Getting humbled, one way or another

Puckering Up On Wetterhorn June 26, 2011

Filed under: Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 5:20 pm

I enjoyed the feet upon feet of snow all winter and still talk about the powder days. But come spring I noticed that I’ve been complaining about all the snow still up in the mountains. Can’t have it both ways Sarah! So instead of complaining, my adventure buddy and I decided to force a backpacking and 14er trip this weekend\

The original plan was to hike Uncompaghre Peak the long route past Wetterhorn and Matterhorn. Eventhough it’s not really necessary, we wanted to backpack in so we could camp up high and get away from any civilization.

Backpacking in with Wetterhorn peeking out above us.

When we arrived at about 12,000 feet you could finally get a full view of Wetterhorn. We decided to plop our tent down right there.

It’s such a spectacular looking peak, we changed our minds and decided to climb it. As I read the peak description that evening, I started to worry a little. It would be my introduction to more exposed scrambling. I don’t mind Class 3 scrambling at all. It’s the “exposed” that I worry about. In my opinion, “exposed” is the nice mountain climber term for “if you slip you’ll tumble right off the mountain.”

Well, I thought, I’ll at least give it a good try.

Starting out early, we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise.

Hello lungs.

As the book said, the route would get more and more difficult as you ascend the ridge. We scrambled around, me performing some kind of new climbing techniques that while not pretty, got the job done.

Then we arrived at the final summit pitch. Just 150 feet to go. Unfortunately, that 150 was the exposed Class 3 I was worried about. Thankfully it has great ledges and handholds the whole way up. It just has no real bottom to it. Right before we started, Carrie said, “ok the key to exposure is not to look down.” So what did I do? Yep, I looked down. I couldn’t help but picture where I would land on those snow fields below if I were to slip.

If you thought this post would be about the nice kind of “puckering up”…well it is not. It’s about the parts of your body that “pucker” when you’re scared. On this, just about everything in me that can pucker, was fully puckered.

I took this picture before climbing back down. No way was I stopping for scenic views or pictures when climbing up! At one point, Carrie asked if I wanted to stop and rest. I flew by her saying, “Can’t stop. Will freak out.”

Obviously my visions of cartwheeling down the mountain didn’t happen.

The view from the summit was amazing! That’s Uncompaghre Peak on the left.

Enjoying perfect weather on the summit.

The great thing about all that snow, is you can get down very quickly…and in a much more entertaining manner. I had never glissaded before, but was really looking forward to it. It’s like big mountain sledding and you use your ice axe for a break. We had seen a couple other guys bail off the ridgeline and slide through the gap in these rocks. We decided to do the same. Walking up to the edge, I got that pucker again and wished I had my skis. It was steep…and those rocks looked sharp. But I grabbed my axe and decided to go for it before thinking too much. What followed was the most uncoordinated, flailing, spinning and twisting glissade this world has ever seen. In fact I wish a mountaineering instructor was there to film it. He could use it as a “How Not to Glissade” training video. When I finally came to a stop in the bowl below, there was laughter from the ridgeline above and I had the worst wedgie of my life.

Carrie’s glissade was much more graceful.

My butt mark on Wetterhorn.

In perfect backwards fashion, I decided I should teach myself to glissade on slopes much less steep.

Back at our campsite.

I’m still pretty amazed that I got on top of that thing. I’m all puckered out.


One Response to “Puckering Up On Wetterhorn”

  1. Andi Says:

    There is no way in H*** I would have gone up that. Maybe that is one of those pictures your mom does not want to see…..or shouldn’t see :-/

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