BLANCA MASSIF AREA, Colorado -- One thing I learned on this expedition was that what looks easy to traverse on a topographic map may not be so easy to walk on the ground. This slope didn't look like much to cross, nor did it seem like much of an obstacle on a topographic map, but a hike over this slope that I estimated would take no more than two or three hours took five. This bowl is in a notch on the western ridge of the Blanca Massif, and the area above treeline is covered with loose rocks and boulders called talus, which can be (and in this case was) hell to walk over.


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