Flag Counter

Albert Maywood Courtright II

Reminiscences of Maywood Courtright

Long's Peak

By the end of the third week I felt I was tough enough that I could tackle Long’s Peak, the highest mountain in the area, 14,246 feet. Yvette decided not to go along. The experience on the climb to Arapaho indicated that high altitudes made her dizzy and a little nauseated. Even the 5,000 foot altitude of Mounder made it difficult for her to sleep at night. Long’s Peak is in Estes Park which adjoins Rocky Mountain National Park on the east some 30 miles north of Boulder. Marj and Midge wanted to have their boyfriends along and I had no objection to that.

There were already a half-dozen cars parked in the lot near the entrance to the park when we arrived early Sunday morning. The trail thru the woods took off directly from the west side of the parking lot and we wasted no time starting our climb. By the middle of the morning we were in the alpine meadows well above [the] timber line where there were several patches of snow. After that, the going got tougher; there was no vegetation and the top part of the mountain appeared to be one big massive rock. We were still some distance from the top when I noticed that Midge’s face was very pale. I asked her if she felt OK and she told me that she was having trouble breathing and she felt sick. We had just arrived at a dangerous looking spot we had to cross, a ledge about six inches wide with bare rock sloping up to our left at a steep angle with nothing but the sky at the top and a continuation of the same slope to our right terminating in a precipice dropping off to the wooded hills far below. A slip there would have meant sliding down the smooth rock and over the edge of the precipice. I had a feeling I wanted to get down on my hands and knees and crawl across the path on the other side. I didn’t think anyone who felt sick should attempt to go on and I advised Midge to go back to the car with Carl. They were disappointed, of course, but they went. I felt fine, and so did Marj and Red. We crossed the ledge standing up, it was about 200 feet in length. As we reached safer territory on the other side we met a party returning from the top. The trail divides near the summit, one path taking the longer way by spiraling around the immense monolith which forms the upper portion of the peak, the other path going up nearly vertically along the edge of a sheer precipice. Tho scary, it was just as safe as going the long way as a metal rod - a piece of iron reinforcing rod, I think - had been fasted to the rock that you could hold on to as you climbed almost vertically along the edge of the precipice. The final two or three hundred feet was also nearly vertical but there were plenty of cracks and ledges which gave a feeling of security. If you lost your hold you would only slide a few feet before coming to something that would stop you. There was no vegetation, however, nothing but bare rock.

The top of Long’s Peak is flat and one could see in every direction until your gaze was lost in the blue haze of the horizon. The most interesting view to me was to the east over the foothills, which seemed to flatten out to nothing, and the long, wide plain of the Platt River. To the west were the snow peaks of the mountains of the continental divide in Rock Mountain National Park. There was no snow on the summit of the peak where we were standing. The sun shone hot and the air was warm. We didn’t need seaters.

Because we thought Midge and Carl were waiting for us, we traveled fast going down but it was dark again when we reached the parking lot. We saw no sign of our two passengers but found a note on the windshield telling us they had been offered a ride back to Boulder by the climbing group that had gone up before us. It had become quite cold after the sun went down and Marj and Red sat in the back seat under the blanket with their arms around each other to keep warm. No one said a word all the way to Boulder.

Table of Contents
Recreation & Exploration
Exploring by Car

Last modified on 15 April 2021 17:59