Phoenix Peak

April 17 2022

Technically the mountain doesn’t have an official name but it is a ranked centennial at 13,895ft. I’d never heard of it, nor had I any plans to visit it until Diego called me while I was enroute to Summit County. We were supposed to ski at Arapahoe Basin the following day but in typical Diego fashion he had an ‘idea’ he wanted to run by me. Peak bagging wasn’t exactly what I had packed for but I had enough gear in the car to make it work. I arrived at Diego’s place, crashed on the floor, and was up at 2am for the drive down to Creede.

Spring missions in Colorado generally involve driving down a 4x4 road until it’s too snowed over to continue. Diego had just installed a winch on his car, paid for by a lovely young Denverite who decided the front of his car looked better with hers rammed into it. As any truck owner knows, a steel bumper and winch turns a vehicle into an unstoppable tank. Well, maybe not, but it certainly imbrues the same confidence. We plowed through a snow bank, got the car stuck, and agreed that was a problem for after the climb.

About half the approach was boot packing as the snow had melted out quite extensively. When we finally found post hole-able snow we gladly donned our skis and meandered slowly towards the summit. Diego remained convinced that even though skinning to the peak would be impossible, we’d be able to ski off of it. In hindsight this was the right decision but it’s hard to believe when you’ve still got a thousand vert to go and the skis are now on your back.

For how wind scoured the pictures look, the ski down was actually quite nice while it lasted. The boot pack out through mud, tight trees, and random pockets of waist deep sugar snow was less enjoyable. Using the winch to pull ourselves out of the snow bank was pretty entertaining though.

Sadly this turned out to be the last adventure I’d have the privilege of taking with Kai. She was the goodest of girls who sumitted more peaks in her decade on the planet than most people do in their entire lives. Rest easy, Kai.