My voice echoed throughout the gullies as I shouted for @sturgeon.dan – my hiking bud had been missing for 30min.
We were last together on Kit Carson, our attention on the clouds. They were unlike anything I’d seen, playful pillows hiding behind the summit. I saw another cluster in the distance. Were they closing in on us? I warned Dan that we had about 30min – whatever was coming, we would be in the eye of it.
I paced the avenue as 1/2 blizzards dumped, debating on if I should go back to search for him. The snow was hitting from all directions & I lost vision. My heart pumped as a memory of my CapHill 1BD entered; Matt and I playing rummy in front of a fireplace. I could hear the fire cracking as my toes soaked through a 2nd set of socks. I could feel the purr of Chip as my fingers became numb from scrambling. I wanted so badly to be on the couch with them.
The 2nd blizzard hit & the reality of the situation settled in. Dan may not get off this mountain. If he is in need of help, rescue could take over 12hrs & the snow could cover him. Screw the fees, how can you put a price on someones life? My hands shook as I held down the SOS button on the Garmin InReach. Then watched the 20sec countdown commence.
Better to search for 1 person than 2. I marched across the ridge line, bullied by wind. It blocked all sound, except for the GPS device, which synced morbid beeps to my heartbeat. I constantly looked behind me for a silhouette. BREATHE. Finally saw a figure & broke down in tears. HE IS ALIVE! I quickly cancelled the call for emergency rescue.
3/20 hikers summited this snowy class 3. The other guy began at 2am. 15mi post-holing over 14hrs.
Looking back I am not regretful nor wiser. We had the energy & skill to accomplish, but losing a hiker is unspeakable. A truly remarkable, memorable hike that left my bones rattled and mind full of gratitude.
𝟷𝟺𝚎𝚛: Challenger + Kit Carson
𝙴𝚕𝚎𝚟𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗: 14,081’ + 14,165’
𝙻𝚘𝚌𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗: Westcliffe, CO
𝚃𝙷: Willow Creek
𝙳𝚒𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚎: 15 miles
𝙴𝚕𝚎𝚟𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝙶𝚊𝚒𝚗: 6,250’