The 2011 tour included climbs of Birch Mountain and nearby peaks in California, plus a few Colorado peaks before and afterward. I posted a video on YouTube containing slideshows and short video clips with annotations (a more detailed trip report can be found below).
Note: It’s definitely worth choosing full-screen and 1080p if you’ve got the bandwidth.
Many thanks to Dan Blodgett and Mike Bromberg (aka Foo’ball) for providing some of the best pictures and footage, and to Frank Lawrence for orchestrating the soundtrack using only his iPhone!
- Chris Schneider (aka Schmed)
Foo’ball’s Trip Report (somewhat abridged)
I got to Colorado with the intent of knocking a few 13,500-footers off my list. But the snow was still too deep to reach 13,553' Pettingell Peak, so I did repeat climbs of 14,060' Mt. Bierstadt and 7613' Greyrock Peak (near the GFR site) as warmups.
After GFR I headed down to the Sangre de Cristo Range for a couple of wonderfully relaxing climbs of 13,500' Iron Nipple and UN13577. Both climbs involved taking a good trail most of the way, followed by a bit of rock scrambling to get the actual peak. The weather was extremely cooperative, only a few raindrops and the rumble of distant thunder serving as reminders to start the downclimb.
I continued on to Bishop where I met Dan Blodgett '71 for a warmup climb to Green Lake. That went well, but Dan then developed some pain in the hip and was limping when we met Chris "Schmed" Schneider '83. We camped near the Birch Lake trailhead. Dan had to bow out of the hike the next morning due to the hip. Schmed and I followed the very sketchy and cattle-infested trail up to Birch Lake, where we found the one great campsite just at dark. Schmed climbed 13,104' UTM722049 as a side trip on the way in, but I had no interest.
Next day we climbed a tedious overland route to get up to the saddle between 13,356' The Thumb and 13,576' Ed Lane Peak. The route continued difficult up the ridge to Ed Lane Peak; even retracing our steps to the saddle was a challenge. Schmed went for The Thumb while I headed down the snow slope to wait. We met at the bottom of the slope and I led a rapid all-snow glissade route back to camp at dusk, where we met Dr. Dan who had treated the hip with the appropriate drugs and found his own way in during the day.
The three of us headed up to 13,602' Birch Mountain the next day, climbing mostly on easy snow and rock with one slippery section. The ridge walking was much more enjoyable than on Ed Lane Peak! From the summit, we saw but decided not to go after a fifth peak in the range, 13,491' Mt. Bolton Brown. A quick and easy descent got us back to camp early for the first time. Dan's joints had begun to act up again, so Dan and I left the next morning with Schmed.
I headed back to Colorado with the intent of at least attempting 13,656' Coxcomb Peak solo. (You might recall that I was scheduled to climb Coxcomb last year with Jim Patrick of the CMC, but couldn't do it then because of my cracked ribs... and Jim subsequently was killed in a climbing fall.) But I realized that I had left the short rope in Denver so I wouldn't be able to make it all the way to the summit, and once more I encountered snow on the route, so I decided to punt scouting out the route.
I did manage to climb 13,563' Pettingell Peak after all, a thoroughly enjoyable trip with a grassy campsite by a lake and fields of blooming columbine.