RMNP Spring 2015

Here's a generic, corny quote I've always related to:

I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the growth occurs while you're climbing it.” -Random quote, unsure who authored it-

Here's another:

"Take Pains with these things, be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all." 1 Timothy 4:15

There were several times on Mount Lady Washington, above 12,000', with winds howling, lungs burning, legs giving out...where I just wanted to stop and turn around. Several times I thought..."Man, this is not worth it. The views are good enough. Who cares if I summit or not. I'm cold. I'm hungry. I'm getting colder...I can't feel my toes...My fingers are numb. Again, who cares about this mountain?!?! This is no 14er...this is not one of the Colorado Centennials. For climbers...I'm sure this 13er is an afterthought...a mere footnote in most mountaineer's resume.

But, like anything else...I just kept telling myself, "Just one more step..., just one more step. Just keep moving." And sure enough, each step was more painful than the last. I told Scott that climbing these mountains hurt. There's not much physical pleasure you get out of them...they drain you, exhaust you, and leave you dehydrated, hungry, and bent over with headaches and sun/windburns.

Yet, I keep coming back...I still desire more. I can't get enough of the pain and misery one endures. In a sense, on these mountains,  I am a glutton for punishment. Like Lu said, "It hurts now...but come (work)day, I am going to wish I was right here, right now." And that's the truth.
Digging deep and pushing past difficulties is something I seek out here. I know it hurts...and I can easily turn back, but slowly and painstakingly making my way through these wild places is something I am constantly chasing. I want to know that I can. I want to know that I can be better...be stronger. I don't know if it's healthy reasoning, common, or what not...I don't even know if I'm compensating for something. I just know, I like the feeling of doubt being conquered. This is a real life high for me. Yes, Summits are great...views are amazing...but beating myself, my body, and more importantly my psyche is what motivates me. I like to know that I have more to give... more to offer of myself. I like to know that I believe...can progress...and with each step up the mountain, my faith grows.

I like to think that my recreation mirrors my walk in the Lord. Yes, there are setbacks. Rainy days (sad and depressed)...hurting days (pain)...shutdown days (no motivation)...floods, avalanche, and rockfall days (emotional days)...whiteout days (blind, nearsighted and selfish)...gear malfunction days(nothing's working)...and on and on.

I know these days hurt...and I can turn back. But this is not where growth happens. Growth does not happen on beautiful blue-bird days. Yes, I want pretty days more often than not...but I want hard. I want to go to the wild emotional places of our lives. I want to cross the roaring rivers of anger, depression, and hurt at work. I want to scale the mountain of personal doubt. I want hard. I want to know that I can. I want to know, no matter what...with each step I take, that I am a conqueror. I don't want to turn back. I want to push past. I want to know that my faith in Jesus is real. I don't want to simply believe. I want my faith to be tested. I desire for my faith to be tested. And I want to know that my faith continues to stand the test of time...through the hard, ugly, and the most difficult. I want to know most, that when times get harder, I don't turn around...instead, I look up and offer more and more of myself.
What: Go up Flattop Mountain and Mount Lady Washington (13, 280') and North Table Top Mountain
Where: Rocky Mountain National Park and Golden, CO
When: 5/1/15-5/4/15
Who: Scott McGrubbercutty, Lu/Aaron for about 2 minutes Lawler, Myself
Day 1:
Attempt to go up Flattop Mountain...or get up as high as we could. Scott and I flew in from DFW the night before, drove into Estes Park Friday night close to midnight and set up camp. Lu is not a Coloradan...just moved to Denver area so he's just fine. Our acclimatization plan was to simply get a decent night's rest and get going early Saturday morning.
Saturday was slow going. We set our alarm for 5am...but we didn't get on TH until 7:30 a.m. We realized we didn't have enough water and the Moraine Campgrounds didn't have any running water at the time. So we got the Bear lake TH and filtered water from the creek. So we didn't get going until 8am. And this is late start if you want to spend a significant amount of time above tree-line. This late start dictated our plans for the day. But this was fine. Its was Day #1 and we were there to have fun and get good views.

Our Trip Profile:
Mileage RT: 6.2 miles
Elevation gain: 2532'
Start: Bear Lake TH: 9480'
Finished: Pt 12,012'
Start time: 8:00 a.m.
Finish: Unkown...forgot to keep note.
Day started out as partly cloudly...and we knew there was a high chance of precip and high winds blowing in the afternoon. And wind we got!
Going up...we could see the winds coming in.
And sure enough...winds hit us hard. Hard to say how fast...but we suspected 30-40 mph sustained winds...with a lot faster gusts...

Click link to see full video on youtube. Turn it up!
It was a good first day. We Went up...experienced some thrilling winds, snowshoed back down...hiked a mile more to go see Alberta Falls and finished the day at Estes Park Brewery enjoying good brews and watching the Kentucky Derby.
Day 2: Mount Lady Washington 13,281'
Route: East Ridge, Class 3
TH: East Long's Peak TH 9400'
Elevation gain: 3881'
Mileage: 8 miles RT
TH start time: 5 a.m.
Return to car: 12:00 p.m.
Time: 7 hours
We woke up 3:15 a.m. to get the day started off right. We cooked breakfast, drank coffee and drove from Moraine Campground to the TH. There were several skiers parked and ready to go as well.
Unlike the previous day...the weather was perfect. Bluebird skies, no winds up until 12,000'. The snow was nice and compact and we used microspikes all the way up. In the middle morning hours...the snow softened and we basically snowshoed the majority of the way down. Conditions were absolutely perfect. My only regret...I wish I would have had my ice axe for the last couple hundered feet of Lady Washington. Just used poles and thee were a few spots I could have slid down on icy snow. Picture above of Lu gives you an idea of the snowpack on the trail below treeline. And I hear the Park is getting more snow this week! Lot of snow for this time of year!
As soon as you get above tree line, which took us about an hour and a half or so...you immediately see Lady Washington with Long's Diamond face to the West. I thought it was really cool to be hiking at the tops of these smaller trees. Again...indication of how much snow is up there.
We didn't know what route we were going to take up Washington. Originally, we thought we would take the standard route up the North Ridge. But that required more travel towards Granite Junction/Pass. We looked directly up the East face of Washinton and figured we could climb directly above. So we chose to head towards Chasm Lake Junction and get a better view of the route.
...Long's East Face. The Diamond.
So our route started on the ridge and continued on the face. From below, it does not look too steep or even high up. Honestly, it felt like it was only 500' above.
We severely underestimated this mountain. This thing just keeps going...and going. From Chasm Lake...it doesn't look like much. But turns out...you are still about a mile and over 1500' of elevation gain away from the top. It's super deceiving. The the steepness of the mountain is also deceiving. The max slopes above is around 60% and the last few hundered feet had to avg around 50%. This was a beating. I don't know if its because I wasn't expecting much out of this mountain...but there have been several 14ers I've been on that are relatively easier than Lady Washington. Pay her your respect!
So...we didn't get to enjoy the summit for too long. The East approach was protecting us from the high winds...as soon as we topped out, the winds were knocking us off balance. We took a few shots, hugged, yelled, and then quickly found rock shelter below. The winds were a blowin' up there. Nonetheless...this place has some of the most impressive views of the entire park. The Mummy range to the North...Long's face to your West...it was amazing.
S a look back...don't let that "gentle hill" fool you...its long, and way up there...You just lose all perspective with that white background!

We capped off the great weekend at Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont. Still my favorite Oskar Blues Brew...Deviant Dale's IPA. Just yummy goodness. Good friends (minus Lu), good times, good memories.
The following day...we were hoping to do a little rock climbing at Table Top...it was a rain out. So we hiked up to the top and drove through Clear Creek Canyon. I am looking forward to my return this Summer...Looking to get on some routes and I guess attend Lu's wedding that's going to take a chunk out of my outdoor time.

Again, thank you Lu for having us...always a blast to see you. Scott...thanks for joining us and getting to experience the mountains. Hope to have you on more trips.


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