Return to the Beginning

This past weekend I did what will be quite common, and that was go on an Alpine Club trip. This one was extra special for me though because we went to do what was my first 14er, which I completed on my first Alpine Club trip as a freshman way back in 2006.

Gray’s Peak looming in the background

Gray’s Peak is far from technical, but, just like the first time, the trail during this time of year is extra snowy and icy above 11,000 feet. In addition, I was the “leader” of this trip, meaning I had to organize it from the ground up. Words cannot describe how I felt on the Wednesday night sign-up when we had close to 30 people show up to go on this trip alone. Frantic would be a good place to start, but I was also just blown away at the interest in the trip and about 14ers in general these days. There were plenty of goings-on this past weekend here on campus, so I still get pretty amped thinking about how many people didn’t want to rush for Greek Life or camp for hockey tickets in order to walk up a snowy mountain in September.

Big mountain, little people

Anyhow, when sign-ups were finished, we had 25 official people coming with the Alpine Club, an 3 other cars of people drove up to the mountain on their own. Out of all those people, only 2 did not make it to the summit, which also just blew me away.

Going up?

During the hike, I decided to wait until the last group joined me at 12,000 feet. They were about a half an hour behind the next person, so after talking to them and Darcy and Laura, who got the short end of the stick making sure they were OK, I made like a mountain goat and practically ran up the mountain. I had a good sweat going, so I was only wearing a base layer and shorts. An older lady coming down from the summit gave me one of the most rotten looks I’ve ever gotten for what I was wearing, but I simply smiled and kept trucking. I don’t know why that stands out so much from this trip, but it was definitely the worst look I have ever gotten. I ended up going from the back to the front and was one of the first to summit in the group, and I ended up waiting on the summit for an hour and a half making sure everyone was OK on top and on the way down.

Big group on the summit

On the way down, I lingered in the back and helped people negotiate the icy trail, just like I had done as a freshman during my first time on this mountain. It was during that decent I decided that I wanted to be an Alpine Club officer, so it was super cool to get back to my roots of just helping people have more fun in a place they might not otherwise be with out the Alpine Club here at DU. At the trailhead when we were getting started, someone asked me if I was going to fly up to the top ahead of everyone. My response was that if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t be in the Alpine Club. Instead, I would much rather take my time and see everyone get stoked, and everyone definitely was. It is way cooler to see that stoke factor emulating through everyone rather than anything else I have done here at DU. Just seeing smiles for miles on the summit made all the time and effort I put into the trip more than worth while. It was a great return to my roots, and I get stoked just thinking about it now. Thanks everyone who came!

Big Smiles on top, including my own

The next day, I went climbing with the Club out at Castlewood Canyon, and for the first time in a few years, someone else took a bunch of pictures, and I even got in a few. Thanks Laura!

Click here for more shots from Castlewood Canyon

Yours truly getting up a fun little slab. Photo: Laura Hathaway

I was not the only Jay who got elevated this past weekend, check out Steve’s TR from Granite Peak, the highest point in Montana. Happy birthday Steve, looks like you made it way better than a night on the town. Also, happy birthday to Sara Jay up in Bozeman, and congrats on the new house!

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