Last month, Alex and his friend took us on a family adventure to practice winter 14ing. While Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks are hard enough to climb in the winter, they become even more challenging when they are snow packed. As you’ll see on the video, this day’s climb was made even more challenging by the wind!
While snowshoeing the two miles to the base of the final ascent was a fairly standard activity for us, the climb up packed snow and ice was a completely different experience and required some on the mountain lessons with the new equipment we were using. Having done it before, Alex taught the rest of us how to put on and climb with crampons (a basic set of razor sharp claws which strap onto your boots) and how to handle the ice ax for going up and for glissading down. He also carried a couple of emergency harnesses, rope and some specialty tools for stabilizing holds in the snow.
While the techniques are fairly straightforward, the on the mountain gearing up in the wind and the actual implementation the techniques was a bit challenging. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to poke a hole in your bibs with the crampon claws! It was also a challenge to get use to the angle of the mountain and the pull of gravity on your body when standing up as demonstrated by the short length of the video, a near backwards head over heal filming incident was the end of my recording for the day! I also managed to blow out a crampon and decided to take shelter under a rock as I recorded the others heading on.
To be honest, the constant wind and the unknown of coming down, were a bit too much for this adventuredad. It was with great pride however, that I watched my son, his friend and my wife tackle the steepest slope. Glissading down, it turns out, was a lot of fun and much easier than I thought. It’s amazing what a little force and a six inch pick can do for you in snow. As spring has begun, I’ll be looking forward to trying again next year!