Storm Peak

      by Gordon S. Novak Jr.       July 5, 2000

My daughter and I are climbing Storm Peak as a training hike for a possible climb of Longs Peak. We leave at 08:50, reaching the Chasm Lake fork at 10:53 and Boulderfield near the Keyhole at 12:50; we head toward Storm Peak from there. Just past the boulderfield privy is a big pile of rusting tin cans. It's amazing that in this environmental age there is so much trash in such a premier location; next time I come up here I'll have to bring a trash bag and pack some of it out.

The ascent of Storm Peak is a fairly steep climb on large and usually stable rocks. As we near the summit of Storm, I get about 50 yards ahead of my daughter. I get up on the summit ridge and realize she isn't close behind, so I start backtracking; then I hear "Daddy!" She has reached the top of the ridge and suddenly looked over into what looks like a very long drop, and in that moment she has realized that she has a fully functioning instinctive fear of heights. We won't be climbing Longs this year. We reach the summit at 14:00.

We go down via the eastern slope -- possibly harder, because it means a longer steep descent than going back to Boulderfield; we reach the base of Storm Peak at 15:00. On the way down, we encounter more junk: a large piece of rusting sheet metal, too heavy to carry down comfortably. What will we find next, a wrecked '57 Chevy? As we round the corner of Lady Washington, we see a ptarmigan hen with four chicks running around behind. I've seen ptarmigan before, usually when they moved just as I was about to step on them, but these are the first chicks I've seen, scampering around and over the rocks, unafraid. The mother looks harried.

We reach the Chasm junction again at 16:30 and the trailhead at 18:03. It has been a fine trip despite the scare on the top.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks