August Turns - Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado
Nice pictures and story Jim. I've skied Eldora but not the other two. The whole Indian Peaks area above Brainerd Lake is a huge basin with steep walls. I understand it is popular with XC skiers in winter. To me it looks dangerous as hell. It is a huge avalanche trap. I would want to have 1/2 mile of flat ground between me and those steep walls at any time in winter.
Altitude adjustment takes place while you sleep, or while you live, work, walk around, etc. I try to have an overnight at an intermediate altitude, like Denver's 5000 ft. before heading into the high country. I have skied hard all day at A-Basin the day after arriving from the east coast and hardly noticed. Some of this is good genes, but most is knowing to stay hydrated. I will place a full camelbak on the nightstand and every time I wake up and roll over (insured by excitement) take a couple of sips. I ski with the Camelbak as well, but starting the day well hydrated is the key. I have had no problems with Colo skiing ever, but both times in Utah I did have some shortness of breath for the first 3 days. I think that is due to Utah's extraordinary dryness, combined with altitude. Alta and Snowvbird top out at 11,000 while A-basin and Loveland get up to 13,000.
I make 1/2 dozen trips to ski at or above 10,000 ft. every year. Whether the body learns to recognize this and adapt more quickly with repetiton is an interesting question. No idea what the answer is.
Nice outing, Denis. Knowing you, I'm not at all surprised by the judgement you demonstrated in deciding to bail out with your goal in sight but you had reservations about the conditions. I wish other people would be so reasonable.
I got into one of the worst fights of my life with a (former) good friend who got "summit fever" just a couple of thousand feet below the summit of Mt. Adams (WA). This was his very first time using crampons, ice ax and a rope. I had much more experience on steep snow, and the week before, had slid (unroped) about 300 vert feet on a much milder nearby slope. I tried to convince him that the snow conditions were terrible, the weather was deteriorating, and that we shouldn't go on, but he wouldn't hear of it, and insisted on summiting alone.
Fortunately, he made it back to camp with only some minor scares. I've hardly talked to him since.
Tom / PM
PS - About the altitude issue, a couple of years ago, I spent 3 entire days and nights in Denver at a meeting, and then went up to Breck for the weekend. Even with the three days at 5000 feet, it was the first time in my life I ever felt winded and headachy at altitude. I hope this isn't a portent of things to come as I get older.