Desert Vibes

Desert Vibes
Photo: Ben Clark

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Week in Review: May 20-26



Monday, May 20th
OFF—Slightly hungover…

Tuesday, May 21st
OFF—Travel day from NYC back to Boulder

Wednesday, May 22nd  
AM—7.7 Miles—3:35—3,400’—Peak One Bailout, Mount Victoria, and Mount Royal
A ridiculously picture-perfect morning made the drive up to Frisco even more scenic than I remembered. I met Mike Ambrose for an attempt to summit Peak One and Peak Two of the Ten Mile Traverse. There’s still a considerable amount of snow, which made getting above tree line a bit of a chore. We opted to take a more direct vertical route up the mountain by plowing through the snow versus trying to follow any sort of switchbacked trail. From the weather station to the last false summit before Peak One was pretty easy. Ultimately, a cornice on the false summit and watching a mini avalanche persuaded us to call off bagging the peak. On the descent we hit the summits of Mount Victoria and Mount Royal and cruised comfortably back to Mike’s place. My legs were pretty trashed from the knees down from the post holing. It felt great to be back above 10k feet and have perfect shirtless running weather. Excited for the high country to open up this summer.
PM—1.8 Miles—0:46—850’—Second Flatiron Bailout
Full of the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning I picked up my newly re-soled 110’s and took them out for a test run on the Second Flatiron. In my rush to shimmy up I failed to notice the gloomy clouds indicative of an impending storm. About halfway up the rock a huge crash of lightening scared the holy hell out of me and triggered some of the fastest downclimbing I’ve ever done. It’s amazing how fast you can downclimb when any potential fear of falling is completely replaced by a fear of death by lightening. I pushed pretty hard the rest of the way back to my truck in Chautauqua since I really didn’t want to get soaked. About 30 seconds after I reached my truck the skies opened.

Thursday, May 23rd
PM—5.9 Miles—3:15—2,850’—Second Flatiron and Green Mountain
Finally, I got my first ascent of the Second Flatiron! I had no idea where the route began or ended. So, I just wandered around aimlessly to the top. I decided to start closer to the north (right) side of the base since it allowed gaining a decent amount of vertical without the outright exposure of the south or middle areas of the face. There are also several points in the first half or so of the climb where you can still bail on the route by stepping off the side or doing some easy down climbing back to a step off so I wanted to stay close to these opportunities. Overall, the climb was pretty uneventful (which is great). Just a lot of rest stops and route finding errors that required down climbing. After stepping off I proceeded on to the summit of Green via a bushwhack versus the faint trail that exists. I debated descending the front side, but changed my mind and made my way to the middle route down Gregory Canyon. The Gregory Canyon trail segment was a blast in my sticky rubber 110’s that provide a little more cushion than normal and great grip on the rocks. I finished the Gregory Canyon segment in right around 9 minutes, not a PR, but great considering the only parts I ran hard were the technical parts. Oh, I blew out the goddamned upper in my right shoe on just the second outing. I hate the fact that the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn has the durability of wet tissue paper.

Friday, May 24th
PM1—2 Miles—1:50—1,250’—Second Flatiron
With a few hours to pass before my buddy Robbie Pike arrived in Boulder to run I decided to shimmy up the Second Flatiron. Of course, I had no idea where I was going per usual. I took a lot of rest breaks on the way up in an effort to stay calm and keep my hands from getting too sweaty. On the way down I heard someone yell at me from behind and turned to find Peter Bakwin. He had just got done with the First Flatiron. We both exchanged how pleased we were with our newly resoled 110’s and how they handled on the rock. I joined Peter for the rest of the descent to Chautauqua. He’s always great company to have for an outing in the mountains. Such a wealth of knowledge residing on top of his shoulders.
PM2—9.9 Miles—3:36—4,100’—Green Mountain and Bear Peak
Robbie told me he wanted to come to Boulder and bang out a lot of vertical in about 12 miles. After a brief 20 minute post-Second Flatiron intermission we headed up the 1st/2nd Flatiron access trail and bushwhacked to the summit of Green tagging the East Green summit along the way. My legs felt pretty shitty during the bushwhacking considering how great they felt on the access trail. From Green we headed over to Bear Peak. I was running pretty well until we got to where the climb really begins. From there it just turned into the type of shit show that can only result from thorough dehydration and a severe calorie deficit (it was around 4PM and I had about 200 calories and some coffee up to this point in the day). Slow going down Fern Canyon to hit Mesa and ride it out to Chautauqua. I felt like absolute crap after the run and couldn’t seem to drink enough water.

Saturday, May 25th
AM—2.5 Miles—1:57—1,400’—Second Flatiron
I had the usual problems with route finding, of course. Near the beginning of the final pitch of climbing I took the same route I’d been using the past few times, which is possibly low 5th class terrain at worst. I’ve been disposing of this pretty easy the last few days, but today my legs and body just didn’t have any energy. In the last few moves on this section I started getting the Elvis leg, my hands seemed to be losing all grip, and a fall seemed inevitable. For the first time ever while climbing I felt an extreme rush as my heart rate shot through the roof, breathing become heavy and uncontrolled—panic was starting to take over. I kept the panic in check briefly and escaped the immediate troubles to the refuge of an area large enough to sit and collect myself. I spent at least 15 minutes here, head in hands, body trembling, trying to regain some composure to finish the last pitch of climbing so that I could get off the goddamned rock. On shaky legs I stumbled up the last pitch, walked off, and took the access trail back to Chautauqua. Ugh…A lot of lessons learned today, though.

Sunday, May 26th
AM—20.8 Miles—4:47—5,050’—Green Mountain and Backside Loop
Pretty easy effort for the entire day. I waited until about 10:30 AM to start the run with the intent of suffering through the hottest part of the day. Turns out, it never really got that hot. From Chautauqua to Eldorado Canyon (~13.5 miles) I managed with a single handheld bottle and two VFuel gels, which were much needed considering I didn’t have anything for breakfast other than coffee. I ran into Jorge at the park information office in Eldorado Canyon re-filling my water and decided to tone down the effort a little and run with him. We parted ways at the Bear Canyon split-off where he hit Green and I headed back to my truck at a slightly more strenuous pace. Great day of just getting out and covering some miles on tired legs.


Miles—50.6
Time—19hours 50minutes
Elevation Gain—18,900 feet                                                               

Well, I didn’t really cover many miles this week, but I did spend a lot of time on my feet. Slogging through knee-deep snow and learning how to scramble/route find in the Flatirons sure do contribute a lot of time and vertical, but not many miles, to the weekly totals. Right now I’m both building my scrambling skills and attempting to dial in routes in the Flatirons. These factors are leading to ridiculously slow times on my ascents of the Second—around 1:15 is my fastest so far. In my defense, I am taking a super casual approach while up on the slab in an effort to minimize down climbs and getting into terrain that’s out of my league. I’ve decided to use the Second Flatiron for no other reason than the ability to step off the top versus down climb or rappel. I’m pretty excited to watch my times plummet as comfort in both my abilities and my chosen line is developed. 

Summit of Green Mountain on a hot day (Photo: Robbie Pike)

Descending Gregory Canyon after scrambling the Second Flatiron and summiting Green

View of the Third Flatiron from the Second

I was in the middle of the Second Flatiron when this rolled in and provided a little lightening to encourage me to get the hell down

Peter Bakwin persuaded me to get one of the many pairs of 110's I have re-soled for some decent scrambling shoes. Couldn't be happier with the result.

Heading up Peak One with Mike Ambrose before calling off the summit attempt due to a large cornice and witnessing a mini avalanche.

On top of Bear Peak with beautiful Boulder in the background

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