Hagues Peak – A Case of Altitude Sickness

Hagues Peak rises to 13,560 feet and is the fourth highest in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Photo by Richard F. Fleck

Only twice in fifty years have I come down

with altitude sickness, once in the Wind Rivers

and once here on the flanks of Hagues Peak

A bit after we peered far down to Crystal Lake

and a little before our final scramble

up the last three hundred feet. Perhaps I hadn’t

eaten quite enough at breakfast or perhaps it

was coming across a dead Clark’s Nutcracker

flat on a rock, but my head began to pound and

my wisdom teeth started aching as well as my

Stomach with nausea and cramps, but my climbing

buddies offered me some hot tea to sip and slowly

it soothed me, and when I nibbled on crackers and

cheese I arose and said “let’s continue to the top,”

and in what seemed only moments, we stood on

the summit to stare across at the wrinkled surface

of nearby Rowe Glacier and at distant Laramie when

I could not have felt any better—no aches, no pains.