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City: Fort Collins
Begins: Apr 19, 2014
Date: Thu, Jun 12th, 2014
Entry Visits: 2,211
Journal Visits: 5,040
Guestbook Views: 328
Guestbook Entrys: 2
Last PLB Location
Continental Divide Trail Map
I have never done anything as dangerous as the knife's edge before.
Think 75 degree snow slope for a quarter mile ending in jagged rocks
several hundred feet below. There are outcrops of very loose rocks
interspersed through the snow. These rocks would be dislodged by our steps
and tumble hundreds of feet to the valley floor. The snow was consolidated
enough to hold us up, but the rocks would slide from underneath our feet at
the slightest touch.
Falling means death most likely.
The trail was basically cut out of the side of a cliff and since it's on
the north side of the mountain, snow turns this already steep slope into a
We have the safety gear, ice axe and spikes. We have a bare minimum of
experience using them. Even so, the knife's edge is terrifying.
We hugged the snow slope sinking our axes into the snow like an
anchor.first pink went, then I followed, with the ivory tower twins
At the angle of the slope, you're pretty much leaning right up against it
and pounding in toe holds with your shoe.
There was a point in the middle where we had to descend 8 feet or so, I
used my axe to stabilize myself and kicked lower toe holds. I looked down
to make sure the hold was deep enough, and while I stared at the snow, I
instantly felt intense vertigo.
I'm no mountaineer, but this was hardcore snow mountaineering.
Pink and I waited for ITT to reach the other side after about a quarter
mile of this snow. I hugged pink with my shaking arms, adrenaline was still
pumping through both of us. In fact, I had a difficult time keeping my
camera steady. Pink and I were both bleeding from hugging the loose, sharp
rocks so tightly.
I was more scared doing this than anything I've ever done. I'm not some
adrenaline junky, but I am proud of all of us for not being deterred and
facing our fear.
The next day the CDT decided to show us another of her dangerous sides.
We'd just left camp this morning when we ran into a 15ft snow wall
obscuring our way over a mountain. We'd already traveled across another
extremely steep traverse minutes before.
T bone pounded in toe holds up the face and scrambled over the top. Just to
remind you this is at 12,000ft at the top of a mountain. Pink climbed it,
then I got up there. I had to use my axe to help me up and it was almost as
sketchy as the knifes edge, at least it was short!
But the real trouble today, happened when we were just about to crest the
divide at 13,000ft. The wind blew harder than I've ever experienced, the
gusts would knock me sideways a few feet.
Pink, Ivory tower twins and I, huddled together and decided to turn around
and seek shelter from it. It had to have been close to hurricane strength,
I had some music playing in my ear buds and I could no longer hear it over
the wind. We were maybe 50 yards from the top when we turned around, so
we'll have to reclimb that 1,000ft and 2 miles.... fun.
Here's my new and improved picture link, it took a while to sort it all
out, but all my pics have been uploaded now.