9-11-10 Mt Lindsey
Andrew, Bradley and I drove to the trailhead the night before to sleep in the car so we could get a nice early start. As usual at higher altitude I barely slept at all. I am sure my nerves didn’t help; this was going to be my first 4th class experience. Not only was I a little nervous but Bradley decided to hog the little leg room I had, half on my sleeping bag.
3:30 am, the alarm went off and Andrew and I got ready for our hike, throwing on every warm jacket we had, forcing some food down and some disgusting gel drink. We filled up a bowl of water for Bradley, cracked the windows and left him Andrew’s sleeping bag because it was pretty chilly.
The start of the hike is down hill and then it sort of flattens out. Next, there is a small trail that’s kind of hard to find in the dark. It follows a river and some streams, which we had to cross about 4 or 5 times. I started worrying we were on the wrong trail because we never saw the fork in the road that was suppose to be back before the rivers. The path got much smaller, going over fallen trees and branches. Luckily, about the time the path got weird cairns started to appear, so we knew we were most likely on the right trail… or at least we were on a trail. The trail began climbing uphill with rock fields on one side of us and a river on the other. After walking what felt like a long way for only an eight mile hike, the sun was coming up and we crossed the river a final time and walked along the ridge to a meadow where we got our first glance at the class 4 section and what looked like the summit of Mt Lindsey.
We then headed down the valley it felt like the temperature dropped 10 degrees. From the valley you go up a very steep climb to a ridge. It took a lot of my energy and I could tell the hike back down would be rough on my knees. At the final ridge before the class 3 and 4 started we saw a tent and a guy coming back down about a hundred yards away. The ridge was somewhat windy and I was freezing. We greeted the guy and he told us that he had taken the ridge up (the class 4 section) and taken the standard route down. The standard route was a very loose scree field going up a somewhat steep gully. Our plan was to do the same thing, so after some quick beta (that didn’t really help) we headed off. Immediately I felt weird about the ridge and my hands were so cold that I was getting what Andrew calls “screamin barfies”. How would I hike the class 4 section with frozen fingers? From where I stood the class four section was incredibly intimidating to look at.
Andrew gave me his gloves so I threw them over the liners that I had on (his hands are always warm, no fair). We then scrambled up some loose scree to the ridge. By this time my hands were getting warmer so I took off the gloves because I couldn’t grip anything with them on. I was nervous, and I don’t know if Andrew felt a little uneasy about it as well or if he was just trying to ease the situation for me, but he suggested we scramble down to the Standard approach. Relief and disappointed we started down slowly. Down climbing was scary and the scree was very loose. I felt like if I tripped I would just keep rolling to the bottom the mountain (probably a little irrational). After a few moves down but also closer to the class four part, I suggested we just keep climbing up to look at it, partly because I hate down climbing but mostly because the stubborn part of me knew that if I didn’t try the class 4 part (which was the reason we had decided to do that particular 14er) I would have been disappointed in myself. So up we went on loose rock and scree which is only considered class 3 but had me pretty nervous.
When we arrived at the class 4 section I knew without a doubt I’d rather climb up that then down climb from where we were. Somehow the class 4 section felt better to me then the class three stuff, mostly because it was on actual rock rather then loose scree.
Since the beginning of the class three on the ridge, each hold I touched I would first try to wiggle to make sure it wasn’t loose before grabbing onto it. I started thinking about a time when I was on a hard sport route, which had just been set, so there were still rocks that were loose. I couldn’t get the route but I was trying it for fun anyway. In one section I was holding onto a piece of rock and when I put more weight on it, it broke off in my hand and I fell off the route, dangling from the rope. If that were to happen up here on Lindsey, I wondered if I would just tumble right off.
By the time I was close to the top of the 4th class section I was feeling a little better and offered to take the camera from Andrew so that I could get a photo of him on it. I grabbed the camera and started up to the final ledge where I was sure it had to get easier from there. When I looked over the ledge I didn’t like what I saw. Once I climbed over I was going to be facing a ton of exposure and one wrong move and I faced some bad consequences. After a little panicking (and tears) on my end, Andrew climbed past me and talked me through the moves. I stayed calm enough to climb over and made it next to him. For some reason the more gripped I got the more I worried about everyone else. I kept saying “I hope Bradley is ok” and “How are you doing?” to Andrew. Of course Bradley was ok; he was lying in a car, in the shade, drooling all over Andrew’s sleeping bag.
The exposure lasted about 100 yards but I made it with Andrew talking me through it. When we got to the summit we realized it was a false summit and we had to cross a short saddle for the actual summit. I began walking to the summit, feeling exhausted, no way would I quit because of a false summit.
Finally to the top I felt relieved and kind of proud of myself for pushing through my fears. It’s crazy how far you can push yourself. At the time pushing yourself is never fun (type 2 fun), but something about it always leaves me with a sense of accomplishment and greater knowledge of myself and what I’m capable of. I guess that’s why I continue to do it.
Starting down the standard approach we ran into an older man (70’s) and a young girl who we stopped to chat with. They pointed us towards the standard approach. It looked really loose and somewhat scary to down climb, for me it meant a lot of weird crab walking moves and concentrating. While it wasn’t terrible in the long run, I was glad to have a helmet on!
When we finally got to the ridge we took a photo of the class 4 section and pulled out the pesto pasta I had made beforehand and ate like we’d never eaten before. Anything tastes good when you are as hungry as we were. Still eating, we began down more scree. My knees felt shot already and the rest of the hike was going to be terrible because each down hilled step was torture. Half way down the old man and the younger girl passed us. He was flying down the mountain and I felt like the 70 year old.
At the last mile, Andrew went ahead of me and got Bradley from the car.
Seeing Bradley and Andrew made me feel so much better and getting to the car felt easy. Shoes were pulled off immediately and soon we were headed home.
Andrew did have a rope for this hike but we didn’t use it, most of the challenge of this hike was just working through the mental battle in my head.
I can’t say this is the most exhausted I’ve ever been on a hike but I can say this was the most scared I’ve ever been. Working through the head games is all part of the battle and if you don’t stay calm you’re more likely to get hurt. Being able to bring yourself to a more relaxed state isn’t something that always come easy when your clinging to the side of a mountain. I hope this challenge carries through outside of just hiking and climbing, I could really use some help getting through job interviews. 🙂
9th summit down…um, only 45 more to go….