Sunday, January 31, 2010

Training at 14,000 feet

As a climber, living in Colorado has many benefits. The ability to hike to over 14,000', even in winter, with relative ease, is just one. This weekend I decided to take my training for Everest to the Front Range of Colorado and Mount Bierstadt. Standing at 14,060' A.S.L. Mount Bierstadt is one of Colorado's easier 14ers. Even with the deep snow pushing the "winter" trailhead much lower than the normal "summer" trailhead, I figured this peak would be a great place to sneak in a quick winter camping trip. The object was to try and hike as high as possible and set up a tent for the night. This little mini-adventure would not be complete without some fine company. I turned to a new-found climbing mate, Gavin, who is training for his own springtime adventure - Denali. All said and done we set up our tent at 13,900', just a mere 160' below the summit. We quickly built a wall around our tent made from blocks of snow. This wall of snow was to protect us from the inevitable wind found at these elevations, especially in the winter. With the sun just about to set we figured we would hike the final 10 minutes to the summit and enjoy the view. We were treated to one of the more magnificent sunsets I have ever witnessed. Watching the sun set from the summit of a 14er is something I have witnessed only one time prior. How awesome! After a quick jaunt back to the tent and then melting enough snow for drinking water and dinner we were ready to call it a day.
The rest of the overnighter went well and we were up early for the hike out. This trip proved to be beneficial because I was able to dial in my systems for Everest. More to come on this subject later.
All said and done my training for Everest is going well. I still believe that mental tenacity will be my greatest challenge on this adventure. Will you keep me in your prayers? I hope so.