In regard to extreme outdoor endeavors: Embrace them as challenges...un-forgettable, un-regrettable moments of triumph that carry us through doldrum times, or when such things have slipped beyond our grasp. Box Canyon Mantra:
Few things short of lightening turns me around short of an outdoor objective. Unfortunately, on this day with nary a cloud in the sky, I won't be able to count on lightening to bale me out of my Box Canyon "mantra." In one ear whispers Einstein, "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." While in the other ear, Peck counters with, "One extends one's limits only by exceeding them." What to do...
So here I go again, in search of limits, clinging to a vertiginous slab of frozen snow by slivers of boot-edge, and reevaluating the cascade of slippery choices made that gets me into fine messes. FYI: Adrenaline is an excellent lubricant.
|Bobbie, watching me push on for a summit before she has to head down in time to go to work. Maybe I need to get a job...|
Adrenaline is a two-edged sword. Sometimes it can be the "juice" that propels you beyond normal limits to glory, other times it's an evil drug that pushes you one step over the "line" (picture Wiley Coyote, looking into the camera...poof).
With a hiking pole firmly planted downslope for balance and support, I chip at the iceberg slab of snow with the edges of my boots, trying to carve a small platform where I can stop, rest, and reevaluate my predicament/fate/destiny/demise. If I could just "edge" up another couple hundred yards to an island of bare ground, I'd be able to sit down, rest trembling legs, and think things over.
I go for it (damn Nike slogans), only to wonder/worry about getting back down later. Whether a kitten, kid, or Geezer, down is always more problematic than "up," especially on icy slopes where boots have a way of ending up over your head and sends you off down-mountain on an "unforgettable" bobsled ride without the bobsled.
|Bobbie and Gayle heading down|
I try not to look down as I sidestep up to the "island." Finally, a bare patch of ground that allows rest...before taking on the next slab (Hey, I was feeling better). The sun beats down. I am sweating profusely even though underdressed in t-shirt and shorts. That's when I begin to notice the snow underfoot softening; setting an "edge" is easier by the minute.
Secure footing makes quick work of reaching the "pass." I'm relieved that, at least on this day, my "epithet" will not contain the word "stupid."
Snow continues to soften, so fast, actually, that I worry about breaking through the crust and having to post-hole my way off the mountain. It's feast or famine, alone in the wilds; fear-joy-fear-joy. The wintery scene is dreamy. But in this "dream," I'm beginning to long for July... when fields of wildflowers supplant snow, and the only worry is lightening.
|Given all the ice on the way up, I'm surprised to find a pond at 12,000 feet melted off.|
Lifting my gaze from the pond, I can see Red's neon orange summit of rock, glowing in the sun. "Red Mountain" is a almost a misnomer. "Orange" would be more accurate, even though it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue with the same ease.
The final push up Red is one of two-steps-forward, one-step-backwards. Snow or soil, it's more productive to use "all fours." A sudden resurgence of adrenaline occurs at the realization that, after such a sketchy beginning, I'm actually going to summit. I shall tread the snowy "Dragon's Back," take his portrait as he sleeps off a long, long winter.
There's really not much of a "peak" to Red #1, more of a nub, really. But the peak is not the "draw" for me. "Red" is all about treading the "Red Dragon's Back," reveling in its serpentine, burnt orange spinal cord as it leads the eye down valley to Lovely Ouray's crevice, Ridgway valley, and beyond...all the way to Grand Mesa. It boggles my mind; the most colorful ridge line you will ever lay eyes on, if not the most beautiful spectacle in the world.
I realize there is redundancy among the following photos. Alas, which "child" do I sacrifice?
Now let's have a look from the summit...
And now a lesson in how not to glacade off the mountain...