A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Emerald, Iowa and Missouri

  • Route: Arcturus (see Roach 14er book) 
  • Distance: ~8.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: ~3,900
  • Start time: 7:45 AM (latest start of the year) 
  • Time: 9.0 hours
  • Climbers: Alan, Jen, Scott and Sandy

Nothing like setting up for a  night beneath the stars when one your camp mates says “Look at that spider. Its eyes glow red when you shine your headlamp on it.” This would be the same person I loaned my bivy sack so he could zip up and be bug free. Me, in just a sleeping bag, slept fitully with my hands over my face and dreams of spiders in my head. Bastard…


Home sweet home

We got up late, we moved slow, we drank coffee, we lingered over breakfast, in short, we got the latest start of the year, but damn it was nice to start walking at 7:45, over 3 hours later than the previous day. The goal was 2 13ers and a 14er over the course of 8 miles and nearly 4,000 vertical feet. It was half the mileage of the previous day and Scott was pleased that the three of us, me, Jen and Alan, would be slowed by that effort, as it was his first time at altitude this summer.


Let’s go for a hike!

It has been a big summer in the mountains and we are getting a bit jaded. The camera only comes out if a marmot is juggling pikas, and even then it better be bathed in alpenglow, otherwise we shrug it off and keep hiking. With that said, the Lake Fork of Clear Creek is a beautiful basin. Carpeted in willows, wildflowers and granitic boulders, with craggy peaks stretching upward, it was a solid reminder of the beauty that we can take for granted by living in this state. The route meanders along the valley bottom through this grand avenue, eventually curling around and offering passage to Emerald Peak.


A moment of route finding, where Jen ponders the route and Alan grins like a kid in a candy store


Jen and Alan on the high


Damn that photographer is sensitive


Scott, Jen and me moving upward through the valley


Scott crossing a snowfield


Alan and Jen skylined


Scott and I, from the ridge that Alan and Jen are walking upon


Mining ruins, what did these people do for water?

The summit push to Emerald is up a steep talus slope with no clear path. We spread out to minimize impact and to ensure no one was in the other’s fall line in the case of rockfall.


Jen the ascensionist


An idea of slope angle, I look abnormally tall in this picture


One down, two to go


Alan pointing out the next objective, Iowa

The jaunt to Iowa is quick. Rock hop down, dash across grassy slopes and ascend a few hundred feet. It lacks the prominence from the adjoining saddle to be considered an ‘official’ 13er, but still a worthwhile summit to visit.


Scott illustrating his fly down ventilation system on the summit of Iowa

Clouds had been building over the last hour and the quickest way down was over Missouri Mountain so we made haste. I set a steady pace and the rest of the team was on my heels. We hit the summit of Missouri breathless but ecstatic of hitting the three summits we set out to climb.


Summit team


Alan goes one handed


No matter how much yoga I do a handstand eludes me

We made short work of the ridge along Missouri’s standard route and quickly reached what Roach describes as gentle grassy slopes. We have differing ideas of gentle. If this slope were in a gully it would be a grass couloir as it is steep, but it does offer a rapid descent.


The start of the descent along Missouri’s summit ridge via the standard route


Working our way along the summit ridge


Jen enjoying the last rest break before reaching the trailhead


Break time! Look close as Scott’s expression captures perfectly his emotions associated with descending the slopes behind him

Scott is moving to Hawaii so we wanted to give him a big dose of alpine love prior to departure. For someone who has not spent much time at altitude he killed it with a nary complaint. His company will be missed, but he can bet that a few mountain lovers will be headed his way for oxygen rich air and beach time.

As usual, our attempts at a choreographed finishing picture were fruitless. As always though, the results were laugh worthy and include smiles, looks of exhaustion and jumping about.





On the way out I had company in the back of the truck. There was only one beer left and it was decided who ever took the truck bed got it. If Alan did not have to to drive he would have been back there too, giving us each 4 oz of refreshment. As it was, it was up to Jen and I to slug it out over a cold Fat Tire.


Wildflowers were abundant and the following pictures are for the wildflower fans.







1 comment:

  1. Is someone urinating in the background of your bistort photo? In case you didn't know, that alpine sunflower has a cool common name - old-man-of-the-mountain. Nerd.