14ers – Wiki: A mountain peak that exceeds 14,000 feet (4267.2 meters) elevation (This term is not usually significant outside the Western United States).
The HardRock100 course impressed me. And I wanted more of it. I wanted to be that high above the world. Fortunately I was in good company. Surrounded by other big mountain enthusiasts and their pacers at Silverton meant it was not hard to find some takers for some summits. And then with Tony Krupicka’s eye on the Nolan’s record, fourteen 14ers in one mammoth day, meant there was some reciing to be done and I could follow in his wake.
The climbs are generally 1000-2000m of vertical and take me anywhere between 1.30-2.15hours to the top depending on how technical the mountain is. I am usually power hiking unless there are some zigzags that I can shuffle out an ‘almost’ run on. Still with some pain remaining in my legs from over doing it earlier this year, I have found that going straight up and straight back down doesn’t hurt and I can really enjoy following and being guided not by the trails but by the shape of the mountain.
The air is thin making lungs burn and sends my heart pounding into my head. Acclimatisation is slow but eventually when it comes and the light headedness goes you can finally find power, strength and energy from steep wild flower covered tundra, the varying rock colours and formations and the never-ending views.
It is awe inspiring. It makes you feel so small so high up there. I have a new found respect for the big mountains. They are not like the mountains in the Alps. These mountains are really alive with fierce energy. After Belford erupted with a lightning storm over me, surrounding me with purple electricity, buzzing through my skin and zapping my hair into the air, I understood. I understood that these mountains were going to tell us and show when we were not wanted up there. And I have never run down a mountain so fast and so scared.
What I don’t understand though is Pikes Peak. It is a mammoth mountain bursting out of the red rock and pine forests. It still blows my mind. How can it look so run-able but 1. take so long to get up and 2. be so brutal on the legs making you want to walk. I have been deciding whether to race the Pikes Ascent. I want to be able to actually run it well and my legs are taking a few runs to remember what running is like. I don’t have the speed I had when I raced in 2010, but I feel I have strength and I am definitely better acclimatised to the high altitude. It is going to take a lot of heart, a lot of lungs and a butt head determination.
These big mountains teach this. They are addictive. They are calling. They are warning!