The Mount Evans hike I did with Jason and Chad Board was the most physically taxing hike. We arrived at the trailhead on Guanella pass before sunrise and while sitting in the parking lot the winds were rocking the vehicle.
When we got out Jason set his pack down (loaded with winter gear, snowshoes, poles, water, and food) and it blew away. He had to chase it for a ways before he caught it.
We started to question whether we should hike or not. We eventually decided to at least get started and see how things were going before deciding to head home.
The first half mile of the trip was downhill and went quickly. Just as the trail begins to head uphill all tracks dissappeared. No one had been on the trail in weeks, so we had to forge the way.
Snowshoes went on and we continued on. The trail wasn't too hard to follow though there were times that we were sinking up to our waists in snow even though we had snowshoes on.
After a while of hiking in the valley floor (protected from the wind) we had to turn up a steep gulley and head for the ridge. The climbing wasn't bad and we were able to remove the snowshoes, but the cold and the wind was really wearing us out.
Upon reaching the ridge, Chad Board decided he had had enough. (This was his first fourteener ever.) We tried to talk him into continuing on, but he refused. A decision we later realized was probably best.
Jason and I met up with another party that we knew would be there that day, and hiked the rest of the way with what remained of their group (several of their members had turned around already).
The last stretch of ridge to the summit turned out to be much longer (nearly a mile) and more difficult than expected. Plus the wind and cold were not helping matters.
By the time we reached the summit I wasn't sure I had enough left in me to make it back to the car.
We took a break for a while and found a spot where we could get a reprieve form the wind. Feeling slightly energized again, and realizing we may be short on daylight we headed down.
The return trip across the ridge was still slow due to the wind, but didn't seem as bad. The quick drop down into the valley made us feel like were really making progress and lifted our spirits. However it didn't take much trudging through the snow in the valley to become exhausted again.
With snowshoes back on we slowly trudged our way out. That first half mile of the trip that had been down hill and so quick and easy now became our nemesis.
As we headed up the last section we would walk 100 feet and collapse. Take a short break laying in the snow, face down usually, stand up and go another 100 feet or so.
We returned to the car just before dark and only minutes behind Chad who had turned around hours ahead of us but had struggled with the return trip himself.
Jason and Chad trying to stand up in the relentless wind.
This was taken from the lowest point in the hike and the gulley on the left was our route to reach the summit ridge. The summit is not visible, it is hidden behind the rocky point near center.
Mount Edwards with the gulley on the right.
An ice fall we saw in the valley below the Sawtooth ridge.
At the base of the gulley looking across the Sawtooth ridge at Mt Bierstadt.
Looking up the gulley.
Chad Board takeing a break during our ascent of the gulley.
Jason trying to find the easiest route up the gulley.
Nearing the summit ridge of Evans Jason got a picture of me wearing my winter gear (or possibly my terrorist costume).
From the summit ridge you can see downtown Denver.
Summit Lake was frozen solid.
The ridge was mostly clear of snow due to all the wind. We took a short break but knew we had to get going as we would be short on daylight.
The view Northwest from the summit.
The view to the East from the summit. Kind of lame to see a parking lot and a building, but at least by doing it in the winter both were empty.
We stayed lower on the descent off the ridge to avoid the wind.
This is the most challenging part of the ridge, but careful route finding makes it a pretty easy obstacle to pass.
Once off the ridge and near the gulley we rested for a bit before the long arduous journey out. My batteries died after this shot.
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