Al’s First 14er: Quandary’s Cristo Couloir

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I have always been looking forward to the day I would get to introduce the fourteeners to my wife Anna-Lisa. She had never been above 12,000 ft. before this trip and had never used an ice axe or crampons, or snow climbed. I figured the Cristo Couloir would be a great starter climb for her, I had no idea how things would go so we sorta just went for it. We left Westminster at 3:00am (with another friend of ours) and headed for Breck. We arrived at the Blue Lakes TH around 5am and were off by 6. The great thing about this climb is the fact that there is literally no approach whatsoever, we were on the snow in less than ten minutes. After a crash course in ice axe and snow climbing technique, we began to head up the Cristo Couloir. Read more…

Pico de Orizaba: Our 2007 Finale

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Stu and I climbed out of the taxi into the cultured alleys of Tlachichuca around 4pm on December 29, 2007. Stu handed the driver three thousand pesos and he was on his way, leaving the two of us to our own devices in yet another unfamiliar Mexican town. We had not spoken a lick of English to anyone except each other for five days now, and our money was running out. Stu and I carried one hundred and twenty pounds of clothing and mountaineering gear on our shoulders, and we made a point to never let it out of our sight. We dropped our bags on the curb to consider our options, a donkey toting a hay cart plodded past. Read more…

Finishing the 14ers: The Crestones and Humboldt

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T.j., Janet, Stu and I left the Mountain View Inn at 3:00am on Wednesday August 8. We drove our rental Jeep back up the South Colony Lakes road, arriving at the upper TH at 4:30am. The events of the previous day dictated that Stu and I would be heading for Crestone Peak first while T.j. and Janet headed for Humboldt. Stu and I would then traverse over to the Needle, drop down to South Colony Lakes and ascend Humboldt, meeting them on the summit for my finisher. We left a radio with T.j. and Janet and explained the route to them, the four of us said our goodbyes at the TH. Stu and I quickly ascended back to the Humboldt/Crestone Peak saddle and made our way to Bear‘s Playground. Keep reading…

Kit Carson and Columbia Point

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My Dad, his girlfriend Janet, Stu and I headed to Westcliffe the night of August 6 and stayed at the Mountain View Inn, our “basecamp” for climbing the Crestones, Kit Carson, and Humboldt (my final four fourteeners) on the 7th and the 8th. I would highly recommend this place, it was extremely well kept and relatively cheap. Stu and I woke up at 2:30am and piled our gear into our rental Jeep which we picked up in Salida the night before (I would also highly recommend a rental for the South Colony Lakes road if you have the money). We headed for the South Colony Lakes Jeep trail with the intention of getting as high as we could in the rental vehicle. We ended up being able to reach the upper TH and we were on the trail by 4:30am. We had two climbing days avaliable to us to summit the four peaks. Keep reading…