Culebra Peak 14,047'
08 July 2016
On the way out to Ceilo Vista Ranch this morning, I caught an awesome lightning show over Little Bear Peak. Per usual, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I always start out with good intentions, then I just get caught up in this or that. Yesterday, I just spent too much time with the Bike & Build crew that road through town. I didn’t even leave Cortez until 10p last night. After a couple hours, I was exhausted, so I pulled off about an hour and a half short of the trailhead. Caught about two hours of sleep and finished out the drive. There was no way I was gonna waste a $150 permit and my only chance to climb Culebra this summer. (Culebra Peak is part of a private ranch, so access is restricted.)
The ranch gate opened at 6a, and all 25 of us drove on in, a pack. I parked at the ranch headquarters and caught a ride to the upper trailhead. I would’ve road walked the extra miles, but Ron, the proctor, was concerned about me making it down in time. If everyone isn’t signed out by 6p, then Ron has to go make sure everyone is accounted for. He encouraged me to catch a ride, so I did. Anyways, I didn’t mind saving a few miles. I’ve got nothing to prove.
We were among the first to reach the upper trailhead. (Thanks, Scott!) The climb itself was pretty pristine. No trail, all cross-country. Trail miles are easy; cross-country is another story. This was my first climb above 14,000 feet since last October. I’m freakin’ beat. So outta shape by comparison. Still, I led the charge. (Guess it’s early season for all of us.) Probably a good thing that I got in a few bonus miles on the ascent when I came up too far east on the ridge. I was orienting on what looked like a cairn, the cairn I assumed was the one that Ron had told us we couldn’t miss. Turns out, you can’t miss it on the way down. You can’t really see it at all on the way up. I made up for it on the descent by catching a ride the last mile or so of the road walk back to my car. Probably broke even.
The price of admission was pretty steep, but I think worth it. Cruised over and tagged Red Mountain as well, one of the Colorado Centennials, my first among them that’s not a 14er.