Flew in from suffering during the heat wave in Washington DC yesterday from a business trip and promptly headed to the mountains with my wife and two other couples. Tom, Denise and I were going to climb Mt Yale the next day. We stayed in some rustic cabins 11 miles north of Buena Vista, and since we had no TV, we missed the famous freeway chase of O.J. We did look for him on the mountain while we were climbing on the mountain until we determined he had been captured.
We started up the trail at 7:00am and there were already 7-10 people ahead of us to include a guy that started at 4:00am. We had opted for a later start today. Dan, Denise’s husband, went with us but branched off a few miles up to go fly fishing. The three of us continued up a very beautiful, but at times, very steep forest trail. The surroundings were fantastic with wild flowers starting to crop up everywhere. At timberline, the trail dramatically stays steep with some switchbacks near the saddle before the final ridge to the summit. We met a young couple and their very young baby in a backpack… this was their first attempt at a 14er with the baby. They reached 14,000′ but stopped shy of the narrow summit ridge that required some scrambling. The warm weather last week last melted much of the snow and we only encountered snow on the narrow ridge. The summit was a busy place…maybe it is time to switch to 13,000’s and leave these 54 14ers to the hordes. Let me think about that.
On top we met a fellow from Nuremberg, Germany so I traded small lines with him from my 3 year stay in Frankfurt. He was on a 4 week vacation JUST in Colorado to climb! He had climbed a number of 4,000 meter peaks in the Alps and was a really interesting guy.
The weather was hot, first summer hike/climb I had really done on a 14er in shorts and it felt good. No gaiters, no wind pants no 60 mph winds, no numbing cold…hey, I can get used to this. Tom and Denise enjoyed the summit and I retreated to the saddle to wait for them. (For some reason I never linger on a summit usually)
As we started down, the 14er highway was slowly opening up with many, many small groups still climbing up as we were headed down. The blue skies had turned from puffy white clouds to some dark clouds, with rain already over Mt Princeton to the south. Denise led us on the death march pace she usually does going down, and we were soon at tree line. As we stopped for water we heard a very large rock fall from high on the ridge. We thought it to be in another couloir rather than the one where the route leads. Denise remarked that when she travels with Tom and me it is exciting as we witnessed avalanches on our last climb two weeks ago.
We made it back to the car at 1:45. 3.5 hours up, 1 hour on summit, and 2.5 down. What makes this a really nice climb in the approach through the forest, then the many cairns above tree line that remind me of alpine hikes in Europe. I would recommend this this climb for the fit. It was number 14 for both Tom and I and number 18 for Denise. Like I said about those 13ers…just think you can climb a great mountain and not even see anyone…., hmmm. Bob
Total Distance: 7 miles with about 4,000′ elevation gain