountain offers its share of pain and effort. Thank goodness, as it keeps most people away. But if you are willing to deal with strain, the possibility of disappointment, and the potential for loss, you may get ten minutes of peace at the top. Usually ten minutes is about all you get, as the weather, or threat thereof, sends you back down.
What an incredible year in the mountains. Eight successful summits, but countless hours with my son and friends doing something I love..hiking and climbing to enjoy something most men never would make the effort to see.
Ten minutes of peace is worht all the pain.
Videos from our adventures can be found at 14ers and some below.
May Club Die Hard 2012
G & T
Arches & Canyonlands