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#291646 Fatality near upper Fay Lakes Basin

Posted by iceberg on 08 April 2013 - 10:14 PM

When this happened my first thought was the mental angst that Lisa would endure for the days to come. After reading the report I have more respect for her than ever. She is one TOUGH woman. I can't imagine sitting there and watching your hiking partner die. She could have given up right then and there and curled up and died next to him, especially in her physically injured state, but she refused. I have no doubt she would have walked all the way back to the trailhead if that's what it took to survive. The mind is an extremely powerful thing, even more powerful than the body. Because of the strength that she has shown I have no doubt that she will make it through this difficult time and be even stronger as a result.
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#264271 Knobtop and Hallett - 2010

Posted by ScottO on 08 May 2011 - 07:50 AM

Kristin surveying the scene. The clouds continued to build, blocking out the Mummy Range.

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Looking the other way from the summit, there's Snowdrift Peak out in the sun and the top of Tyndall Glacier up close in the shade. Middle right is part of the Tonahutu trail we were on.

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The clouds were darkening as we headed down from Flattop. We did get a light sprinkle and a bit of very fine hail before reaching tree line but not enough to get wet.

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One last look at Longs.

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The view from the Dream Lake overlook. I believe that's Knob #1 (per Ed's numbering system) above the lake on the other side. Far across is Mills Lake.

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The last picture of the day a bit below tree line. It was cloudy and breezy the rest of the way which was nice, as a return from Flattop can be quite hot on a sunny day.


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#257642 A Turkey Day snow shelter

Posted by Igloo Ed on 29 November 2010 - 10:05 PM

It seems fit that this trip report should start out with a WC Fields quote, "Not fit for man nor beast" but I will just say it was full on winter conditions.
I left Lyons in a temperature of 12F. and I wonder just how cold it was going to be at camp but what concerned me more was the wind I experienced driving up to Bear Lake. It was windy enough in the usual windy spots on the way to Estes Park and when I got the view of the Divide, I could see the peaks were shrouded in blowing snow. Not the kind of weather I was hoping for... Sure, I had been checking the weather forecast and the weather was holding true to the predicted low temps and strong winds.
I had hoped to ultimately go up Otis Peak a ways to build an igloo and spend three nights. This was my twenty eighth consecutive Thanksgiving in a snow shelter and I knew I had experienced weather just as bad over the years but it had been over ten years since it was this cold.
Well, experienced or not, the peak wasn't going to give itself to me on this trip but I figured I might just as well head that way and stop to build an igloo when needed.
When I got to Estes Park the temperature had dropped to 8F. and the wind was blowing down Elkhorn stronger than I'd felt it for a long time but then, I know the woods and know how to stay out of the wind on most trips up to timberline. I have my excellent leather boots, that fit so good, and my favorite Smart Wool socks to keep my feet warm but I'd left my full cover insulated gaiters at home. I instead foolishly thought my standard gaiters would do the job.
I drove up the Bear Lake road enjoying the new snow in anticipation of what snow conditions I would experience in snowshoeing and building the igloo. By the time I reached the parking lot, the temperature had dropped to 5F. and the winds were picking up also. I wasn't a gusty type wind but a steady 10mph which cut through to the bone when standing in the parking lot and getting ready. Luckily I know to have everything ready so all I need to do it put the snowshoes and pack on before heading out.
I pushed hard at first to get some body heat going and I warmed up before I got to Nymph Lake but my feet were still chilly so I kept pushing on to stop them from getting any colder. The winter trail up to Nymph is much more sheltered than the summer trail but even in the woods there was a steady 5mph wind that would bring on a chill if taking anything but a short water break.
I pressed on while breaking trail through the snow that had drifted onto the trail overnight. The snow was variable with soft easy snow to break and crusty snow that broke when putting my full weight on the snowshoe. I made good time in spite of breaking trail because I was traveling fast to stay warm and the overall snow conditions were favorable.
After passing Dream Lake, the trail had a lot more snow on it making going a bit slower but I was enjoying the depth of snow base we have this year. The new snow was deep enough that the last 1/2 mile of trail to Lake Haiyaha was completely hidden. Luckily I knew the trail well enough to follow the openings through the trees.
A short ways before reaching Lake Haiyaha I turned off trail and started heading up the side of Otis Peak. I was surprised how deep and firm the snow was with only sinking into the powder about a foot to a solid base below and then finding large areas of rock hard wind drift that was like walking on a hard trail.
I gained 400 feet after leaving the trail before reaching the end of any good tree cover to build the igloo in, it was very obvious that I wasn't gong any higher so I settled on the same sheltered spot I had built an igloo last spring. The wind hadn't died down any and it was moving through the trees at 5mph but the temperature had warmed up to a balmy 8F.
I arrived at the campsite at 11:30 and began building the igloo around 12:30 to hopefully keep me warm with the work of building the igloo. Heh, not so... I even tried doing a little shoveling of the walk to warm up. Nope, just to cold so I put my down coat on and my Forty Below overboots and that did the job. My feet, that had been freezing all day, soon warmed up and I was just warm enough to not overheat with taking a short break from time to time.
I built nearly the first three layers of the igloo before I put the stove inside the igloo to melt snow for water as the walls were blocking the wind good enough that the stove would work. It actually felt kind of strange laying down on the floor of the igloo to light and adjust the stove because it felt great. It was nearly dead calm and I felt so good that I felt like taking a nap. Whoa though, those are the thoughts of a person with hypothermia! I knew better though because I was warm so I got back to work before chilling down to much.
I was building the igloo by myself which requires me to get in and out of the igloo but after I complete the third row of the igloo, I can step over the wall anymore. Consequently I need to dig the door open to get in and out which lets a draft into the igloo again. I was leaving the stove going to melt snow as I worked but it blew out several times while I was building the forth layer of the igloo and I could feel the draft myself when standing in the igloo.
The building technique changes also after the third layer in that I shovel a huge pile of snow into the igloo and then go inside to build blocks and use up the snow. It was a blessing to get out of the wind while inside building and the draft coming in the door got less and less the taller the igloo got but it also makes it awkward to put snow into the form as the shovel handle hits the wall behind me.
I had been working in the dark with a headlamp since I started the stove to melt snow and I was very tired by the time I had finished the igloo. I normally build a seven foot igloo when I build it solo but this time I had decided to fudge on the seven foot pole settings so it builds a 7'11" igloo that is shorter than the 8' igloo the ICEBOX builds. It was a lot of work but then I was spending three nights and it would be enjoyed much more than the cramped 7' igloo.
Well, it was cold, the lighting was terrible for pictures and I was dog tired so I ate a quick cold meal before sliding into the sleeping bag for a long night's sleep. I slept in until 10:00 the next morning only to come out to harsh lighting conditions again for pictures. I hung around camp all day working on the walks and patios around the igloo site.
Towards evening I nearly let the good light slip by as I was cooking a meal but got out just in time to catch some colors:

I had packed a trail down over to a view around the end of Otis looking east:

It was getting dark so I figured I'd head into the igloo and make some coffee:
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#253966 Hector's Longs Peak Report

Posted by hector on 30 September 2010 - 08:50 PM

We came to the rock with the iron bars and I think I liked it even less going this direction. I had to put my foot on the lower bar to get down, and there it was, almost hanging out into space. I heard that Alan took Sandy and Bill a different way, up and over this section? I’d be very interested in hearing about that.

Entering the Keyhole:
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I love this view:
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Sometime during the hike down we had word that Rick had sprained his ankle. We hoofed it through the Keyhole and I grabbed my poles. Then we made our way down the Boulderfield and met everyone at the campsite.

Allen and Chris celebrate a successful summit while taking a quick break at the Keyhole:
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Chris and Jen make their way down the Boulderfield:
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Wow, I love a group in “save” action. Allen and Ed rigged up a crutch for Rick. A guy (climber?) sitting nearby claimed to be a doctor and bandaged Rick’s ankle. I heard the next day that Rick pretty much said, after the doctor left, “take it off. Let Alex do it.” (Alex has had EMT training.) People helped take down Rick and Monica’s tent, and Rick’s pack was divided among some of the younger guys. The majority of the group left to head down and tell a Ranger of Rick’s situation. Rick and Monica slowly started out on their own.

It took a while to get my things packed up from camp. While I was packing we could see Sandy, Bill and Alan coming down the Boulderfield. We waited for them, and John, Allen, Bill, Sandy, Alan and I hiked out. It was late, maybe 5:00pm at that point.  Remember how I said in Part I that I didn’t understand why people would want to walk out in the dark? Well, maybe we didn’t want to walk out in the dark, but we were surely going to do it anyway.

Somewhere down the switchbacks past the Boulderfield, Alan got reception on his iPhone, and Allen called the backcountry office to notify the rangers of Rick’s injury. It was closed and the message said to call 911. So he called 911, and from what he gathered, it sounded like someone had delivered the message to the Rangers, and they were on their way. Alan ran down the trail (with is 35lb pack) and caught up to Rick and Monica to let them know help was on the way. We rejoined Alan and took the Jim’s Grove shortcut back down. I was in “go” mode and just didn’t want to stop. My pack was heavy, and I was tired, and I just wanted to get down. So Allen, John and I kept going, and Bill, Sandy, and Alan followed (later I learned that Sandy had hurt her ankle -- I don’t know how I had missed that part. Sorry, Sandy!!).

The last group:
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The sky started to turn an awesome color during our Jim’s Grove shortcut:

And then it turned REALLY pretty:

The last 2 miles were the absolute worst of any hike I’ve ever done. My feet hurt and the hip belt on my pack had rubbed my skin raw. I girlishly whimpered the last mile. When I saw the sign for the last .5 mile, my eyes tried to make it say “you’re done!”, but it didn’t work. John was supportive and encouraging, and for that I am very thankful.

Would I do Longs again? At the top I said “never.” In the cabin that night, as we devoured our McDonald’s that John so nicely bought for us, I said “never.” Two days after coming home I said “maybe.” And now... “YES!” I would do it again.

And Rick? Well, as most of you know... broken ankle. He hiked from the middle of the Trough to the trailhead on his own volition with a broken fibula. Rick is amazing!

It was a long day for the day-hikers, and it was also a long day for most of us who camped at the Boulderfield. All in all, I think 19 of our Forums group summited Longs Peak that day -- Igloo Ed, Allen (strider), Lora (hector), Monica, Rick (twinebender), Ben (staffaction), Kristin (iceberg), Chuck, John, Chris (junkie), Jen, Alex, Glenn (GlennInPA)+ 3, Alan (BigAl), Sandy (SandyP) and BILL (Bill007)!! GET BILL UP THE HILL WAS A SUCCESS! Kudos to Lori (Lsmith), Jim, (JDgreen), Mike and Staci (renate1) for making it to the Keyhole and a bit beyond.

We were a hiking family who helped each other reach their goals.

As a group we came away with one broken ankle and a few other tweaked ones. A young man lost his life on the Diamond that day, and a man lost his life from falling off the Ledges since we were there; I thank God our group came away safe and sound. Thank you, Longs Peak, for being good to us.

Goodbye Longs Peak! Thank you!
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#296028 2013 Flood Aftermath

Posted by John on 14 September 2013 - 08:31 PM

I'm going to offer some reflections from my experience with the tornado that devastated our city and claimed 160 lives. The Red Cross primarily helped with emergency food and shelter. They focused on relief rather than recovery. I'm not knocking that, because we needed relief. They worked with the college and provided shelter for families until FEMA trailers (600+) were hauled in and set. But they didn't save a business from going under or rebuild homes.

Our church received several hundred thousand dollars. Our first step was to find the 105 families in our church whose homes were destroyed and give them a check for $1,000. That may sound like a lot, but it doesn't go very far if you are staying in a hotel or lost your apartment and everything in it and didn't have renter's insurance. Later our members in greatest need were given thousands of additional dollars to help them with house rebuilding or repair (many were grossly under-insured).

For the community, we set up Mission Joplin and gave away free clothing, household goods, furniture, appliances, etc. In the early days we had about 200 families a DAY coming through our facility and getting help, all funded by donations. Two years + later, all of the money that came in has gone to the people who needed it. We didn't use any donated funds for overhead, salaries, etc. It all went to those in need, either in the form of cash or goods. We feel really good about the thousands of families we've been able to help.

If you can find a church or not-for-profit organization doing that kind of work in Colorado, you can often get a charitable contribution credit. If you don't want or need that kind of credit for your income taxes, direct help is not a bad idea. We know who runs businesses in Estes Park and they are going to be hurting due to the lack of tourists. Some of them sell products we can buy online. Some of them would appreciate a check or gift card. Our experience was that some of the most needy families in our church were too proud to ask for help. But when we gave it, they often broke down in tears saying that they didn't know how they were going to make it and that our gift was an answer to prayer.

I'm not telling anyone what to do...follow your own heart on that. This is just my own experience for what it's worth. The need right now isn't for used clothing. A lot of families are going to need some cash to tide them over until they can get back to their property and start the process of rebuilding or relocating.
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