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Friday, July 26, 2013

Antero - 10 years of learning

Date:   July 13, 2013
Mission:  Mt. Antero (elevation 14,269 ft.)
Who:  Siona (my wife), Liam (my son), and I
Length:  7.25 miles
Elevation gain: 2500 ft.

About 10 years ago, I made an attempt on Mt. Antero.  This was back when I was in my mid-twenties.  At that time I knew very little about climbing 14ers and in fact I was a totally different person.  I had only climbed Mt. Yale once at that point and Mt. Antero was my second 14er attempt ever.  To summarize my attempt in 2003, I started at the 2WD trailhead.  I made it to maybe 13,600' before turning around due to looming afternoon t-storms and pending darkness, since I didn't even make it to 13,600' until 5pm or so.  I was a total newbie and learned a lot of lessons that day in 2003. 
  • Buy a headlamp.  It's a fixture in my pack now.  It's a must have on all 14ers regardless of whether you think you'll need it.
  • Buy water wicking clothing.  Don't hike a 14er in sneakers, jeans, and a cotton t-shirt.  Just trust me on this, but if you don't believe me read about the dangers of cotton.  Just Bing or Google "cotton kills".
  • Quit smoking.  I was a smoker in 2003 and it certainly was a factor in slowing me down back then.  Over 5 years ago I quit.
  • Start early.  Early, at least for a 15 mile hike for a guy my pace, is not 7:30am.  7:30am is LATE.  Example:  I am hiking a different 16 mile hike this coming weekend, and I am starting no later than 2am in attempt to beat the afternoon t-storms.
  • Get in shape.  Being in shape is not a requirement for climbing a 14er, but it will definitely make it more enjoyable.  At age 28 in 2003, I was "in shape", but not aerobically.  I sucked wind all the time.  I'm in better aerobic shape at age 38 than I have been my whole life. 

This 4x4 road is pretty easy.
Anyway, let's take the time machine back to July 2013.

Siona, Liam and I decided to get up early and make the 3 hour drive out to Mt. Antero on Saturday.  We woke at 2:45am.  It amazed me how easily my 11 year old son woke and jumped eagerly into the Jeep at that hour. 

We were on the Mt. Antero 4-wheel drive road at 6am and made our way to the tree line.  We could've easily taken the Jeep to the end of the road at about 13,800', but we all wanted to hike most of it.

So we parked just above the tree line at about 12,000' and began our walk up the 4x4 road. 

A word of advice, if you have to start at the 2WD trailhead, start really early.  The hike is not hard, but it is long. 

Before 13,800, the hike up is mostly gradual and on a 4x4 road, except for this short section that cuts one switchback.

After an enjoyable hike up the road, we are at 13,800 and ready for some talus hoping fun across a ridgeline to make it to the summit at 14,269'. 

At 13,800, Liam with a smile and Siona enjoying the views.

The short ridge to the summit.

The talus was both fun and a bit scary for my 11 year old, since this is only his 3rd 14er and the others all had trails to the top.  After a bit though, he is having a blast.  Before you know it we are on the summit and enjoying the beautiful morning.

I always love these moments.

Celebrating the summit with a nap.

Liam holding the crystal he found right on the 4x4 road.

We hung out on the summit and did the normal summit things.  Take pictures of others summiting, eat, smile, smile some more, and then it was off to beat the already building clouds. 

For those that do not know, Mt. Antero is one of the few mountains you can still find gem quality Tourmaline.  I mentioned this to my son on the drive up, and he apparently had his eyes peeled all day. On the way down he found a crystal/gem.  We're not really sure what it is, but it made his day for sure.

Can you see the Jeep in this picture?

We took our time on the way down after the weather that looked like it was moving in passed.  We enjoyed the wild flowers, the views and chatted with a bunch of other hikers.  

We made it back to the Jeep, and had an uneventful drive down the 4x4 road.

About two minutes after getting off the 4x4 road and on to the dirt road, Liam was sound asleep for most of the ride back to the Boulder area, a sure sign of a good time had.

I spent the drive home reflecting on not only how I was on this mountain 10 years ago, but how as a person I have changed so much since.  I even learned lessons this time too, but these may just be lessoned learned in the last ten years.

  • Take nothing for granted.  I cherish every smile I see from my wife, every hug from my daughter, and every high-five with my son.
  • Take time to kiss a dog.  Someone on the summit of Antero brought a husky to the top.  This dog gave me kisses for about 2 minutes straight. 
  • A bad day in the mountains beats any day not in the mountains.  I am not the first to say something like this.  Whomever said it first, cheers to you.  You understood it 100%.
  • Religion is bull shit.  However, love and random acts of kindness are not bull shit and have direct impacts on those around you.  Try it, I dare you.


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