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
A few months ago, three weeks into my attempt on the Appalachian Trail record, I met up with a lifelong friend and rival in high school track, Bo Peaseley. We had been texting over the previous few days, trying to coordinate a meet up. He was thru-hiking north and I was heading south. I arrived at the shelter late at night and thought he might be headed my way. A few minutes later he rolled in and we caught up for a few minutes before hitting the sack.
So when I got a text from Bo saying he was moving out to Denver and he wanted to climb some 14ers I thought it fitting that despite living in the same city back on the east coast that we run into each other in rural nowhere once again. We talked about climbing Bierstadt, but considered, if we were feeling up for it, the Bierstadt, Sawtooth, Evans combo which included two 14ers and a wicked ridgeline traverse along narrow ledges to connect the two. Continue reading Bierstadt, Sawtooth, Evans
Here is a short video of my winter climb of Mt. Democrat. If I had to describe the ascent with just a few words I would say slow, grueling, cold, windy, lonely, and very, very white. In white out conditions I managed to tackle the three 14ers along that route. I began my climb at 8am and finished by 3:30. If you’d like to read more about the trip, a full write up can be found here: http://graysoncobb.com/mt-democrat-cameron-lincoln-bross/
Yesterday morning I started working my way up to the quadfecta of Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross. Cameron isn’t technically considered it’s own mountain because it lies on the slopes of Lincoln but it is still a 14er peak. Because of the brutal winter temps and snow the past couple weeks the road up to the summer trailhead at Kite Lake was closed about 3 miles down the road at an old abandoned mining hub called Paris Mill. A few days earlier I had tried to navigate my way up to Kite Lake with my city slick tires and was stuck within a half mile. So the past couple days I had settled for a start at Paris Mill and accepted the easy 3 miles out and 3 miles back of road walking. Continue reading Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross
It’s Christmas day and I’m in Colorado living in my car. I’m out here on my own accord. I want adventure, I crave adventure, so I came out to these sub zero temps to climb some mountains, do some snowboarding, and actually have a white Christmas instead of the warm drizzle back on the East coast. But I’m in Starbucks in Breckenridge now and I miss my family and miss my home.
This morning I began an ascent of Quandary Peak just south of Breckenridge. It’s one of the 52 Colorado 14ers and is decidedly the easiest winter route. With a long gradual, broad east ridge it allows the hiker to stay out of avalanche terrain for the duration of the climb with no pitches greater than maybe 30 percent. Continue reading Rescue on Quandary Peak
Last year on a cross-country road trip I stopped at Glacier National Park. Not knowing anything about the place I asked one of the rangers what her favorite trail was. “Honestly, they’re all amazing, but I love the Gunsight Pass traverse. But it’s impassable right now,” she responded.
“How impassable?” I asked with a cheeky grin.
An hour later, just after noon, I was packing up a day pack and grabbing my crampons and ice axe with intentions of making it from Gunsight Pass Trailhead to Lake McDonald Lodge by nightfall and hitch-hiking back. It ended up being one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on with this gallery to show for it: Continue reading Gunsight Pass Traverse, Glacier National Park
“I’m not happy but I guess if you climb enough offwidths, one of these days you’re gonna get your knee stuck and then shit your pants. It’s just an odds thing really.”
I grew up with the idea that this was a backpacking trip: four kids, sleeping pads, some food and water, awesome misadventures. Honestly, when I saw my first backpacker with the heavy load on their back, I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine what they could possibly be carrying. Since I began my solo trips, I’ve tried to keep my gear as simple and practical as possible, mostly for functional reasons (less stuff to break) but also because for me it’s safer and more fun. Continue reading What ultralight backpacking means to me