Friday, August 25, 2006

Rain over me

The rain splatters against my basement window.
The scene has opened many prison movies. The rain is supposed to represent sadness, or at least that's what I'm assuming most of the time. Prison, the director is telling us through the obvious metaphors movies like to use, is a lonely, depressing place.
But I'm smiling as I hear the rain.
Instead of being in prison, I am, in fact, free.
I was supposed to go with my 14ers buddy and two other climbing partners, his wife and another guy who I climbed a couple peaks with last year.
Aspen. Capitol. The toughest 14er in Colorado out of the 54, and one of the state's toughest mountains.
I first climbed it in 2001, with a guy who had climbed almost 1,000 of them. My story on him ran across the national AP wire, along with my photo of him walking across the famous knife edge, which, if you imagine an ant walking across a butter knife, you'll get an idea of what we had to do to get to Capitol's rare and unforgiving summit. He said it was one of the toughest he's done.
Still, Captiol is awesome, and I was looking forward to it.

But I was also longing to stay home, with Jayden and Kate and my bed and dogs and poker.
I climbed Longs Peak Thursday, leading a group of seven up. It was a 17-hour day by the time I got home, and it was my 14th time up, and though the mountain is one of my favorites, it's always a hard and, well, long day.
I was sore, tired and not really anxious to do another mountain.
It's been a long summer.

But now I can stay home, relax and have fun.
Capitol is no mountain to mess around with a forecast of snow, cold and, at least, rain all day.
The weather gave me a reprieve.
I will stay home the next couple of weeks. Then I'll pounce on a couple more peaks, and, finally, fall will come, with nothing to do but the occasional half-marathon, play with Jayden and bitch about my fantasy football team.
I'm really looking forward to it.

• • •

People do ask me why I would climb Longs 14 times. Aside from the joy of leading clients up an awesome mountain for their first time,and enjoying the money they paid me (I bought a new laptop, a Mac Book that will run Windows).
I'll leave you with the reason why. I especially like the first one. Although it looks like that would be my inner self after I take a bad beat (like last night in Omaha when I lost to runner runner straight flush, I know there aren't many true bad beats in Omaha but I think that qualifies), it's actually the first hint of the sun at 12,700 feet. You start the 14,250-foot Longs at 2:30 a.m. because it's the only way to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that happen almost every day. After all, the mountain is 15 miles and you gain more than 5,00 feet, and over its rough, Class 3 terrain, that takes a while.
The first two pictures are your reward for getting up early (other than remaining fried free and staying alive).

Here's Longs. That east face is one of the most awesome sights in mountaineering. Many come from around the world to climb it. We skirted around the back side through the "keyhole" route, probably the most popular route in the state - and one of the hardest.

One of the scary parts of Longs, the aptly named narrows.

Here's the final 250 feet. It's not as bad as it looks. But it's not THAT easy either. :)

Finally, here's the best reason for staying safe and staying home, the 15-month-old Jayden Miles England.