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Friday, July 18, 2008

The Wilderness? At Midnight? Part 1

Last year (2007) we went out to the Bighorns twice to climb Cloud Peak (13,175'). The first trip we didn't have very good information about the best route and we ended up climbing Bomber Mountain. We decided to make a abbreviated trip over Labor Day solely to climb Cloud Peak (which we did).

Climbing Cloud Peak requires us to travel off trail, across real wilderness. I would trust myself to lead myself about 70%. I trust RR to lead us 100%.

We got a late start last fall, leaving camp about 12:30p, mainly because all the other 3 were feeling effects of the altitude (camp was at 10000') to varying extents because we had no time to ease into acclimation. I felt fine.

We made fairly good time up the mountain, considering. We reached 12400' at about 5:15p, where we left V and E on a rock for RR and I to finish to the summit. EForce has VERY bad feet (very flat and bowlegged), but has done really well on the backpacking and climbing we've led him on. V was having some altitude-related bruising on her chest and felt she couldn't go further either. We told them we'd be back in an hour.

Well, it took longer than an hour. RR was feeling pretty dizzy and headache from the altitude, as well as having a tougher time breathing. I noticed the lack of oxygen, too, but nothing else. But the closer we got to the summit, the less we were willing to turn around. We figured if we could be out of the rock bouldering section by dark, we'd be able to make it back to camp fairly easily.

We didn't make it out of the bouldering area before dark. I think we'd just barely started the bouldering (about 2 miles worth, down the mountain). Since it was dark, it made it that much harder to move with any sort of speed. RR was very nauseas and I had to take over navigating for a little bit. V was pretty freaked out. The Enforcer almost walked himself off a 10' ridge (missed the switchback) and luckily RR caught him in time. We found out the Force, for some unknown reason, had not worn his contacts!

We got back to camp at 12:30a. We resolved that this year we would NOT be coming back to camp that late.

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