No matter how diligently we check the weather reports, they are never spot on and Long’s tends to make its own weather. The night before, we made a call to Jim Detterline, a retired park ranger of RMNP. He reported extremely low temps – lower than we would like to believe were possible – so we approached the day with this warning in mind.
I don’t remember much of the morning for this one. The slog up to Chasm Junction is possibly the most familiar march the three of us know. The Diamond stood in all its glory in the morning sun as we headed straight into the cirque.
Once we put crampons on at the base of The Loft, we began the methodical process of following in an existing bootpack and were lucky enough to not have to face the subzero temps we thought we would find. By the time we hit the top of the Loft and began the short but awkward traverse toward the summit of Meeker the temperatures were climbing noticeably.
On the top of the ridge that led to the summit, we stopped to drink water and shed layers. It was hard to believe we were standing on the ridge without having to worry about moving constantly.
The final push to the summit was straightforward until we encountered the blocks and slabs that make up the Meeker summit ridge. With just enough ice covering the rock to make things interesting, we picked our way across the ridge to find the summit register tube, opened and empty, unfortunately.
We spent very little time on the summit before the climber in Dickey compelled him to keep scouting the route to the opening of Dreamweaver.
We made our way into the abyss until we came to a section of steep and seemingly unstable snow. Dickey set a rappel and dropped in.
It was clear that this section of the line was in no shape to be skied. The snow was there, but overall, conditions were simply not safe. We made our way through a few more sections of rock and thin snow until we realised that the rest of the line was rock. We made the call to duck off onto Darkstar instead of continuing down Dreamweaver.
We knew the exit from Darkstar was a quicker ski and we had hit the point in the day where we knew we were running out of time. After another rappel and short down climb, we arrived at the apron and clicked in. At this point, the snow was beginning to harden again and the ski out went by refreshingly quickly.
On our hike out, now in the dark, we met another group of two coming out of Chasm Lake. We exchanged surprised hellos and got back to the business of getting back to the car.
Skiing the trail back down to the trailhead was interesting in headlamps – dazed and confused from what would become roughly 14 hours on Meeker. We made the descent within eyesight of each other’s headlamps… just in case. In the end, the exit was smooth. We made it to the car just at the evening was beginning to settle on the hills.