Everyone knows how difficult it is to breathe at high elevations. Aircraft engines have the same problem. As the altitude increases, air becomes thinner and contains less oxygen--and oxygen is a major component of combustion and power. Many people avoid visiting Aspen because of the 8,000' elevation. Many aircraft avoid it for the same reason. Engines just do not perform well at that altitude. Landing is enough of a problem. Taking off is even more challenging.
To make matters worse, there is a requirement shortly after takeoff to climb above the Rockies. If you are departing to the East, there is no other way out. Colorado boasts of having the most 14,000' plus mountains of any state. Unfortunately, we had to deal with some of them this day.
A point to remember is that, even if there are 14,000' peaks, there are passes between them that are only 12,000 or so feet high. Therefore, if you fly between the peaks, you do not need to climb as high. We utilized that principle in exiting the mountains on our way to Dallas. Mountains are more photogenic looking up at them than down on them so we elected to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) at 13,500' to get a better view. Superlatives like beautiful, spectacular or majestic do not do justice to the Colorado Rockies. We will allow you to find your own words to describe them. However, photos do not do them justice, either.
Arrival in Dallas means that we have only 2 more legs to complete the 'Round the World odyssey. We had built in a cushion in spending several days at some of the more recent stops in the event of mechanical or weather delays but from here out, there will only be one night stops. If we are to make it around in 90 days, we will need to arrive in Melbourne within two days. The Baron has performed flawlessly and has been a total pleasure to fly over the last 3 months. We are confident that she will carry us for 2 more legs.