Thursday, June 4, 2015

Week(s) in Review: May 11-31—Trying to Get Back in the Groove

Week in Review: May 11-17
Monday, May 11th
AM—38 Miles—8:40—4,900’—Easter Island Circumnavigation
After talking to a few locals I found out about a faint trail that circumnavigates the entire island. Naturally, I decided that a run/hike of this trail would be a great way to scope out the area. Most of the route can be seen by renting a car/bike since the paved roads are never really that far from the coast. The notable exceptions are the northwest portion of the island (from Hanga Roa to Anakena Beach) and the Poike peninsula.

The daytime high was to be around 76F, which sounded miserably hot to me after four months of wearing a down jacket in the extreme southern reaches of Patagonia. With the total absence of water along the route, I opted to wear my Osprey Rev 18 pack to utilize its 3-liter water bladder and bring along some calories.

I hit the road from Camping Mihinoa around daybreak to avoid the need for carrying a light. About fifteen minutes into the day I was already sweating my ass off. The stretch from town to Anakena was gorgeous, but tedious. The path is a horse trail (at best) and is constantly littered with fist-to-head-sized lava rocks. So, one must be mindful of essentially every single step. At one point I came across a gaucho herding some cattle and had some fun racing alongside him on his horse.

After 2:40 I found myself running along the white sand of Anakena Beach and fighting the urge to strip down and jump in. I kept trucking along and about twelve minutes later found myself descending to Ovaja Beach—a glorious semi-hidden gem. From Anakena to the north side of Poike peninsula was noticeably more technical than the previous stretch of path, but once I reached Poike the lava rocks disappeared to yield some pleasant running. On the north coast of Poike is a high point (one of two or three little bumps north of the Poike volcano) that I could have skirted around, but opted to go up-and-over instead.

Circling around the peninsula seemed to take forever. The heat and constant exposure to the strong sun were beginning to take their toll on me. I had been fiercely rationing my water all day, but still felt as though my supply was nearing its end. So, on the south side of Poike I stopped for a few minutes to get some applesauce packets out of my pack and check on the level in my bladder. To my surprise, I still had a little over 2.5L remaining. One benefit of my minimal approach regarding the use of food/water in my daily running is that I can get pretty damn good miles per gallon of water…

Eventually, I reached the southern end of the Poike peninsula and was faced with a choice: drop down a steep, grassy/rocky slope to the beach just east of Tongariki or add on extra distance to take a more round-about (but safer) way down. I decided to just drop straight down the slope. The view from the top of the slope was rather intimidating. I still had 15’ish miles separating me from the town and could see Rano Kao WAY off in the distance. Ugh…

By the time I reached Tongariki I was somewhere around a marathon in distance and feeling pretty spent. My legs still had some pep, but it was just way hotter than I anticipated. I tried sticking to the trail on the coast for a mile or so, but it was even worse than the north side of the island. So, I stuck mainly to the road back to Hanga Roa.  The major downside to traveling along the road was the heat coming from the pavement. I could run along at 10-11 minute pace for about ten minutes before I felt like I was overheating and would stop to walk in an attempt to cool down. When I finally neared the volcano of Rano Kao I decided to skip it and just head straight back to town. I already ran up Rano Kao a few days prior.

I would love to come back some day and run this with proper heat acclimation. I would definitely start significantly earlier and try to cover about half of the miles before sunrise.

Tuesday, May 12th    
AM—32 Miles—3:00—1,750’—Easter Island Road Cycling
My legs were still a bit sore after yesterday’s run around the island. So, I decided to rent a bike and tour the island. I set out on the bike today with two goals: never have to walk the bike and never have to go into the lowest gear. I met both of the goals. After about 20km I stopped at the beach one last time for about three hours of sunworshipping and playing in the ocean. After drying off a bit I took off to complete the loop around the island.

Wednesday, May 13th    
OFF—Just enjoyed my last day in Easter Island and returned to Santiago

Thursday, May 14th  
AM—10 Miles—1:16—500’—Santiago Roads
I had several errands to run today. So, I decided to literally run them. I set out from my hostel at Plaza de Armas and ran to a store where they could fix the band on my Suunto Ambit. My band basically just fell apart after three years of heavy duty wear-and-tear, which left me piecing it together with whatever I could find. First, I used duct tape. Then, when that quit working I used a fancy purple ribbon, which lasted for all of the Dientes de Navarino Circuit. Eventually, I settled on using zip ties. The obvious problem with most of these fixes was that I could never remove the watch. After getting my watch fixed I stopped by Outsoul (a running store that has Ultimate Direction, Kahtoola, and various other products from The States) to chat with the owners about getting out for a run up one of the local peaks. From there, I just took the Metro back to my hostel since the streets were too busy for any enjoyable running.

Friday, May 15th
OFF—Still taking several off days per week as I pump up the volume slowly

Saturday, May 16th    
AM—20 Miles—4:35—6,700’—San Cristobal (x2), Cerro Manquehue, Cerro El Carbon
I hit the roads at 8:45am from my hostel at Plaza de Armas with intentions of meeting Max for some miles around San Cristobal. I think we were both waiting on the other person in different places since we ended up never seeing each other. After two trips up-and-down San Cristobal yelling Max’s name I finally gave up and started making my way towards Cerro Manquehue. When I finally started ascending the trail heading up these peaks I had already covered eight miles and 1,400’ of vert. The ascent was HOT. I don’t know if 75 degrees has ever felt as hot as it does here. I stuck to the Southwest Ridge (I think?) for both my ascent and descent. This route offers up a few short stretches of 3rd Class terrain and also avoids people on the 1st Class trails leading to the summit. With about 15 minutes of loitering on the summit under my belt I took off towards Cerro El Carbon and a little less than thirty minutes later was standing on the summit with a bunch of Boy Scouts or something. I downed the rest of my water on the summit and began the horrible descent. These trails are all nothing but bald dirt, which leads to a lot of slipping-and-sliding while descending. Once I reached the bottom I stopped at a kiosko for a drink and some plums. The old lady who runs this place gave me a bunch of water and three apples for free about a week ago when I was bonking hard from the heat. She seems to think I’m crazy for running around in the mountains. After my little break I hit the pavement for a bit of the way back up San Cristobal before veering onto a nice contouring trail. Once I made it back down to Bellavista I decided to just walk back to Plaza de Armas due to the hordes of people on the sidewalks. Not a bad morning at all…

Sunday, May 17th
OFF—Resting up to hit the trails running tomorrow

Weekly Totals
Time—14 hours 33 minutes
Elevation Gain—12,100 feet

Week in Review: May 18-24
Monday, May 18th
AM—11 Miles—2:08—2,800’—San Cristobal Hill Repeats (x4)
I wanted to get in a decent amount of vertical today, but without the 18-22 mile commitment of El Carbon or Manquehue. So, I just decided on repeats of San Cristobal. The ascent is about 0.7 miles and gains 600-700 vertical feet—100% runnable. My first lap came in just under fourteen minutes. Then, I turned around and used the descent as a recovery. I proceeded to do three more laps this way with each being faster. The last ascent was right at thirteen minutes. I decided to call it quits here since I have plans to ascend Cerro Provincia on Wednesday with friends and want a little energy in my legs.  

Tuesday, May 19th   
OFF—Decided to rest a day before heading up Cerro Provincia

Wednesday, May 20th   
AM—12 Miles—3:37—6,300’—Cerro Provincia
I left the hostel early to get on a packed Metro car to my meeting point with Renzo and Katherine. The slight drizzle had me a bit concerned with what the weather would be like up high even though the Mountain Forecast site said it would be sunny and perfect. The route begins with a nice rocky section before pretty much just heading straight up to Alta de Naranja. A lot of vertical is gained here. Less than fifteen minutes into the day and I was stripped down to skimpy shorts and nothing else—it was damn hot. To my amazement, Renzo and Katherine were in tights and long sleeves the entire day. I’m almost positive if I tried wearing that it would have been the end of me. After we reached Alta de Naranja we had a few kilometers of rolling hills that offered some much welcomed runnable terrain. Eventually, the steepness picked back up and we found ourselves power hiking up to the false summit before really being able to run again. Occasionally, I would let a gap develop between us just so I could run to catch up. Just beneath the false summit is a short stretch of 3rd Class terrain that breaks the monotony of just power hiking up to the summit. As usual per trails in Santiago, the descent can be a death trap. It hasn’t rained in this area for seven months. So, you can imagine how dry and hard the trails are. My footwork felt spot on, but some annoying pain in my left shin caused me to slow down a bit on the descent. During the rocky, technical sections I would fly through them, but then slow way down on the hard dirt. Before too long we found ourselves back down at the car. This was a great route and even better company. Renzo was charging up the mountain really well and Katherine was flying down the mountain pretty damn fast. Great day out!

Thursday, May 21st
AM—18 Miles—3:32—4,900’—Cerro El Carbon
With Max Keith. Max and I tried to run together last Saturday, but we couldn’t find each on the trails. So, this time we made sure that we had a good meeting point. I ran the 4-5 miles to our meeting point really easy since my legs were a bit tired from yesterday. It was a struggle to get below 9-minute pace those first few miles. Fortunately, Max seemed OK with taking a casual approach to the day. We ran a short stretch of road/trail before getting to the trail up El Carbon. Here, I was happy to see Max fall into a power hike—my legs were too tired. We took a rather direct line up the mountain that avoided all of the switchbacks. As we neared the saddle between El Carbon and Manquehue we began running a little more and proceeded to run most of the way up to the summit from the saddle. The perfect weather on the summit enticed us to linger around for 15-20 minutes before trotting back down. At the end of the run I showed Max the route I used to ascend/descend San Cristobal since he has never really used it. Hope to share more miles (kilometers?) with Max when I get back from Mendoza.

Friday, May 22nd
OFF—Travel to Mendoza to renew my Chilean tourist visa

Saturday, May 23rd
AM—3 Miles—0:25—100’—Mendoza Roads
Decided to head out for a little road run. After a handful of near-misses with getting run over by cars I decided to go back to the house and call it a day.

Sunday, May 24th
OFF—Just sat in bed all day watching movies. Wish Mendoza were closer to some mountains.

Weekly Totals
Time—9 hours 43 minutes
Elevation Gain—14,100 feet

Week in Review: May 25-31
Monday, May 25th
OFF—Not really feeling motivated to run in Mendoza. Just using this as some rest days.

Tuesday, May 26th   
AM—17 Miles—2:50—1,400’—Mendoza Roads and Foothills
I was planning to just do a mellow run on roads and around the park. When I reached the west end of the park I found some dirt roads heading up a small hill and made my way up. From the top of the hill I could see off in the distance and spotted a few trails meandering out into the foothills. So, I made my way to these and quickly found myself on a nice ridge connecting several bumps along the way. Eventually, the absence of water and the presence of extremely brown’ish urine made me turn around and start making my way back.

Wednesday, May 27th   
OFF—Long day on the bus back to Santiago. Chilean border patrol was on strike. So, it took us 4.5 hours to cross. When I got back to Santiago I was too exhausted to run.

Thursday, May 28th
OFF—Kind of a nasty looking day in Santiago. Didn’t do much of anything.

Friday, May 29th
AM—26 Miles—6:11—7,000’—Cerro El Carbon, Cerro Manquehue, Cerron El Penon, Cerro Montegordo, Cerro La Region, and San Cristobal
When Max and I ran El Carbon last week he pointed out a linkup of several summits in the area. So, I took his recommendation and decided to do that today. I took the Metro to Escuela Militar to avoid the usual eight miles of running just to get to La Piramide. This cut the approach run to about three miles on roads through the city before beginning the ascent of El Carbon. I hiked most of the ascent and reached the summit in 51 minutes. Next, I made my way up Manquehue via its more direct southwest ridge and enjoyed a little 3rd Class terrain. On the way to El Penon I got on the wrong trail and started descending, but after a little off-trail meandering I found myself on the correct path. While ascending El Penon the views looking back on Manquehue were pretty stunning. At the summit of El Penon I made a pretty big mistake that cost me ~15 minutes. I didn’t have a very good view of the ridge from the summit and somehow ended up descending a pretty awful, steep slope towards some little bump of a mountain between Montegordo and El Carbon. After some bushwhacking (lots of cuts and blood from this one) I was able to contour around and catch a glimpse of the correct path. Eventually, I made my way there and was treated to a nice stretch of cruiser trails to the summit of Montegordo. The ascent of La Region was the last big climb of the linkup, but passed by rather quickly. Once on the summit of La Region the real shit show began. The descent began innocently enough with some steep, loose trails and eventually transitioned into a dirt road. Somehow, I got off the road and started going straight down the hill on horrendously dry, loose, steep terrain before reaching some cow trails that contoured around below the highway. After several miles of cow trails I found myself in a slummy area that reminded me of Brazilian favela scenes in movies. While running through these areas I trotted along slowly in an effort to save some energy for an all-out sprint should the need arise. I just kept moving while avoiding eye contact with all of the people giving me the what-the-hell-is-this-Gringo-in-short-shorts-doing-running-here look. Soon enough, the buildings started looking a little nicer and I found myself in a rather rich-looking part of town on the north side of La Piramide. Once in a comfortable feeling area I consulted the map on my iPhone and realized that getting back to La Piramide wasn’t going to be easy at all. So, I ran by a huge cemetery, crossed a major highway, and finally found myself at one of the paved roads up the north side of San Cristobal from Los Turistas. Overwhelmed with relief I made my way up the hill. Somehow my legs felt pretty good, which led to me giving this ascent a reasonable effort. I knocked out the3.6 miles and 1,000 feet in just under 34 minutes before casually descending and trotting back to Plaza de Armas. Whew…

Start—Escuela Militar Metro Station—0:00:00
La Piramide—20:20 total
El Carbon—1:11:46 total (51:26 from La Piramide)
Manquehue—1:50:42 total (38:56 from El Carbon)
El Penon—2:22:05 total (31:23 from Manquehue)
Montegordo—2:59:33 total (37:28 from Penon)
La Region—3:28:27 total (28:54 from Montegordo)
Favela Neighborhood Roads—4:11:16 total (42:49 from La Region)
La Piramide to Favela (Trail Section)—3:50:56

Saturday, May 30th 
AM—10 Miles—2:04—3,400’—Salto de Apoquindo
Great run with Renzo, Katherine, and another friend of theirs. My legs were noticeably tired after yesterday’s run, but overall I felt pretty decent during the outing. The waterfall is a nice, hidden gem of Santiago and is surrounded by some rather gorgeous scenery. On the way back we had a little fun on some of the descent trails and picked up the pace a little. Maybe 6:30’ish minutes/mile? Not terribly fast, but fast enough considering how easy it is to lose control on the super dry trails.

Sunday, May 31st  
OFF—BBQ at Renzo’s

Weekly Totals
Time—11 hours 6 minutes
Elevation Gain—11,800 feet

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dientes de Navarino FKT Run (March 1st)

Time—8:32:02 (hours:minutes:seconds)
Distance—28.5 Miles
Vertical Gain—8,600 feet

Two years ago I was in Puerto Williams to run the Dientes de Navarino circuit at the recommendation of Peter Bakwin and Buzz Burrell. I did a pretty long-winded write-up of that experience, which can be found here. Long story short, it was a bit of a shit show that involved two separate attempts and multiple times of getting extremely off-route. After the experience I had dreamed of returning to Navarino to give the circuit a proper effort.

What my shoes looked like less than half-way through my attempt in 2013
Well, once again I found myself in the sleepy little town of Puerto Williams—beyond the end of the world—with intentions of running the Dientes circuit. Fortunately, I had the GPS track from my previous debacle to study on Google Earth and was able to compare my incorrect route with the circuit map. I was quite surprised with how much of the route I could visualize in my mind after two years away. After about an hour of studying the maps I felt rather confident that I could minimize the time spent route-finding while running the circuit.

Map of the Dientes de Navarino Circuit with mistakes from my first attempt in 2013 written in blank ink
The weather on February 28th was nothing short of perfect; leaving me wondering why I didn’t run the circuit that day. Instead, I did a pretty hard effort up Cerro Bandera. Later in the day I went to the library to check the weather forecast. It seemed that the next few days would be OK, but not great. A front was coming in the next few days and the overnight low temperatures looked like they would drop from mid-to-upper 30’s down to below freezing. The last time I ran Dientes I remember the talus descent to Laguna del Salto being an icy nightmare. With this on my mind, I decided to pack my Rev 6 for an attempt on March 1st (before the front moved in) and if my legs felt good in the morning then I’d give it a go.

My alarm went off at 4am. I was in a room by myself, which allowed me to hit the snooze button until 5 or so before dragging my ass out of bed. About five minutes later I was dressed and ready to go. I whipped up four fried eggs and a cup of strong Nescafe coffee for breakfast and sat around for a few minutes contemplating the big day ahead.  A little after 6am I finally hit the road running. The cool morning air left me wondering whether I should put on another layer, but I decided to wait and make my final decision on wearing a jacket once I got to Plaza de la Virgen. I made a quick detour to the police station to let them know I was heading out (supposedly this is required), but they were closed. So, I began the ~1.25 mile warm-up jog to Plaza de la Virgen.

At the plaza I felt plenty warm without a jacket. So, I took off up the gentle incline of the road leading to the trailhead. After about 12 minutes I felt warmed up and ready to tackle the steeper ascent of Cerro Bandera. There are two trails leading to the summit of Bandera: one is longer and more gradual and the other is quite direct. I’ve found that both trails take me about the same amount of time to reach the summit from the trailhead. So, I chose to run the more gradual trail and enjoy a few extra miles of running since the overall ruggedness of the Dientes Circuit doesn’t offer too many opportunities for actual running.  

I started/stopped my watch for the circuit at this street sign

Reaching the summit of Cerro Bandera on a beautiful, crisp morning

Heading up Cerro Bandera
From the summit to Laguna del Salto was a gorgeous stretch of trail in the early morning light. Here, the trail contours along the mountainside as you head farther away from civilization and closer to the heart of the Dientes. The increasing feeling of remoteness combined with the first stellar views of the Dientes makes this one of my favorite parts of the circuit—plus, it’s actually runnable! When I began the descent to Laguna del Salto I was pleased to find the talus completely free of frost, which made the descent significantly more pleasant than I remembered. I saw two tents on the north shore of the laguna and this would be the only signs of civilization I would see until reaching the main coastal road for the last few miles to close the loop.
Contouring towards Laguna del Salto
The ascent of Paso Primero was less muddy than I remember, but still steep and muddy enough to make for slow going. On the way up Paso Australia I stopped to refill my UD handheld water bottle—this would be the only time I had to refill my bottle during the day. Once I topped out on Paso Australia and began contouring around Laguna del Paso I encountered my first little error. There was a small snowfield to traverse, which was still solid enough that my shoes weren’t getting any purchase. So, I dropped below and skirted around the snowfield. This put me a little ways below the trail and had me moving slowly on loose talus for a brief period. Eventually, I glanced up and saw a cairn that I headed towards to get back on-trail.

View near Paso Australia (Photo from my 2013 attempt)

Photo from Paso Austrailia
From Paso de los Dientes (Marker 15) to Laguna de los Dientes (Marker 17) went by without a problem. I wasn’t really expecting any route-finding issues here since this was one of the few stretches of trail that I negotiated without a problems during my last attempt at the Circuit.
View from Paso de los Dientes
One of my three major route-finding errors from my previous attempt occurred while skirting around the north shores of Laguna de los Dientes. In 2013, I lost all signs of the route and made a decision to ascend a low point in the ridge to the north of Cerro Gabriel before dropping down the other side. Looking back I realize how incredibly stupid this was, but sometimes you just make bad decisions when trying to do long, challenging routes in short amounts of time. Fortunately, this time around I was able to stay on the route and make it to Marker 20 on the south shore of Laguna Escondida without a problem. Somewhere near Marker 21 I headed slightly off-route to the north towards what I thought was Paso Ventarron. It seemed like a lot of cairns were haphazardly placed around here making it a bit easy to veer off-route. Luckily, this little mistake only cost me about 5-10 minutes.

I actually took the correct route this time. The route skirts along the left side of Cerro Gabriel and is pretty flat and easy

In 2013, I made a huge route-finding error and decided to go up-and-over the ridge to the right (north) of Cerro Gabriel. I was treated to this shit show of a descent down to Laguna Escondida. 
After topping out on Paso Ventarron the wind picked up for most of my descent. It wasn’t terrible wind, but it was pretty cold. This was one of two or three times that I debated putting on my jacket, but I fought the urge and kept on moving. I spent a few minutes at Paso Ventarron eating my chocolate bar, which would be the only calories I consumed all day.

Heading west after Paso Ventarron

Looking to the south towards Cape Horn from Paso Ventarron
 At the base of the short ascent of Paso Guerrico was where my second big route-finding error occurred in my previous attempt. Here, I lost the route and made my way up a steep, sketchy slope that was a mix of snow and scree. When I reached the ridge I could see Laguna Martillo on the other side and negotiated a shit show of a descent down to its shore as head-sized rocks tumbled down all around me—ugh. Once again, my studying of the route allowed me to avoid this costly error and I made it from Paso Ventarron to Laguna Martillo without a problem.

Laguna Martillo
The stretch from Laguna Hermosa to above treeline on the ascent of Paso Virginia is probably the muddiest stretch of trail for the entire circuit. One benefit of doing the circuit in a day is that you just don’t care how wet and muddy your shoes get. This makes the muddy, boggy sections significantly easier. From Marker 31 to 32 there are some steep-as-hell sections with “steps” cut into the mud, which required a lot of pulling on trees just to get up the crap. I wouldn’t envy anyone doing this with a heavy backpack…

Around Marker 33 you reach a huge, flat’ish rocky area that seems to go on forever before finally reaching Paso Virginia. My legs were finally starting to feel the fatigue of the day and I proceeded to walk most of the way to the pass. The descent from the pass to Laguna Guanacos is probably my favorite part of the entire circuit. Here, you’re treated to a steep, straight-line descent on the most perfect scree you can imagine. In no time I found myself on the south shore of the laguna and trotting along its west side.

View of the Beagle Channel from Paso Virginia
Looking back up at the scree descent from Paso Virginia (Photo from 2013)
After Marker 36 the route becomes increasingly harder to follow. First, a few boggy areas must be crossed. Then, it just short of turns into a choose-your-own-adventure slog back to the coastal road. I was able to stay on-route fairly well, surprisingly. Somehow I managed to find Marker 37, which the people at the tourist information office say no one ever finds. Marker 38 was too elusive for me, though. When making my way back to the road I opted to stay slightly above the stream running from Laguna Guanacas to the road versus making the typical mistake of traveling alongside the stream. This seemed to be the correct route as I kept seeing the red-paint trail markings on trees every now-and-then. The amount of downed trees in this area have led to people (and animals) taking every possible combination of routes to get to the road, which leads to many well-beaten paths taking off in all directions—none of them really the “correct” path.

Once I got out of the woods and into the cow/horse pastures I spotted the ex-pesquera MaClean (old fish factory) down near the Beagle Canal. This is the target you want to pursue when trying to get back down to the road. Again, there are countless paths in all directions, but most of them dead end at huge areas of Calafate bushes (these are like rose bushes, but with little berries instead of flowers). I basically had two choices for negotiating this terrain: avoid the bushes and take forever to get down or run in a straight line through the bushes and make the descent quicker. I opted to run straight through the goddamn things and reached the road in pretty good time—7:57 total time. My legs looked like they were in the middle of a cat fight…

Getting closer to the Beagle and the coastal road. Near Marker 37, sort of...
Now, the only thing between me and a warm shower was ~4 miles of hilly gravel road. This stretch proved to be more difficult than expected. My legs were tired from eight hours of travel, but they were still quite capable of running quickly since I hadn’t really done much running all day. So, this stretch was more mental than anything—making my legs run at a quicker pace when all they really wanted to do was walk. After about 35 minutes I finally caught glimpse of the Plaza de la Virgen and street sign on the corner where I started my watch over 8.5 hours ago. When I reached the street sign and hit stop my watch read 8:32:02—a new FKT by almost 3 hours.

Finally done after 8.5 hours...

My scratched up legs after running through calafate bushes. They were worse than they look in the photo...
Some Thoughts:
  • After doing this route a few times I feel that I could probably give it another solid effort and take an hour or so off the time. Even though I knew the route significantly better this time I was still running the entire day with the map in my hand and glancing down at it every 5-10 minutes.
  • The route markings are WAY better than two years ago
  • The circuit seemed much more adventurous the first time without any knowledge of the route
  • If someone wants an adventure they should go run the route without a GPS track. If someone wants an FKT they can easily run much faster than what I did by taking my GPS track off Strava or something.
  • This circuit is still rugged, remote, and awesome. I didn’t see a single other person the entire day!

Location—Split Time (hr:min:sec)—Total Time
Start at Plaza de la Virgen—0:00:00—0:00:00
Cerro Bandera Summit—0:34:02—0:46:26
Marker 12: South Shore of Laguna del Salto—0:55:04—1:41:30
Paso Primero—0:06:23—1:47:53
Paso Australia—0:16:52—2:04:45
Paso de los Dientes—0:14:22—2:19:07
Marker 17: Laguna de los Dientes—0:25:44—2:44:51
Paso Ventarron—1:05:00—3:49:51
Paso Guerrico—0:38:58—4:28:49
Paso Virginia—2:07:12—6:36:01
Marker 35: Laguna Guanacos NE Shore—0:23:06—6:59:07
Coastal Road Near Ex-Pesquera Maclean—0:58:10—7:57:17
Finish at Plaza de la Virgen —0:34:45—8:32:02 (New FKT)

Gear List:
Salomon Fell Raisers
Smartwool anklet socks
Brooks windproof briefs
Brooks running shorts
Helly Hanson t-shirt from Power of 4 race in Aspen
Pearl Izumi arm sleeves
Marmot wind/water resistant gloves
Buff wrap
Ultimate Direction handheld water bottle
Suunto Ambit

Osprey Rev 6 Backpack:
iPhone 5 (for photos)
Map of route
GoLite puffy jacket
Mountain Hardware wind/water proof jacket
Marmot wind/water proof pants
Emergency blanket
Ham/cheese sandwich (didn’t eat)
Chocolate bar (ate all of it)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Disfruta Tu Vida -- 2014 Highlights

Lots of miles, lots of vertical, lots of time on feet, and lots of great memories…

Yes, 2014 was a good year for me. To be honest, the last three years have been the best of my life. As I continue to put off rejoining the work force and a “normal” life I can’t help but feel a sense of dread building within me. But for now, I’ll just drink a beer, not think about that stuff, and continue focusing on little more than enjoying the present.

I don’t have much more to say than that.

So, here’s a list of what I feel were my Top 10 running/climbing/life highlights of the previous year, in no particular order…

Top 10 Highlights of 2014:
  1. Finished the ranked Colorado 14ers and all but one unranked 14er (Sunlight Spire)
  2. Led my first sport climbing routes (still need to lead trad)
  3. First (and second) Flatiron Quinfecta
  4. Did 20+ Easy Flatiron Climbs in a Day (98 total pitches)
  5. Celebrated two years of living out of my Toyota Tacoma
  6. Finished my 2nd 100 miler (The Bear 100) and ran a 50 miler the next week
  7. Took part in my first race with Satan’s Minions
  8. Little Bear-Blanca-Ellingwood traverse and Crestones traverse in back-to-back days
  9. Did my first snow climb (Longs Peak via Keyhole route)
  10. Running the Pikes Peak Ascent and pacing Dave Mackey for 25 miles of Leadville 100 in the same day (It was awesome to watch Dave slowly work his way up from 90’something place and eventually finish in 5th. School was definitely in session that day and it was great to be the student in the front row.)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a year-end post without listing a bunch of numbers that don’t really mean anything to anyone but me. But hey, I enjoy using spreadsheets and tracking numbers. Guess I’m still an engineer at heart…

2014 vs Previous Years:

  • 2014—3,001
  • 2013—2,227
  • 2012—2,500
  • 2011—1,841
  • 2010—561
Time (hours:minutes:seconds):

  • 2014—845:27:12
  • 2013—705:09:13
  • 2012—514:40:05
  • 2011—331:26:06
  • 2010—90:53:43
Vertical Ascent (feet):

  • 2014—830,000'
  • 2013—663,900'
  • 2012—524,200'
  • 2011—245,900'
  • 2010—4,700'
Outings (Runs/year):
  • 2014—342
  • 2013—246
  • 2012—255
  • 2011—237
  • 2010—95

Oh yeah, no year-end post is complete without a crapload of pictures…

Cruising on the Freeway (Photo: Random Scrambler)

Stairway to Heaven (Photo: David Ponak)

Satan's Minions after a Tour de Flatirons scramble on the 3rd (Photo: Mike Wardian)
Old friends and new friends. 

Sunset on the 1st Flatiron

Topping out on The Spy

Admiring the 3rd from afar

Sunrise on the 1st

Another sunrise scramble of the 1st

Just another Orrick, MO sunset

Scrambling with Legends. Bill Wright leads the way up The Regency-Royal Arch-5th Flatiron as Peter Bakwin and I follow

Sitting atop Stairway to Heaven after 10 Easy Climbs in a Day

Admiring Boulder during a 3rd Flatiron downclimb

Stairway to Heaven reaching high into the heavens

Peter Bakwin and I doing some early AM scrambling (Photo: Bill Wright)

An early start on some obscure routes near the 4th Flatiron with Tony Bubb and Stuart Paul

Tony Bubb seems to know every rock in The Flatirons. I think he does...

Cordis Hall wrapping up an exhausting day on his first (my second) Flatiron Quinfecta

Trotting along through the burn area of Bear Peak's west ridge

An early morning start to my 20+ Easy Climbs in a Day

Enjoying a white Green Mountain

Angels Landing is probably one of the best sub-hour runs I've ever done. Gorgeous. (Photo: Random Hiker)

Stuart and Rocco making their way back from Torreys

Cordis Hall negotiating the 5th Flatiron's arete

The usual Flatiron scramble up-short shot on the 1st (Photo: Cordis Hall)

Playing around Zion (Photo: Ben Clark)

More fun on the Zion Traverse (Photo: Ben Clark)

Hidden Valley, one of my favorite trails around Moab

The view from Angels Landing in Zion NP

Based on the posters all over the Grand Canyon one would think that going down to the river would lead to certain death. So, after running down South Kaibab, up Bright Angel, and back to Kaibab along the Rim Trail I had to celebrate being alive with a PBR below the rim of the canyon. 

A flat 100km in Kansas. Brutal...

When I go home to visit family the only thing I want while running is a hill. Just one hill...

Summer in the Sawatch

Green in winter

Some down time during a photo shoot near Estes Park

Sometimes trail/mountain running hurts...

Look up when you're walking along the streets. You just might see a double rainbow. 

Sunnyside Loop in Aspen with Luke Stephensen

Crestone Peak, Northeast Crestone, and Crestone Needle with Paul Hamilton and Brendan Trimboli (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Traversing from South Little Bear to Little Bear (Photo: Britt Jones)

Looking back at Little Bear, Blanca, and Ellingwood

Sometimes beards get caught in ATC's while rappelling (Photo: David Ponak)

Avoiding the shit show of ice/water/loose rocks in the Hourglass of Little Bear by climbing up beside it (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Standard Green Mountain summit shot (Photo: David Ponak)

Sunrise in Nederland

Cornet Falls in Telluride

You never know where inspiration will strike. 

David Ponak gazing at Queen's Way

Island Lake. Yes, this place really exists...

Sunrise in the Sawatch. 

Looking down on Frisco from Peak One

My first ever summit of the 1st Flatiron with Peter Bakwin leading the way (Photo: Peter Bakwin)

Spring in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Sun's out, guns out on the summit of Mount Sneffels (Photo: Random Hiker)

Island Lake and Ice Lake

Northeast Crestone. When I first looked at this peak in summer 2013 it terrified me. In summer 2014 I returned with Paul Hamilton and Brendan Trimboli for the Crestone Traverse. When I looked at NE Crestone it looked way easier than I remembered. Maybe a year's worth of climbing/scrambling experience had something to do with that? Regardless, Paul took off towards the peak and I followed. The most difficult part was traversing over to the base since it involved some snowy/icy terrain. Once we reached the base it was a quick cruise up to the summit on a route that doesn't feel as exposed as it looks from afar. It took us less than 10 minutes to get from the summit of Crestone Peak to the summit of NE Crestone. This helped me realize that peaks aren't always as hard as they may seem...

Running around Capitol Peak (Photo: Luke Stephensen)

Another white Green Mountain

If there's one thing I know about Telluride, it's this...

Exploring around Spearfish Canyon before the Black Hills 50

Island Lake

David Ponak during Bighorn 100. Running 100 miles isn't all rainbows and sunshine...

Beard envy (Photo: Jeremy G.)

Brendan Trimboli and I doing some Crestone traversing (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Sure is a sweet ridge separating Little Bear and Blanca (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Storm's a comin' in Spearfish, SD

A leisurely stroll in the San Juans with Gerbster, Eric, and Kari before Hardrock

An amazing sunrise on my way to a successful completion of Colorado ranked 14ers. Operation Dark Snake was my last ranked 14er... 

Looking back at the traverse Paul Hamilton and I had just done. Left-to-right, Ellingwood, Blanca, and Little Bear. 

Capitol Peak and some nice wild flowers

Here's to more scantily clad days at 14k+ feet!