The big day of July 9 for South Sudan has come and gone. We heard from our good friends at PES down in Denver that the celebration went extremely well and that it was truly a wonderful night. We wish we could have been there but as you know from a previous post, we celebrated the best way we knew how and summited Bierstadt and Evans. The massive pile of French fries, burgers and ice tea afterwards was just icing on the cake.
We were also happy to recently receive an inspiring message passed to us from Carol at PES from our good friend Daniel who is currently back home in South Sudan. He writes:
“Pass my best wishes to Joe and his team for what they are doing climbing 19 mountains already. That’s
really unbelievable for July 2-16 days and they have claimed 19 mountains. Tell them that Daniel M. Gai is climbing with
you as well in his heart. As you take one step, think of me when I was 6 years old and drove out in my beloved home town of Pagook by merciless Khartoum soldiers at gun point. I know it is very painful to climb up that far and
coming down exhausted to rest and repeat the same step over and over again. It takes one heart, mind, soul and spirit for a man like all of you to make a strong decision for the sake of others. May south Sudanese spirits guide, protect you.
Continue to doing good works and Almighty Father will bless all of you.”
We will carry those words with us for sure. Thank you Daniel.
Since July 9, we’ve made a solid run or should I say slow,
meandering walk up quite a few peaks yet again. No mountain goats chasing us down the mountains this time though. They’ve been replaced by rain and hail. Oh well, it just adds to this little adventure.
What fun is sunny skies all the time anyway?
Huron was the first to go on the 10th. We hesitantly climbed out of the warmth of our sleeping bags and shook loose the coolness of the early morning. That almost seems more of a feat then
climbing up these peaks sometimes. But as our custom, we threw on an extra layer of clothing, pounded down a couple of
Larabars, washed those down with a huge protein shake and hit the mountain early. We passed a number of people on
our way up the north ridge and were greeted with yet another wonderful view on the summit. These views will never get
We made such short work or Huron that day we decided to pack in and make camp in Missouri Gulch so that we could make a bid on the three summits in the area. One mile and several memorable switchbacks later had us instantly second guessing that decision. By the time we chose camp in the shadows of Missouri, Belford and Oxford maybe two hours later, we were
tired and covered in a thick layer of sweat. Damn do we like to test ourselves! Crazy as we can be, it put us in good spot to tackle these three the next day. And indeed we did!
With no protein shake in site, we chewed down a few more Larabars by headlamp at 3:30 a.m. and began the slow ascent up the brutal and relentless northwest ridge of Belford. The 40 M.P.H. winds suffocated us on the ridge, at the summit two hours later and on our wayto Oxford. There was no letup in the wind for the entire morning but we managed to summit the two peaks before 10 a.m.
Right on cue, the wind shifted into high gear and building clouds filled the sky to the west around 11 a.m. As we headed down the trail to Elkhead Pass, I gave a nod to the Gods, told them why we were there amongst them and asked for safe passage. To no surprise, the weather held while we made our way over the nasty class four ridge to the summit. That little nod and ask for safe passage worked well but didn’t last long though. The darkening clouds continued to build. It was if the Gods said okay, come on up but ya’ll better get down as soon as possible. We did just that and were hammered by 10 minute hail storm as we made our way down through the gulch and back to camp.
Fast forward quite a few days and we’re back in Denver for a quick but needed break. We’ve managed to knock off La Plata, Harvard, Columbia and Yale making it a total of just over 19 peaks, 110 miles on foot and 50,000 feet of elevation gain in 16 days or so.
So, as of today the good news is we are a bit ahead of schedule. The bad news is the Pathfinder decided not to start after we stopped for some burgers in Buena Vista. Was it a sign telling us that we too needed a break? After some thought and having Dennis the Subaru mechanic come over to mess with the starter and get the beast started again, we high tailed it back
here as fast as we could. Twas a good decision because we’ve had a chance to relax, catch up on sleep and put down
some serious calories. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck that the car is having problems but we are just taking it in
stride. That’s all you can do, right?
Until next time friends.