In the dry, cool gusts in the Bear Lake parking lot in Rocky Mountain National Park, I took off my steamy boots and replaced them with my booties, exchanged the puffy down jacket for a soft fleece, and my grimy fleece cap for open air. I headed for Estes Park with my heat blasting, and as soon as I knew I had cell service, pulled out my phone and called my mom. She panicked when I recounted the details of the day but I continually reminded her that I was safe. It was nice to tell the story from the comfort of my heated car and come to grips with what had actually happened and addressing the mistakes while they were fresh in my head. I guess it was sort of the start of my coping with what I had done. I faced the fact that it happened and I could choose to make something of it and grow or ignore it and shame myself. Continue reading Misadventures in Rocky Mountain National Park, Descending Taylor Glacier: Part 4→
But when I stepped down into this untouched snow gully, I sank up to my hips. The snow was loose powder and I knew it could calve off and slide at any minute. But it was my way out. I counted on the narrowness of the gully and the steepness of the slope to be my savior. I figured it was far too steep for an avalanche but knew it could still slide. At this point the grade was so steep I was practically climbing a wall of loose snow concealing firmer ice below. Continue reading Descending Andrews Glacier, Climbing Taylor Glacier: Part 3→
To be the highest person in Colorado, a state where you can’t go a day without smelling weed, despite abstaining from any mind-altering substances, was my goal of the day: to stand on the top of Mt. Elbert winter summit at 14,439 feet. And despite some gnarly weather, I was committed to accomplishing it. Continue reading Mt. Elbert winter climb→
I knew a rim to rim to rim Grand Canyon hike would be grueling ever since I battled with the terrain nearly two years ago. I came out here for a med school interview at University of Arizona and drove my rental car up north for some hiking the next day. After a two day stint on the south side of the canyon, I fell in love with the place, and with the prospect of crossing from the south to the north and back all in one day.
I googled the distance to the canyon from where I was in central Colorado a week ago, saw it was surprisingly close, a mere 10 hours which I judged as less than a day rather than in absolute, holy crap that’s a decently long drive, terms. I hit the road, driving only during the day to not miss the sights along the way and enjoyed driving out of the deep snow and into the mesa filled desert of southwest Colorado, New Mexico, and then into Arizona. It was overwhelming seeing the 14k foot peaks disappear behind me; it really put into perspective what I had been doing the past few weeks. It was hard to comprehend exactly how big those mountains are until I saw their peaks towering behind me in the distance. Continue reading Rim to Rim to Rim Grand Canyon→
A Mt. Sherman winter summit had been a goal of mine nearly since I arrived in Colorado. It is an easy climb but had eluded me because of deep snow on the road to the trailhead. Just outside of Fairplay, Colorado, the road is dirt for nearly 15 miles and unplowed for the last three miles. I barreled my car into a snow drift a week ago and was back to see if the road was any clearer. But while solid tracks went further than last time, my car was high centered on a massive snowdrift miles from the trailhead again. I had stopped at Pizza Hut on the way in to use their Wi-Fi to gain some beta on the climb and drove straight here a little after 8 to get an early night’s sleep. Continue reading Mt. Sherman winter summit→
I didn’t know much about Mt. Yale winter climb; it was without question the least researched 14er to date for me. While I had done overkill research for most peaks, I really decided to do this peak last night, realizing I was just down the road from the trailhead and the road was paved and plowed the whole way. After getting stuck for nearly 24 hours on the road to Mt. Sherman, I was committed to either purchasing new tires or sticking to the tamer trailheads for now. I figured the tire stores would be closed for the weekend so figured I’d attempt a three summits in three days with Sherman yesterday, Yale today, and La Plata tomorrow. Continue reading Mt. Yale winter summit→
Bo rolled up for our La Plata Peak winter attempt a little after 9am. It was a warm morning by Colorado 14er standards. At just under 10,000 feet, it was nearly 20 degrees. We put our boots on, layered up to get ready for the climb and before we even started hiking were stripping back down. In just a base layer thin polyester t-shirt, I was sweating within the first mile of the climb. The wind was tame below treeline and the clouds were promisingly sparse. I knew it was supposed to snow, but hoped it would hold off until later in the afternoon so we could get the beautiful summit views off La Plata Peak that I had heard so much about.
I made a short video of a pretty crazy day I had up on Mts. Belford, Oxford, and Missouri. It was a pretty big day attempting a triple summit with winds gusting up to 60 and wind chills down to 30 below. Started at 9am and got back to my car at 7pm, contending with blasting snow for the last few miles out. Check out the full write up on the day here: http://graysoncobb.com/belford-oxford-missouri/
What do you do when you find yourself on the pinnacle of one of the highest mountains in North America alone after sunset with windchills down to 40 below? From personal experience, you get down as quickly as you can. Which for me meant sliding on my ass down a 40 degree snow filled couloir that I had just ascended.
I’m driving toward the Missouri Gulch trailhead, 8 miles off the main highway and even further from the nearest sign of life. There are thousand acre ranches on either side but they look as lifeless as the sand brown grasses scattered amongst the dense snowpack. It’s well into the night and my my visibility is limited to the narrow beam of light my car spits out in front. The moon is a thumbnail on the horizon, with clouds occasionally hiding it from view. The road is packed dirt with occasional keep-you-awake patches of ice and snow scattered about. I’m acting like I’m in a hurry but really I have nowhere I need to be other than prepping for the big day tomorrow and then making a pitiful effort at sleep before an early rise. Continue reading Missouri Gulch Trailhead→