This picture illustrates how quickly weather develops in the mountains and the story behind it illustrates the need for proper equipment and preparation when traveling in high, exposed areas. This picture was taken on a mountaineering route called the “Norris Traverse”, in which mountaineers follow the continental divide for several miles, starting at Triple Divide Pass, traversing around Norris Mountain and then northwards until reaching the extremely remote and nearly mythical Red Eagle Pass. From Red Eagle Pass, many different routes can be taken to reach civilization again, though none are easy and none are by trail. During this particular trip, an unexpected afternoon thunderstorm developed, something every mountaineer fears. Mountaineers are completely exposed to lightning strikes in thunderstorms and this situation proved to be even worse, as a rapid descent from this route is not possible, as cliffs surround you on nearly every side and many of the valleys below have no trail to use to leave the area quickly. In this instance, we were lucky to have found a decent cliff face to sit under. While the storm was rolling in, I pulled my rain jacket out of my backpack, but the rain jacket was taken by the wind as I watched it helplessly fall down the mountain all the way into the valley over 2,500 feet below. Luckily, I had packed a bivouac (or bivy), which is essentially a very small,usually emergency use, minimalistic one person tent that is waterproof. Without the bivy, I would have been forced to literally sit in the rain with no why to keep dry, risking hypothermia overnight at such high altitudes in the process. Luckily, the equipment was on hand and I was able to utilize it. Anybody going into the mountains must prepare for the possibility of bad weather and other obstacles properly, or else run the risk of finding themselves in very bad situations.

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