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Lots of snow in the Southern Sawatch, looking towards the Sangre de Cristos.

Lots of snow in the Southern Sawatch, looking towards the Sangre de Cristos.

Peak #33: Thursday April 21, 2016.

Elevation: 14,269’

Ski Route: Baldwin Gulch to West Gullies and South Ridge.

Roundtrip Mileage and Vertical: 16.0mi / 5,000′

Ski Partners: Solo Ascent and Descent.

Start Time: 8a
Reached Summit: 1p (1/2 hour on the summit)
End Time: 330pm

Then it was on to Antero.  I hustled over to the Baldwin Gulch Trailhead for Antero from basically pulling the all-nighter on Pikes Peak.  Parking at about 6am, I had my gear readied and bottles refilled in a few minutes and laid down to take a 2 hour nap.  It was a gorgeous morning as the sun came up showing off bright blue brilliant skies.  Even though I was pretty tired, I knew that effort like today would likely mean the difference between getting every peak finished or not come June.

Starting yet another 16 mile day.

Starting yet another 16 mile day.

Rejuvenated and rehydrated by Red-bull, strawberries, some energy bars, and a pb&j for breakfast, I clicked into my skis a few minutes after 8am and began the long skin towards Antero up the Baldwin Gulch Road.   I actually had to be home that evening for an event for my new book, so I needed to move efficiently.

Trail junction, still a long way to go, but a gorgeous day!

Trail junction, still a long way to go, but a gorgeous day!

In an hour and a half I came to the creek crossing, took a short break and carried on.

It was definitely more mind over matter.  But with no wind and amazing weather, the summit pushed me to give it my best.  I had skied Antero several times in the past, in fact, last spring I had taken my now ex-girlfriend up the peak for her first 14er ski ever.

An empty hill slope that brought back powerful memories.

An empty hill slope that brought back powerful memories.

I remember trying to convince her to ski down the 35-degree face of the west chutes and she eventually came down the face beautifully, fighting back tears and fears but overcoming an obstacle and coming away better off for it.

Tara in the same spot a season earlier.

Tara in the same spot a season earlier.

I smiled as I skinned up past that spot where she had been so afraid.  It kind of reminded me to let all  my fear go, especially as I move forward towards the home stretch.

A natural half pipe in the west gullies.

A natural half pipe in the west gullies.

Ironic how these same mountains teach amazing lessons and they are the very same lessons that actually made me so stubborn to push me away from someone I really truly cared about so much.  At least I’ve learned from my mistakes, whether relationship related or mountain related.  Although the true difference is that the mountains don’t care and rarely give second chances. I’ve been very fortunate to walk away from mistakes and accidents in the mountains, and it always makes me appreciate life more and realize the true value of humility in life.  When I am ready to be lucky enough to find someone who cares about me again, I know for sure I’ll take all my lessons from these summits and let my new relationships with friends, family, a girlfriend, and hopefully someday a wife etc.  be things that I never take for granted.

Headed up the final 400 vertical.

Headed up the final 400′ vertical.

I pushed on. Coming to the final sharper ridge was somewhat sketchy, but so snow loaded that I skinned most of the snow and up the final pitch to the top relatively quickly.  In calm conditions, I walked to the top the final 20 yards and enjoyed the view all to myself.

Top of the world!

Top of the world!

On the summit I had another flashback again.  I was on a corniced snowdrift on the summit that was probably 15 feet high and deep.  In 2011 I had spent the night right on this very summit when I had camped on all of the 14ers.  Antero is famous for its big Gems and not as much for its skiing, but usually in April and May enough snow covers the peak to get some nice turns in.

Summit Panorama.

Summit Panorama.

Today was peak #33 and I was rolling.  Clicking in, I knew I could get down fast and I enjoyed the soft and sticky snow all the way back to my vehicle.   I hustled home to make my event and get some rest.  With one more good day in the forecast, I had big plans for Holy Cross the next day.

Cheers

Dr. Jon