Limits

(Should I go back or continue? It’s my fifth attempt. If I go back today, to find this type of weather, I have to wait for the spring of 2019. Plus if I figure out the route today, it would be helpful when I come with the cross-country ski gears in the mid-winter. OK. Then continue it is. )

Summit of Provo peak

I had done lots of research on the routes to Provo peak. People usually climb this peak from May to October. There is no proper established trail. The consensus is to follow the ridge closely from the right side. This ridge is facing towards the backside of Mount Y is really steep. After the countless iteration of reading materials on this peak and trails visualization using Google Maps and Google Earth, I thought I would be able to follow along with the right side of the ridge.

We can always argue if we need someone else to feel peace and happy but, we all agree that we all by our-self are sufficient to experience pain. Being honest, I am not sure if I was at peace or was happy when I got to the top of Provo Peak. But I am certain that I was feeling some kind of pain. My right foot ankle was pretty much at the pain. So were my knees. I could feel some crisp pain in my face when the wind would blow at me. Shouldn’t I be feeling overwhelmed and happy that I climbed the mountain in the fifth attempt? I don’t know. But what I felt was the satisfaction that I finally did something that was on my bucket list. That’s it. People say when you conquer a mountain, you feel accomplished, you feel happy, your pain disappear, you feel like you can tackle any problem. What I felt at that moment was like now I have successfully reached the top, how do I get back.

It was 3:16 pm Mountain Time (MT), November 21th, when I was enjoying the beauty of the other nearby mountains, Utah Lake, and beautiful cities from the top. The mountain is not that high. Provo city is an elevation of 4551′ similar to the elevation of Kathmandu (4593′). Provo peak is at a lower height of (11,068 ft) in comparison with the height of Mt. Everest (29,029′). It’s not wrong to say that most of the hills back Home are around similar height to Provo peak. Hills surrounding Kathmandu city like Kalinchowk (12604′) Phulchoki (9157′), Chandragiri (7,500′), Daman (7620′) and others. I will share our awesome story of Kalinchowk hiking in some other post. What makes Provo peak unique though its height is almost similar to Kalinchowk? The answer is its a 20.5 km hike with an elevation gain of 7486 ft (2282 meter) in a single day with lots of snow without a proper trial.

In the morning I didn’t have any such plans to go to the mountains. Woke up like 8am in the morning. Had tea and checked the weather. It was a perfect weather today (Wednesday) and it would start to snow heavily from tomorrow. Since it was Thanksgiving break, I had the perfect excuse to do something crazy. Then a few memories of my hike towards Provo came into focus. Why not try Provo peak today or maybe drive towards Moab or maybe be Kings peak. Since it was already getting late, the only viable option for today was Provo peak. Then started to search for the gear. Got the crampons, poles, alpine shoes, few pairs of socks, fruits, cliff bar and filled them into my rucksack. Also kept extra trousers and jacket inside the rucksack in case of emergency. This time I forgot to keep essential first aid kit but remembered to store lighter, matchsticks and headlamp.

Put on my comfortable Sneaker running shoe with North face socks. Was now ready for the trailhead. Thought of taking an Uber from the apartment to Slate canyon trailhead instead rode my Kawasaki Ninja 250R. Reached to the trailhead. I am not sure but I think it was like 10 am when I reached the trailhead. Though the backpack was heavy, I started off the trail by running as I was feeling energetic. Since the trail is relatively steep in comparison with Provo Canyon trail, it was not easy to continue running. Was enjoying the view around the trail. There was a magnificent landscape all around me. But I couldn’t see any footsteps in the direction I was going plus there were no parked cars on the trailhead which means I was all alone in the trails. I had lost my big army knife in the previous unsuccessful venture on this trail. I was left with my classic tiny swiss knife. So the feeling of being all alone in the lonely woods with just the little swiss knife for protection made me a bit scared. That alone was not enough to hold me back so I marched on.

It took me like an hour to reach the base of the Maple Mountain. I took a small rest there on the feet of Maple mountain. Now I had to take a big decision. The usual slate canyon trail 061 goes along the foot of Maple mountain around a hill in front of Provo Peak. This hill doesn’t have a formal name. David and I in our previous adventure in Provo peak gave this hill its informal name as ‘HCMI’. There was a choice for me at this resting place. Do I go following the usual trail 061 and then turn right where trail 062 starts or just don’t follow the trail but just climb up the steep part of the hill which will directly take me to Provo peak trailhead. After thinking through my options, I decided to take the second one. I have come down the hill numerous times but never climbed it. So I was not sure how it will pan out. But I was sure that the trail would definitely lead to Provo peak trailhead without me getting lost.

Up through the ‘HCMI’ hill, it is. For the looks of it, the forest was in the bad shape of the snowstorm a few weeks before. Trees without leaves, brown bushes, fallen trees and tree branches everywhere. Though this kind of environment gives you distant visibility you have to traverse in-between the bushes and tree branches. This is likely to give you minor scratches and a few holes in your clothes. There was no trail. I was just looking into Provo peak eyes and following a straight path. That meant, I climbing steeper part of the hill with very less traction. Plus I was avoiding big rocks as I was not prepared for rock climbing. After a struggle about one and half hours, I was finally at Provo peak trailhead. There was lots of snow on the Squaw Peak road (027) which passes through the trailhead. I took a small rest at the trailhead.

The weather was perfect. I was well prepared for the worst conditions. I felt like this was the day when I will finally make it to Provo peak. With this positive thought in mind, I slowing started walking along the trail which is used a lot by ATVs. I remember a few previous attempts where I got lost on this section to find the ridge. There is no proper trail. Lots of guides and videos on the internet say that we just need to follow the right of the ridge all the way to top of the peak. In order to make my next trip with Cross country skis easier, I explored to the ATV trail to its end. Then I followed back the trail and stopped at a pile of stones which was there to show the way towards the ridge. I obliged to the direction of the stones and climbed up. Few minutes of the climb was through dense but died forest. After like half an hour, I was off the trees and to the ridge of the peak.

I was exhausted so decided to take rest and replenish some energy from apples, Clif energy bar, and water. My water supply was done for the day. But I always had the option of staying hydrated consuming snow. It was windy so I had to get my windproof jacket on with gloves and woolen cap. Now the hardest part of the climb began. Then snow was up to my knee. There was no trail to follow. I had to break my way into the steep slope. I could see a big tree on the upper slopes. I wondered how could that size of a tree be alive in that condition. That’s what we learn from nature. Life flourishes in unlikely places. It was talking breaks often. Also fell few times on the ground as the heat rays from the sun had made the snow sluggish.

After a struggle for about an hour, I was finally beneath the huge tree. There were few rocks organized like the chatura as seen in many trails in Nepal. Took short rest there. Then I was confused about which peak was the true peak. Provo peak has North and South peak while North peak rising higher. From that point, I had no visibility of North Peak. So I decided to travel across the slope near the base of South peak and then I might find a clear way up to the North peak. The snowfields were very hard. I no longer could break trail with the shoe I was wearing. I had to switch to the alpine boots with crampons on them. Now it was much easier to cross the snowfield. Now I wanted something harder than this. I went to the much steeper slope with the confidence in the crampons. I thought I reached the ridge along the South face very fast after changing the shoes. The view from the ridge was magnificent. I could see the sun already near west. That got me worried. I had to reach to the top and then get back home.

After few minutes, reached to the top of Provo Peak. There was a metal rod with a broken piece of glass attached to it. It would move based on the direction of the wind. I had to capture the beautiful moments with the camera lenses. As soon as I took my hands off the glove, I could feel the cold winds. Took a video and a few pictures from the top. It was already 3:15 pm and the sun would go down by 5:20 pm. I had 2-hour window to reach the trailhead. Reaching to the peak was definitely satisfying but the pain I was feeling on my knee and ankle was too big to be shadowed by the satisfaction. I remember the cause of the pain rooted in the log of wood in the HCMI hill. I badly struck my knee against it at that time. Now the cold wind just made it worse.

I forgot that I had a headlamp in my rucksack. Plus, I had the phone which could be used as the flashlight. None of those ideas were in my mind. What I knew at the time was that I had 2 hours to descend and reach the trailhead. I started to descend. The slope was very steep. I could have never reached to the top today I didn’t have the crampons with me. It was a really exciting moment for me. I was doing what I have seen in documentaries. Descending down a mountain with the mountaineering gears. Moving with crampons was a bit tricky. Had to balance the pace plus how you place your feet on the snow. I learned this the hard way by falling a couple of time and banging my keen into the hard snow. But I was motivated to go down and enjoy. Just followed the ridge with every step carefully measured. Finally reached the place where the big tree resides.

No water. But I had some energy bars to finish. Changed shoe from Alpine boots to hiking. Then was ready for the running mode. Its crazy to run that side of a mountain with no proper trail. But that the fun. I started running down the mountain. In no time I reached the Provo trailhead. This was just the midpoint to the adventure. I still needed to go like 4 more miles to reach the trailhead where I parked my motorbike. Since I was accustomed to going that hill, it was no big deal. Reached to the base of maple mountain in no time. My feet were giving up. They were too tired. But I asked too much for them. With limited water and few energy bars, can my body sustain just change in elevation and distance? It did succeed in reaching to the trailhead before it was dark. I knew the true extent of the damage when I got home and threw my ruck-sack. The was deep cut below the left knee. It was swollen. My right keen was swollen as well from many falls in the hard snow. Had an excruciating pain on my left shoulder. I couldn’t remember anything that happened to my shoulder in the trail but there should be something I don’t remember.

Applied medicinal alcohol to the cuts and bruises. Applied the ice on the swollen parts. Then took a good long shower. After that my body deserved a nice hot pool rest. Took 15 mins to rest on a hot tub. Still, my calve were sore. I thought a good night might help them to relax. In fact, it took like a week on good sleep for my body to recover from the adventure.

The point is, we tend to underestimate our-self in many aspects and overestimate in others. To really know the limit of our-self, don’t rely on previous experiences. If you really want to measure what can you do and can’t do, just try in on that moment, then you can find your true potential. Most of us afraid of previous failures, then when the opportunity comes up again to do it. We refrain. We tell ourselves that we couldn’t do it in past. So we can’t do it now. It not true. The past it past. You are no longer the person you were in past. You have changed. So has your capacity. So give it a try again. Limits exist only in our mind. In the real world, there are countless possibilities.


3 thoughts on “Limits

Add yours

  1. Wow, Aadesh Dai Khatra Hai 🙂
    It’s really inspiring to read your adventurous journey. I wonder how you managed to capture the video in such wind, snow, and cold. So where are you going to travel next?

    Like

      1. Awesome.
        Next destination is yet uncertain! Let’s see where it will be. Many places yet to travel!

        Like

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