Challenge number three was a biggy, it was without a doubt the hardest challenge of the four challenges of this trip —challenge number three was tackling Windom Peak. We woke at about 4:30 am and our group of seven headed out right around 5 am. We did the same hike that half of the group had done the day before to the Twin Lakes. I don’t know if is because it was dark or because I knew this part would be the easiest even though I was repeating but the hike wasn’t as bad as the day before. We stopped for a quick snack at the lakes and then started the journey of which way to we go. We really struggled with figure out the correct path. This was the only 14er that I was ever attempting that had a decent amount of scrambling/climbing and on those types of mountains the path isn’t as clear. We were told just follow the cairns, well we are happy to report there are a lot of them. We tried to follow the cairns but at some point decided to just start going up on the route we thought looked the easiest. This is where we lost our first person; Candace had a shoulder injury so when she say how much climbing was involved she decided to sit it out.
For Windom Peak there are basically two ways to get to the top, the way we went which was through the basin between Windom and Sunlight then climbing or you could do a longer more gradual climb on the right side still aiming for the saddle. Either way you go you will be doing about Class II scrambling.
The six of us continued on till we came to the saddle between Windom and Jupiter which was one of the couple of false peaks. At this point is when the climbing became scary and if you had a fear of heights you would have a really difficult time. I felt like I could fall off the mountain at any point and constantly had to try to keep myself calm. This is where we lost three more: Kara, Karen and Moses.
John, Nolan, and I decided to overcome our fears and kept going slowly but surely and made it to the summit. The feeling of accomplishment on top was amazing but couldn’t over come the fear that I felt. The pictures do a pretty good job of showing how narrow the top boulders we were on were. I could barely stand, but I took in every bit of the view from 14,088 feet and at that moment I had so many different perceptions; I felt strong, short of breath, and not able to connect thoughts around the beauty I was experiencing, it was incredible.
After that moment I wanted down and realized how long I had till I was so called “down” and the scrambling began again! We were reunited with the group and hiked back to the lakes and then to our camp for our last night.
Look at the previous posts on Challenges One and Two