Friday, January 31, 2014

Climbing for the Future of Climbing

My 13 year old son has been to the 14,265' top of Quandary twice before. He recently asked me about climbing it in the Winter, and I felt that he was ready to do it. He's been riding his bike about 150 miles per week average during the non-Winter months and in pretty good shape. Good shape involves mental as well as physical preparation.

Mount Royal in Frisco CO with friend Mauri
We did a test run on Mount Royal, a very steep (over 1000' in a mile) short peak outside Frisco Colorado and he did pretty good in spite of the deep snow. We did some night trail running on a snow covered dirt road near Dillon Colorado. Finally one day the stars aligned and we decided to go for it on Quandary.

It was a pretty good hike overall. The weather was warm and not too windy. On the way we ran into my friend Alan Arnette, who maintains an Everest News blog as well as Climbing for Alzheimer's. I was in running shoes and my son was in Sorel's. It was a bit slippery, and we had some issues above the bridge where there is usually deep snow to wade through.

With Alan Arnette and the Kite Lake 14'ers behind
We had decided to forgo snowshoes so that we could go a bit faster and lighter, and overall it was a good decision. In about 3:35 we hit the summit. I had to coax him past that zone of depression that hits all the newbies around 13,000' and makes them want to quit (so far nearly everyone I've taken up for the first time needs help mentally getting past that point). I needed to remind him to eat and drink. I needed to help him keep bundled up against the cold and wind. It was a great experience.

There we are huddled by the summit pole on Quandary
Then on the way down it was slow slippery going. At that point I decided that we'd need spikes if we were going to do this again. Which is likely. When we got home and had hot chocolate and snacks he asked me about how to work on beating his time and we're going to try another Winter ascent on the snow. It's really cool to see how he has picked up on my own focus on doing the route quickly and efficiently. It's cool to see him want to get faster and better at it. It feels cool to be passing on the torch and inspiring the next generation of mountaineers.

Share your story with me. How did you get the bug? Are you helping your children embrace this life?