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60 mph Wind (Colorado)
- [first draft: May 15, 2004]
It was a beautiful sunny 1pm
at Loveland Pass. We headed up on a suprisingly mild slope with lots of
snow still remaining. Only an isolated cloud or two in the sky. Sunny
sunny weather. During the 0.30 miles of walking we came across a few wind
spots -- a pleasant change. I wished for my backpack and food as we looked
into the distance ahead of us. Still lots of easy slope to navigate. We
returned to the car, took the gear and headed back up. This time the GPS
was tracking our motion.
We passed again by a couple with
2 dogs. The dogs sure were enjoying running in the snow at 12,000ft. We
caught our breath a few times. About half way through, the weather changed.
The mostly sunny sky was now turning cloudy. Strange how fast that happens.
We kept going, past the last footsteps in the snow. Probably our last
big snow experience of the season. At 12,415ft we stopped to eat. The
wind was pretty constant now, but not strong. It was enough, however,
to keep blowing out my mini-stove. I was trying to boil water for enjoying
freeze-dried food (a not-so-pretty name for something really good tasting).
Things become clumsy at 12,000ft and no gloves. After 10minutes of the
wind constantly blowing off our stove, i gave up, and we used "about
room temperature" water. Not bad, not bad. We stopped now and then
to warm up our hands in between eating. 40 F? maybe less? Some gusts had
a lot of power, and Christie was almost blown off a couple of times (as
she later admitted). I tried jumping up with wind behind me to see if
I would get carried, but no such luck :-).
We were about done eating, when
the big gusts came. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee. One of the gusts picked up a transparent
plastic bag with 2 bagels, which i thought was underneath my backpack.
One bagel dropped down about 30 feet away, the other we never saw again.
I alternated between packing and warming up my hands. I was loosing feeling
in them and had to warm them in between packing. Ohhhhhhhhh gloves, gloves,
where are you? I didn't expect our 20minute trip from car to turn this
way. I wore my poncho for warmth as we headed down. We passed a couple
going uphill, in winter outfits suited for fourteener assault. Now these
2 are ready! I had a hat and my 3-season denim jacket (excellent for bushwacking
and general field abuse), and Christie had a winter jacket with a hood.
But there's not substitute for gloves when the wind picks up. We walked
with hands in our pockets as the wind seemed to calm down a little with
We were exposed the whole way
down. The slope was not steep, but our terrain was above anything nearby.
All the big wind was going to hit us. In a relative plateau we met another
couple. "Dude, where's your pants?" The guy was only wearing
shorts. Okkkkkkk, riiiight. After our "It only gets worse",
his reply was "Good." Past the plateau we were going downhill
again. My poncho was flapping like crazy, but at least it covered my face
in a good way. The wind was now coming directly from the left. It was
blowing like mad. I was covering my face from the brutal force. Then i
saw Christie covering her nose. She was bleeding -- the crazy wind hit
her with either snow, ice, or dust, and she had to keep pressure on the
spot. We could see the parking lot now and made it to the car ok. It was
sure nice in the car. The wind pushed against the car occasionally, but
we were safe and warm inside.
The day's statistics were:
|Distance (Up): 0.52 miles
||Moving Time: 21min 02s
||Stopped Time: 3min 30s
||Moving Average: 1.6mph
= a mountain at or over 14,000ft. There are 50 official
and named fourteeners in Colorado. There are many more thirteeners.
An aerodynamics friend-dude said that in wind tunnel tests, a person
had a very hard time standing up in 60mph test wind. So maybe our wind
only reached 50mph for a few seconds and averaged 30mph, who knows? When
i brought a windmeter back to the same spot 2 weeks later, i could only
measure lousy 13.2mph. The snow was waist deep in a few spots though :-).