• Otilia

Second test in Colorado - Mount Yale

It is still dark when we head to the Mount Yale trailhead and even if I am half asleep, there is a question haunting me incessantly: will I be able to do it or not? But the moon is up, and the views are mind-blowing, so I decide to enjoy the ride and deal with the question later.

This time my guide is on back-country skis, which are completely new for me. I’ve read about back-country skiing, but I’ve never seen in real life how is it done. I am walking behind him and curiously studding his movements and asking myself in the same time if it is easier or more difficult than walking. There is fresh snow on the trail and he is breaking trail in what seems an effortless way. Paying more attention at the manner he is adjusting the heals depending on the steepness of the slope than to my climb, I almost forget about the torturing question. Can’t help not noticing that he has a constant rhythm and he seems very calm and focused in the same time.

As I start sinking in the snow almost waist high, Jon tells me to put gaiters and snow shoes on. Again, all is new for me and I am a bit taken aback but there is nothing more exciting than experiencing something new. I feel like a kid learning a new game and I carefully listen to all instructions. Walking on snow shoes is a new experience. It doesn’t look as cool as the back-country skis, but it is one level above walking with your boots only. The sun is up, and it caresses the shinning snow as if it is its first time doing this. Such a beautiful day for a climb and I am so excited to get to the top!

We are above the trees and everything seems fine, but Jon tells me to stop. He is trying to brake trail to the right but then he stops and goes back. It seems that there is a slab of snow that could avalanche any time and it is not safe to continue our way up. What a bummer!

I am telling my guide I need some more training for the day, so we decide to go down half way and then turn right on another trail. Few hours pass by, but it feels like few minutes. It is time to get back to the Mount Yale trail head where we started in the morning, so Jon takes the skins off and disappears in the woods. Now is my turn to lead - to lead myself to the head of the trail but I enjoy running downhill, so I am not worried about a thing. A bit disappointed about not being able to continue the climb to the top…now I’ll never know if I could have done it or not.

A somehow soothing thought comes into my mind: this is real mountaineering. Chris Weber says that mountaineering teaches you about letting go - because there might be more times when you need to turn back because of the weather or circumstances you cannot control and might endanger your life than the times you really make it to the top. Lesson learned: when it is time to let go just let go so that you might try it another day. How much I would like to try this hike again…

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