05-06-16 – Jacque Peak
05-17-16 – Longs Peak – Keplinger’s Couloir
06-01-16 – Otis Peak
06-08-16 – South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green Mountain
06-19-16 – Savage Peak – Savage Couloir
06-29-16 – Music Mountain
07-13-16 – Extra Credit – Mount Orton
Participants: Mat Ballay, Dillon Sarnelli
For most of the civilized world this year began on January 1 when the clock struck midnight. For the few and not so proud who call ourselves accountants, it kicked off on April 15th at closing time. I had a lot of catching up to do, so when the mountains called, I went. And when your go to climbing buddy has a few months to spare before moving and starting a new teaching job, well things set up very very nicely. Pardon the summary, but Mat and I went on such a tear since Kelso that I really didn’t get much time to sit and document any of it. I’ll keep this one to highlights, pictures, and a good sense of humor.
“Scree Hell”. We’ve all heard it. This mountain sets the bar so high, it’s how we measure every other scree descent in Colorado. It couldn’t be that bad, right? Yeah it is. I learned that back in 2012 on a 2 year blitzkrieg to finish the 14ers. It was a solo Sawatch slammer of a weekend that included the standard routes on Shav, Tab, Harvard and that infamous descent of Columbia. Four whole 14ers in one weekend. A feat only a noob could appreciate.
These days my main criteria seems to revolve around the path less traveled. And so three days into 2016, one day removed from the coldest New Year’s Day ascent of Massive ever recorded, and just 24 hours before tax season semi-hibernation, I found myself at the Harvard Lakes TH. I’ll be honest, until I did some homework, I didn’t even know Columbia had a southeast ridge. This probably has something to do with the fact that the ridge itself is almost 5 miles long and wraps around the entire Collegiate Peak Wilderness before reaching Columbia.
Peak: Mount Columbia (14,073′) Date: January 3, 2016 Trailhead: Harvard Lakes Distance: 12.5 miles (1/4 mile below TH) Elevation Gain: ~ 5,000 ft. Participants: K Bessler, Dillon Sarnelli Time: 12 hours
In January I summited California Peak with Zambo. While descending the summit ridge I became dizzy and disoriented. “Zambo, is this what altitude sickness feels like?!?” An extra strength ibuprofen got me back to the car.
Fast forward to March, I attempted Shavano and Tab with Danny. At about 12,500′ in the Angel my head began to pound and my legs stopped functioning on all cylinders. “Is this really happening again?” After some egging, I was able to convince Danny to go ahead and get the summits. I took a nap on a rib of grass as Danny bulldozed upward. 45 minutes later I painfully dragged my sorry self to the summit of Shavano. On the 7 mile descent back to the car I was a zombie and an ibuprofen had no effect. Danny’s good company and sense of humor are the only reason I’m not still crawling back to the jeep.
In the state of Colorado, the word “Spring” can have many meanings. For my neighbors on Eliot Street, it means they can finally come out of their homes, sit on their porches, and wonder where I could possibly be off to next. For the friends I travel these hills with, it’s the season they’ve been waiting for all year, a time to strap on the planks and ski until the snow turns to grundle in mid to late June. For others, it’s straight up couloir season. And believe it or not there are actually people who just like to snowshoe. I’m not sure I fit into any of these categories, but I always do love this time of year. Even more so this year than most, despite some of my recent solo nerd raging snowshoe grumblings! This spring was undoubtedly a snowy adventure, the beer always tasted good, the weather was guaranteed to be inaccurate, and the excellent company in the backcountry made each and every weekend something to look forward to. However, with all that said I may or may not have thrown my snowshoes into oncoming traffic last weekend, which brings us to this latest write-up!
Casco Peak is a Centennial 13er located in the northern Sawatch Range. It is the 69th highest peak in the state of Colorado, sitting just to the west of Mount Elbert and southwest of French Peak. The peak itself is often climbed with French Peak (13,940 ft. – ranked) and Frasco Benchmark (13,786 ft. – unranked) as seen in the picture above. It is easily and most often accessed from the Halfmoon Creek TH near the Mount Massive TH, but there are several routes in all directions that enable you to choose your own adventure.