PostedSep-10-2006 09:52 PM
Altitude8,513.76 ft.
HeadlineOne Way Down Black Bear Pass
Entry After finalizing a plan to meet up with Mark in Ouray for lunch before heading up Black Bear Pass we decide to take Last Dollar Road on Bobsey and Davis's suggestion and take off. Arriving in Ouray we spot Mark who generously grabs our lunch while we plan out our route for the day. Heading down 550 we pass under a tunnel and hear Mark take a jab on the horn so we pull off but he was just honking through the tunnel to honk. Right. So onwards and upwards we climb along the back spine of Black Bear stopping for shots of the adjacent Red Mountain and quickly notice our lack of breath at the slightest self exertion. The air up here is no joke. Looking back on video taken throughout the climb all you can here is heavy panting while trying to keep the camera steady. Some editing will be in order.

We should mention that the image which largely inspired the expedition was of a Camel Trophy Yellow Discovery Series 1 overlooking Telluride from the first shelf down Black Bear Pass. I can remember sitting in an office in LA cupping my hands so that my vision was limited only to the photo. Now here we are a few thousand feet from peering over the ledge ourselves. As a result we're in slight hurry to make it to the top and Mark is getting the impression we've got a death wish. Stopping at one spot for Mark to catch up we jump from the truck and start running up the hill thinking we've made it but realize we're a whole leg away from the climax. Now dizzy from the sprint, Mark rounds the corner and sees us wobbling back to the truck only to jump back in and tear out. With Mark having concerns of his 88 4-Runner's ability to make it down Black Bear's switchbacks into Telluride he needs a place to turn around. However just at the moment of truth Mark decides to sew it up and deciding he may never have another opportunity decides to go on. Alright Mark.

Passing a closed leg up to an abandon mine we finally crest the overhang bringing a panoramic view of the switchbacks, Telluride, the mountains, and the Power House all into view. The Power House is a home which sits just to the South of the Pass directly aside a spewing waterfall over the side of the mountain with a suspension bridge connecting it to the trail. Needless to say is pretty cool. The initial shelf leading you into the switchbacks I must admit is a little intimidating. The edge bends down just out of sight leaving only your imagination to fill in the blanks. I took this as my cue to get out and spot resulting in potential guilt being my only real worry. We take a thousand photos. Winding around the switchbacks we stop to walk over to the Power House which we learn actually has a cable running all the way into town with a miner's basket the owner is able to ride in back and forth when Black Bear is impassible. Ok umm, that's not awesome.

Coaxing the trucks around each turn we arrive down in town with the sun setting just in time to snap off a few shots in downtown Telluride and hit Baked In Telluride to continue with updates. As it grows later we pickup and head up Last Dollar Road in search of a spot to pull off which Hanley and I had spotted on our way out. Pulling over we notice a fenced off area which states no camping and grays the line on whether or not we're allowed to crash here. With Mark not being one much into construing the rules he suggests we drive on further as Han's now tired and degrading mood begins to lose tolerance with anything between him and passing out. Driving on to find an appeasing spot, Mark's speed becomes ridiculously slow. An hour and a half later and still only a few miles outside of town we find a second pull off area which Mark fears will carry too much traffic and wake him in the morning. Though it was dark and my vision could have off I think Han's face began to turn purple. In a last ditch effort we continue on the main road entering National Forest lands and come upon a camping spot and hastily throw out the tent.