We arrived at the trailhead at 3am and it was all hustle and bustle there. It is a strange feeling driving through Boulder on a Friday night at 1am and seeing all these folks leaving the bars, ending their days, evenings, etc. We were just beginning our next day, and that always makes it for an almost ethereal experience driving to get to the trailhead. The parking lot was almost full at 3am (woah!). Headlamps were everywhere and we took about 15 minutes to get ready and we were on the trail at 3:15am. I sucked down a Red Bull five minutes prior to getting on the trail though I think I should be banned from drinking Red Bull as I feel like it turns me into “Hammy” from the animated movie Over the Hedge.
So with Hammy in full gear we set off! Both Regina and Becky had remarked how excited they were to use their headlamps for a night hike. This was going to be a good hike for this because we had three hours of darkness ahead of us. We had a great pace going and made it up through the Goblin’s Forest to the first set of switchbacks right at tree line. Wow, we had a ways to go! We had to go all the way around Storm Peak to access the Keyhole. Longs approach is well, very “Long.”
We started noticing quickly above tree line that it was very windy and cold out so we changed into warmer clothing. Silly me had my Under Armor long sleeve shirt on, and then only my windbreaker. This would have been fine but I forgot I had opened my vents on the windbreaker during the last hike of S. Arapahoe. I did not realize this for about two hours of hiking into this blasting wind and cold. When we finally got to the Boulder Field I realized that my vents were open and that is why both my arms almost felt numb. I tried to make a clothes change to get warmer but the wind just would not stop. I got really cold doing this, to the point where we were supposed to snack but I insisted I had to get to the Keyhole to stay warm while my newly added layers took effect.
We passed many groups of people that turned around from the Keyhole because of wind. It was very windy; however, the Keyhole is always windy from my experience though you will not hear me talk smack about anyone who bails on a peak because they get that gut feeling. We had some people coming down telling us “no way, hurricane force winds up there,” or “we just had to turn around at the Keyhole because the wind was blowing us to the point where we were losing our footing in the Boulder Field.”
This was discouraging to us. All these people had started at the right time and for the most part looked well equipped to handle the cold and wind. There were two guys that were coming down who had shorts and only fleeces with small packs, and they looked very cold and were hauling to get off.