LooseCrew-JeffO: Time to Crank


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time to Crank

Saturday, a friend and I tried to climb James Peak via St. Mary's Glacier. This glacier has been created over a span of many hundreds of thousands of years. The mountain ranges naturally funnel the prevailing westernly winds between two ridges. The valley curves downward. Natural aerodynamics causes low pressure, which causes the wind to release suspended particles. So basically it's like hiking in a wind-tunnel.
The ground-blizzard was extremely intense. I figured it would be, but it was even worse than I had hoped for.
I had both a compass-&-map, plus a GPS watch with log./lat. read-outs. So there was no getting lost.
Visibility was only about 8 feet, but contrast made any visibility worthless. The ground was white with blowing white snow. The glacier gets extremely uneven, lumpy, dippy, with runnels and ridges. We were constantly stumbling because we couldn't decern the ground.
The temp was forcast at 5 degrees and -25 wind-chill. I think that was fairly accurate. Carol and I had neoprene face-masks on but our eyewear was frosting over. We eventually gave up just one mile from the car.

So we drove several miles away to Stevens Gulch below Grays & Torreys and finished our snowshoeing workout there. It was just 20 minutes from St. Mary's but it was partly sunny and calm. We ran out of time when we reached about 12,400 feet.
Combined, we logged 11.7 miles.

I know I'm 1/10th the athlete Carol is. Not sure if she's slowing down for me or just doesn't care (recently) to haul-butt. So far we've kept easy pace with each other.
When it comes to heading out into extreme situations, like St. Mary's Glacier, I'm hesitant to go with someone I don't know. In fact, I might have gone further if I was solo (but not too much further). When exploring new elements, you should push the envelope just a little bit at a time. Even if individuals know themselves, new team-members don't know each other. When you're teamed with an unknown, you kind of have to step back and start over again. If we work-out more, we can, as a team, push further, safer.

Last year, because of my stress-fracture, I had logged 3 miles. This year I've already got more than 70 miles without any ambitious training. It's a good start.

I often travel the World with Google Earth. In case you don't feel lucky enough, take a gander at Grozny in Chechnya. There are Google Earth photo icons that show the way things used to look. Even from the sky, you can tell the whole city is a bombed-out wreck.
43 18N / 45 41E


At 8:10 PM, Blogger Meghan said...

Dude, sounds like nasty fun, that blowing snow whiteout! You're way ahead of last year in your training!


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