Have you ever done a hike so brutal, you swore off hiking above a certain elevation post-September? Let’s just say a more appropriate title for this post would have been, “How I almost fell off a 14,000ft mountain.”
Joining the Colorado 14ers club ended up being a little more difficult than I expected. And I consider myself a somewhat experienced hiker.
Usually, I make a point to plan for all types weather conditions, but when it came to Mt. Bierstadt, I failed miserably. The only thing that saved me was having my adventure buddy, Chi (@fit_pham), along for the trip and a foolish desire to get to the top…no matter what.
Everything started off wonderfully. We headed out before sunrise through a beautiful field covered in snow. It was a little icy and treacherous before the sun came out… but undeniably beautiful.
The sun rose over the peaks and the morning clouds were splashed in an incredible pink light. The view behind us was the real highlight of the trip.
Brutal cold and fierce winds should have been enough to make us turn back, but we were determined. Frankly, I just really hate not finishing a hike, especially when we could see the summit 20 ft in front of us. Turning back just didn’t feel like an option, no matter how worried I was about losing a few toes.
At least the views were worth it!
Bracing against the wind, we pulled out our signs and tried to snap a few shots but our mouths were too frozen to smile or our fingers to numb to use our phones. I did manage a few shots with my DSLR camera, but we wanted to spend as little time as possible up there so it was more like, “click, click, let’s go!”
The wind whipped around us. It was easily a few degrees below zero up at the summit. At one point, a gust nearly threw me right off the top! Legitimately terrifying. We ended up racing back down, ready to be safely back in the balmy 20-30 degrees of the trailhead.
On the way down, the weather was finally warm enough to enjoy the view!
Chi was thrilled to have made it to the top, but probably more happy to be headed back down again.
Mt. Bierstadt – 14,065′ (cold and windy AF)
But in the end, we made it. All our fingers and toes intact.
Of course, we later learned that in the weeks following, people were able to hike the same mountain in shorts and tshirts. Sometimes, you just get a rough day. Hopefully our next 14er will be a little more forgiving!