Climbing Mount Ouray

Last Tuesday I climbed spectacular Mount Ouray, a very distinctive peak prominent on the drive to Salida, Colorado.  Ouray is 13,971 ft, a hair shy of a Fourteener—which means that very few people climb it, regardless of how spectacular it is.

I got up at 5 AM for the 3 hour drive, up 14 miles of dirt road to reach Marshall Pass and the start of the hike at 10,800 ft.  I headed out past an old miner’s cabin, across a meadow and through sparse trees, then a half mile of a very steep (50 degrees) grassy slope to reach a high point of 12,100 ft, then I followed an ever-ascending ridge toward the summit.  No trail, no cairns, but the route was obvious.

The last half mile took a much steeper turn, over rough rocks—not dangerous, but extremely strenous. When I had reached about 13,500 ft, a quarter mile from the summit, the cell phone rang in my backpack, our editor Pat LoBrutto calling to tell me that the cover for HELLHOLE was waiting for approval so Tor could display it at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con.  (That had to wait until I got home.)  When I reached the summit, I holed up in a rock shelter against the wind, pulled out my Propel water and ham sandwich, and relaxed a bit before heading back down.  (On a steep slope, it’s just as difficult going down as it is climbing up in the first place.)

I did manage to dictate three chapters in Star Challengers #2, the next book in our young adult space education series for the Challenger Centers, got a lot of exercise, and saw some great scenery.  And I had dinner at my favorite microbrewery/wood-fired pizza place in Salida, Amicas.  Next day, back in the office..