Pennsylvania Mountain (13,006′) Attempt | CO Rank: 635/637
Mosquito Range | Pike National Forest | Fairplay, CO
02/01/20 | 1.9 miles | 370′ gain | Class 1
Rats, another day foiled by weather. I’ve been having the worst luck lately and it’s become extremely demoralizing. Here’s hoping that things turn around this spring & summer!
Allie and I really wanted a summit. And not just any summit but one over 13,000′. Pennsylvania Mountain just barely makes the cut but it still counts and is pretty safe and easy in the winter. We convinced the Kyles (my husband and her boyfriend are both named Kyle) to tag along, and we woke up early to make the long drive to Fairplay. We arrived at the trailhead just after sunrise and it was already windy even though we were still below treeline. The weather report called for 20 mph sustained and 30 mph gusts, cold but manageable. I bundled up in every piece of gear I owned. I did NOT want to have to turn around just because I got cold!
We strapped on our snowshoes and set out along the trail, or at least what we thought was the trail under a few feet of snow. It was pretty easy going to start out, and we gradually made our way onto the windswept tundra. Now that we didn’t have any trees to block the wind, we were definitely glad we’d bundled up. I had a face mask and goggles on but I could tell I’d be freezing without them.
This was my first time using my brand new snowshoes and it was fun trying out the heel risers once we got on a steeper section. As we climbed higher, the wind started to pick up more. Soon I’d have to stop and brace myself when a gust came along so I didn’t blow over. If I tried to walk, the wind would blow my snowshoes together, nearly tripping me. This was more than 30 mph gusts…we guessed around 40-45 mph, which was beyond my comfort level.
We made it to the top of the first bump and weighed our options. The wind was getting worse and not better, and once we crested the ridge, it’d probably be even worse yet. No one was having fun and it was barely possible to walk. The decision to turn around wasn’t all that hard. I don’t hike to be miserable.
On our way back, we stopped to admire the amazing views in every direction. We hadn’t been hiking that long so the sunrise was still showing off a bit for us.
It was fun playing with our snowshoes in the snow. The guys were trying to ski with them and I would unintentionally slide when we hit a slippery patch of snow. I’ve NEVER experienced snow like this. It was such a light powder that the snowshoes would slide right through! Super fun to play in. We’d have fun sliding and then hit a patch of solid snow and trip. Good times!
Our trip back to the car went by super quickly and we stripped down to a normal amount of clothing before making the long drive home. It’s disappointing that we came so far and still didn’t make it, but that’s what winter is all about (at least for me, apparently).