King of the mountain…

     On Saturday August 22, 2009 we set out to conquer Mt Elbert.  That is Danny Hoffman, Cody Rogge, and myself.  We arrived in Leadville the evening before.  We decided  to mingle with the locals and "acclimate" to the altitude.  At 11:00 PM Danny and I  had to all but carry Cody back to the motel, we then went back out to gather some intel.  As it turns, out a Blackhawk went down on the neighboring  peak Mt Massive on Wednesday and the military had shut down the area including our planned route to the summit of Mt Elbert.  We were informed that we could still reach the summit by taking the southern route near Twin Lakes.  This was a longer way to go, but now the only way, it was our way.  We didn’t drive a 4×4 to Colorado, so where I was able to safely get the mini van parked we still had 1.8 miles to hike just to get to the trail head.
     Five am came early as Danny and I got up and got ready.  I’m sure it came even earlier for Cody even though we let him sleep in for a bit while we loaded up.  Once we made it to the tree line we took a break and had an early lunch.  I think it was around 10:30 ish, but it would be the last shade we would see for a while.  Shortly after we made our way above the tree line, Cody informed us that he was not going to be able to go on.  Seeing the look on Danny’s face, I quickly told Cody to go back to where we broke for lunch and wait for us, then I turned back to Danny and said we were going to continue on.  I think at that moment if I didn’t commit Danny into going on he would have been ok with quitting right there.  So we pushed on…
     Somewhere between the summit and where we parted with Cody, Danny asked me if I really wanted to go all the way to the top.  My reply was, we’ve come this far lets finish it.  As we sat there and rested for a bit I admit, I considered his proposal to turn back.  Looking up the trail I pointed to Danny and said lets go to there then we can revaluate our situation.  Again we pushed on.  We were at 13,500 respectfully when Danny told me he couldn’t go any more. we stopped and rested for a bit.  I could see the pole that marks the summit, I pointed it out to Danny and encouraged him.  We can make this.  We sat there for little longer.  When it became obvious that Danny made it as far as  he was gonna go, I handed him the keys to the van and told him not to leave me, but wait for me.  I had a mountain to conquer.
     About an hour after I parted with Danny, I made the summit.  At the time, I was alone.  I was the highest man in Colorado, King of this Mountain.  I dropped my pack and called my wife, then my folks, and a couple other people.  I rested and smoked a couple of cigarettes while enjoying the view for about 20 minutes.  Then a couple made it to the top and helped me with some pictures.  I remained there as they left, still enjoying myself.  The climb down would suck and it would be long, therefore it could wait another 15 minutes.  In the meantime I was going to relish in my achievement of conquering this mountain.

~ by Ponie on August 24, 2009.

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