Monday, November 30, 2009 I'm ready for Christmas!

Halloween is over...Thanksgiving is over...bring on Christmas!  I don't know if it's just me or not but when I was a kid, these 3 holidays had their own month, their own time to ramp up for the celebrations, their own couple of weeks to enjoy each holiday.  These days it seems Christmas in July is a quote used by car dealerships IN JULY --- I swear I've seen Christmas stuff in the stores in late September or early October!  I've always felt that the holidays have been bastardized by unabated commercialism in order for folks to buy more stuff but that's a whole different posting...hmmm, am I being too cynical???

Tomorrow is December 1st, the Christmas lights are starting to twinkle on homes around the neighborhood, we trimmed Karen's tree yesterday in ABQ, and I'm hearing "Dance of the Suger Plum Fairies" on TV for some car advertisement.  I give...I'm ready...bring on Christmas!

Honestly, I love Christmas time - always have since I was kid.  I love seeing the Christmas trees, mall Santa's working on the lists for the real Santa at the North Pole, watching the clay-mation "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", hoping/wishing for a white Christmas (always a chance here in Denver!), and waiting for the first time I hear Adam Sandler's "Hannukkah Song" on KBCO.  What I really like is watching my nieces, Kit-Kat and Nee-Nee and Karen's son, Ethan, opening the presents - the excitement that builds up to that magical time.  Christmas Day at 6:30 AM is the absolute latest one can hope to sleep if kids are in the house!  As long as there's hot coffee - it's all good...

Off to Charlotte, NC Friday to visit Jim and the family for a pre-Christmas trip.  Airfares are excessive during the Christmas week ($600+ per person) and I'm spending it in Colorado with Karen.  Climb On my friends!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Up a Flattop...

Happy Thanksgiving early!  I'm currently in Albuquerque, NM visiting Karen and her son, Ethan, for the Thanksgiving holidays.  We're only in ABQ for a short period of time before driving to Tucson, AZ to visit friends and family.  I'm looking forward to a few days in the desert Southwest and the opportunity to wear shorts in warm weather!  For only a few days ago...

The winds were forecasted to be 20-30 MPH steady with gusts to 35-40.  Air temperatures hovered below freezing most of the day with a summit temperature of 17 degrees.  Windchills easily around zero.  Hmmm, sounds like a great day to go hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)!

I signed up on a Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) hike to Flattop Mountain (12,324') located in eastern RMNP.  The rating system that CMC uses classified it as an easy C hike - 11 miles round trip and 2750' elevation gain/loss.  Fairly "easy" after this past summer's 14er trips.  Good friends, Anne and Kevin Martin, joined the motley crue of hikers - no one knew each other well - it's the nature of signing up for CMC hikes.  Our ascent up the snow covered trail was sssslllllooooowwww and the group is only as fast as the slowest hiker - and we had one.  Regardless, the scenery was quite beautiful with lenticular clouds around (i.e. flying saucer clouds), windblown snow and blue Colorado skies.  Longs Peak to the east was outstanding in grandeur but looked formidable with colder temps 2000' higher and high winds.  Not a good day for a summit attempt there.  We had a quick lunch near summit and abandoned our thoughts of nearby Hallet Peak - 1/2 the group was cold and ready to get back into the trees.  I'll be back for another attempt on Hallet though...

Once back at the parking lot, our group bid farewell to the other group and made our drive down the hill to Oskar Blues in Lyons for hot food and cold, hoppy brew!  Yum - tasty Gordon's IPA!

As this is the holiday week - I wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving wherever your travels take you.  Climb On!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The List...

Well, the Oct-izzard of 2009 (radio DJ's came up with that one, not me!) is history.  Typical of our schizophrenic weather patterns here in CO, the 2' of snow on the ground is gone and temperatures were in the 70's today.  Strange...but that's why I love living here!

Lists.  Everyone has them from David Letterman's Top 10 list to the top movies of the weekend - we're surrounded by them.  My list is a little different than most - mine has to do with summitting all 14,000' peaks in Colorado before I'm 50.  At the moment, I'm at 39 peaks and counting.  Depending on whose list you use, there are either 53, 54 or 58 14,000' peaks in CO.  For the sake of argument, I'll get the ones listed on my profile on that lists 58.  My list for 2009 should have been at 42 but weather conspired against me on a few trips this year - mostly thunderstorms and snow (in summer).  So without further adeui, here is my top 10 list for 2010:
  1. Crestone Peak
  2. Crestone Needle
  3. Castle
  4. Conundrum
  5. Kit Carson
  6. Mt. Sneffles
  7. Eolus (and N. Eolus)
  8. Windom
  9. Sunlight
  10. Wetterhorn Peak
Other extra bonus points include Maroon, Capitol, Snowmass, North Maroon Peak, Mt. Wilson, El Diente, Little Bear, and my last one - Handies Peak.    Some will be difficult, others less so.  The picture in this post is that of Pyramid Peak that I climbed this summer.  It was by far the most difficult 14er I've done to date and ranks in the top 5 of most difficult 14ers in the state.  While it challenged me mentally & physically, I thoroughly enjoyed this peak.   So there you have it, my list for 14ers to attempt in 2010 - we'll see how the summer climbing season is after this winter that has only started.  Climb On!