Dream Of A Lifetime
Living here in Estes Park, I am surrounded by many that have accomplished the task of climbing Longs Peak. Those that have failed attempts and those that have succeeded in reaching the summit have an understanding of the drive, desire and effort necessary to realize this goal.
On July 15, Roy Kleinsorge sent me an e-mail asking if he and his son Eric could tag along with me up one of the two trips I had planned to Longs Peak. Roy said he and his son had attempted the climb in 2000 and got just past the Keyhole but due to the great unknown and conditions, they turned back. In between then and now, Eric had an accident and shattered his heel and had reconstructive surgery done on his right foot leaving him a size and a half difference in feet with virtually no lateral movement. Doctors told him he would never be able to do any major hiking. You need to know Eric to know that this would prove to be a statement of challenge. When Dad Roy called Eric and said “I have a Longs Peak trip planned with some folks who have been there several times,” Eric began a workout routine to enable him to physically make the trip. Eric, 42 years old, lives in Texas and his Dad lives here in Estes most of the time and Texas part time. Roy, twice retired, will turn 70 this October and was concerned with his physical capabilities to make it to the top. I told Roy we needed to do some warm up hikes to test our abilities.
Well after hiking to the top of Twin Sister’s without a rest break, Hallett Peak with no rest except halfway up the 400 vertical feet of Hallett’s summit, then the trilogy of Chiquita, Ypsilon and Chapin in less than five hours, I knew Roy was ready. I wasn’t sure who was testing who at that point.
On August 19, 2010, we started our journey from the trailhead at 4:10 a.m. We set a pace that got us to the resting rock in an hour and to the Chasm turn off in two. The day was a miserable day with virtually no sun and the clouds blocked most of our views. The wind was a chilling factor blowing from the direction of Lady Washington behind us. We had gloves and hats on after the first hour and left them on all day with the addition of rain gear on our descent. The trail was not crowded as it was a Thursday with questionable weather. Roy and Eric did great. They were careful, considerate to others (not unusual for mountain hikers) and kept the pace going. We made it through the Keyhole, Ledges, Trough and on to the Final Stretch, ‘summit fever’ was in their blood.
Dad Roy sunsmitten first taking pictures of his son doing the final grunt. You could clearly see the pride and exuberation on his face and hear it in his voice. Once we were all on the summit, the emotion of the climb for Eric was overwhelming, he had to put on his sun glasses to hide the tears of sheer joy in the climb he and his Dad just accomplished. For me, I got to share in the moment and relive the feeling I had as a young boy on my Dad’s shoulder hiking up Specimen Mountain in 1962. Those bonds between father and son are priceless.
Thanks Roy and Eric and congratulations on a great accomplishment.