June 15, 2012
My First 14er
In the endurance world lots of people decide to run their age in miles on their birthday. I decided to climb the second highest mountain in Colorado. And then follow that with a little run up Hope Pass the next day (that's another blog entry).
Starting at 7 a.m., we kinda made a few mistakes -- like not eating breakfast, bringing a few gels and bars for the entire journey and downing lots of coffee right before our ascent. Let's just say, I owe Martin a new pair of gloves...
|My boy scout with the GPS and maps.|
The first few miles went pretty smooth. Other than a little headache in the morning, I was feeling pretty good. The altitude was treating me ok below tree line (more on that later).
|This was the only spot I ran going up Mt. Massive|
|Just coming out of tree line, about 11,800 feet. |
South Massive is right ahead, but the summit is to the right and just off the photo.
Things started to change at about 12,500 feet. Like a light bulb, the elevation hit me. Suddenly, I can't breathe. I'm huffing and puffing, feeling nauseous and dizzy. Martin had gone ahead and said he was going to go up South Massive and said he would meet me in the saddle and climb to the summit with me.
I caught up to another hiker. And we said hello and that was about all I could get out of my mouth. I was so focused, I didn't even introduce myself. Besides introducing myself would have taken entirely too much oxygen, of which I was sure there was not enough left for the two of us.
At this point, I had to play a game with myself -- 20 paces, you can stop and take a quick break to breathe. Then I would try to break my PR -- 40 paces, 50 paces, 75 paces. Never did make it to 100, but I got to 82 before I had to stop to breathe. About an hour later, I got to the saddle of Mt. Massive where Martin was waiting for me. He had returned some work phone calls, check and returned emails. I swear that man was a mountain goat in his previous life.
|I'm the little blob in the back.|
|Martin at the saddle just having gone up S. Massive waiting for me.|
|The summit is just ahead. I had to take a break! |
I may or may not have curled up against a rock earlier.
I think it was at this point I turned to him and said, "are you even feeling the altitude? Is it even hard for you to breathe?!?!" He said yes, but I think he was just trying to make me feel like less of a wussie.
|These little buggers ate a hole in Martin's coat.|
There were a few nasty looking clouds and I got a little worried about making it to the summit in time. Turned out the storm was heading toward Leadville and we lucked out.
I made the summit in 4:51.
Martin took a video of me making my Summit!
|We made it to the top!|
|Mt. Massive 14, 421 feet! There's my hiking buddy I met on the trail behind me in the photo.|
We decided to take the back side of the mountain down. This is called the North Massive Trail. I quickly learned the back side of massive is not only steep, but it was all rocks. Lots of damn rocks. I was really hoping to pick up the pace on the descent, but I simply couldn't in this terrain.
|Me cursing the rocks.|
|The blue blob is me, probably still bitching about the rocks.|
Martin kept telling me to "find the staircase" as a way to keep down the path. "WHAT EFFING STAIRCASE?!?! It's just rocks. Rocks everywhere."
|Here's Martin ahead of me thinking, "Is she still complaining about the rocks?!?!?"|
And 8 hours and 30 minutes later, it was all over. I made it! I climbed a 14er. I'm not going to lie, it was not easy. The hardest part was after 12,500 for me. I got pretty dizzy and nauseous, despite not being able to move 20 paces without stopping for a breath. And then it was a complete thump to the ego when I couldn't run the back side down. I had been counting on running down the whole time as I was going up, thinking how nice the run down would be. Ha! I was having a hard time walking.
It was a perfect way to celebrate my 37th birthday! Life is short. Go out and live it. Put something on your to do list and make it happen. Material things fade, the euphoric feeling you get from doing something for the first time doesn't.
Do Epic Shit.