An Attempt on Mt. Elbert

2009 Attempt (clouds)

Mt. Elbert. At 14,433 feet, it’s the highest peak in Colorado, the second highest in the lower 48, and I plan to climb it Saturday morning.

Well, not exactly climb. Hike. Real mountaineers call it a “walk-up.” Folks who scale peaks over 20,000 feet talk that way.

But for one who gets lightheaded at 14K, Elbert is a long, steep, climb, an elevation gain of nearly 5,000 feet in just four and one-half miles.

My friend Doug, my son Jon and I will leave the trailhead at 5:00 a.m. We’ll use our headlamps for the first hour. That’s because we want to avoid the daily thunderstorms that form early in the Rockies.

Thunder is the scary part of that word. One doesn’t want to be above treeline during an electrical storm. Which is what happened to Jon and me last August. So we hurried down the trail, leaving the peak unscaled. Score, Elbert 1, Mike and Jon 0.

Until Saturday.

I’ve decided that’s part of what I like about climbing. I love the camaraderie with friends and the view from the top. But, mostly, it’s the challenge. And it’s a challenge precisely because the mountain sometimes wins.

So I’ll carry a year’s worth of pent-up resolve with me this year. And, combined with some concentrated conditioning, and a prayer or two for good weather, I hope it’ll be enough.

Will let you know on Sunday.

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