The summit of La Plata, my third fourteen thousand foot mountain for the day, still seemed impossibly far away. The storm system that had surprisingly reappeared just over my shoulder was now again not so quietly building up force. Thunder boomed. On any other day I would have called it.
I crawled upward, rather than descend downward. What I needed desperately to do was to text the only person I knew who was in the area: my girlfriend. The only way to do that was to top the summit and chance getting cell coverage. Finally there, I typed furiously with cold fingers, wind and snow burning my cheeks:
HELP. I AM NOT OK. Too weak to keep going and stuck in another storm. Going to walk back to the La Plata Trailhead. I should be able to make it.
Are you there?
If my SPOT Tracker stops moving, I may have just passed out for a bit. If you get this, please meet me... meet me wherever I'm found.
If the text got out, and if she herself had service (who knows where she was camped?) she may then be there to help me with my extraction. A gamble, but it was my best idea to avoid calling Search and Rescue. It was going to be a cold night waiting out whatever was about to come down without her help. I just had an ultralight bivvy – a plastic bag essentially, to nestle in. I brought no sleeping bag.
Sending the message, I turned around, and immediately felt lost on the descent. My Unsupported Nolans 14 attempt was over, but my night was only beginning.