Nolan's 14

Nolan's 14

Part 2 - Mt. Huron

By now, there were only 3 people left in the race: Blake Wood, Eric Robinson, and me. Gordon Hardman dropped out during the first evening in Winfield with hypothermia after climbing Massive, Elbert, and then La Plata in a cold rain. Jim Nolan and Joe Florio fell well behind the others from the beginning, and only reached Elbert as the evening storm peaked, and were driven back 150 ft. from the summit by lightning. They returned to Half Moon (between Massive and Elbert) at 11:45 PM and dropped.

Up until now, all of the race had been on trails. The descent from Mt. Huron to the east (toward Missouri) provided the first real navigational challenge. I had climbed or descended three different routes in training, trying to determine the best one.

Climbing Mt. Huron in July. By race day, the snow had melted.

Me (Matt Mahoney) on the summit of Huron on July 1.

Eric Robinson on the summit on race day. We had slept in Winfield until 4:19 AM in order to make the difficult descent in daylight, although temperatures were still below freezing at sunrise. Blake Wood had summited at 9:45 PM last night, reaching the bottom at midnight.

My first route finding attempt in July was the south ridge into the east basin.

This wasn't a good choice. I had to descend some very steep trails on the side of a cliff, cross lots of rocks to treeline, then bushwack down steep hills to a swamp. I could have made the 3 hour descent just as fast by running back down the trail to Winfield, an extra 10 miles.

My second attempt was the northeast basin, here with Mitchell Rossman from Minnisota on Aug. 1. Here is Huron seen from below Browns Peak to the north.

This descent provided better footing to treeline. We could actually walk down. This was the route Blake Wood took at night.

Problem was, there was no trail below treeline and we had to bushwack down to Cloises Lake at 11,000 ft.

The route we actually took was the east basin again, but from the north ridge.

Eric prepares to descend several hundred feet of scree.

Then across the rocky terrain to treeline.

Once below treeline, we found the steep but good trail down to the Cloises Lake jeep road.

On to Part 3

Matt Mahoney