Once again the keen local boys were up before I was, and once again I had to force myself out of my warm sleeping bag. The flatbed of the pick-up had been surprisingly comfortable, and it had been a clear, dry night.
The early morning routine was becoming quite familiar, as people wandered around eating breakfast and packing bags for the day. When everyone was ready we made the mercifully short trip over the now unsurprisingly rough approach road to the trailhead, and were ready for departure at 7am.
On the early stages of the trail we bumped into the final additions to the day’s climbing contingent, when we met Bruce and friends, Jerry, Kevin and Tim. The planned route to the summit of Wetterhorn Peak, at 14,015′, was longer than yesterday’s climb, and involved more vertical height gain too, so day by day things are getting tougher.
However, again I was feeling pretty good, and hoped that I would fare as well as yesterday, when I had had no real ill-effects from the altitude, other than the expected breathlessness.
Eventually the winding trail led to the saddle, and the climb became steeper, and just below the spectacular summit, the climbing became even more challenging and exposed. It was a great route, and again we were lucky at the summit to have some awesome views, as we were just below cloud base. The weather was closing in a bit though, and we had a brief flurry of snow on the summit before heading down again.
It was a long trek back down, but we maintained a good pace, except when we came across a couple of marmots sunning themselves on the rocks, reluctant to get out of our way. I had only seen smaller ones before, and had no idea that they grew so big. They are quite funny, squeeking as walkers go past, and dashing about without much fear of climbers. Eventually we made it back to the vehicles just inside the planned six hours.
Lunch was at the sleepy little town of Lake City, in the fascinatingly named Packer Saloon and Cannibal Grill. Read the story of Alfred Packer here – it is quite a tale:-
Alfred “Alferd” Packer, The Cannibal of Lake City, Colorado
Many of the large group we had gathered over the course of the weekend said their goodbyes, and finally we were left with the core group again of the four of us.
From Lake City we drove through Gunnison, and on into Salida, where it was raining by the time we arrived. Without too much discussion, it was agreed that a comfy room at the Days Inn was much preferable to a wet night at the campsite.
Another fantastic and challenging day in the mountains. Six summits in five days! Tomorrow is a planned rest day, although we are not planning on taking things too easy, as we are booked for a whitewater rafting trip first thing in the morning!
More on today’s mountain here: