Mount Ouray
(A very windy day along the Continental Divide)

17 Oct 2012 - by Patrick Lilly (view roster page)

IMAG0281r

Having finished the 14ers, I wanted to make a start on the Centennials before winter set in. I picked Ouray because it's high, and I could climb it via a relatively short detour from a trip north to Colorado Springs. The six-mile RT route seemed simple and quick on the map, as the slopes are fairly gentle, and all available information rated it at Class 2. However, the forecast was for a windy day, so I dressed very warmly. As it turned out, the chilling power of the wind was only one problem it presented. I would also have to fend off the sheer power of the wind. The TH is at the top of Marshall Pass, which is reached via a maintained dirt road designated as both Chaffee County 200, and FS 200, off of US 285, in between Poncha Springs and Poncha Pass. I left the TH just after 9 am, but it took me until around 1 pm to reach the summit. A base wind speed of 30-35 mph was punctuated by gusts which I know were above 50 mph, and I'm quite sure some of them topped 70. I say this because I repeatedly found myself absolutely unable to remain upright. I had to lower myself onto all fours to prevent being blown over, not just once or twice, but repeatedly all through the day. Despite reaching the summit quite late, I still thought I could make quick work of the descent. Boy, was I wrong! When I turned around, the wind was blowing in my face, unabated, and I was forced to go down just as much of the mountain using both hands and feet as I had going up. It was incredibly slow. It actually took me longer to go down than to go up--so long that the sun set on me about the time I got back down to the trees. I finished the hike--there is no trail!--plowing through the trees in the dark. Overall, it was nearly ten hours. I was seven hours late arriving in Colorado Springs, enough to worry my family seriously. This makes Centennial #61 for me (I had picked up a handful while doing the 14ers). It looks like that number is going to remain unchanged until late next spring at least. I took very few pictures, and none at all near the top, because there was just too much wind chill to remove my gloves even momentarily. The ones I did take are at:

https://picasaweb.google.com/tcogwr/MountOuray


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