Archive for the 'Peakbagging' Category

The Struggle is Real

“To the untrained eye ego-climbing and selfless climbing may appear identical. Both kinds of climbers place one foot in front of the other. Both breathe in and out at the same rate. Both stop when tired. Both go forward when rested. But what a difference! The ego-climber is like an instrument that’s out of adjustment. He puts his foot down an instant too soon or too late. He’s likely to miss a beautiful passage of sunlight through the trees. He goes on when the sloppiness of his step shows he’s tired. He rests at odd times. He looks up the trail trying to see what’s ahead even when he knows what’s ahead because he just looked a second before. He goes too fast or too slow for the conditions and when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He’s here but he’s not here. He rejects the here, he’s unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then *it* will be “here”. What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it *is* all around him. Every step’s an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.” – Robert M. Pirsig

2018 Firsts and Notables

  • NHL Playoff Game
  • Chopsticks
  • Questival
  • Paid of NASA
  • Finally hit my credit score goal
  • Padre Failure
  • Ski Resort Trip
  • Hiked Across San Antonio
  • West Coast Trail
  • First Rifftracks event
  • Royal George (its been decades)
  • Set bike to work speed record, moving time of 52 minutes, moving speed over 15 MPH
  • Played a few rounds of golf with Dad
  • Bought lemonade from a lemonade stand
  • Finished DC badge challenge
  • Capital Reef NP
  • Arches NP
  • Bryce Canyon NP
  • Black Canyon of Gunnison NP
  • 6 NP, cross-country trip with Jade
  • Finally got Longs
  • Tommy Caldwell talk
  • Got Laura interested in climbing
  • Wim Hoff
  • Navy/Air Force game
  • Camped with Moose!
  • 60 mile CT session with Jade
  • Visited Vancouver
  • Moved offices
  • Made progress on CB750 with help from dedicated forum members
  • Got my first real road bike
  • Lazer tag with kids
  • Stopped using work elevator
  • Began climbing in earnest
  • Big Memorial Day car camping
  • Destroyed truck on CastleCon approach (due to mechanic errors)
  • Finished 50 mountains
  • Finished 14 audio books
  • Ate crab pulled right out of a tidal lake
  • Visited a couple of lighthouses
  • Hiked Waldo and Williams Canyon
  • Massive Mania failure

2018 Trip Checklist

  • West Coast Trail
  • Padre
  • Longs. Mt. Lady Washington, Storm
  • Mt. Taylor
  • Blanca and Ellingwood, Lindsey
  • Challenger, Kit Carson, Humbolt
  • Culebra
  • Challenger, Kit Carson, Columbia Point, Obstruction, Humbolt
  • Mosquito Gulch (Loveland, Buckskin, Tweto, Treasurevault, Mosquito, Kuss, London)
  • Alphabetizer Loop Lost Creek Wilderness (12.2 miles 4000 feet) X and Y prime, Y and Z and zyphyr
  • Antero
  • Mt. Holy Cross
  • Sunshine, Handies, Redcloud, Sun Dog (Silver Creek camp)
  • East and West Spanish Peaks
  • Massive
  • Santa Fe, Morgan, Sullivan, Geneva, Landslide
  • Square Top, Decatur Revenue, Silver (this might be combined with trip above if we camp)
  • Lower Gunnison Paddleboarding 3-day trip (
  • CT Segment 8
  • Fremont10- Hayden Pass to North Decker Creek Traverse (

2016 Trip/Hike plans

  • Castle and Conundrum, 13.5 M, 4600 gain, Difficult Class 2
  • Harvard and Columbia, 15.00 M, 6100 gain, Class 2
  • Blanca and Ellingwood, 18 M, 6800 gain, Class 3
  • Missouri Mountain 10.5 M, 4500 gain, Class 2
  • Huron Peak 6.5 M 3500 gain, Class 2
  • Mt Antero 6.5 M, 2785 gain, Class 2
  • Sunshine, Handies, Redcloud, San Loius
  • Woodland Park Wreck site
  • St Mary’s Hike/Climb
  • Gunnison Camp
  • Yellowstone
  • Finish Colorado Trail (Segs14-28)
  • TWA Flight Hike – Sandia
  • Mount Greylock, Jerimoth Hill, Mount Frissell
  • Ice Climbing Trip
  • Red Rock Climb
  • Snow Shoe Trips
  • Blodgett Camping Trip

Blodgett Crash Site

Blodgett crash site

Blodgett crash site

Jade and I finally made it up to the Blodgett crash site a couple of weekends ago. I took a trip up there the day after Thanksgiving but it was snowing hard and the snowpack was quite deep, so I had difficulty finding the wreckage up on the ridge in limited visibility. This time around the weather was clear and somewhat warm for a mid December day. We got to the top of the ridge near a rock outcrop and took shelter from the wind on the East side of the rocks. I was digging through my pack for some snacks and noticed she had already taken off to go find the crash site. Withing a couple of minutes I could hear her screaming that she had found it.

More information about the crash is below:

Where: Blodgett Peak

When: Crashed in a cloud bank Feb. 23, 1943, en route from Pueblo to Denver

Casualties: Two

To get there: Climb Blodgett Peak, then descend 800 feet down the northwest ridge. 6 miles round trip on rough trail, 3,000 feet elevation gain.

Directions: Take the Woodmen Road exit west from Interstate 25 to a light where Woodmen and Rockrimmon roads meet; keep right. Drive five miles as the road winds toward the foothills and turn right into the clearly marked Blodgett Peak Open Space parking lot.

The hike: From Blodgett Peak Open Space parking lot, follow the wide, road-like trail that winds toward the peak. From the trail, hikers can look up and see their route climb through oaks on the southeastern flank, then enter a steep drainage on the south face before gaining a saddle just west of the summit. Take the road into the hills for just over a mile until it ends in a group of firs. Keep left at 0.8 mile at a junction with a road that goes to a nearby water tank. When the road ends a few steps later follow a clear trail less than a mile north, passing a spur to a neighborhood on the right, and arriving at a T intersection with another trail. Go left. The junction is unmarked, so note it for the way down. The trail climbs in a transect across the southwest flank of the peak. When the trail reaches the wooded southern drainage, it switches back east, climbs a bit, then switches back west and squeezes through a slot between two huge granite boulders. From here the trail gets nasty, shooting up the hill for 500 feet. The trail slacks off as it nears a ridge. At a saddle, follow the trail right a few hundred yards to Blodgett’s rocky cap. From the top, follow a trailless ridge down to the north/northwest. The wreck is .5 miles and 800 feet down on the east side of the ridge. A good map is critical to find it. The coordinates are 38 degrees 57 minutes 48.63 seconds north latitude and 104 degrees 54 minutes 35.53 seconds west longitude.

I marked the following locations (fractional degrees):

  • Parking area: 38.973621, -104.890258
  • Crash: 38.963550, -104.909825
  • Blodgett: 38.958910, -104.907154
  • Blodgett open space area: 38.948931, -104.886191

More information regarding WWII training flights and wrecks (from

The state has almost 700 documented military crashes and uncounted civilian wrecks. The vast majority of the military planes, such as the B-24 near Trinidad, went down on training flights during World War II. Between 1942 and 1945, the United States was forced to grow from a nation of farmers and factory workers into the largest air force in the world. The transformation came at a steep price. An estimated 15,000 servicemen died in 22,000 training flights before ever seeing battle. In Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, where, Wallace said, most of the training took place, crash numbers were especially high. “These were young kids flying these planes,” Wallace said as he jostled through the bushes to search another hillside. “Training was short. You had new pilots. New aircraft. You had problems.” Colorado had training airfields in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. In two years, about 300 bombers, fighters and training planes crashed along the Front Range. The Colorado Springs area is home to more than any other. The city is ringed by wreck sites: a B-24 Liberator on Cheyenne Mountain, another above the Flying W Ranch, a trio of B-29 Superfortresses — the model that dropped the atomic bomb — on the plains east of town. “At the crashes out on the plains, there usually isn’t much to see,” said Wallace. The twisted metal was carted away for scrap. But mountain wrecks are protected by steep, isolated terrain, so they often go unvisited. Some have changed little in decades. Not many of them are recognizable as planes. Before the days of radar and computer navigation, crews had to find their way through clouds by dead reckoning. If calculations were slightly wrong, or a wind blew them off course, they could (and often did) slam into the mountains. “There’s an old saying among pilots,” said Duke Sumonia, a fellow wreck chaser. “The clouds have rocks in them.” What remains after a pilot finds those rocks is little more than mattress-size shreds of aluminum and engine parts strewn over a hillside. That’s what Wallace was looking for above Trinidad: a glint of metal in the woods. A 55,000-pound bomber shouldn’t be hard to find. But time had hidden much. Wreck chasing first caught Wallace’s eye in 1990 when he was hiking above the Flying W Ranch west of Colorado Springs. He had never been a pilot, or particularly interested in planes, but then he spotted a hunk of engine. “I thought to myself, ‘How did a car get way up here?’” he said. Then he found more pieces, even fake training bombs. It seemed to be a plane. At the library, he discovered it was, in fact, a massive, four-engine B-24 bomber that hit the hill in a snowstorm in 1944. “After that I was hooked,” he said. He began tracking down sites through government archives and reels of microfilm newspapers. He got so good at aviation history that he was hired to work at the museum at Peterson Air Force Base. Eventually, he hooked up with a handful of guys who called themselves wreck chasers. They hunted for crash sites all over Colorado, Wyoming and the Southwest. These days the chasers go by a slightly more respectable, and longer, name: the Aviation Archaeology wing of the Colorado Aviation Historical Society. “It suggests that we’re more about documenting and less about just collecting cool artifacts,” said Wallace. Collecting robs later chasers of the fun of discovery. It’s sometimes a crime, since any wreckage older than 50 years is protected on public land by the Antiquities Act. So chasers, for the most part, just investigate. Think of it as CSI: World War II. They start with official crash records, then see whether they jibe with eyewitness accounts and crash debris. “Often they don’t. It’s always a mystery,” said Wallace. Wrecks chalked up to pilot error or navigation error sometimes turn out to be mechanical. To close the case, some chasers get in touch with survivors. For the dedication of a plaque at a downed B-17 Flying Fortress near Estes Park, the chasers tracked down survivors and convinced one to return, 55 years later, for the ceremony. “At one crash, there were no survivors,” said Sumonia, “but we invited the widow of the navigator and the brothers and sisters to come see it. For 50 years they had felt this guilt because they thought it was the navigator’s fault that all the men died. We were able to tell them it wasn’t. The crash happened at night in a snowstorm; there was nothing a guy could have done.” Any wreck chaser who has spent time in the field can appreciate the challenges of navigation. Wallace visited the mountains above Trinidad three times before he found the B-24 bomber. He had been back twice since then, and now, he was having trouble finding it. “I don’t know if it’s up there or over there,” he said, gazing into the featureless forest. He led on, stepping over an alarmingly fresh and large pile of bear scat, and scrambling up a hill. He usually carries a GPS receiver, but he’d forgotten it. “Wait, what’s that?” he yelled to a group spread out in the trees. “I see metal ahead.” To the untrained eye there was nothing, but then, a few steps on, there it was: torn aluminum skin from the flank of the plane. Then a few steps farther: a huge Boeing engine with its bent propeller still attached. Beyond it, more pieces glinted in the woods. Time and growing trees had tried to hide them, but the wreck chasers had made careful notes, so that even after the last witnesses have died, the history will live on. The chasers are working on a national database for all crashes. The work is far from done. In Colorado, dozens of undocumented sites wait on forbidding mountain slopes. Beyond the United States, in jungle covered World War II hot spots such as New Guinea, wrecks number in the hundreds. Right now, an expedition is heading to the South Pacific to search for what may be the most famous wreck of all, Amelia Earhart’s lost resting place. Most wreck chasers love the thrill of tracking a decades-old mystery and the peace of tramping around in the wild. But the big draw, many say, is connecting the living to past loved ones. “It’s the people. It really is,” said Wallace. “The great satisfaction is working with families. We’ve given them answers, sent dog tags back home. That means a lot.”

Last 14er of the season …


End of season plans

The season is coming to an end, and I still have a handful of hikes I want to complete before the snow rolls in:

  • Backpack to Como Lake, sleep, day-hike (ultralight) up to bag Blanca and Ellingwood, come back down and backpack out. This is probably the trip I am most looking forward to.
  • Backpack in to Missouri trailhead, day-hike up to Oxford and Belford, retreat back down to valley for r&r, wake up and bag Missouri and perhaps Emerald
  • Finish segment 9,10 of CT (should put me up to about 200 miles if I get 5 and 7), stage car at end of 10, sleep and bag Massive.
  • Finish segment 5 and 7.

School starts this weekend so hopefully I will have time to knock out 3 of these. Labor day weekend might provide an opportunity to complete the Blanca trip.

Grays & Torreys combo lessons

1) Eat breakfast. We did not eat anything until about 2/3 up and that was the reason I had some difficulty early with some steep stuff. Once I had some sugar in me I felt much stronger.

2) Do not eat a massive Mexican food dinner the night before. Eat something lighter with complex carbs, like spaghetti or sandwiches.

3) Have lunch planned and packed and prepped for the trip.

4a) Do not bring shitty gloves. Good gloves are worth the investment. If my hands are cold/frozen you really cannot do much in the way of using your phone/camera/GPS, unwrapping things, etc. When there is snow and ice on the ground and you are scrambling or walking with Trekking poles you really need good gloves.  I bought a pair from Golite on the way home that will allow me to use my phone while wearing them. I will take them out with me next trip.

4b) Bring a secondary thicker pair of gloves. Again when you cannot use your hands things get difficult quick.

5) Bring some sort of super lightweight hankerchief or something like it, to wipe freezing snot off your nose and beard.

6) Make sure to have something to cover your head. A balaclava also might be good to have around.

7) Make sure I actually hit the begin tracking button on the SPOT, instead of the send ok message button.

8) Bring crampons, or miniature crampons always. You never know when things will get icy or snowy.

9) Bring Afghanistan undershirt. There really isn’t anything better

10) For Torrey’s and Greys, there really isn’t any need to bring water up to 12,000 feet or so, since there is a wonderful stream running. Collect water there, and do not need to collect a lot since we can hit the stream up on the way down.

11) Hydrate the night before.

12) Trekking poles are great for descents and for icy conditions, however they are a pain to deal with when doing anything >= class 2+. Invest in some collapsible, lightweight trekking poles. They are versatile.

13a) Be sure to have my phone fully charged before the hike. I only had about 30% power when we started, and we did not even see sunlight until we were 2/3 of the way up so my solar panel was not able to really charge it adequately until we were coming down …

13b) Put phone on airplane mode, and leave solar cell in car for day-trips <10 miles.

14) Have two good, clean pairs of wool socks.

15) The Big Agnes Air Core sleeping pad and my 3-season sleeping bag in the back of the car resulted in some of the best sleep I have ever had out in the country. The Legacy is a bit longer and will probably allow me to stretch my feet out, so take that one when I can.

16) Wet wipes are great to have. I had never used them before even though they were in my first aid kit for years (see item 2).

17) Using the restroom above tree-line sucks (unless you like audiences), but it is certainly worth the effort to head off trail when it’s safe to find a little happy place, instead of pushing through in pain and agony until you simply have to go.

18) Get to the campsite well before dusk if possible. Because my partner was sick, and because we got there late, we both ended up sleeping in the car, instead of pitching a tent or two. I slept great, but he was quite miserable in the passenger seat.

19) Always leave early. Even if there is next to 0% chance of precip you still avoid the crowds, and have more time for breaks (see item 17).

20) For day-trips <10 miles, there really isn’t much of a need to bring the Mule, since I can rarely find anything in it anyways. Instead bring a single compartment ultra-light with a bladder and everything else wrapped in a plastic bag. The other way to go would be to bring a Nalgene bottle instead. For Grey’s Torreys, this would be preferred.  This could save 1.5 – 2 pounds between using the ultralight and bottle instead of the Mule and Bladder.

21) Think long and hard about wearing my summer hiking pants. 3 season pants are probably the safest route during the summer.

22) Bring a tiny rolled up blanket or travel Pillow. They are light weight and worth their weight in Gold when space is not an issue or when you are not hucking your sleeping stuff.

© 2006-2019