Thursday, June 15, 2017

13er Reflections

Dallas Peak, 13,809 Summit
Gladstone Peak, 13,913 Summit
Lizard Head Peak, 13,113 Attempt

Dallas Peak
I did climb the two thirteeners that I just summitted. It was my legs, my lungs, my sweat, my panting on unrelenting slopes. It was my crampons, my ice axe, my wet feet, and my chilly-cold fingers.

But it wasn’t my routefinding. It was my much stronger cousin who led the way, who pointed out the peaks and the path to them. Who tested icy class 5 upclimbs and sketchy snow traverses. Who then waved me on - hearing my whimpers on the former - but staying still and quiet for me.
Setting up rappel off Dallas, Sneffels looks on

I don’t know if I can claim them. I want to go back and get them for myself. I want to study those damn mountains and be able to pick Mt. Wilson from Wilson Peak and know Sneffels from every angle like he does. I want to spy a couloir from a mile away and pick a path that leads me to the base of it. I want to be the one to kick steps up the couloir - or at least take my share of doing so.  But I don’t want to do that for class 5 anymore. I don’t belong on class 5 snow climbs, especially since I don’t lead trad. If something happened to Jack when we were out, I would be hard-pressed to facilitate a rescue.

I am great on rock. I should stick to that and never put myself in a position to have to rely so heavily on a (albeit, willing) partner. I don’t like it. It’s a point of pride at this point. But it could become a matter of life and death. It was so cold on Dallas Peak. My hands and feet were soaking wet. So were Jack’s. If the weather had changed, if one of us had slipped… I felt the potential impacts of the potential errors as I stood in the shadow of a chock block, waiting for Jack to scout. I don’t want to die on a mountain. I want to be able to rescue my partner if something should happen to them. I want to learn more and be better.

I want to be stronger, and I will get stronger...

  1. Routefinding. I wil learn to draw GPX tracks and use my Garmin. I will study the map as I’m ascending. It will take me longer to summit, but I will start early and turn back if weather moves in -- even if it means I don’t summit at first. I can trust that I will get better with practice, and in the long run will summit more peaks in a way that makes me feel like I’ve really summitted them.
  2. Routefinding. Yep, I’m that bad at it. I almost think I shouldn’t go with Jack again until I am better at it so that I don’t let him take over. He’s too dang quick. In both routefinding and pace. I have to do these for myself.
  3. Knots, anchors, and rescue techniques. Read up on them and practice them.
  4. Crampon technique. I am great in snow, but I need practice at mixed climbing. I would la-dee-da across a traverse and then lurch my way across the rock sections. It’s like wearing a stinkin’ pair of high heels! Jack said place your whole crampon on if there’s space or finesse the midsection (no points) onto the edge of rocks. Which I pretty much figured out after 45 minutes of struggling!

I am good at:

  1. Rock, blessed rock! I love the way I can trust myself to pick a path through a thorny ridge. I love the way I know when to use downward pressure on slippery slopes. I love the way I place my feet. I love the way I hop boulder fields. I have a  bit of a thing for rock.
  2. Lizard Head, the one that got away
    Judgement. When we were up at Lizard Head, I knew the wind wasn’t gonna quit. I told Jack I would not take more than 10 steps in the hellacious stuff. I like that I am clear in communicating my (dis)comfort levels, even with a partner like him who I am trying to impress. And it’s also good that I know the difference. On Dallas, he offered to tie me in, and, after studying the path and tabulating my abilities, I followed him without a rope. On Lizard Head, it was clear to me that we’d both be in danger. Ahem, Jack, when you’re walking in a crouched position and still falling to your knees, it’s too windy to hope for a leeside to ascend a 4-pitch, 5.8+ tower!
  3. Drive. When I want a peak, I am willing to suffer for it. Dallas Peak was haaard, and scary and snowy, but I did it. I felt exhausted and defeated and dreaded the descent of Gladstone the next day, but I dug to some deep place within (by the way, what the heck is that?) and did it. And I made myself keep up with the three strong climbers I was with. Booyah!
  4. Nutrition and hydration. I have this pretty much dialed in. On peaks, I want formulated foods. Nuun, Clif, and Gu are my friends. Taken early and often, they chase away nausea, headaches, and prevent bonking.
  5. Confidence in and reading of my own abilities. I know the pace I can maintain for 10 hours. I know the rock and snow I can climb.

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