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The Hull Cook Journals: The Power of Love

May 5, 2010 Hike No Comments

Dorothy Collier resting inside the Boulderfield Shelter Cabin. Collier, who often managed the hut while her husband, Bob, was away, suffered lightning shocks and a concussion in the line of duty.

Hull Cook worked as a climbing guide at the Boulderfield Shelter Cabin, at 12,750 feet on Longs Peak, during the summers of 1932, 1933, and 1934. These are his stories.

One time that I carried someone down the mountain remains vivid in my memory; it was more prolonged [than usual] yet not severely fatiguing because love was a factor in maintaining endurance.

In endeavoring to reach something on a high shelf, Dorothy Collier [co-proprietor of the Boulderfield hut] placed a foot on the edge of the stove, and to support herself grasped one of the metal tie rods overhead. Her hand was slippery from soapy dishwater, causing her to lose her grip. She fell backward, striking her head on the cement floor. She was dazed by the impact, but she soon got up and tried to pass it off as of no consequence. However, 20 minutes later she abruptly lost consciousness and again fell to the floor.

This delayed loss of consciousness alarmed me greatly, as I feared it indicated intracranial bleeding. I carried her over to the downstairs bed, placed a cold-water compress on her head, and, since her husband was in Chicago, I phoned her family doctor in Denver. He wanted her brought down, and was quite distressed when I explained the difficulties of transport. About this time she regained consciousness, so we decided on quiet observation as long as she appeared not to be deteriorating. Her main problem was a vicious vertigo that recurred every time that she sat up or attempted to stand. … Continue Reading

Spring Ski Spectacular

May 3, 2010 Ski No Comments

Boulder-based photographer Fred Marmsater sent us this inspiring gallery of April skiing above Gothic, near Crested Butte, and on the west side of the Indian Peaks. Be sure to visit his website for more great images.

The Hull Cook Journals: Youth

April 29, 2010 Climb, Hike 1 Comment

Hull Cook (left) and Clerin Zumwalt horsing around on the cabin walls. Each morning the guides used to shout, "Indian's a-comin'!" as they spotted the first hikers at the edge of the Boulderfield.

Hull Cook worked as a climbing guide at the Boulderfield Shelter Cabin, at 12,750 feet on Longs Peak, during the summers of 1932, 1933, and 1934. These are his stories.

Bathing facilities at Boulderfield were limited. Usually we stood with one foot in each of two wash pans of warm, soapy water, with a third wash pan between the other two to help catch run-off, an arrangement that would have been less efficient in the case of a female bather. A kettle of clean water was placed nearby for rinsing off the soap. Bathing was sometimes interrupted by the unexpected arrival of tourists, who usually barged right in without knocking, thereby creating an entertaining scramble for cover.

After the brief but heavy afternoon rain showers that are frequent in the mountains, we would often reach the cabin drenched, and wish to change into dry clothes, only to find the place crowded with tourists seeking shelter. My wife believes that this is where I lost my modesty, because we boys changed to dry clothes, crowds or not. We would step to a corner of the room, and while facing away from the people, we would peel down to the bare facts and dry off. Women showed surprise, shock, and embarrassment until, seemingly reassured by our confident composure, their discomfort was usually converted to amusement.

When no overnight guests were present, Zumie [Clerin Zumwalt, another guide] often enjoyed starting the day by flinging open the heavy front door, stepping outside, and shouting as loudly as he could, “Hello, world!” And for this brief ritual Zum felt that the appropriate attire was complete nudity. … Continue Reading

First Person: The Five Peaks Race

April 27, 2010 Run, Ski No Comments

Beautiful views helped ease the pain of a punishing course. Photo by Kate Lapides

Randonee racer Bryan Wickenhauser reports on the first Five Peaks ski mountaineering race in the Ten Mile Range above Breckenridge—a monster course that gained 10,000 vertical feet. Thirty-five teams of two braved the challenge on April 10; see the Five Peaks website for full results and links to photos. Here’s Wick’s report:

The inaugural Five Peaks race lived up to its hype as North America’s longest ski mountaineering race, with 10,000 feet of vertical and five separate ascents behind and in the Breckenridge ski resort. My teammate for the race was my fellow Team Crested Butte member Jon Brown. We’ve both been racing in the COSMIC Series for the last four years, and we train all the time together—perfect partners!

The weather going into Friday night called for temps bottoming out at 20°F with light winds for Saturday and sunny skies. Really a perfect forecast for an April ski mountaineering event. The start was classic Alpine at 6 a.m., so we awoke at 4:30 a.m. to get our breakfast on and have time for a brief warm up at gear check.

The start was at the base of Peak 9 at about 9,600 feet, and our first summit would be Peak 10, about 4,000 feet higher! We skinned our way up some mellow groomed runs to the top of the ski area, where we continued though a backcountry gate. Now we began to get into more technical skinning, as we were above tree line and the winds had taken most of the loose snow and deposited it elsewhere (like hopefully on the descents). … Continue Reading

Introducing: Hallett Peak’s East Buttress

April 23, 2010 Climb No Comments

Hallett Peak's east buttress, from the east ridge of Flattop, March 21. Photo by Dougald MacDonald

By Eli Helmuth, Climbing Life Guides

Tyndall Gorge has long been a favorite destination in Rocky Mountain National Park for high-quality backcountry skiing, ice testpieces such as the Squid, abundant bouldering, and classic big-wall cragging on Hallett’s north buttress. Easily accessed from the Bear Lake parking lot, the Tyndall is truly a mountain playground for all seasons and interests. But few climbers explore beyond the crowded classics. One of my favorite alpine play spots in the park is the east buttress of Hallett Peak—specifically the many little-known moderate mixed climbs on the north face of this couloir-striped buttress. And we’re just getting into prime season for these fun spring mixed routes. … Continue Reading

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Recent Comments

  • Jamie Jones: The secret chute was only a secret top all you easterners....
  • Jeff: Awesome!!!! Are they ever going to be published in book form! These stories need to be made into a movie!!!!...
  • Karen D McCall: What a story, I read every word, absolutely enthralled. As an aging outdoor enthusiast headed for hip replacement, I can...
  • Kirk Miller: New rats in the Platte. Well done sir....
  • Dale: I met Clerin Zumwalt hiking on the Long's Peak trail back in the 1990's. He was with his family and was wearing his RMNP...
  • Ben Collett: Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see for details) th...
  • Tim: Thanks for the great writeup. We just did this loop yesterday and had a blast. Do you know if anyone has skied the coulo...
  • 14er Sports: Awesome accomplishment!...
  • Kailas: Yes Wick there are that many people. And they are all from back east or Texass... booooo. I've skied up here for ove...
  • jeff: What amazing experiences Dr. Cook had. I feel so fortunate that I've found this website and have been able to enjoy Dr. ...

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A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake […]

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

Colorado’s Shelf Road , a network of vertical limestone cliffs near Cañon City best known for sunny moderates, has a new 5.13d pitch and may soon get its first 5.14. On Sunday, March 7, Mark Anderson redpointed a striking, super-technical arête at Cactus Cliff that was bolted in the early 1990s but apparently never free-climbed. […]

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story. While researching routes […]

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Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

March 18, 2010

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

In the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, a granite spindle called Zowie protrudes from the convoluted south face of Mt. Otis. Just to Zowie’s left is a zigzagging chimney and gully system that holds an unlikely mixed-climbing gem. Brain Freeze was discovered very recently (early 2008) by Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan. Several parties […]

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

February 19, 2010

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

Kevin Landolt is a skier/climber/student, based in Fort Collins, who writes the fun Alpine Ambition blog for the Mountain Shop. Here, Kevin describes a favorite midwinter ski tour near Cameron Pass offering a little of everything. Trailhead: Lake Agnes Road, 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass Tour Distance: 7.3 miles Total Vert: ca. 2,900′ Season: […]

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

January 28, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

Two of the wildest and most difficult water-ice pitches in the state are in plain view from Highway 50, en route to Ouray and Telluride from points north, plunging down the sheer face of Grand Mesa. Yet few people notice them, and far fewer have climbed them. The routes are tough, to be sure, but […]

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

December 28, 2009

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

Mt. Bancroft’s rocky east ridge is a terrific mountaineering adventure for Front Range climbers, beginning less than an hour from Denver. The 13,250-foot peak is relatively close to the road, and avalanche danger can be easily managed, making this perhaps the most accessible technical winter summit on the entire Front Range. The east ridge offers […]


Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

February 5, 2010

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

Photographer James Beissel sent us this fantastic dawn-patrol shot of the full moon setting over South and North Arapaho in the Indian Peaks, shot from Flagstaff Mountain. Said Beissel: “The first full moon of the New Year is often called the Wolf Moon. The name comes from Native American culture, in which it was associated with […]

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

January 20, 2010

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

By Bob Berwyn Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development, and water exports. Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May. Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by […]

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