Thursday, July 30


At least one more overdue report here as Marni and I pack for Longs Peak in the predawn hours of tomorrow. On our way down to Scott and Melissa's wedding we swung through Leadville to visit Cycles of Life on our way to Chaffee County Road 390. What's there you ask? Well the trailhead to quite a few 14ers! After our success on Yale, Marni was itching to get a few more Sawatch range 14ers done in this perfect summer weather season. We stopped at the Missouri Gulch trailhead, cooked up some pesto ravioli and popped up the switchbacks.

Missouri Mountain, which we're hoping to climb soon, is at the summit of the couloirs that are still present in the far center of the picture.
We hiked up towards our trail split with the Elkhead Pass trail in the early evening hours. There was plenty of time before sunset to find a spot and we didn't have far to go.
Turbo loves to stop and smell the roses, well roll in them anyway. Puppy bliss.
We settled for taking some pictures of this great wildflower season.
The trail was in great shape thanks to the awesome work of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.
Turbo pretending to be in the sound of puppy music.
There were quite a few big (and loud) groups camping in Missouri Gulch but I found us a nice quiet spot off the trail. It was mostly level ;)
Turbo doesn't really like being in the tent, he prefers to roam the wild searching for things to smell and guarding camp from marmots. We let him chill outside until it got dark and then called him in for bed.
Marni and I entertained ourselves with more mini-card rummy. I spotted her a 175 point lead (NOT on purpose) but managed to score a few big hands and come back for the victory! A little candy snack before bed and plenty of water and we dozed off to sleep at 11, 700 feet.
Motivated to reach La Veta at a decent hour and increase our chances of a double summit, Marni actually wanted to get up early. We awoke before 5am and were rolling by 20 to six, full of muffins and coffee (well me anyway).
Sunrise followed quickly and soon we were hot hiking up the slope. We stripped to more realistic hiking attire, sans puffies and long underwear.
No one was stirring in the tents below and we wondered if we'd be the first summit of the day.
My cutie.
The sun gradually filled the valley with light and all the Sawatch around us began to appear.
Turbo was making quick work of this trail, much better than the loose scree on Yale. "Hurry up slow bi peds, I have quad paws!"

Almost there!
The west slopes of Belford open up to a nice ridge near the top, with nice easy walking to the summit.
Turbo leads the way and just after 7am we were closing in on the top.
Belford Summit! We make zee summit! Turbo's #16 and our #18 in cloudless skies. We were however the 2nd to the top, another early riser caught sunrise on Belford.
We descended after a quick snack towards Oxford.
A steep descent, some easy saddle hiking and another short climb led us to the top of Oxford another 50 minutes later. Harvard, Columbia and dozens of other summits were visable.
Almost to 14er #2 of the day.
Ahhh it's nice to be up high.
Another self timer shot brings us to Turbo's #17 and our #19 on Oxford. We're almost 1/3 of the way through the list and I'm excited for the ones that remain.
After topping out on Oxford we still had to return over Belford or Elkhead Pass to return to our tent. We decided to return back over Belford and headed down the switchbacks a ways before stopping for some lunch. Turbo was quite pleased with turkey and cheese sandwich plus 2 summit bones and an ABCB (advanced base camp bone).
A few more switchbacks brought us back to our tent. The clouds were moving in quickly now despite it being not even noon so we packed up quickly and hussled down the trail to the E. A quick stop at K's in Buena Vista for some burgers, cheese fries and ice cream and we headed off towards La Veta.

Little Monkeys

Busy bees and lazy bloggers! Another belated update since recently Marni and I took our niece and nephew out to the climbing gym for the afternoon. They were spending the week with their grandparents so we headed up to Denver to take them out. Well first we got lunch while their awesome mom ran to Kinkos to fax me some legal paperwork so they could climb without her there...then we went climbing!

Trevor getting suited up to go climb for his very first time. He was nervous but would gradually go higher and higher all day long.
Trevor and Marni with Kylie in the background.
While Kylie amazed me with her texting prowess (oh to be 13), Marni took Trevor up the wall the first time. He would pick a goal, a sign or particular big colored hold, and go just up to that spot.
Me climbing on the auto belay while Trevor and Kylie check out the wall.
Marni and Kylie.
Kylie had been climbing once before and she was a natural. She made it up every time I think.
Trevor lapped this wall half a dozen times, each time getting a little higher. By the end of our session he asked Marni if I could climb next to him and he would try to make the top. Despite his thoughts at the beginning of the day, he made it all the way up!
Both the kids also thought the slackline was pretty cool.
And Kylie climbed all the way up the rope ladder too.
Not having been at the climbing gym in ages I floundered up a few 5.10s, it was not pretty. Apparently my weak hands and arms do not do overhanging right now.
All and all we had an awesome time.
Trevor liked playing with the camera. He'll be a natural blogger and facebooker in a few years. Hard to believe he was born the day before Marni and I met for the first time.
Soon I think everyone was worn out and we headed off for celebration ice cream. :)

Wednesday, July 29

First first ascent

Also while at Scott and Melissa's wedding I did my first ever first ascent of a climbing route. Scott had told me there were some climbable rocks near the cabin and he was right. I only had time to put up one route but the sandstone there is solid enough for a few more in the future. My first route was one pitch with 2 roofs, the first one being the crux. It follows up from the right most tree through the roof and shadow to the second small roof in the center of the photo. Protects well with a standard rack, the key piece at the roof being a purple camalot. Other than some lichen and loose rock it was a lot of fun and would clean up nicely if it ever got traffic. Marni followed the route and we rappelled and down climbed off the back with a little bushwhacking back to the road. It reminded me a lot of a mini flatiron climb but without any crazy runouts and slightly more broken rock.
Mind over Bat Poo, 5.7

Sand Dunes

Marni and I hit up the Sand Dunes on the way back from Scott and Melissa's beautiful wedding. Marni already has a little write up of the weekend but I wanted to post a few more dunes pictures. I've wanted to go down there for a while now but it's a few hours away and we've never managed to fit it into another trip. That's a shame though, it's really pretty and pretty great for training too. Too bad bikes aren't allowed, it's a fat bike's summertime camping dream. Sand, hills and even flowing water with big mountains all around!

Usually it's really hot on the dunes in the summer but instead we got ominous clouds and cool temps. Tourista shot...
Let's race up the dunes! Okay running in sand is hard work if we didn't all already know that.
Erik trying to huck himself off the edge of the dunes.
Michelle getting stuck in the sand.
Me throwing Marni off the dune. Just kidding, I'm trying to teach her how to do a backflip.
Me throwing myself down the dune.
Me hucking myself off the dune backwards. See doing backflips on a steep sandy slope is practically cheating!
Erik and I decided to run down the dune and back up the other one, then we wrote a message.
Zoooooooom in!
The girls at the base of the dune we just ran down.
On the way out the clouds grew darker and we soon got some rain. We'll go back another day to hike to the tops of the big dunes when lightning isn't such a big worry.
Plus you never know what you'll find in the sand, cool insects, random big granite chucks or BATMAN GLASSES!