I love all the different landscapes you pass through during a long drive in Colorado. In the front range it felt like climbing weather and wild fires were threatening the state (already). Near Vail the roads were snowy and slow going. In Grand Junction, dry and desert-like, but a hint of snow-covered peaks appeared in the background. As we drove closer to Ouray, I could see Mt. Sneffels, where Andrew proposed. I saw Mt. Wetterhorn, which battles Mt. Sneffels for favorite 14ers hikes. The San Juans are ridged mountains and by far some of my favorite. Driving through Ouray, I want to unpack and call it home. I’ve spent very little time there, but it’s beauty and small town feel makes me want to stay. Past Ouray, we head 13 miles up Red Mountain Pass. A road that screams avalanches and threatens you with drop-offs, that go hundreds of feet down, and only start about a foot away (where it’s not eroded) from the pavement.
For the second year in a row, when asked what I’d like to do for my birthday, I suggested ice climbing. I don’t think my friends are thrilled by this response. I round-up Andrew (well, he wants to go and is sort-of forced to go) and Brandon for climbing this year.
This time around we picked a day that wasn’t horribly windy and quite as cold as last year (Brandon’s car read 15 degrees). Still, walking to the crag, my feet were already cold and I wondered why ice climbing appealed to me so much. As soon as I see the ice I remember.
The boys let me climb first. As soon as my hands had ice tools in it, I forgot about the cold. I can’t help but smile as I’m climbing. My mind fills with thoughts of How did a girl from Florida end up with ice tools in her hand. How much freaking fun is this. I don’t really know what I’m doing. Wow, this is tiring. and Holy crap my hands are cold. And then it’s over. I get lowered down and wait for the unpleasant pain in my hands to dissipate. I knew it was coming and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first year.
After my turn, I belay Brandon. Ice falls near me, but I’m out of the fall line. He makes it to the top and one more piece of ice gets dislodged. I see how big it is and even though I’m out of what I think is the fall line, I lock Brandon off and move closer behind a large rock. The ice fall knocks another large ice chunk off, and then slides off the large rock I’m hiding behind, and finds my shoulder. It feels like a boulder has just hit me. As dumb as it may sound, I had absolutely no idea ice could hurt so bad. I hit the ground, Brandon sees it happen, and Andrew runs down to check on me. I’ve got Brandon locked off, but I’m thinking wow, that might have been bad. Tears start falling and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m hurt or scared.
I lower Brandon with my other arm, and once on the ground, the guys (did I mention they’re both paramedics) discuss the situation. Brandon tells me to sit down and I start getting tunnel vision and feeling nauseous. They tell me it’s because my adrenaline kicked in.
I can still move my arm so it’s probably not a break. I tell them I’m ok, and find a spot to sit (safely) while Brandon belays Andrew up. I need to sit for a little while anyway. After he cleans the route we head off to get pizza. Once I’m out of some of my layers we take a look at my shoulder. It’s swollen and they suspect it could be a hairline fracture if not just really bruised.
It was certainly an experience that taught me a few things and made me think. I never would have considered not wearing a helmet but it just confirmed how it important it is. I’m actually thankful it hit my shoulder instead of my helmet. I wondered if I did the wrong thing, stood in the wrong place and what I could have done better. I also realized that even in considerable discomfort my top priority was always my belaying and I never took my hand off the rope. It certainly didn’t scare me away from ice climbing, but I realized just how dangerous it could be.
In January of 2012, we kicked off the New Year with my first overseas trip (besides the Bahamas, but that doesn’t really count). Andrew and I chose a destination that was just about as far away from Colorado as possible, Thailand. As hard as I’ve tried, I never figured out the best way to describe how perfect that trip was. The people, the food, the climbing, the culture, the horrible driving, it’s all amazing. It took me a few months after arriving back in the states, to not wish I could hop on a plane and go back. The experiences I had from my first overseas trip left me wanting more.
Last winter, early spring, we were asked by James, if we’d like to, sort of, take-over Outdoor Gear TV. He needed to focus on moving out to Colorado and starting his new business. Andrew and I have spent a lot of our time this year devoting ourselves to OGTV. Despite my lack of blogging in 2012, you can still find me over on OGTV almost weekly. I’ve never had so much fun dedicating my time to anything. I’m really proud of how far our reviews, our video quality/production and the many great relationships developed from OGTV have come. The experience has been one of my favorite parts of 2012.
I had my ebbs and flows with climbing and have no great break through to report. What excites me most about this year, is the really great climbing partners I’ve found. For me, that’s just as important as what I climbed. That, and I had a lot of fun.
As far as my outdoor tick-list has gone, I hit number #15 on 14er summits. (So many left, I know.) Probably the hike that stands out to me the most happened early July. Andrew and I hiked Mt. Sneffel’s SW ridge, one of the most beautiful and fun routes I’ve ever done, and on the summit Andrew proposed.
Commence the wedding planning. Well…sort of.
After stressing about where to get married, we settled on what I think couldn’t be a more perfect place. From there, we’ve kept it simple and the pieces have fallen together easily (knock on wood). We’re keeping it fairly small and outdoorsy and I’m pretty darn excited for August 2013!
Other highlights of 2012 would be this view above and watching my Dad ride his bike up Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America. I’m still so proud of him!
I sit at my computer now, icing my shoulder from an accident that happened yesterday (I think the details are worthy of its own blog post), a really exciting, short-term job helping out the AAC, and a smile on my face thinking back on this past year.
I’ll look forward to taking my memories and experiences from this past year and applying them to 2013. I don’t have a clue of what to expect, but that’s what’s so exciting, if you ask me.
Edit: I should probably add that I got to pet a penguin this year. Seriously, it was awesome!
After a weekend of climbing at Shelf Road, I feel like I have climbing high. I didn’t want to leave. I had a great time! Yet, I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t do anything unusually awesome. Frankly, I didn’t even climb as hard as I would have liked and even worse the crags were busy and distracting…
As much as I want to say I wasn’t judging anyone else at the crag, I was. One person’s dog ate my sandwich, while I was belaying. Another group’s dogs charged us. There was one guy who announced the climb he was about to do, so loudly (and multiple times) I was sure he was hoping the entire crag would stop and bow to his awesomeness. And then there was of course your typical crag issues of beta spraying and sandbagging.
A part of me, wanted to come home and write an entire post ranting about stupid things people do at the crag, about stupid crowds and especially about stupid sandwich eating dogs. Alas, I realize those people/pets have the same right to be at the crag as our group did. Despite what was going on around me, I still came home happy. Why? Because I had a great crew.
We weren’t competing against each other and there were no pride issues. Everyone was just as excited for Andrew, who led his hardest route yet, as they were for Sarah, who accidentally got on a route a lot harder than she had thought it was, and kept going anyway. We focused on ourselves and supported whatever personal challenge someone in the group was facing on each climb.
I’ve climbed with my share of folks that weren’t ideal climbing partners, I’ve been friends with people who weren’t ideal friends and I’ve dated people who weren’t ideal life partners.
It seems the same goes whether you’re at the climbing crag or just facing daily life situations; if you surround yourself with positive people who inspire you, who make you feel safe enough to push past your comfort level and that want to see you succeed, the negative distractions won’t matter so much.
RT total: 14.8 miles from Monarch Lake Trailhead.
Andrew and I have a habit of making last-minute plans, mainly because we can’t keep track of each others schedules. This trip was no exception. We ended up a little rushed, but in the long run this beautiful hike was worth it.
Our main goal of hiking this was to see Lone Eagle Peak. This beautiful peak screams “Climb me!” and we had to see it in person. Mountain Project shows two technical (5.2 & 5.7) routes and a 4th class scramble. Another bonus, during the summer months you need a permit to camp at Crater lake but in October it’s open to anyone. We also picked the perfect time to see the aspen leaves at their peak.
Thursday night around 10:30 pm Andrew says to me “Oh wait you’re off tomorrow too? What should we do?” In a matter of about 30 minutes we decided to go hike. At about 11:00 pm I realized I needed to throw laundry in the washer so I had clothes to wear hiking.
4:50 am rolls around and my alarm goes off. As usual, I contemplate turning off my alarm and going back to sleep before actually rolling out of bed. I’m quickly rewarded for getting out of bed early and heading to the mountains. The road to Alma is beautiful, I watch the sunrise and see signs of Fall all around me.
A few summers back my Dad came out for my college graduation and while he was here rented a bike, to ride up Lookout Mountain in Golden. When he reached the top, Andrew told him the next step would be Mt. Evans, the highest paved road in North America.
The next step would probably have been riding something a little higher than the 7,900’ that is Lookout, but Mt. Evans at 14,130′ works too.