Last Sunday, I was lucky enough to accompany a group of veterans on an early morning climb up Hallett Peak – a large jagged mountain located in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park along the Continental Divide. This was the first of three trainings to prepare the team for Vet Ex’s next big expedition, the Grand Teton Challenge- an attempt by 10 veterans to climb the Grand Teton (13, 770 feet) in commemoration of September 11, 2011.
During the five-mile climb to the top of Hallett, we hiked through forest, floated on snow, and scrambled over rock to reach our goal – the 12,713-foot summit. Nature rewarded our efforts and greeted us with clear skies and amazing views of Longs Peak, Grand Lake, the Never Summer Range, the Mummy Range (which we’ll hike for the 3rd training) and a host of other mountains for as far as we could see. We explored the snowy summit on new snowshoes (thanks, Kahtoola!) and enjoyed a short respite from the wind with a quick rest in the sunshine before heading down.
The weather was moody for the duration of the 10-mile trip giving us intense sunshine and warmth, light snow, soft rain and howling wind at different points throughout the day. The team was prepared and positive and enjoyed being able to get a taste of all 4 seasons in the span of just a few hours. Although snow blanketed much of the earth above tree line, we still saw the first signs of summer amidst early wildflowers that included a tiny Purple Phlox, Alpine Forget-me-nots and Alpine Avens. Deer, elk, ptarmigan, turkeys, grouse, a coyote and a few bold marmots all joined us on our journey, as well.
Don’t miss the next training on July 24th when we cross the Continental Divide from one side of Rocky Mountain National Park to the other.
Don’t make the same mistake as Hallett…..
Hallett, along with eighteen other men from the Denver area, formed the Rocky Mountain Club. It was the first climbing club in Colorado, and Hallett served as Vice President and Chairmen of Explorations. In 1898, he was selected to lead an expedition to the Grand Teton in Wyoming, and were it not for obligations to his job, the now famous climb on the Grand might have been named the Hallett-Owen route instead of the Owen-Spalding route! Because Hallett could not travel to Wyoming, Franklin Spalding went in his stead, winning an important victory for the RMC with William Owen, Frank Peterson, and John Shive.