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August 22, 2010

Back In Lake Louise

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With Jana and my 3 day 2,200 mile sprint complete it was time to try to get back into boot mode.  Not so easy after over 40 hours of riding.  It was a 5 mile uphill climb to the site we used as a base camp for three nights along an easy path.  Just what I needed to get loosened up.

Summit of Mount RichardsonSummit of Mount Richardson

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Summit of Mount Richardson

 

Buggy barely begins to describe the camp.  Mosquitoes everywhere.  Occasionally the flies would run them off for a minute and we also had to watch out for the hard biting horse fly.  At night it was into the tent by 8 just to get away.  Going to bed that early was helped by the 3,500 feet climbs up and back down we were doing to get to the peaks around us.

The first morning I still wasn’t sure exactly what I’d gotten myself into.  I knew that Jana walked fast, though with a pack on and uphill our paces matched fine, and that we were climbing mountains.  We’d spent the last 3 days together except that she was in her car and I was riding so it wasn’t a social visit.  Now she started pulling out photocopied pages of the peaks around us and the ways up them.  You may remember that I’m not a huge fan of heights, or at least steep drop offs from them, but the peaks I could see looked ok from down below.

We set off to Mt. Richardson due west of our camp past Hidden Lake.  The trail ended soon and we made our way over fallen boulders arriving at the first steep climb.  It was a semi grassy slope on uneven rocks.  Midway up 3 bighorn sheep appeared 30 yards uphill from us.  They took their time making their way to the side as we scrambled up.

Yes, I'm Looking At YouYes, I’m Looking At You

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Yes, I'm Looking At You

 

Near the top of the grass we sat watching them and the sheep started making their way right back over like we were now part of the herd.  We spotted two more below us as the other 3 came back within 10 yards of us.  We both could have spent all day there watching and listening to them graze, but the call of the peak eventually took over.

A ridgeline waited above speeding up our progress and leaving us at a loose rocky slope with snow covering one side at the top.  Reaching the crest I thought I was at my first summit only to find that the summit marker was on the far side of the peak (an experience that kept repeating itself).  The view on the way up kept get better and now we had a 360 degree panorama of the area and an eye level view of the other mountains on Jana’s list.  We signed in on the summit register noting it had been two weeks since anyone had been there, took photos, and simply enjoyed being where we were.

The guide showed a path to another summit from where we were, but the snow and sideslope required to get there (actually the drop below the sideslope) was more than I wanted to tackle on my first climb.  Descending we made plans for the 2nd peak over, Mt. Ptarmigen the next day and maybe a day hike the last.

On Mount Redout Looking At the Other Summits We ClimbedOn Mount Redout Looking At the Other Summits We Climbed

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On Mount Redout Looking At the Other Summits We Climbed

 

Climbing the next day was much different terrain, more loose rocks, and a more consistent slope.  Also, we could see the summit most of the way so you knew just where you were headed.  An easier climb than we’d anticipated and I found myself starting at the peak east of our camp quite often.  Not as tall as the ascents we’d made, but it had a vast sheer rock wall along its whole western edge making me wonder if and how someone could get up.

Jana’s interest was quiqued as well and we checked into Mt. Redoubt on our return.  Not as high as the other peaks, it was still rated more challenging as you had to hike halfway up from the north, give up half of that cutting across a U in the middle to the south side and follow the ridge up from there.  That was our new plan and the third peak we tackled in as many days.

Mount Redoubt offered several new challenges mainly pshycological as you descended through the U watching the peak get further away and ascending near the cliffs edge on the other side.  Along with that was the steepest and loosest rock we’d had to scramble up yet.  Still we made it with no major issues and savored the view once there.

Jana At The Summit (and Edge) of Mount RedoubtJana At The Summit (and Edge) of Mount Redoubt

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Jana At The Summit (and Edge) of Mount Redoubt

 

The whole time I was trying not to think about the climb back down which is worse than going up on loose rock.  Plus it would be a lot harder to aviod looking at the really far down areas.  Knowing I’d already gone up and going slow to find solid footing made the worry unnecessary and we were breaking down camp in early afternoon and hiking back to the vehichles.  In all we hiked about 15 miles that day, climbed over 3,000 feet, and did the last 5 miles with our packs.  Once my knee made it through that I knew it was finally fully recovered from the Teton’s.

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