Monday, August 8, 2011

Humboldt Peak

Psalm 18:2 states, "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in who I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

Here's the deal...God is firm, solid, impregnable, and immovable. David, in the psalm, writes of a rock large enough that he could hide on top of it from his enemies below...After spending a long weekend in the Sangre de Cristos...I could see what David meant. I also got a glimpse of how solid and strong God's protection is.

In times of trouble or retreat, smaller armies would run up the hillside or mountainside for protection. From this vantage point, they could see their enemies from up above. They also felt secure, knowing there was nothing above them. These were the places they felt most protected and/or least vulnerable. In essence, it was a place of refuge.

David makes the connection that God does the same thing for our lives. He is that place...where we can find refuge. He shields us from our enemy and is our stronghold in times of weakness. The Lord is our rock...Really, the Lord is much more...He's a Himalayan Mountain on the coast...scratch that...be's bigger than that!

Humboldt Peak-14,064'
When: 08/07/11
Who: Me (SOLO)
TH Start: 4:55 p.m.
Elevation start: 11,685 ft
Summit: 7:10 p.m.
Back to TH: 8:55 p.m.
Distance: 3.8 miles
Total elevation gain +/-: 4758 ft

Class 2
After summiting Crestone Needle earlier in the day, I went back to camp and hung out with the guys by the lake for most of the afternoon. I sat on a rock for a few hours as I watched some of the guys fish...I was tired. But I knew that we would be hiking back down to the car in the morning and I really wanted to bag Humboldt on this trip. The rest of the guys were not interested...so this was going to be a solo hike up to the top. I started my hike up right before 5pm an knew I had so much daylight left...I was comfortable with this decision...I had studied the mountain, had my headlamp, and was not going to be denied!!! So I made my way up to the Upper South Colony Lake, turned North and started to make my way up the green slope (pictured above)...
This trail is unlike the trail up to Broken Hand Pass (BHP)...it was a dirt trail, well marked, and switchbacked all the way up to the saddle. This hike was also very green and heavily vegetated unlike the talus-fested BHP trail. Let's just say, it's a whole lot nicer...(in the picture above, you can see a hiker on the left and the upper lake behind.)
So, after you zig zag your way up to the saddle...you get to this point. You get a good view of the North Colony Lakes to the North and Colony Baldy Mountain. You also see the remainder of the hike up the connecting ridge to the Bear's playground (pictured above).
These are the mountains North of the saddle...
As you make your way up the route towards Humboldt...this is what you see all the way up. I felt like that point way up above never got any closer...it was one continuous summit. It's like it kept growing as I kept climbing it! But I knew that it was 1000' climb from the saddle to the summit...so I kept going.
Here I am about hundred feet above the saddle...with the Crestone group behind me. I had to share this picture because it's one of my favorites and because it gives you a good view of the saddle. If you look close enough, you can see a faint trail to the left of the saddle where I came up...
About a few hundred feet above, this is what your view is to the South. Down below is the Lower South Colony lake (where we camped nearby) and the upper lake is on the right side of the pic. The upper lake sits 400' above and .5 mile from the Eastern side (or far left in picture) of the lake where we camped. But it you lose all perspective when your this high up...
When you finally get over the top...ths is where you arrive. To a cliff that falls hundreds of feet straight down. The views here are incredible. Behind me...that hight point, is the true summit.
Here is the summit...there is a manmade windbreak here that serves relief in times of high winds. But the winds were calm this evening. I took a second and just sat down in here...
I took in the views, prayed, was very thankful for the opportunity to climb these mountains...then I signed the register like I only know how...
Giving credit where credit is only due! Thanking God for being my Rock during this adventure!

The Lord is my Rock, and I will take refuge in Him!!!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crestone Needle

THE MOUNTAIN
Looking up into the heights, the sky blue,
I begin my ascent of the mountain.
With my first step, steady, honest and true,

My heart's filled with the goal I shall attain.
Though as I reach the higher paths I find

Determination begins to waver.
The rocks and icy winds are so unkind
And erode the courage I did savor.

T'would be easy to give up and go back,
Return to my safe and comforting home.
Then my inner voice cries, "Attack, attack!"

So I grit my teeth and push myself on.
When I reach the summit, see all I've gained,
Well worth all the trials, well worth all the
pain.

8/7/11
What:
Crestone Needle
Who: Matt Fisher and me
TH start: 6:15 a.m.
Elevation start: 11,685 ft
Summit: 9:25 a.m.
Back to TH: 12:00 p.m.
Distance: 2.6 miles roundtrip
Total elevation gain +/-: 5024 ft

Matt and I woke up early this morning to start on the Needle. Both Sean and Bryan were staying behind on this day...they figured they had enough of 14,000 ft and the Crestone group in general. They were content with 11,000 ft and fishing the lakes. After breakfast, Matt and I were approached by this big guy you see above. He was friendly...
We got back on the same trail to Broken Hand Pass (BHP). Obviously this time around was easier. We were on this rocky trail the day before, and were hiking in sunlight from the get go. Our goal was to go back up BHP and and ge to the Needle via the standard route...which puts you on the West side of the mountain. 
This is me pointing towards our goal for the day. This is a view from below the needle...
We continued to make our way to BHP. Here is Matt approaching the base of BHP. This picture is misleading though...BHP is the lowest part of the conecting saddle...and this is still .25 miles from where Matt is standing.
This is the base of BHP. This requires some class 3 scrambling on loose rock...
Once you get over the top of BHP, you take a quick right and start hiking along the trail on the West side of the mountain. So take the picture of the Needle from previous pictures and now picture us on the other side of it...parallel with the connecting saddle.
There were beautiful views along this trail. We rested at some really cool places...
As you make your way to the base of the Needle...you start to get into some class 3 scrambling...I am down climbing this pitch...
As you get to the base of the Needle...you start to see the route ahead. It's 1000' up from here...and the majority of it is class 3 scrambling (picture above demonstrates class 3). This rock is a conglomerate rock...and it's also super solid. I felt secure on it the whole time. It is nothing like Crestone Peak.
When you get to the crux of the route, you will see the class 4 gully which is a dihedral that goes straight up. We chose to take the class 3 route which is technically easier, but still a decent challenge.
This is Matt manuevering his way through the crux...it really was not that difficult, but it did involve a technical climbing move and some confidence.
The standard route is hidden from the climb below...you have to scramble up and over a rib, once you do, you are on the standard route and in the the right gully. From here, you can see the route ahead. This is Matt on the standard route/class 3 gully.
Near the Summit, from the Crestone traverse route, there is this sign...which is hilarious!
On the summit of the Needle...you can see the Summit of Crestone Peak to the Northwest. It is about 1/2 a mile bird's eye view from here. We summited this peak yesterday...(the actual summit is the peak on the left)
To the South, you see more of the Sangre de Cristos and The Great Sand Dunes National Park!
We hung out at the summit for about 30 minutes...ate a snack and enjoyed the views. This climb is awesome. The solid rock makes this climb so much fun...We were back down by noon with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and contemplate another climb that evening...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crestone Peak, Sangre de Cristo

Matthew 18:18-20 says, "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Psalm 133:1 says, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity."

A few years back...I thought living a life unaccounted for was good enough for me. I figured, God knows what I am up to...so no one else needs to know. As a typical male, I cared less about community and communication. I just wanted to be left alone and figure out this thing with God without anyone's intrusion into my personal matters.

On top of this, I struggle with new people...I get really uncomfortable when I meet people for the first time. I am usually outgoing, but only when I feel comfortable...So the idea of being part of a group with people I do not know, makes for an awkward time...well at least for me. So I resisted bible studies, life groups, etc for a long time.

I don't remember the day it happened, but I do know God humbled me one day and said, "Wake up man...you are missing out. You are not supposed to be doing this on your own. I did not design you this way...I want more for your life...and this starts by getting plugged into people...so make this your prayer." Of course I balked...then I heard Him distinctively say, "Grow a pair man!" Or maybe that was me...
(Above is a picture from right below South Colony Lake; Crestone Needle is the peak on the right)

South Colony Lakes
Who: Matt Fisher, Sean Moore, Bryan Wilkinson, Me
When: 8/05/11
South Colony Lake roundtrip mileage: 10 miles
8/5/11
We parked at the lower TH (8780 ft) and began our hike up to camp. We followed the high clearance road  and passed the official TH where the TH Kiosk are and the wooden bridge are, and made it up to the S. Colony trail/Humboldt-Upper Colony Lake junction trail is. We decided to take upper colony trail up because we knew it was shorter way to get to camp. We made it up to the lakes and we decided to cross the creek to find a place to camp. We found what we decided was the best spot to camp and set up shop. Our camp was at 11,690 ft and felt comfortable to acclimate. It took us about 5 hours to get to camp from the lower TH.

8/6/11
Crestone Peak
TH (where junction sign to Crestone Needle near the creek) start: 5:15 a.m.
Elevation start: 11,685 ft
Summit: 10:15 a.m.
Back to TH: 3:45 p.m.
Total time: 10:30
Rested at cottonwood lake for 45 minutes
Distance: 5 mile roundtrip
Total elevation gain +/-: 7,578 ft.
Class 3

This climb calls for a long day. We started out at South Colony Lake and started to make our way over to Broken Hand Pass (BHP). At first, it was difficult to find the cairns in the dark. So we started to ascend up the mountain up farther than we were suppose to...but we quickly caught on to our mistake since we were basically surfing on loose scree. We descended back to the trail and started to make our way on the correct trail. The sun came up, and we could finally see the cairns all the way up to BHP. The ascent to BHP is not easy...we had to go up nearly 1000' just to get to the pass, which required some scrambling on loose rock...
Once we got to the top, we could see Cottonwood lake and the trail that lead all the way around to the base of Crestone Peak. We now had to descend 1000', hike around the lake and head over the base of Crestone Peak. It took us about an hour to get from BHP to the base of the mountain...I thought the views on the West Side of the Crestones were more beautiful than the East approach...
Once we arrived to the base of the Red Gully, the Class 3 scrambling began...and it was pretty much class 3 all the way to the top of the Peak.
This mountain did not let up...it was constant. There were places where the rock was loose and you can hear people yelling, "Rock!!!" throughout the day. As we got near the top, the scrambling got a bit more difficult and the exposure more dramatic...
but the views along the way made up for the hard work we were putting in...
As you reached the summit...you become very aware of the exposure...as my buddy Sean quickly realized.
(That's Crestone Needle in the background, next day's climb)
This is me on the Summit...totally stoked that I bagged this peak. That's Humboldt in the background (another 14er I planned to summit on this trip).

As we started to make our way down, we all started to feel the fatigue...were running out of water...and were becoming dehydrated. We still had a little less than half way to go...we finally stopped at Cottonwood Lake for about 45 minutes to rehydrate, rest, and in a some cases...throw up. This day took about 10 hours and we all felt it...but it was good to finally be back down at camp where we just hung out around a fire!
 Quick note: Matt had to give Sean fluids via IV...Sean was hurting big time!

Going back to my point in the beginning of this post...God wanted more for my life. The guys in this group are men I had the blessing to be in a men's group with. They all love Jesus...and share many of the same desires as I do. God has stretched me like I could not imagine because I learned that God designed us to live together in unity. These are men God has given me that I can trust and grow with. In Matthew 18, Jesus says that when two or three come together...he too is there. So when believers connect, Jesus shows up!! And if Jesus shows up...sign me up!