''It's A Long Way To The Top'' July 20 2016
A real life story from Corinne Hoster
"Keep climbing, you can't look down, if you do you will fall, and that's the end."
This sentence played itself over and over throughout a grueling, life-changing 12 hour round trip hike in Late August to ascend Long's Peak Colorado, USA 14,259 ft. As the only girl in my group I knew that I couldn't think for a second about giving up and turning back.
Roughly 2 hours later, we reached a massive boulder field about 3/4's of a mile long as it is wide, so congested with massive house-like rocks that our only chance is to scramble over all of them without slipping into any nasty looking cracks. We made light of the situation reverting back to a child-like state of mind and kept telling each other it was just an adult version of "hot lava". Don't slip and fall, stay on top of the rocks, and you'll be fine. This venture took us almost 2 hours to complete, between high winds and frigid air, we were nearly getting barreled over by how high the wind gusts were.
Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, the house like boulders began to get smaller and steeper. So steep, it was as if Mother Nature herself had built a wall taunting the hell out of us. With only the use of a full moon and our headlamps we hadn't noticed several yards ahead of us was a massive wall to continue ascending Long's Peak with absolutely no way around it.
With the air getting thinner as we climbed higher, (my guess is we were around 11,000 ft now) we were really feeling a huge shortness of breath. Climbing like a stealth jungle cat, praying that I wouldn't fall on my way up, we reached a tiny shack at the end this gigantic wall. We gathered ourselves, hydrated, and ate what we could stomach before continuing to reach the summit. I will forever be grateful for the people who built that lovely little shack.
We continue outside of our safe haven and around the side of the mountain when, to my mistake, I decided to look down to my right. One small trip over a rock and you're as good as dead. Several hundred feet, perhaps reaching a thousand or more, definitely long enough to think about falling on your way down if you happened to take an unfortunate tumble.
With how quickly we had been ascending, most of us were starting to feel the effects of elevation sickness, it's a feeling I don't wish upon anyone. Cotton-mouth, dehydrated, and sick to your stomach, you feel like laying on the ground and giving up on the spot. The guys in my group were considering turning around when I shouted, "HOW COULD WE?? We are only 2 hours from the top and I'll be damned if I'm gonna say, I almost ascended Long's Peak."
So we continued, determined to reach the top. The rest of our ascent would consist of more high wind, cold frigid air, and our lungs slowly not getting enough oxygen. More climbing questionable rocks, keeping as close to the mountain as possible. "We're nearly there", I had this sense of peace rush over me when suddenly, a massive gust of wind hit so strong, it knocked the air out of me and I tumbled alongside the mountain. I had fallen a few feet backward and landed on my back fairly hard, I looked to my right and If I had stumbled another few inches I would have been gone. Fear-stricken I lay there for a minute, praying to find the strength to get up, praying to have the stamina to finish, and praying that I would under no circumstance, have this keep me from finishing.