08 December 2009

Mount Princeton, Part II

12 June 2004

Princeton was the "Mountain of My Fear." I had an ax to grind, literally. I have an ice ax now, one I feel very comfortable using. I'd needed it – desperately – on my last trip up this peak. Second time around, the peak was much tamer a beast.

Going up the 4-wheel-drive Princeton road in the dark definitely isn't the blood-curdling experience of the road to Crystal or the road to the Capital Trailhead, yet there was a sense of justice in parking the car after The Lizard's perceived sense of danger. There are some steep drop-offs, and there are a couple of hairy sections. Surviving that, I'd taken the first step in conquering My Mountain.

We packed, snapped a couple of photos of the spectacular sunrise, then began the foot assault of the increasingly four-wheel-drive road. Surprisingly, many people were camped up higher… in tents, with their vehicles. The road would have been passable all the way to the first snowbank, but I am thankful I did not take my car any further.

We'd deliberately scheduled this hike so we could be atop the mountain in time to see the Balloona Vista hot air balloon festival in the valley below. The rough road had taken longer than we anticipated, so we were a couple of hours behind schedule. We kept looking for balloons, but nothing. Not even one balloon. After about two hours, I finally decided it must be windier down below than it was on the east face, because there were no balloons, and that was the only thing I could think of that might keep them from launching.

We summited about noon amidst a crowd. The summit was much smaller than I would have expected after viewing Princeton from below. There were three wind shelters and two places to pose for photos. And pose we did!

We had carried a cardboard cutout of a famous celebrity (with his permission of course) in our mountain climbing group's attempt to get the image up every Colorado fourteener in one summer. (The goal was not achieved.)

The crowd atop the mountain was very excited about the prospect of being on the peak at the same time as Rodney Dangerfield's likeness and couldn't wait to hear the story behind such a hilarious undertaking. Everyone wanted photos. People scampering down tipped off people still coming up. "Rodney Dangerfield's on the summit! Hurry!"

After a ton of pictures, we put Cardboard Rodney back in his stuff sack, and then The Lizard and I had someone take a photo of just the two of us together. We took a few photos of each other, too.

Then the moment I'd been waiting for happened. We kissed on the summit. This was the most incredible sensation. Words cannot explain. I wasn't even dizzy. I'd always thought that if he kissed me on a summit, I might faint. But I felt like skipping the rest of the day. I felt supercharged, as if his kiss came equipped with magic potion.

The Lizard was so wonderful the entire trip. He is much faster than me, and he's fearless on sloped terrain. Four-wheeling and clouds bother him, but steep drop-offs and snowfields don't. He waited for me. He kept checking to make sure I was all right. He carried my camera for me when I would have banged it around too much. He let me balance on his shoulder when I needed to stretch. And he sat down with me when I was dizzy.

Oh, I almost forgot about the mountain bikers. Three fully decked Team CU members grunted all the way up to the mine, where the road ends, then came whizzing past us before we reached my car. We saw them one more time at the high point at the radio towers; they apparently had to get in one final ascent. The Lizard kept remarking what a fun ride Princeton's four-wheel-drive road would be. Maybe we'll come back and do this one again one day. On two wheels.


  1. amazing picture, really breathtaking view! I bet it must be super cold up there.

  2. No picture of the smooch? Awww.

  3. Wow! We don't have mountain climbing in common! LOL The older I get the more fear of heights I have. Love your telling of the kiss. The first time I knew that my husband was falling in love with me he called me at work. He said, "you scare me" and my heart raced all day! LOL Pictures are amazing!


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