High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Monday, July 29, 2013

Week in Review: July 22-28—Easing Back into Things

Monday, July 22nd
OFF—Ankle Recovery

Tuesday, July 23rd
OFF—Ankle Recovery 
Wednesday, July 24th  
OFF—Ankle Recovery

Thursday, July 25th
AM—5 Miles—1:41—850’—Kroenke Lake Trail from North Cottonwood Creek TH
This was pretty much my first activity since twisting my ankle on Quandary last Thursday. So, I took it super easy and just hiked most of the way. I tried stepping on odd rocks and roots to see how my ankle felt—it felt kind of OK and kind of shitty. I ran a few stretches of trail that were flat and smooth just to see how the ankle held up to running—again OK and shitty. Overall, I’m pleased with the hike considering how bad I screwed up my ankle. 

Friday, July 26th
AM—8 Miles—3:37—3,400’—Mount Antero (14,269’)
Armed with a cheap ankle brace I bought at Buena Vista Drug I felt ready to take on the world (or at least an easy 14er)! So I suited up and made my way up Antero. The standard route up the jeep road was pretty technical and as indirect as can be. The route reaches the summit in about 5 miles from the Baldwin Creek crossing. I decided to take a more direct route and summited in 2.5 miles. I’m almost positive I can summit in less than 2 miles with two good ankles that would allow me to take an even more direct  (steep) line. The draining I ascended surely tested the stability (or lack thereof) of my ankle. I felt like a new born deer heading up the mountain. I ran the first mile or so of the descent before the jeep road turned into a nightmare for those with wobbly ankles. So I basically walked all the way back down. HOT, shirtless day on the mountain. 

Saturday, July 27th   
AM—10 Miles—3:24—4,450’—Missouri Mountain (14,067’)

I decided to sleep at the Missouri Gulch Trailhead. Bad idea. Around 4 AM the trailhead was like Times Square or something. Huge groups of people everywhere, cars circling around hoping to find a parking spot to prevent them from having to walk an extra half mile, and a ridiculous amount of noise. So I decided to go ahead and get out of bed around 5 AM and get an early start. Before I hit treeline I passed every group that had started in the hour leading up to my departure. The simple mind of the weekend warrior can’t fully comprehend what is happening when a nearly naked guy passes them running up a 14er at 6 AM. Where are his clothes? His poles? His huge backpack? How is he running a 14er since 14ers are supposed to be hiked? I just pretend like I don’t hear people when they try to talk or ask questions. If I wanted to socialize then I would either run with friends or go to a bar. I was making great time up Missouri Gulch until I decided I was tired of seeing people and took an off trail route to the ridge due north of Missouri’s Northwest Ridge. After much frustration with the loose terrain and essentially a wasted 30 minutes I finally found some somewhat stable footing that allowed me to traverse over to the standard route trail. After summiting I was able to run essentially all of the descent with the exception of two or three more technical portions, which I walked due to my ankle. LOADS of people out.

 Sunday, June 28th   
OFF—Used the day of crappy weather to rest the ankle a bit more

Time—8hours 43minutes
Elevation Gain—8,700 feet                                                               

After a week off due to an ankle injury I decided to just dip my toes in the water with an easy hike. The ankle felt pretty blah. So, naturally I decided to get up to 14k feet mostly off trail the following day. My ankle seems to be holding up a bit, but the top of my foot is numb and when I press on my ankle right below the shin it sends a tingling to my toes. We’ll see what happens this week while trying to knock out some Sawatch 14ers in the Leadville area. 

With the obvious exception of getting back up to 14k feet on my own two legs the other highlight of the week was helping my buddy Ben do some scouting for the Nolan’s 14 route. He’s planning an attempt for late-August. This route is on my agenda for next summer. So, it’s nice to get as much exposure as I can via my own scouting, friend’s scouting, discussing potential routes, studying topo maps, or anything else.  

Nolan's scouting near Shavano.

More Nolan's scouting near Shavano.

Sweet sunset over Buena Vista.

Ridge leading up to Antero's summit. There's actually a road that goes all the way to where this photo was taken. I opted for an off-trail route up to this point.

Descending Antero via the road.

Sunset over Leadville.

Mining ruins outside of Leadville.

Looking back at part of the ascent up Missouri.

Ridge leading up to Missouri's summit.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Week(s) in Review: July 1-21—Highs and Lows

Monday, July 15th
AM—9 Miles—3:37—4,400’—Mount Shavano (14,229’)
My original intent was to tag both Shavano and Tabeguache. Plans tend to change when your visibility is limited to 20 feet or so due to dense fog. From the summit of Shavano I couldn’t see anything (especially the ridge I needed to take to Tabeguache). I decided to head down and try again another day. REALLY slow day…

Tuesday, July 16th
AM—9 Miles—2:49—4,300’—Mount Yale (14,196’)
My body didn’t seem to want to function above treeline today. Slogged to the summit in unimpressive fashion and returned to the Denny Creek TH in even less impressive fashion. Lot of big groups out on the mountain this morning. 

Wednesday, July 17th
AM—14 Miles—5:45—5,800’—Mount Harvard (14,420’) and Mount Columbia (14,073’)
The trip up to Harvard was a fun one—cruiser single track for the first 5 miles or so to treeline and to the edge of the Horn Fork Basin. Felt like someone was sitting on my chest and I had ankle weights on during the ascent of Harvard, though. At the summit some dense fog/clouds started rolling over the ridgeline and limited visibility significantly. I chatted with some others on the summit about the traverse to Columbia and almost decided not to pursue it due to the fog. The clouds then parted and the sun illuminated the ridgeline and Columbia. Guess that was a sign. Not really wanting to solo any 5.7 terrain I decided to drop well below the ridgeline to the East side. Eventually the boulders/talus relented and I stumbled my way to the summit of Columbia. I started down the western slopes way north of where the actual standard West Slopes route is, which resulted in my trip from summit back to trail taking over an hour. HOT and crowded day. After the run I was cleaning up blood/mud and noticed I had a gash in my left shin about 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. It probably could have used a couple stitches, but I decided butterfly bandages and peroxide would suffice.

Thursday, July 18th
AM—7 Miles—3:20—3,300’—Quandary Peak (14,264’)
With a little lingering fatigue/dehydration from yesterday I decided to get a relatively early start for this easy 14er before taking an easy day on Friday. I kept a well-below-casual pace and reached the summit in about 1:15’ish. About 5-10 minutes into the descent I miss-stepped and snapped my right ankle. Shit. Needless to say, the descent was long and painful. 

Friday, July 19th
OFF—Ankle Recovery

Saturday, July 20th   
OFF—Ankle Recovery

Sunday, June 21st  
OFF—Ankle Recovery 

Time—15hours 33minutes
Elevation Gain—17,800 feet                                                               

Monday, July 8th
AM—12 Miles—4:58—4,300’—Mount Sneffels Debacle
I started off with the intent of ascending Mount Sneffels. That didn’t happen. I knew I would top out over 14,000 feet so my natural instinct was to head up as soon as possible. Well, I did that. Finally when I reached Governor’s Basin I asked a Jeep guy which summit was Sneffels only to find out that I had went 3-4 miles in the wrong direction. Damn. So I headed back down to catch the correct road up Yankee Boy Basin when I made my way up the standard South Slopes route. I was greeted with careless jackasses above me who kept knocking down head-sized rocks in my general direction. The scramble up bald clay to the col sucked in my traction-less 110’s. I was relieved to finally hit the gully for some easy scrambling up to 14k feet. At the top of the gully I couldn’t figure out where the hell to go to reach the summit. I spent 30 minutes poking my head around to try to find access to the summit. I looked at every possibility. Except the V notch that you’re supposed to use. With no other people in sight I decided to head down and save Sneffels for another day. I was pretty mad at myself once I looked at photos of the route on 14ers.com and saw where I should have went. Oh well…

Tuesday, July 9th   
AM—7 Miles—2:14—2,700’—Oak Creek Overlook Trail
I couldn’t get outside of town to try Sneffels again since the brakes on my truck had crapped out. So I was forced to stay in Ouray and figure out where to run from there. Really easy pace on the way up and down. My legs are still shaky and haven’t fully recovered from my 100 miler yet. 

Wednesday, July 10th    
PM—1 Mile—0:42—600’—Hike on Old Horsethief Trail
Just wasting time while waiting on the brakes to get fixed on my Tacoma. I noticed a trail across from the mechanic and walked up a bit. 

Thursday, July 11th
AM—9 Miles—3:31—3,600’—Kendall Mountain (13,066’)
My legs felt pretty good for the first few miles up the mountain, but soon the fatigue from Black Hills kicked in again and I fell into a power hike to the summit. At the summit I decided not to run back down the road. Roads suck. So I began a bushwhack down the face of the mountain and eventually found myself in a drainage/deathtrap, which I followed all the way down to the jeep road. Loose rocks, wet rocks, mossy rocks, prickly plants, rabid mosquitos, vicious flies—this drainage had it all. It was quite the relief to reach the jeep road. 

Friday, July 12th
OFF—Hardrock Spectating
Drinking beer and telling someone else to stop being a pussy and get their ass back out in that electrical storm is hard work. I was glad to do my part…

Saturday, July 13th    
OFF—Hardrock Spectating
Sunday, July 14th
OFF—Hardrock Spectating

Time—11hours 26minutes
Elevation Gain—11,200 feet                                                               

Monday, July 1st to Sunday, July 7th
OFF—Recovering from Black Hills 100 and learning to walk again

Totals: NONE

Well, July is definitely off to a rough start. After taking the entire week off after the Black Hills 100 I slowly started easing back into things by trying an easy outing up Mount Sneffels that left me feeling like an idiot. I finally felt like my legs were starting to recover a little and started pursuing my 14er project again. One missed step on Quandary has me pretty debilitated in terms of running right now—swelling, bruising, pain, and numbness in my right foot. We’ll see how things play out the next few weeks. 

Experiencing the wildflowers of Yankee Boy Basin on the way up Mount Sneffels




My favorite flower. Hands down...

Last girly flower shot before getting into rugged, manly mountains.
At the col on Sneffels getting ready to ascend this gully.

Looking back at the col after ascending the gully. This is the beginning of my fruitless search to find the (obvious) way to the summit of Sneffels.

On the col on the descent from Sneffels.

Yankee Boy Basin. Mount Sneffels in the background.

Sweet waterfalls in Yankee Boy Basin

Heading towards the first aid station shortly after the start of Hardrock
I'd be ecstatic if this is the only thing I get to make out with next year...

Just below the summit of Mount Shavano. Horrible visibility.

This ridge is all that separates me from Mount Columbia.

On top of Mount Columbia with the ridge and Mount Harvard in the background.

Relaxing a bit on Columbia's summit before diving down this slope to rejoin the trails WAY down in the basin below.

Consequences of a misplaced step in the mountains...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Week(s) in Review: June 17-30—Tapering Sucks

Monday, June 17th
PM—6 Miles—1:12—1,500’—Colorado Trail near Monarch Pass to Boss Lake Reservoir
I picked up Jason Schlarb in Denver and we began making our way to Lake City. We stopped for a run on the CT along the way. He killed it. I fell behind on the ascent with some pretty fatigued legs from a big previous week. Probably the hardest I’ve pushed on a descent since rolling my ankle a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, June 18th
PM—3 Miles—0:59—850’—Part of approach trail to Wetterhorn Peak
Started heading up towards Wetterhorn with Jason. My legs were still incredibly fatigued, which caused me to throw in the towel. I turned around about 1.5 miles up the trail and walked back to the camp site.

Wednesday, June 19th  
AM—8 Miles—2:47—4,300’—Wetterhorn Peak (14,015’)
Finally, I had a little life in my legs and was able to run a large portion of the route. It was ridiculously windy once I gained southeast ridge. Initially, I stuck to the west side of the ridge as I made my way towards the summit and got pummeled by the wind the entire way. I eventually found an easy way to shimmy around to the east side of the ridge and found relief in the wind protection it provided. Once I climbed through the notch near the summit I was confronted with the howling wind once more. The 100’ section of class 3 scrambling to the summit was pretty awesome since it was the first technical terrain I’ve encountered on a 14er so far. Once I descended back to the beginning of the southeast ridge I followed a primarily off-trail descent route back to the main trail.

Thursday, June 20th
AM—13 Miles—4:16—4,750’—Uncompahgre Peak (14,309’)
I headed out from the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead after talking with a local about the conditions of the 4WD road to the Nellie Creek Trailhead. The approach to the base of the mountain was long and winding, which quickly bored the hell out of me. So I cut the trail and boulder hopped for a bit before finally rejoining the trail near the bottom of the south ridge. The rest of the ascent was a big struggle for me as I just didn’t have anything in the tank. After seeing about three people on the ascent I was surprised to see 7-10 people on the summit. Once I descended back to the crest of the south ridge I wanted to find the shortest, quickest way to get to the base of the mountain. I didn’t feel like screwing around with a meandering descent. So, I looked down the first gulley I saw and went for it. The route ended up being surprisingly easy. Once at the bottom I had quite a bit of boulder hopping and tundra/boggy terrain to get back to the main trail for the cruise back to camp.

Friday, June 21st
PM—4 Miles—0:26—0’—Orrick Roads
Flat and boring.

Saturday, June 22nd   
AM—2 Miles—0:15—0’—Orrick Roads
Still flat and boring. Great place to be for a taper since the running is so uninspiring.

Sunday, June 23rd

Time—9hours 57minutes
Elevation Gain—11,400 feet                                                               

Monday, June 24th  
AM—2 Miles—0:15—0’—Orrick Roads
Can’t handle too much more of this running.

Tuesday, June 25th  

Wednesday, June 26th   

Thursday, June 27th  

Friday, June 28th  

Saturday, June 29th   
All Day—100 Miles—31:33—16,200’—Black Hills 100 Miler
First 100 mile finish! Wow, 100 miles is really f*cking far…Write-up soon to come.

Sunday, June 30th  
Still running…

Time—31hours 49minutes
Elevation Gain—16,200 feet                                                               

Well, well, well. Look who finally did a true taper for a big run. Having gone into big runs without much of a taper for most of the past and going into thisone with hardly any running for two weeks I can say that I will likely never do this much of a taper ever again. My legs felt like absolute shit from the start of the Black Hills 100 and got progressively worse with each mile. I’m convinced it’s better to enter big runs a little tired rather than completely flat. 
Approaching Wetterhorn Peak (14,015')
Summit of Wetterhorn Peak (14,015')
Looking down the 100 foot section of class 3 terrain that leads to the summit of Wetterhorn
Looking back up at my chosen descent route from the southeast ridge of Wetterhorn. Why stay on trail when you can glissade?
Returning to the campsite after bagging Wetterhorn

Can't really explain how much I love Aspens...

Approaching Uncompahgre Peak (14,309'). It's almost ridiculous how much this approach meanders around the mountain.

Worst part of summer in Colorado. Wildfires...
Summit of Uncompahgre Peak (14,309')
The route up/down Uncompahgre was long, mellow, and meandering (read: boring). Here's my chosen path of descent. Much more fun.

Looking back towards Uncompahgre on the return trip