Let it snow!

By 
Dino Dave’s Adventures By ‘dinodave’ Fuqua
Thursday, December 31, 2020
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​A few years ago Montana had a dreadful dry year with devastating summer forest fires. That same summer Houston had immense flooding with a heavy dose of rains from Hurricane Harvey. When this happened, I couldn’t help but to think: What if there just happened to be some guy……who had just flown into Houston from Montana, prayed for rain, but forgot to say where? Boy, would they feel like an idiot. That stormy thought brought up a memory.

​I have a friend Jason, whose hobby was mountain climbing. He always had great stories to tell at parties. My hobby was collecting rocks. Nobody talked to me at parties, well except for Larry whose hobby was making dream catchers. Larry thought I was fascinating, but I wanted to be more like Jason. I was in my late 20’s and up to that point I really hadn’t accomplished much in my life. “Maybe I should climb a mountain like Jason?” I thought. “What better way to accomplish something without accomplishing anything than to climb a mountain?” Climbing a mountain will have zero relevance to the world, but mean everything to my foundationless ego. It was exactly what a 20-something man needed.

Just then, Jason in the middle of one of his stories said, “Yeah, me and a buddy are going to climb Granite Peak next week.” Now, Granite Peak is the highest peak in Montana. Anybody knows, that if you truly want to be a man, climbing the highest peak in Montana is the measure of that.

Not knowing what I was getting into, I spoke up, “Hey if you need a third, I’ve always wanted to do that.” Jason laughed at first, then his eyes got big. “Oh, you are serious Dave!”

I wasn’t serious….I was just a good actor, people were watching. Of course, Jason was going to say no anyway I figured, it’s like when beginning tennis players ask me to play tennis. Larry gave me a look at me as if I was a god, “that’s one crazy rock collector!” he thought.

“Ok, Dave” Jason replied to my surprise. “I’ll get you a list of what you need. Do you have any carabiners?”

“What’s a carabiner?” I could see Jason’s disgust with my reply, but it was too late. We had both committed.

 

 

The 12,800 ft Granite Peak is best climbed in late August because of the rough mountain weather. I needed some warm snow pants (which I had none) so I asked my brother-in-law who was a mountain climber if he had any. He brought out these nice wool pants that were his favorite. I tried them and they fit great, but I did not walk in them. This would be a great mistake as we shall find out.

​After driving all night with Jason and his friend, we arrived at the Mystic Lake trail and slept in our car until morning. The goal was to hike up the 3000ft switch backs and camp that night above on the 10,000 ft elevation plateau. We left early in the morning and didn’t arrive until evening. I knew Jason and his friend were wary of hiking with a rookie. I pushed it hard and gained their confidence by the time we reached the plateau. I was incredibly exhausted. I tried not to let it show, but my early retirement to the tent gave myself away. Afterall, today was easy, nothing technical. I needed a good night sleep for tomorrow’s ascent. I was getting nervous because there was going to be some technical climbing that I had no idea how to do. Granite Peak glared at us from our camp. It stood majestic and intimidating. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The smart thing to do would be to check my ego at the door and let them go ahead but by my late 20’s I had become so good at getting away with dumb things, it became second nature. I was going to go for it!

​That morning we woke up and I was told to put on my snow pants. It’s going to get cold. Granite Peak loomed over us like a dragon ready to slay its next victim. I put on my brother-in-law’s wool pants like a suit of armor. Jason and his buddy led the way and I followed. Ten steps in and “woop!” the nice wool pants were around my bottom butt. Uh oh. I had tried these pants on, but I did not WALK in them. This was concerning. I pulled my pants up and in another 3 steps “DROOP” they were around my butt again. “Oh no…..this is not good!” I thought. I started to get a rhythm. Every third step I’d swoop my pants up with left hand. 1…2…3….droop and swoop. 1…2…3…droop and swoop. “Ok…I can do this, only 5 or 6 more hours to go. I looked back and camp was only 200 yards away. 1…2…3.. droop and swoop, I was still keeping up with Jason and his buddy. Granite Peak stared me in the face the whole time. My oxygen deprived angel on my left shoulder started talking, “Ok…this time I am really going to die. This is stupid Dave, just be a man and turn back to camp!” The devil on my right whacked him with a carabiner, “That’s not being a man!” and the devil won again. I managed to keep up with droop and swoop method for another quarter mile wondering how I can possibly get out of this situation.

Then, literally out of the blue, like I was David bleeping Copperfield, clouds formed among the torrent high elevation climate. It started to blizzard! Solid white was everywhere! It was glorious. Jason stopped with the same disgusted face he had when I asked if I could go with. “I hate to say this guys, but we have to turn back”. Jason turned around with a heavy heart, but my heart was flying 12,800 ft high. “Ahh….serious! Well, if you think so.” I should have been an actor, but after a couple hundred more yards of droop and swoops I couldn’t hide it anymore. The dejected serious mountain climbers began to be serenated from a happy rookie the rest of the way back to camp. “Oh, the weather outside if frightful…… Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

Dave Fuqua is a Glendive native. You can find out more about him at dinodaveadventures.com. He can be reached at Makoshikadave@gmail.com.

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