Peak Bagging in Colorado - Page 3
Campbell rests between summits, after throwing up. Photo by Fred Marmsater.
From the 14,153-foot summit of Mount Oxford, we could clearly see the massive, imposing wall that lay ahead of us en route to our halfway point, the 14,420-foot summit of Mount Harvard.
By the time we made it up Harvard, we were running about three hours behind schedule and missed our planned rendezvous with Mindy on the North Cottonwood Trail. Knowing we had no chance of continuing without a resupply, we hammered down the trail toward the parking lot, adding miles to our planned route. When we arrived, Mindy was still there, packing the car. Jared and I exchanged a quiet, satisfied glance.
After a 13-mile trot along the Colorado Trail, we headed off-trail once again up Mount Princeton. A pattern had emerged: whenever we ascended above 12,500 feet, Jared would violently vomit and curl into the fetal position, eyes glazed, for 30 seconds before proceeding. Between thoughts of how I might have to save Jared if he slipped into unconsciousness, I ran numbers in my head and knew we would be cutting it close to finish in less than 60 hours.
By the time we summited Princeton, I was elated that Jared seemed rejuvenated. “This ridge is amazing,” he said, reminding me to look around. Above tree line, jagged mountains surrounded us ... we were completely alone.
After about 56 hours we climbed a steep gully to the saddle between Tabeguache Peak and Mount Shavano, summits 13 and 14. Now unable to eat at all, Jared was rapidly deteriorating. As we approached the saddle, he veered off course, climbing the opposing ridge for no apparent reason. Then he lay down.
The longer an ultra-distance endeavor goes, the more you’re stripped of pretense. Emotions become raw and self-criticism is easy in these situations. In light of Jared’s condition it seemed selfish to be so preoccupied with the goal of finishing, but I felt helpless. From the outside, I watched him rile around in the same pain cave I’d been trapped in on La Plata.
It was here that I came to terms with the possibility of not finishing. Even though I could see both of the final summits, and we had what seemed like just enough time, it didn’t matter anymore. What mattered then was helping Jared. I offered him a gel, which he took and promptly threw up—but doing so gave him enough adrenaline to move again.
Now, I was the committed one. We’d do this together ... or not at all.
On Sunday, August 14, 2012, Jared and I became the fifth and sixth people to finish the Nolan’s 14 route, in 58 hours 58 minutes.
Visit mattmahoney.net/nolans14 for details on the Nolan’s 14 route and documented finishers.