4,000 meters is an unrecognized altitude threshold within the United States. However, it is as well known where the metric system is used, as 14,000 feet is known in the US. This page is dedicated to climbing those peaks in Colorado that rise above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet)

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Year, New Gear

I used to be a gear junkie. Anything for hiking that was shiny, or cool, or new. Whatever! I loved gear. I’m much better now. Mostly. What has happened really was that I used to buy gear—before I had kids—like CRAZY! I would spend money with little care. But that has all changed. As one builds a family one has less time, money, etc to spend building a gear collection.

Additionally, I have over the years come up with a predictable and reliable gear system that I was reluctant to change. Don’t fix what is not broke.

This year I finally fell victim to that old spending urge however. I purchased a new pack. For the past 5 or 6 years I have been using my very reliable Osprey Stratos 40. It is a very good pack and has and will continue to serve me well. It has made the summits of many Colorado 14ers on my back and I have developed a somewhat emotional attachment to it. Nothing sick or anything. I just have spent a lot of time in a lot of very cool places with my Osprey.

But technology marches on and my Stratos 40 was showing some age. Many of the newer packs have better suspensions and are composed of lighter materials. I was not really looking for a new pack…but as these things happen…I found one.

It is the Granite Gear (http://www.granitegearstore.com/Escape-AC-40-P212C7.aspx) Escape 40. There is also a larger and equally competent Escape 60. They are nearly identical other than their internal volume.


The Granite Gear Escape 40 (courtesy Granite Gear)

I have not used this pack on the trail yet but it fits like a dream. It is VERY light. The side pockets are pointed forward so a non-contortionist human can actually reach back to remove gloves or a hat or similar without first taking off the pack. It is well designed and I look forward to using it soon.

Have a look at one in your local gear store. They are really nice. I’ll let you know how I like mine after I finally get out with it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Another Try at Sniktau


The “Official” climbing season is so close I can smell it in the air. It is often early Spring that I get the itch to get up on some peak somewhere. And this desire often falls to Mt. Sniktau to ameliorate. Sniktau is a great dependable peak and oddly, I never get tired of climbing it.

For this hike I was joined by a new partner, Chris Hanson. Chris and I had been working for a few weeks to get his gear up to snuff for a Winter climb. So on Tuesday, March 1, we both set off, albeit a little late towards Sniktau.

The weather was forecast to be great with moderate winds. Moderate winds on Sniktau can typically be around 30 mph steady. And indeed that was the case. We arrived at the trailhead around 10:45 am and it was already warm enough that we didn’t really have to put any other layers on besides base/middle with a hat and light gloves. Winds at Loveland Pass (11,990 feet) were light but picked up at altitude.


Chris and I Arrived at Loveland Pass Around

10:45 am. Looks Like its Been Snowing Up Here!

We started out by slogging up the 925 feet from Loveland Pass to the top of the ridge. This is a tough start. You step out of your car at 11,990 feet and grind steeply up to 12,915 feet. Arrrrgghhhhh…Its nasty. Particularly if you have a little of that Winter midriff spread. Not that I do.

At the top we stopped to throw on another layer as it was colder and significantly more windy. We snacked a bit and took in the beautiful Winter views of the surrounding mountains.


The 925 Foot Grind up from Loveland Pass

All the way up and across towards Sniktau the snow conditions were great. Nearly entirely wind scoured or hard packed. We post-holed just a couple of times and snow shoes were not needed, or taken for that matter. As usual due to the windy conditions on this ridge there were interesting snow sculpted features and sastrugi. There were a few places were previous hikers had pressed their boots into the fresh snow to have the wind later blow out the loose pack between the steps. This process leads to some very interesting (reversed) patterns.


A Hiker’s Frozen Steps Recorded in Snow Near Loveland Pass

Chris and I headed North towards Sniktau after we snacked and geared up. The winds were blowing steadily from the West and we had to put on our balaclavas but otherwise we were pretty comfortable.

By about 12:00 pm we made the unnamed 13er adjacent to Sniktau (Point 13,152). Chris had to be back in town by around 3pm for other commitments. I calculated that it would be about a 60 minute round trip to Sniktau then back to Point 13,152. I told Chris we would be cutting it pretty close.

We decided to leave Sniktau for another day (hopefully around Spring Break) when we had more time. We celebrated Chris’s first 13er (Point 13,152) and headed back to the pass.

While we did not make our goal of Mt. Sniktau, the day was a good way to shake out some gear issues, Winter dictated sedentary issues, and to at least get up into the mountains.


Parting Shot of Mt. Sniktau. We Will Be Back for a Visit