"Your biggest challenge isn't someone else. Its the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells 'CAN'T', but you don't listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper, 'can'. And you discover that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are." ~unknown~
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, 12/28/11 Rosalie Attempt and 90mph Wind Abuse
8 miles/3,000 vertical
Prior to this attempt on Rosalie, I thought I have endured some severe winds. I have been knocked to the ground, staggered like a drunk, leaned on my poles with all my weight to avoid falling, clung onto rocks and have had my breath taken away on numerous occasions in sub zero temperatures. However, the winds we faced above treeline, especially as I peeked over the ridgeline as I attempted to make it to the consolation prize, ~12,200 foot Pegmatite Point, gave me a new found appreciation for the power of wind.
We were aware of the forecast for 90 mph winds near Mt. Evans and decided that perhaps we might luck out and get a bit of a wind shadow, or the forecast might not be as bad as feared. Either way, the drive was not too much of a commitment, the forecast was the same on all other nearby peaks and we were all fine with just taking a hike and enjoying each others company, regardless of summit success.
The approach to treeline was pleasant and unseasonably warm, but we could hear the winds overhead and knew that the conditions would be tough above. At treeline, we ate and drank as much as we could (knowing that there would be little chance of doing so above), donned full battle regalia and got down to business. The wind was blowing hard, enough that we would occasionally have to hunker down to avoid getting knocked to the ground, but it was not particularly worrisome, as we were on grassy tundra and snow. I was well prepared for any conditions, was having a great time and was still 100% on board for attempting Rosalie.
Soon though, the writing was on the wall that it was not to be and everyone decided to hunker down behind some bushes and wait while Kevin, Sierra and I continued to ascend the ~250 vertical feet to the summit of very nearby Pegmatite Point. On a calm day, this would have literally taken 5-10 minutes at the most, but with each step we took, the wind seemed to increase in strength exponentially. This was further complicated by the fact that the ground now became blocky talus with surprisingly deep unconsolidated wind drifted snow between the rocks that made the consequences of a fall or misplaced footstep much greater.
Sierra and I made it to a false summit and though we were just about as high as the true summit, it was a surprising few hundred lateral feet away, but it may as well have been on the other side of the planet. The will to go there had absolutely no bearing on the outcome, as once I crested that ridge, the wind pounded with such force, that movement was no longer an option. I clung to the rocks, literally immobile and for the first time ever, was fearful of the wind and what it could do. Who knows if my estimates are correct, but I would agree with the forecasters prediction of 90 mile per hour winds and would not be surprised if it were even more than that.
I slowly crab walked, crawled, rolled and butt scooted back down through the talus and then was able to stagger down across the tundra back down to the waiting group, where we retreated for the trees with our tails between our legs. Despite not making the summit of anything (this was a repeat anyways), we all had a great time.
Here is a 2 minute video I took that gives a bit of an idea of what it was like, though I only had the camera out when there was somewhat of a lull in the wind. 25 seconds in is where I turned around and was the worst of it. Turn the volume all the way up.