Monday, June 15, 2009

Gray's Peak, CO

(Topo Map)

An unexpectedly snowy climb up Gray's Peak, one of CO's 54 Fourteeners, which has an elevation of 14,270 ft, or about 2.7 miles. The climb from Steven's Gulch trailhead was about 7 miles roundtrip, rising 3040 ft, or about 0.6 miles. To get there, though, there was a 2.5ish mile walk, which we did part of on the way up and all of on the way back. The climb from the trailhead took 6 hours. I hiked w/ JJL.

The tundra was a decently gentle climb, but the winds at times would blast icy snow at us, which would really sting. It even knocked us over a couple of times. As we got past the windy part, I noticed that my lungs would burn a little when I breathed in a lot of air fast, like with a laugh.

The amount of snow (it had snowed the previous night) made the trail visible only by disturbances in the snow, or by rocks. We blazed a trail that required horizontal movement across a steep mountain, which was tough on my left calf. Here, my lungs would burn a little when I went too fast.

After that, though, they were fine. There was some very uphill climbing, and then you were at a part that looked like a giant steep snowfield. Here, I put down my pack (after JJL told me not to) to return a ski pole, and then before I knew it, I saw the pack rolling down the mountain.

We decided to go for the summit, which involved a long vertical climb, first blazed and then later following ski boot holes so that it was like wall climbing. A skier offered to help look for the pack, and two more water bottles fell out of JJL's pack, which I was carrying. The carin at the top was near, though. A final push, and we were there... at a false summit. We gathered our courage and went the last bit up to the summit. It was windy, but the view was gorgeous. It soon got cold up there, and I was a bit concerned about how we'd get down, since it was so steep all around.

We took a few pictures, and some hikers offered us Gatorade. Then, we went down an easier route of switchbacks that some other hikers told us about. It was kind of fun. Farther down, JJL spotted the pack somehow and rescued it. As we went back through the tundra, much of the snow was melted or in the process of melting. Then, the 2.5-ish mile walk back to the car.

My quads were a tiny bit sore at first, then my calves and shoulders got a tiny bit sore.

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