Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sweet Missouri

My buddy Brian said he was going to attempt Missouri Mountain so I decided to join him along with another fellow named Don. Dalton and I had climbed Belford and Oxford last year and I remember it as a very enjoyable hike (photo 1). I wanted to camp, but I was at work Friday until 7:30 PM, so instead I left house at 3:30 AM. As we started up the steep switchbacks at the beginning of the trail the other Don was moving slow, so he sent us on ahead.

We were making good progress, but kept an eye on the approaching weather. Brian decided to turn around at 13,000 due to building clouds. I have many other goals this year, so I wanted to punch this ticket. I pressed on. The snow field just below the ridge caused me to put on the crampons. I was worried about my tiring quads, but it turned out to be quite a fun snow climb. Once on the ridge the trail was an alternate of bare and snow sections (photo 2), so I finally had to remove the crampons. At the crux just before the summit I wishing I had them on again. You must traverse a very steep snow slope below some pinnacles. To elevate the challenge, now there was thunder rolling along the next ridge.

I touched the top (photo 3) and got the hell off there. Oops! I forgot to mark the way point so back up I went. The clouds were rolling in fast. I contemplated a plunge step or glissade down the first couloir. I remembered from the guide book that the couloirs are easier farther down. So I crossed the crux again and found glissade trails down the next couloir. I really wanted off the ridge so I decided to go down (photo 4).

The glissade was by far one of the most fun in my experience. Although I didn't want to risk too much speed I still got up to 10mph according to the GPS. The snow was just soft enough to counteract the steepness. Once down the long couloir, there were two other chances for shorter glissades (last photo).

The walk back down the trail was sublime. It was raining, but I was waterproof. The wetness really brought out the colors of the rocks, shrubs, quakies, and pines. Seeing silouhettes of climbers on Belford was dramatic with the low hanging clouds.

Sweet misery. Brian and I grabbed some lunch at Doc Holiday's in Leadville before heading our separate ways.

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