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Celebrating 25 Years: Ouray Ice Festival 2020

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Last year I wasn’t able to make it to the annual Ouray Ice Festival since I was busy exploring the Paria Plateau that weekend instead, but this year I made sure to spend a few hours at the festival on Saturday morning since it’s the 25th Anniversary of the event! I left home early on Saturday morning, grabbed a quick breakfast on my way out of town and arrived at the Ouray Ice Park just in time to watch the beginning of the Elite Mixed Climbing Competition. After watching a few of the ice climbers on the competition route from the bridge, I wandered around the vendor booths and then watched and photographed other climbers on the ice in the Uncompahgre Gorge. I left in the early afternoon and grabbed a Mocha Shake from Mouse’s before heading west into Utah for the remainder of the weekend.

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The Mountain Belle at Red Mountain Pass

A Winter Weekend Snowshoe Hut Trip
Friday – Sunday, January 3-5, 2020

If you know me or have been following along with my blog for any amount of time, then you probably already know that I prefer to spend my winters hiking in the desert rather than playing in the snow in the mountains. However, this weekend I decided to finally try something new that has been on my ‘to try’ list for a long time, which is to snowshoe to a hut in the mountains. Back in August I decided I was finally going to try it this winter and booked the Mountain Belle cabin above Red Mountain Pass for the first weekend of the year. I chose this particular cabin since it’s not far from home, it’s in an area that I’m very familiar with, and the hike to it isn’t very difficult since this would be our first time doing something like this. We were a little concerned that the Million Dollar Highway might be closed by a winter storm like it had been the previous weekend, but thankfully we missed the storm that moved through on New Years Day and had great weather for our very first hut trip.

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Towering Over Telluride: Ajax Peak

Friday – Saturday, September 13-14, 2019

This weekend Diane and I had another concert to go to on Saturday evening, so just like when I climbed Red Mountain #2 a few weeks ago, I decided to climb another easier peak in the San Juan Mountains on Saturday morning so that I could return home in the early afternoon. I’ve had Ajax Peak (12,785) near Telluride on my to-do list for a while, and that looked like it would be the perfect quick and easy mountain to summit this weekend. Ajax Peak may not be a very high peak by Colorado standards, but it is a prominent sight when you are in the town of Telluride, and I believe it is also a popular hike from town since there is a good trail all the way up to the summit. The peak sits along the ridge separating Ingram Basin from Savage Basin and is down below Telluride Peak (13,509), which I climbed at the end of last summer. Of course, I was not planning on climbing Ajax Peak from Telluride like most people do, instead I planned to drive over Black Bear Pass and spend the night in Ingram Basin where I would start my hike in the morning.

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Grand Basin Traverse: The Basins of Mineral Creek

Black Bear Pass to Columbine Lake
Saturday, August 17, 2019

This weekend I decided to skip the peak bagging for a minute and just wanted to go on a nice hike in the high country through the upper basins of Mineral Creek near Silverton. I have wanted to hike to the turquoise blue waters of Columbine Lake for a long time but I didn’t really want to follow the steep trail that everyone else does, so I decided that I would drive up to Black Bear Pass and then hike over to the lake by passing through a couple different high alpine basins and maybe stop at a couple of passes along the way. Now after hiking this route I’ve got to say that it was pretty amazing! One of the nice things about this hike is that it was all above treeline and pretty much stayed between about 12,600 feet and 13,000 feet. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but it didn’t feel like I was climbing a steep mountain and the route offered spectacular views in all directions right from the beginning. This Grand Basin Traverse takes you through Mineral Basin, Porphyry Basin, Silver Cloud Basin and Mill Creek Basin on your way to Columbine Lake. Along the way you have the option of climbing up to two different passes for views into Mud Lake Basin and Bridal Veil Basin, plus you will also pass by Porphyry Lake, Bullion King Lake and a number of other small tarns along the way. This is definitely the way to hike to Columbine Lake!

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Three Out of Three: Red Mountain No. 2

National Summit Day | Final Peak on the Abrams – Anvil Ridge
Friday – Saturday, August 2-3, 2019

Over the years I’ve viewed the summit of Red Mountain No. 2 from many different vantage points; reflected in Crystal Lake from Ironton Park, along the Jeep road to Corkscrew Pass, while exploring the old mining buildings of the Red Mountain Mining District below, and from the top of many of the surrounding peaks in the area. This weekend I had a concert to go to on Saturday evening so I was looking for a peak to climb that was pretty short and close to home. Since I’d already climbed Red Mountain #1 and Red Mountain #3 I figured it was finally time to finish off the trio. Not only would this be my third and final summit of the Red Mountains, but Red Mountain #2 was also the only peak along the ridge on the east side of the Million Dollar Highway between Abrams Mountain and Anvil Mountain that I had not climbed yet, so it would be nice to finish that ridge, too. This turned out to be a fitting hike for Saturday morning since it was apparently National Summit Day, even though Red Mountain #2 is not a ranked, high or popular peak. Those are my favorite kind!

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