Monday, July 16, 2012

An Easy Day for a Lady

It has frequently been noticed that all mountains appear doomed to pass through the three stages: An inaccessible peak - The most difficult ascent in the Alps - An easy day for a lady.
Albert Frederick Mummery, My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus
Albert Mummery lived 150 years ago in a different time. He never met some of them women I know, and underestimated what the fairer sex are capable of.

My friend Erin H. and her family are soon moving to Wisconsin, a land who's highest point is "Timms Hill" under 2,000'. I promised her family that I would take them on a 14er before they left. Because of the logistics of watching her 3 young kids, this morphed into 2 trips- one for the ladies, and one for the guys.

My 3 companions for this trip are Erin H., Anastasiya, and Erin S. None of them had attempted a 13er or 14er in the past, but they all live in Colorado springs above 6,500'. I was nervous that perhaps one of them would have problems with AMS, but I didn't doubt they could phsyically do it.  At the same time, I would be helping myself on my quest to summit all the 14ers in Colorado - somehow completing 40 ascents without setting foot on one of the 'easiest' and most popular 14er trails in the state.

Grays Peak 14,270'
Torreys Peak 14,267'
Grays via East Slopes, Torreys combo via S Slopes
8.25 miles RT, 3600' elevation gain
Difficulty: An easy day for a lady

My secret stash for this hike would include: extra water, extra snacks, extra ibuprofen, an extra jacket, and a little summit surprise for those women who reached the top. I also packed along my Nikon D5100 camera with the 18-55mm lens- first time I'd brought it on a hike.

Let's hit it!

At the Trailhead for their first 14er experience- 8AM
Heading on up the nice, wide trail.
Erin S. had a GPS watch so she was able to tell us the distance and elevation at any time. This was useful!
It was pretty clear that these women are in shape-they really didn't *need* me. Maybe it helped to know that a "veteran" was on hand to answer questions. I tried to push water, advocate for snacks, and keep a good and steady pace with breaks. I tried to stay behind everyone but would occasionally pass people. Oops! I'll go back to the end of the line. This is something I need to work on.

Heading on up. Anastaysia and Erin are in the center

A climbed a rock next to the trail- the girls were SOOO impressed. ;)

At this point we are nearing 14,000 feet but the trail is nice and has moderate switchbacks.
Anastaysia and Erin top out at 14,270' ! Awesome.
I was really impressed with these women. They are all busy mommies with multiple kids, and they had no experience hiking anything over 10k feet as far as I know. And yet, with determination and enthusiasm they made the summit in just over 2 hours!  I had been concerned about possible AMS, dehydration, or foot issues, but there were no problems here. Major kudos!

Erin S. was the first to reach the top. She couldn't stop smiling!

(L to R) Anastasiya, Dan, Erin H, Erin S on top of Grays Peak. 1st 14er for the ladies!

The only downside was there was literally over 150 people on the summit, which is thankfully quite large
Dish Network was having a company day on Grays Peak. Most of them did not go to Torreys Peak, but I was told that over 170 participants started out and that "most made it".  I cannot say I counted all of them, but you can see less than half in this picture. We hung out on the summit for about 20 minutes, the weather was perfect. Very light breeze, warm, good visibility. I could see (among others) Breckenridge, Keystone, A Basin, Frisco, Quandary Peak, Mt. of the Holy cross, all the Elk Mountains, Longs Peak, Beirstadt, Evans, Pacific, and Atlantic. For such a "common" peak this one does have good views.

The ladies head up Torreys Peak after a brief downclimb to the saddle.
  When we were ready, we pushed through the mass of people and started down Grays Peak.  The hike got a little more intense off the summit of Grays Peak. The downclimb was class 2, and there was a lot of human traffic coming up and down this part of the trail. Still, it didn't take long before we were on the saddle, starting up at the rocky path ahead of us for Torreys Peak. Compared to Grays, it has a rougher, steeper, and  more rugged approach. It appeared on this day that at least 2/3 of the hikers would not traverse to Torreys.

The conga line reminds me of ants on an anthill 

More people can be seen on the trail below

Erin H. on Torreys Peak summit, 14,267'

Anastasiya on Torreys Peak
Erin S. on Torreys Peak.
Honestly the summit push up Torreys felt fairly strenuous, but it was over much sooner than we anticipated. It felt like the summit just popped into view suddenly- and then the climbing was done.

Summit Panorama looking East, 5-shot composite
Summit Panorama looking South/West, 5-shot composite
I love it! Summit victory on Torreys Peak, with Grays Peak in the Background.
On Torreys Peak, we busted out the "Summit Snickers" and my surprise, which was a frozen Mararita pouch! Erin H. shared it with the rest of us, and we all agreed that it tasted delicious on top of a mountain. The weather was fantastic, the views sublime, how could you not love it?

3-shot pano looking West. See any stormclouds?
A little bit of shade to cool us off. Anastaysia at right.
Cool bird on the trail sign. Wishing for my 300mm lens!
Torreys looks impressive as you are heading down.
The beginning/middle portion of Kelso ridge- looks fun!

Kelso Mountain

Human Traffic Jam! We got slowed down quite a bit on this portion

Down in the Valley
Almost back! The last part of the trail is very gentle

Wildflowers everywhere


Indian Paintbrush


Indian Painbrush

Remnants of an old mining operation

Finished! 8.25 miles and 3600' of elevation gain. Nice work, ladies.
Very nice bridge at the beginning
Everyone made it up and back with no complaints and no worries. Afterwards we stopped into Beau Jo's Pizza in Idaho Springs and had a Sausage Combo/ Yukon on wheat crust and drank Tommyknocker beers. Highly recommended.

I was honored to "guide" these women on their first 14er. I know they all enjoyed the experience and they all took something away from it- I got to summit 2 additional 14ers with great company.

1 comment:

  1. That rock formation next to the trail is informally known as "The Rascal."