Thursday, September 5, 2013

99.5%

99.5% can be disappointing.

Let me explain.  My weekly adventure took me to the Crazies, an isolated mountain range north of Livingston.  The goal: Crazy Peak, the namesake of the range, and my first peak over 11,000 feet, standing tall at 11,209.

Okay, but first check out this sunrise I was treated to in Paradise Valley.  To be so lucky.



The day broke bright and clear, with a smattering of fluffy lambswool clouds drifting overhead, a slight breeze, and temperatures in the 80s.  Nature supplied some candy along the trail in the form of wild raspberries, and the relatively flat part of the hike finished at beautiful Blue Lake.



After the lake things got interesting.  There is no trail.  It was up to me to choose a route to the top.  Visual aid below.  Hmmm.  Steep.


Hmmm...no obvious routes here.  Instead, I settled on a less direct route that came along the ridge from the right side.


A chute right in the middle of the photo above looked the friendliest to me.  Friendly as a snarling dog that is. Baring your teeth is almost like smiling, right?


I made it up the chute, and took the ridge as planned.  The views did not disappoint.


My only creature companions were ravens riding their version of a roller coaster: soaring up thermals before plunging down so fast I could hear the wind whistling through their wings, only to do it all over again.


There is no 'generic' mountain view when you are there, sitting on top of the world.  It never gets old.


Sometimes climbing on all fours-as I did up some of the chute as well-I reached what I thought to be the peak.  Negative, Ghostrider.  The real peak seemed close enough to reach out and touch, but required climbing down a steep, narrow chute, and then finding a way up an even steeper pitch with no obvious routes.


It is hard to tell what is going on here due to lack of depth perception in the photo, but needless to say this did not look like fun.  There also did not appear to be any route save for a super steep scramble that involved climbing up the scree you can see trailing down the right hand side of the peak.  As well, to get to that scary scree it looked as if you would have to literally do some climbing (something I later confirmed through a friend).  

I draw the line at the point where there is nothing to stop your fall in the case of a slip.  Where a missed hand or foothold is bad news bears.  And, in Montana on a peak like this we are talking grizzly bears.  Oh and did I mention that I had to double check every rock I grabbed on the way up because half the ones that appeared to be a solid part of the mountain moved and/or came out?

That was it.  Doneski.  Time to head down and give the adrenal glands a break.  I took a different route, just to the left of the false peak if you look at the picture from earlier when the question was which route to take.  Where the rock is all shiny.  From the top it did not look too bad.  It certainly was not worse than the way up, but looking back up toward the peak on the way down my first thought was "You climbed that?  Are you f-ing crazy?"  Well, Crazy Peak it is.



"To travel hopefully is better than to arrive, and the true success is to labor."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

The journey was certainly worth it this time, despite not arriving at my destination-I certainly labored hard to earn that false peak.  The real summit could not have been more than 50 feet higher, so 11,159/11,209 = 99.5% of the way there.  Any other situation and that would be pretty darn satisfying, but hey, the adventure as a whole really was great, so I am putting a tally mark in the win column.

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