Tag Archives: climbing

Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia: Part 3

(At long last: the final part to one of our 14er climbs last August. If you want to refresh your memory, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.)

When Team B (Dad, Mom, and I) reached Mt. Columbia’s ridge, it was extremely windy. So windy you had to lean forward into the wind. It took us awhile to traverse the ridge.

IMG_3364The clouds were pretty as they blew quickly over the mountain tops.

A practical hint if you’re using your iPhone for pictures on a long hike. Invest in a small, external battery charger. Here’s the link to what I have, and the black is on sale (update: blue is no longer on sale) now for only $9.99 from Amazon! I love mine (okay: I do have the pink one)! Make sure to see if your phone is compatible with this charger. The Amazon link is an affiliate one. Read our disclosure/privacy policy here.

IMG_3351After climbing over multiple false summits, we finally reached the real summit. Ahhhh. There’s really quite an amazing feeling to summit another 14er.

IMG_3372IMG_3381We took pictures, and we were also in radio contact with Team A. Sadly, with the temperatures and wind, we knew we couldn’t stay long on the summit and wait for the rest, so we began our descent.

Meanwhile, Team A was quite exhausted, but they kept pushing. They had an intense traverse, and despite obstacles, they maintained their cheerfulness.

IMG_7964IMG_7969The last summit was in sight!

IMG_7985IMG_8006IMG_8014IMG_7990IMG_8028When they reached the top, they also took pictures and were surprised to find a mountain goat enjoying the scenery too.

Team A didn’t spend long on the summit, as they knew the descent on Columbia would be hard. We were grateful for our iPhone app RunKeeper, which we had been using since the beginning of the climb. Team B had found the route difficult to find going up, and there were certain routes you did not want to take going down (like catching the gully). RunKeeper was perfect as we consulted it to make sure we had the right path going down. We also radioed to Team A to try to help them get on the right path.


It was a rough descent. Tiredness, pain, exhaustion, and slippery slopes made it difficult. You ended up sort of sliding down different sections.

IMG_3459Finally, we all met up in the forest! Praise the Lord!


It had been a long, hard, incredible day, but we made it. Well, almost. We then experienced a thunderstorm in the forest, along with lots of rain. But I think that just added to the adventure. We put our phones in waterproof compartments, dug out rain coats, and sloshed through the forest.


They could still smile for a group picture. Good job, y’all!

Climbing mountains is a beautiful analogy of our journey as Christian.

  • It’s physically hard.
    • We face challenges in life.
  • Company helps.
    • Fellowship with other believers is a great encouragement.
  • The views are gorgeous.
    • God’s blessings abundantly fill our lives.
  • Carbs, protein, water, and even electrolyte chews or drinks are a must.
    • Reading God’s Word is essential.
  • When you reach the top, you realize the climb was worth it.
    • Heaven is our final destination, and words can’t describe what it will be like!


“I press toward the mark for the prize of the
high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:14

Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia: Part 2

–With all the wedding and trip posts, I never got our 14er summits finished. But, I’m not leaving them undone. If you want to refresh your memory, here is Part 1. I’ll be sharing some Christmas pictures later, but for now, here’s Colorado!–

Team A (Joseph, John, Anna, Jesse, and Mary) saw wonderful progress and made Harvard’s summit at 7:20 local time. Pretty amazing! They enjoyed a cold and windy but beautiful summit. The clouds and sunrise made for a dramatic light show that morning.

This doesn't look so hard, but actually they had to climb a rock that required you to hold on, and if you let go, well, you don't want to go there!

This doesn’t look so hard because the picture doesn’t show the exposure to the right, but just below the summit they had to scramble a rock which proved to be one of the more interesting places of the climb.

Way to go, y'all!
Way to go, y’all!



After consulting the weather and deciding it didn’t look prohibitive, they decided to start the traverse.

IMG_7896They were one member short as John decided to head back and do some work in town. On John’s way off the summit, he made a new friend (check the picture).

Talk about a selfie! I guess the goat got the memo too.
Talk about a selfie! I guess the goat was pretty pleased too.

Meanwhile, Team B (Dad, Mom, and I) began the steep trek up one of Columbia’s slopes. It did look daunting, but we knew that step by step, we’d make progress. As we climbed, a young lady caught up to us, and we enjoyed talking. Then, she went ahead. She disappeared after awhile, which meant our path wound around the mountainside. Due to the loose rock (also known as scree), it made the climb unpleasant. I knew if it wasn’t pleasant going up, it wouldn’t be pleasant going down. But that part didn’t have to be faced at the moment. As we climbed higher, the wind grew stronger.



Back to Team A. They were attempting to accomplish what is considered a rigorous mountaineer experience.

Here you see the traverse to Columbia. Yes, it’s that far off.

They followed the cairns and light trail which generally stayed to the right of the ridge. They then crossed to the left of the ridge and descended into the basin to avoid a section of the ridge that was practically impassable.


After they started descending towards the basin, route-finding became significantly more difficult. Cairns disappeared and there was certainly no semblance of a trail to follow. When they started traversing below the ridge, the terrain became rough and they found themselves scrambling across fields of boulders the size of cars.

In many ways the back side of ridge was a bit of a box as there was no easy way to continue descending into the valley, and the best way out was over Mt. Columbia (which wasn’t visible). This element, and the fact that thunderstorms were likely coming that afternoon as evidenced by the clouds starting to develop, made the lack of navigation quite disconcerting. They prayed and asked for the Lord’s wisdom as they pressed on. It was a stretching time for them, as it was an uncomfortable feeling not knowing for sure if they were on the right route.

This is the basic they descended into to avoid the ridge.
This is the basic route they descended into to avoid the ridge.
Here Columbia’s summit is easily visible before they descended into the basin. Notice how far off it still is?

After perhaps a 1/2 hour of scrambling and pushing on, they started coming across an (very) occasional cairn, which was an answer to prayer.

I’ll finish up with Part 3 sharing the summit stories.


“I sought the LORD, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalms 34:4

We Made It

Thursday morning, on Mary’s 18th birthday, we summited Mount Huron. It was a stunningly gorgeous day. I have a lot of pictures to sort through but watch for several posts about our experiences. There’s just something so special about reaching the top of a 14er and knowing you got there with your own two legs!


“O LORD our Lord,
how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
who hast set thy glory above the heavens.”
Psalms 8:1

A Double Adventure: Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache

A little before five a.m. Thursday morning, we reached the trailhead for our next 14er adventure. This time, we had two more climbers–Nathan and Christopher. Our first goal was Mount Shavano, followed by Mount Tabeguache (pronounced Ta-ba-wash) for all except Dad and Mom.




We saw dawn breaking across the valley, and a flock of mountain sheep springing down the mountainside. We left the treeline after seven as we came to the ascent to the saddle and broke into several different groups, everyone going whatever pace they could. The climb was steep, causing us to take breaks at different points. The family is good at motivating each other, and often you’ll hear an encouraging comment. If one person is struggling, the other will ask if he needs a break and patiently wait while the person recovers and is ready to press forward.





Jesse reached Shavano’s summit first, and with amazing energy, he went back down to offer to carry Dad and Mom’s packs the rest of the way. After everyone summited Shavano, we grabbed a family picture, and the eight Maxwell children began the 1 mile traverse to Tabeguache, while Dad and Mom waited on Shavano.




To help you gain perspective, I’ve circled some in our climbing group.

Going to Tabeguache was difficult. First, we climbed over rock fields, slowly making our way down 600 feet to a dip in between the mountains. Then, we faced a somewhat daunting ascent 500 feet. We enjoyed a little time on the summit before tackling the route back to Shavano. Then, we made our final descent to the trail head. Often, on a 14er, we’ll meet someone who is by himself. I can’t imagine doing it alone; I love company and encouragement!

Christopher was a great encouragement to me, and the only reason I made the second summit. He could have gone way faster, but he stayed near me. Again, notice those circles. What a distance we had to climb! The uppermost circle group wasn’t even at the summit yet.



Anna signed the registry.



All eight Maxwell children!



Coming down was an interesting experience.


Nathan was my encouragement coming down, and we saw mountain goats. Wow!
We saw many trees that were laid over. We assume a major storm went through at some point.





We missed the little ones and Melanie and Anna Marie, but they gave us a great “welcome home” when we arrived back at the cabin. Anna Marie prepared a delicious “refueling” meal, which we enjoyed.

Climbing can be likened to our spiritual journey.

Sometimes as you climb, you gasp for breath, your legs burn, and you pause to catch your breath. Spiritually, we must remember that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Sometimes the incline seems too steep to the summit, and you don’t know how you will make it. But, you press on, looking for the next rock cairn (pile of rocks) which marks the path. Spiritually, we must be continually looking to God’s Word to guide us: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105).

When you reach the top, you realize the climb was worth it. The views are breathtaking! Spiritually, we can remember that we “… press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14).

“I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.”
Psalms 116:9

Mt. Yale, A Perfect 14er

3:45 am: We wake up (and wish Mary a happy birthday). We have personal Bible time, prayer, and eat a quick breakfast. We packed our CamelBaks the night before, so that part is set.

5:14: We reach the trailhead. Piling out of the van, we don our CamelBaks. Those who have headlamps put them on, and others use flashlights. The moon is gorgeous, but it won’t give us enough light on the tree-shrouded trail. We fall into a line and begin up the trail. We can hear the steady crunch of our hiking shoes making contact with the ground. There were other vehicles at the trailhead, but we don’t see anyone for over two hours. (BTW–we stayed on Central Time, so it was actually an hour earlier Mountain time).



7:00: Headlamps and flashlights are no longer needed.


7:50: The summit of Mt. Yale is clearly visible. It is exciting after only 2 1/2 hours to see the summit so clearly. We trek along the trail. Sometimes it’s steep, and we take breaks to catch our breath. Occasionally a reminder is passed along to drink water. Those Camelbaks are so handy!



Distances are very deceiving. The summit in the above picture is over a mile away. At this distance, you can not discern someone on the top.


8:22: We take breaks as needed to catch our breath and grab drinks from our Camelbaks. It’s very important to stay well-hydrated on such an intense climb.


It is about this point that John tells us this is the tough part. We climb steadily, taking breaks as needed and enjoy the views.


9:02: We’re getting close to the saddle, our final ascent to the top. The path is great to follow. Yes, it is still chilly at this point since the sun is on the other side of the mountain.


Walking sticks are a huge help to me. 😉


9:02: John, who has led our trek so far, is the first to reach the saddle.


9:05: It’s gorgeous on the saddle. We take a break, and then we split into three groups. Jesse and John take the lead, with Joseph, Mary, and Anna next, and Dad, Mom, and I taking up the rear.


9:23: Jesse is the first person of the day to summit Mt. Yale (out of probably 23-25 people)! Congratulations, Jesse!

IMG_10749:28: Dad, Mom, and I work our way along the boulders. Mom is a great trooper! One thing I like about this 14er are the solid rocks! Sometimes rocks can be loose, and you have to carefully make sure it’s solid before trusting it. With Mt. Yale, this is generally not the case.


9:42: Still working along the boulders.


9:45: I’m really enjoying this climb!

10:00: We have all summited. Praise Jesus! The view is gorgeous, stunning, and amazing. We spend the next hour on the summit enjoying the views, eating lunch, taking pictures, and exclaiming about the incredible weather.




The birthday girl!






We are grateful for some fellow hikers taking our family picture.


IMG_1146 11:00: The descent begins!



As Joseph, Anna, Mary, and I climb over some boulders, we meet another group of hikers. One of the guys comments to us, “I’ve never seen someone mountaineer in a skirt! That’s cool!” Another of his buddies adds, “I like your mountain skirt.”



11:34:  At the saddle, we meet two ladies. One has summited almost all of the 14ers, except for one, and she is bringing her friend on her first. When we comment that it is Mary’s birthday, we find out her friend’s birthday is the next day! We grab a picture of the birthday girls.


We really enjoy talking to hikers as we go along.




12:26 p.m.: My awesome younger brothers and sisters.





12:53: These badger-type little guys are so cute. Talk about a view!


1:07: We arrive back in the treeline. Now we start seeing scenery we had missed in the dark.




2:06: About a half hour ago, we heard our first rumble of thunder. It’s important to summit a 14er as soon as possible due to afternoon thunderstorms. We are glad we are off the summit. It sprinkles a bit, but never pours.

3:00: All the Maxwells have finished the hike. Our Mt. Yale adventure is almost 10 hours (including our time on the summit).

“Thy righteousness is like the great mountains;
thy judgments are a great deep:
O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings”
Psalms 36:6-7