Spanish Creek. For 48 hours it remained untouched this winter until a brave and unsuspecting foursome went to work during the wee hours of Christmas Eve. By noon we weren’t even approaching treeline. We never stood a chance. For the next 30 days Spanish Creek would remain untouched.
Peak: Kit Carson Peak (14,165′)
Date: January 23, 2016
Trailhead: Spanish Creek (8,260′)
Distance: ~11 miles
Elevation Gain: ~ 6,000 ft.
Participants: Natalie Moran, Dillon Sarnelli
Time: 16 hours
January 23, 2016 – With the Sangres flashing green and a perfect weather window, it was go time. I set out solo from the Spanish Creek trailhead at 2 AM to rendezvous at 1st light with Natalie who had skinned in solo the day prior and was camped near treeline. Sometimes it can be difficult to accurately describe an approach. I think Natalie nailed it.
After a car to camp blitzkrieg that I’d pay for later, I arrived at a tent in the middle of god knows where at around 5 AM. Natalie, sleeping obviously, began throwing projectiles in my general direction. Ok, that didn’t really happen. In fact, quite the opposite. She couldn’t have been more inviting for someone who just lost 2 hours of sleep.
Not much to report below treeline. Think slog, then multiply it times 100 and add in 600 downed trees. So without further adieu, the fun part.
Natalie – “Dillon, I think we should go for Challenger”. Dillon – “Umm”.
Funny thing happened on the summit. Natalie says, “Dillon, those tracks over there, they’re human. Someone else has been here.” I called bullshit, but on regaining enough energy to stand upright, I realized she was indeed serious. They appeared to come off the Prow, but no one’s been up Spanish Creek or across the Avenue?!? WTF
Later I’d get this message on the way home:
It was good to put a human to the feet and reassured us that our decision to stop was probably the right one. Good luck to Jason on his quest to climb 59 in 90 this winter.
Spanish Creek, where you come home with one glove and one snowshoe and still consider yourself lucky. Natalie, this was a grind and a half, but looking back it sure was a bomber day. Thanks for feeding me at Camp Moran and being awesome! If you’re on Challenger right now, you’re my idol.
T minus 79 days, 12 hours, 4 minutes, and 33 seconds.
Thanks for reading all!