High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Too Busy Playing to Update This Old Blog—November 3rd to December 7th

Well, this is probably a new record for me—almost two months since I last updated this blog. I’ve still been getting out and doing something almost every day, but I haven’t been running as much due to persistent pain in my left knee. So, I’ve been climbing and scrambling considerably more than usual. Since the first week of November I’ve been climbing at BRC about five days per week and have been scrambling in the Flatirons almost as much. I’ll get the past two+ months of photos up here, eventually…

Week in Review: December 1-7
Monday, December 1st

Tuesday, December 2nd  
PM—5 Miles—2:32—2,700’—South Boulder Peak   
After driving back from Missouri all day I went straight to Stuart’s place in Eldorado Springs for an easy trip up-and-down South Boulder Peak. I always have to do something after driving all day to stretch the legs out.

Wednesday, December 3rd  
AM—3 Miles—1:47—1,600’—1st Spyronêtte
A slow, sunrise scamper up to the summit of the 1st. Cold rock made for cold hands.

Thursday, December 4th
Climbing in Eldorado Canyon with Stuart
Stuart and I decided to get together to go over some big wall climbing technique. After jumaring for a bit we decided to climb up the Bastille Crack. Great climb, but a little nippy outside. Brrrrr….We descended in darkness with the flashlights from our iPhones.

Friday, December 5th
AM—3.5 Miles—2:19—1,900’—Lost Flatironette and Last Flatironette
An easy early morning outing with Tony Bubb and Stuart. Flatiron excursions with Tony are always great because the routes are obscure and he knows every square inch of the terrain.

PM—Climbing in Eldorado Canyon with Evan
During our morning outing Stuart got a call from Evan seeking a climbing partner for the day. He offered my belaying services. Evan and I climbed my second uber-classic Eldo route in as many days—Rewritten. This ended up being an awesome climb with great exposure and a few memorable sections, such as the hand traverse into a nice finger crack.

Saturday, December 6th   

Sunday, December 7th
AM—3.5 Miles—3:07—3,850’—1st Spyronêtte, Sunset Flatironette, 2nd Flatiron, 1st Flatiron
I just got a newly resoled pair of scrambling shoes back from Rock and Resole here in Boulder. The rubber has slightly more aggressive lugs than a dot rubber, but still seemed like it should provide for sufficient surface contact on the rock. So, I had to test them out on these routes:

1st Flatironette>The Spy>1st Flatiron (North Arête)>Sunset Flatironette (Chase the Sun)>2nd Flatiron (Free for All)>1st Flatiron (East Face North Side)

The rubber handled quite well on all routes with the exception of the DEF of the 1st. I slipped a couple of times within the first 10-15 feet, which made me decide to head over to the north side of the face. Overall, the rubber wasn’t too bad considering it’s made for fishing shoes…

PM—3 Miles—1:50—1,600’—1st Spyronêtte
Easy lap in the late afternoon hours.

Weekly Totals
Time—11 hours 37 minutes
Elevation Gain—11,650 feet

Week in Review: November 24-30
Basically took the entire week off. I did one dinky little two-mile run on the roads of Orrick, but that’s it…Felt lazy all week…

Week in Review: November 17-23
Monday, November 17th

Tuesday, November 18th
AM—8 Miles—1:14—2,000’—Treadmill  
Left knee is hurting a bit.

Wednesday, November 19th
AM—13 Miles—2:36—3,250’—Mesa Trail
Easy day on sometimes snowy and icy trails. Pretty much an even split out-and-back.

Thursday, November 20th
AM—3 Miles—0:31—1,100’—Treadmill
Left knee still hurts…

PM—6.5 Miles—3:18—1,050’—Sourdough Trail Snowshoe
Got out for a nice late afternoon snowshoe outing with Val. We ended up finishing in the dark.

Friday, November 21st
AM—5 Miles—0:48—2,050’—Treadmill
Left knee is still nagging me a bit…

PM—4 Miles—2:40—1,800’—SE Ridge of North Shanahan Crag
Went out with Tony Bubb and Stuart Paul to tackle the next-to-last route in Roach’s “Flatiron Classics” book for Tony. It was a snowy approach and descent, but the rock was fairly dry for the most part. There were a few nice spots with exposed moves, but overall it was a pretty mellow scramble.

Saturday, November 22nd  
AM—3 Miles—0:26—1,000’—Treadmill
Damn knee is starting to hurt a little worse…

Sunday, November 23rd
AM—11.5 Miles—2:40—3,000’—Green Mountain
Up via Bear Canyon and down the West Ridge/Flagstaff Road/Flagstaff Trail. Lots of icy trails today. I took a pretty good fall descending into Skunk Canyon. Ran into Wendy around Bear Canyon and Justin up on the summit. I decided to descend via the West Ridge and road to avoid the inevitable ice on Ranger. Eventually, I veered onto the Flagstaff Trail once the ice disappeared and continued down to Chautauqua.

Weekly Totals
Time—14 hours 16 minutes
Elevation Gain—15,250 feet

Week in Review: November 10-16
Monday, November 10th
AM—2.5 Miles—0:56—1,600’—Flatiron Access Trail
I ran into Britt at Chautauqua and joined her for an easy day up the access trail to the top of the 1st. Always great to see her smiling face and have good company. The temperature dropped like a rock during our brief run.

Tuesday, November 11th

Wednesday, November 12th

Thursday, November 13th
PM—5.5 Miles—1:50—2,700’—Green Mountain
Up NE Ridge and down backside. This was a slow, snowy trudge to the summit.

Friday, November 14th

Saturday, November 15th
AM—10 Miles—3:18—1,500’—4th of July Road and Trail
After a mile or two the snow started getting pretty deep—up to mid-calf in places. Once I reached the trailhead the snow was knee-deep most of the way. It was a pretty serene morning as the snow was hammering down.

Sunday, November 16th
AM—7 Miles—3:44—1,300’—Lost Lake Snowshoe
First snowshoe outing of the season. Went out with Val and braved the cold, windy weather. By the time we finished both of us were pretty frozen. I was glad that I decided against heading up Audubon today.

Weekly Totals
Time—9 hours 49 minutes
Elevation Gain—7,100 feet

Week in Review: November 3-9
Monday, November 3rd
AM—3 Miles—1:10?—1,600’—1st Spyronêtte
Not really sure what my time was on this since I lost the GPS track.

Tuesday, November 4th
PM—3 Miles—1:10?—1,600’—1st Spyronêtte
Not really sure what my time was on this since I lost the GPS track.

Wednesday, November 5th

Thursday, November 6th
AM—5.5 Miles—6:30’ish—4,200’—Flatiron Quinfecta’ish
The Regency > Royal Arch > 5th Flatiron > 4th Flatiron > 3rd Flatironette > 3rd Flatiron > 2nd Flatiron > 1st Flatironette > The Spy > 1st Flatiron via North Arête

Pretty mellow approach to the Quinfecta. Started off the day heading up The Regency/Royal Arch/5th Flatiron linkup with Bill Wright and Peter Bakwin. Peter and I parted ways with Bill and continued up the broken 4th Flatiron. We then made our way up to the 3rd’s East Bench via the 3rd Flatironette. After downclimbing the SW Chimney we parted ways and I continued on toward the 2nd where I met Nicole. She was standing at the base, debating her first solo scramble in the Flatirons. I invited her to follow me up to the point where Free for All splits off from Freeway. She walked off the Freeway and came up to the West Face to join me on the summit. This was only my second time doing Free for All and I was pleased with how easy it seemed. Nicole and I then made our way down to the base of the 1st where we eyed the Direct East Face. She didn’t seem too keen on this route today. So, I took her up via the Spyronêtte route. I parted ways with Nicole at the shortcut to the base of the 2nd and made my way back to the Taco at the lower Skunk Canyon Trailhead. Pretty dehydrated at the end of it all…

Friday, November 7th

Saturday, November 8th
PM—3 Miles—0:53—1,600’—1st Spyronêtte
Everything felt really on point tonight, especially the descent run. From the point I hit the ground after the downclimb to the trailhead took me 13:27, which surprised the hell out of me considering how busy the trails was.

Sunday, November 9th
AM—9 Miles—5:32—6,300’—Ten Easy Climbs in a Day
I took a page out of Mark Oveson’s list in Haas’ guidebook and created my own list of ten easy climbs to do in a day using routes that I had already done before. Here’s the list that I followed:
  1. 1st Flatironette > South Ridge
  2. The Spy > East Ridge
  3. 1st Flatiron > North Arête
  4. Sunset Flatiron > Chase the Sun
  5. 1st Flatiron > Direct East Face
  6. 2nd Flatiron > Freeway
  7. 2nd Flatiron > Free for All
  8. 3rd Flatiron > Standard East Face
  9. Royal Arch > East Face
  10. Ridge One > Stairway to Heaven
When it was all said and done, this list ended up being around 7,000’ of scrambling with almost 1,000’ of downclimbing. I was quite surprised at how easy this day ended up feeling. I didn’t take any food or water with me and never really felt too thirsty or on the verge of a bonk.  I PR’ed the 1st Flatiron downclimb (3:37) and the Freeway (8:30).

Weekly Totals
Time—15 hours 16 minutes
Elevation Gain—15,300 feet

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week in Review: October 27-November 2—In Search of Slabs

Monday, October 27th
AM—4 Miles—1:42—2,700’—2nd Flatiron and Green Mountain
An easy morning lap since David couldn’t get out for a run until this afternoon. Descended via NE Ridge.

PM—10.5 Miles—2:00—3,000’—Green Mountain
Up the middle route and down Bear Canyon with David Ponak. We kept a pretty easy pace for the ascent. On the descent my footwork was spot on, which led me to open up the pace a bit on the more technical parts of the trail. It’s always a great feeling when you can cruise down rocky trails and not even snag your toe once.

Tuesday, October 28th   
AM—2.5 Miles—0:49—1,500’—2nd Flatiron
Just an easy trip up today. I was planning to take David up the Freeway after he got done climbing the Lost Porch, but his climb took longer than anticipated. So, I just used this as a nice, easy day before an afternoon acupuncture session.

Wednesday, October 29th   
AM—4 Miles—3:36—4,000—2nd Flatiron (x4), 1st Flatironette, 1st Flatiron
I started the day off with two timid trips up the Freeway before my legs finally felt decent. Then, I knocked out a sub-10 minute lap followed by a 9:03 fourth lap. With my legs feeling good I decided to head over to the 1st Flatironette to keep the day going. The wind was gusting enough that I decided to pass on The Spy’s narrow ridge and just went straight up to the North Arete of the 1st. Any time I was exposed to the west I was greeted with a howling wind. I spent about 30-45 minutes on the summit waiting for the wind to die down a little before beginning the downclimb. It never did.

Thursday, October 30th
AM—6.5 Miles—3:49—4,500’—Flatiron Trifecta (3rd, 2nd, 1st) and Green Mountain
Fun day out with Cordis Hall. I was considerably hungover and sleep deprived, but somehow managed to pull myself together to meet him for a 9am start. The hardest part of the day for me was definitely the Southwest Chimney downclimb on the 3rd. I spent a good 3-5 minutes it seemed standing at the chockstone and figuring out how the hell to get down. On the descent trail I slightly rolled my left ankle. From then on, it was pretty smooth sailing. We took our time on the East Face Direct of the 1st and after getting back to solid ground made our way up to Green Mountain. I took the descent really mellow since I felt half-dead and didn’t want to roll an ankle again.

Friday, October 31st  
AM—14 Miles—3:50—5,900’—2nd Flatiron, Green Mountain, Bear Peak, Green Mountain
Up Green via 2nd Flatiron and NE Ridge, down Bear Canyon, up Bear via Fern Canyon, another trip up Green via Bear Peak West Ridge and Green Bear, and a final descent between the 2nd and 3rd Flatirons. Should have been closer to 3:30, but for some reason I decided to descend between the 2nd/3rd Flatirons rather than the usual 1st/2nd descent. Then I rolled my ankle slightly on some off-trail terrain and took it easy back to Chautauqua.

Saturday, November 1st
AM—11 Miles—3:33—5,200’—2nd Flatiron and Green Mountain Loop (x2)
Two laps of ascending Green via the 2nd and NE Ridge and descending the back side. Another hungover and sleep deprived morning. First lap was nice and easy since I was taking Shad up the Freeway and he hasn’t really climbed in a while. There were a few spots that got his attention, but he managed to shimmy up the slab pretty quick and with little cause for concern. We then headed on up to Green and caught the Basic runners and they reached the summit. After a mellow descent we reached Chautauqua in 2:16. Chris Gerber called me and said his group was near the summit of the 4th Flatiron. He challenged me to a race to the summit of Green. So, I put my shoes back on and charged back up the hill to the face of the 2nd—reaching the base in a hair over 10 minutes. I zig-zagged between a few roped parties and walked off the top in about 10 minutes. After 47 minutes I was sitting atop Green Mountain wondering where Gerber and Mark were. Some random hiker said he saw a couple of big guys running down the back side about ten minutes prior. I took off and tried hunting them down, but never saw them. Oh well, I made it back to the Taco for a 1:17 loop. An hour or so later I got a text from Gerber saying they just reached the summit. Guess I won?

Sunday, November 2nd  
AM—3.5 Miles—2:51—3,200’—Flatiron Trifecta (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
The day started out with me treating Eric Lee to his first ever soloing experience in the Flatirons. I took him up the 1st Spyronêtte route, which provides an easy way to reach the summit of the 1st. On the summit we ran into Peter Bakwin who was on his first summit of a Trifecta. He invited us to join along for the 2nd and 3rd Flatirons, which I certainly couldn’t pass up. Peter and I parted ways with Eric at the shortcut to the 2nd from the access trail and a few minutes later we were on our way up Free For All. This was my first time reaching the true summit of the 2nd in one continuous east-facing line versus scrambling up the Freeway and walking around to the West Face. This route provides a couple of fun, vertical sections with easy, yet exposed moves to get onto the face of the Pullman Car (I think the cruxy sections might be 5.6?). Once on the East Face of the Pullman Car it’s back to more 4th Class scrambling up to the summit before the exposed downclimb off the West Face. When we reached the 3rd Flatiron’s East Bench we were both breathing a sigh of relief that we were soloing rather than roped up because there was a line of roped climbers from the summit all the way to the bottom with a few more groups waiting to even get on the rock. So, we stayed well to the right of the standard East Face route that the climbers were using and avoided the traffic jam completely. From the summit of the 3rd we could count at least eight people soloing the 1st and those were just the ones visible on the upper portion of the North Arete. It honestly looked like a Minions race was going on...The Southwest Chimney downclimb went considerably easier for me today versus the other day with Cordis. I spent less than a minute remembering the sequence of moves at the chockstone today. With a few more downclimbs under my belt I should have this sequence down pretty good.   

Weekly Totals
Time—22 hours 14 minutes
Elevation Gain—30,000 feet

This was my first 30k feet week since the first week of September. It felt great to finally get steep again. Right now I’m torn between chasing a few numbers. With some decent pushes through the end of the year I could possibly reach a million vertical feet of ascent for the year. I could also reach 3,500 miles for the year. The mileage goal would be more attainable for sure, but the vert goal is more appealing. We’ll see if I decide to chase after either one…

First Green Mountain summit in a while

Western view of 1st Flatiron and Sunset Flatironette

Where all the fun begins...

Some climbers on the 3rd as seen from the 1st

Eric Lee heading up The Spy

Eric heading up the 1st Flatiron's North Arete

Downclimbing the 1st Flatiron

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Bear 100: Taper, Race Day, and Recovery

Wow, looks like I got really behind. I'll post photos for the last month or so sometime this week I think...

Week in Review: October 20-26

Monday, October 20th

Tuesday, October 21st  

Wednesday, October 22nd  

Thursday, October 23rd
PM—2.8 Miles—1:16—1,600’—1st Spyronêtte  
After the 11 hour drive from Missouri I went directly to Chautauqua where I was suited up and on the trails in less than five minutes. My legs felt like hell after being crammed in the Taco for so long, but they eventually loosened up. This was a fun little race against the dwindling sunlight. I decided to head up the 1st Flatironette, The Spy, and the North Arête of the 1st Flatiron. I’ll be taking a page out of Cordis’ book and refer to this route as The 1st Spyronêtte in the future…

Friday, October 24th
AM—10 Miles—4:37—5,150’—1st Spyronêtte, Sunset Flatironette, Stairway to Heaven, The Regency, 2nd Flatiron
Just a fun day of scrambling whatever routes came to mind. I intended to shimmy up the 2nd after Sunset Flatironette, but some stomach problems led me to descend to the bathrooms where the Mesa Trail splits off from the access trails to the 3rd Flatiron and Royal Arch. Since I was already down at the Mesa Trail I decided to head to Skunk Canyon for an ascent of Stairway to Heaven. On my way back to the north I decided to sneak up The Regency real before heading back to the 2nd Flatiron for a quick lap up the Freeway. I was pretty dehydrated when it was all said and done…

Saturday, October 25th
AM—10.5 Miles—4:58—6,150’—1st  Spyronêtte, 2nd Flatiron (x4), 1st Flatiron
Another fun day of scrambling even though it ended up being really hot. The goal was to go for eight hours and see how much vert I could get, but the heat was enough to make me call it at five hours. I did get in a new route on the 1st—East Face North.

Sunday, October 26th
AM—2.8 Miles—1:18—1,600’—1st Flatironette and 1st Flatiron
Easy ascent on really tired legs. For some reason I decided to skimp on The Spy this morning. I had the pleasure of downclimbing to an audience of middle-aged ladies as they gasped and made confidence boosting comments like “I hope he doesn’t fall, I don’t want to see someone die this morning.” They must have been shouting because I can’t hear for shit and it sounded like they were right beside me.

Weekly Totals
Time—12 hours 10 minutes
Elevation Gain—14,500 feet

Week in Review: October 13-19

Monday, October 13th
AM—3 Miles—1:25—800’—Beaver Creek Ski Resort Hike
Easy hike with a friend.

PM—2 Miles—0:46—1,300’—2nd Flatiron
Easy trip up the Freeway.

Tuesday, October 14th
AM—4 Miles—2:36—2,050’—Lost Porch and Stairway to Heaven
David Ponak and I headed out from NCAR and got in a warm-up scramble on the Lost Porch. Then we headed up Skunk Canyon to see what Stairway to Heaven was all about. It ended up being a pretty sweet route. We had a rope and harness in tow in case the downclimb looked less than ideal. David rapped off and I downclimbed off the east face. The downclimb was a walk down for most of the way until the bottom 20-30 feet, which were pretty lichen covered.

Wednesday, October 15th
AM—3 Miles—2:22—2,600’—1st Spyronêtte, Sunset Flatironette, Jaws Bailout, and 2nd Flatiron
Fun morning of scrambling, with the notable exception of Jaws. That lichen covered bastard left me a little terrified after almost taking a ~50 feet slide down the face of the slab. I ended up bailing about three-quarters of the way across it.

PM—2.5 Miles—0:51—1,500’—3rd Flatiron Time Trial with Satan’s Minions
During my morning outing I got a text from Dave Mackey inviting me to join the Minions on their time trial tonight. The only hesitation I had was with the rapp off the summit since I’ve only rapped twice before in my life. I felt like a bit of a jackass for asking one of the guys on the summit to double check me before I began the rapp, but better safe than sorry. I didn’t have any gloves so I wrapped the rope around my leg and took the descent pretty slow to avoid rope burn. I was hoping to sneak in under 50 minutes, but I had to wait for a few minutes at the summit to get a rope to rapp on.

Thursday, October 16th  
PM—5.5 Miles—0:35—0’—Orrick Roads
Felt like stretching the legs out after driving 11 hours.

Friday, October 17th

Saturday, October 18th
AM—7 Miles—0:58—0’—Orrick Roads
Flat and boring. The usual…

Sunday, October 19th

Weekly Totals
Time—9 hours 35 minutes
Elevation Gain—8,250 feet

Week in Review: October 6-12

Monday, October 6th
AM—7 Miles—3:06—3,000’—Squaw Peak (Provo, UT)
Easy hike on tired legs. Awesome fall colors everywhere!

Tuesday, October 7th  
PM—4.5 Miles—1:14—900’—Hidden Valley (Moab, UT)
My legs are still pretty tired from the past two races. So, I just meandered around Hidden Valley as the sun faded away.

Wednesday, October 8th  
AM—7.5 Miles—2:23—2,700’—Haystack Mountain (11,651’), Point 11,264’, Point 11,614’, and Manns Peak (12,272’)
Fun day exploring around the La Sals. I’m hoping I can sneak in a linkup of all the 12,000+ feet peaks before snow rolls in this fall.

Thursday, October 9th

Friday, October 10th
AM—9 Miles—5:25—4,400’—Mount Elbert (14,433’)
I met a random guy from Iowa who was trying to get up Elbert as his first 14er. He looked lost and aimless in the limited visibility. So, I abandoned my goal of getting up-and-down in a timely manner to drag him to the summit and back. Really SLOW day…

Saturday, October 11th  
AM—16.5 Miles—3:43—3,600’—Peak Six (Breckenridge, CO)
A nice run with Mike Ambrose. We were both feeling a bit beat down so we took the pace pretty easy. I think we topped out on Peak 6 (or maybe Peak 7?) before doing an off-trail descent. We did a short loop from the trailhead to add on a few extra miles and I ended up seeing my first moose out in the wild.

Sunday, October 12th
AM—6.5 Miles—3:24—3,400’—Mount Victoria and Peak One Bailout (Frisco, CO)
I got together with Mike Ambrose and one of his friends with the intention of ascending Peak One. Once we gained the ridge we were hit with howling winds and blinding snow. The guys bailed since they didn’t have the clothing for pushing on. I decided to keep going and at least get Mount Victoria. I decided to bail after Victoria since I couldn’t really see anything. The footprints I had just made a few minutes prior were already gone.

Weekly Totals
Time—19 hours 17 minutes
Elevation Gain—18,000 feet

Week in Review: September 29 – October 5

Monday, September 29th 
AM—2 Miles—0:47—300’—Bonneville Shoreline Trail (Bountiful, UT)
Easy hike with Tim with maybe a half-mile of really easy jogging.

Tuesday, September 30th
OFF—Lounged on the couch and watched Netflix all day

Wednesday, October 1st
AM—5 Miles—2:03—1,500’—Holbrook Canyon (Bountiful, UT)
Mellow hike up canyon with Tim. Some easy running on the way back. My legs felt good enough that I’m debating signing up for TNF50 in Park City this weekend.

Thursday, October 2nd  
PM—3 Miles—0:38—1,000’—Lake Blanche Trail (Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT)
Really mellow run/hike on my way up to Park City.

Friday, October 3rd
OFF—Lazy day in Park City

Saturday, October 4th
AM—50 Miles—10:24—13,500’—TNF EC 50 Miler (Park City, UT)
My legs felt a lot better than I expected, but they were still pretty tired. I kept the effort mellow all day until the last twelve miles or so. Then I picked up the pace the last 4-5 miles. With a little under two miles to go I started running 5:30 pace or faster trying to catch the guy in front of me. I closed the gap considerably, but he still finished four seconds in front of me. I would have been reallllly happy to sneak in under ten hours, but it just wasn’t happening this soon after The Bear 100. I’ll likely return to this race next year since it’s a gorgeous course that’s nearly 100% runnable on fresh legs.

Sunday, October 5th
OFF—Drank beer and ate pizza

Weekly Totals
Time—13 hours 52 minutes
Elevation Gain—16,300 feet

Week in Review: September 22-28

Monday, September 22nd
AM—4 Miles—2:45—1,700’—Clayton Peak (10,721’) near Brighton, UT
An easy hike up and down with Adele from Guardsman Pass. It actually felt really nice to just go at an easy pace with good company. Looked like it was trying to rain all day, but we managed to stay dry.

PM—Climbing at Momentum Climbing Gym in SLC—I hadn’t climbed anything harder than 5.9 in a while. So, I was pleased to shimmy up some 10.d’s without much effort. I’ve definitely lost all climbing endurance I had back in June. It didn’t take long for me to be wiped out…

Tuesday, September 23rd
AM—10.5 Miles—2:02—2,000’—Pinebrook Peak
Easy shakeout run on some cruiser singletrack. Fall colors everywhere!

Wednesday, September 24th
OFF—Climbing in Rock Canyon near Provo, UT—Intended to climb the 5.9 PG-13 sport route Red Dwarf, but accidentally hopped between it and the nearby 5.8 trad route Leave It to Beaver. Oops…Climbing slabs in the dark is interesting to say the least.

Thursday, September 25th 
PM—2 Miles—0:15—300’—Roads near Bear Lake Condo
Easy shakeout run to celebrate finishing packing my drop bags.

Friday, September 26th
All Day—100 Miles—29:12—22,500’—The Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run
Well, my first stop on the 100 Mile DNF Redemption Tour was a success (sort of)! I dropped at mile 62 of The Bear last year. Quitting wasn’t really an option this year since I was determined to finally get a Hardrock qualifier.

The day started off unbelievably hot—almost 70 at the 6am start—and would top out somewhere in the mid-to-upper 80’s. After being in the Colorado High Country all summer these temperatures are just too hot for me.

Though the ultimate goal was to just finish, I did initially have hopes of sneaking in between 23-24 hours. Those hopes faded somewhere around 40 miles into the day. The heat took its toll on me and I just couldn’t eat much of anything. I was incredibly nauseous and on the verge of throwing up during most of the daylight hours. Simply thinking of food caused me to throw up a little on more than one occasion. Temple Fork aid station (around mile 45) had ice-cold lemonade, which sounded delicious. So, I filled both of my handhelds with it and took off down the road only to soon realize that every time I drank the lemonade I’d throw up. I ended up pushing on to Tony Grove (mile 52) without drinking or eating anything for about six miles. I was pretty wrecked upon arrival at Tony Grove…

When night finally fell I was hoping for a relief in the temperature, but it stayed fairly warm until after midnight. A long-sleeve Smartwool shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the front unzipped halfway was sufficient until it started to rain. I was actually looking forward to the storm rolling in since I wanted to finally be able to put on my rain jacket and leave it on for good. Yes, the rain did turn the trails/roads into a muddy mess, but I don’t think it was nearly as bad as people have made it out to be. I think the mud at the Black Hills 50 I ran earlier this summer was considerably worse. The mud also provided a couple of amusing shit show descents, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe it’s because these descents perfectly coincided with moments in the race where my legs felt quite peppy? Regardless, I had a blast cruising down the mud, glissading here-and-there, falling several times, and basically just running like a little kid with a big smile on my face.

For some reason, I decided to go at this race alone—no crew, no pacers—but as Chris Gerber said, “No crew, no pacers, no problems.” A hundred miles is a long ways to cover, especially when you’re alone for 75% or more of it. Once the heat had its way with me the thought of quitting was in my head up to the point I reached Beaver Creek aid station at mile 85—about a 50 mile stretch where I didn’t want to go any longer. I was lucky enough to see familiar faces in all of the right places.

The generosity of others started before race day with my buddy Phil delivering a brand new pair of New Balance Leadville 1210’s to my hotel. Phil would be present at aid stations throughout the day and was always cheering me on.

I rolled into Right Hand Fork aid station (mile 37) when things were starting to fall apart and heard a voice yell my name. I was excited to see Darcy Piceu and she seemed equally excited to take on crewing duties for me. Darcy is not only one of the best ultrarunners around, but she’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. So, seeing her at RH Fork was much welcomed.

About fifteen miles later I rolled into Tony Grove (mile 52) ready to drop. The heat beat the hell out of me and I hadn’t drank/ate anything in several hours. To make things worse, I was charged by a goddamn cow during the descent to Tony Grove. Luckily, I saw Meghan Hicks (who had just finished Tour de Geants). She jumped into crewing for me and said everything I needed to hear to keep pushing onward rather than drop. When Bryon Powell rolled in she took care of crewing him, but my buddy Robbie Pike was right there to take care of me in her absence. I made a half-joking comment (well, actually I think I wasn’t serious at all when I made the comment) about needing a beer and Robbie was back in less than a minute with a beer in my hand. This guy is good. No, this guy is great. Hopefully I get into Hardrock next year and am lucky enough to fully utilize him as a crew and pacer.

Towards the end of the race I fell back from the familiar faces and went through a few aid stations without friends there to remove the thoughts of dropping from my head. Surprisingly, it became easier to convince myself to keep trudging along as the miles slowly crept by. I reached Beaver Creek Campground (Mile 85) in my most physically miserable state since earlier in the heat of the day. The skies opened a few miles before reaching the aid station. Though I had on my rain jacket, the rain began so abruptly that I wasn’t able to get on my rain pants soon enough. Since my jacket was on over my UD race vest that had my pants I decided to wait until the aid station to put on my pants. My legs ended up soaked and freezing, but it was better than having my entire body soaked and cold. I spent a considerable amount of time warming up and putting on more clothes at this aid station. Here, I met Erin Gibbs for the first time. She was staying in the same condo as me, but our paths hadn’t crossed yet. It was great to have her there with some words of encouragement.

When I finally left Beaver Creek CG I couldn’t really muster anything beyond the pace that’s just slightly faster than a death march. Near the top of the ascent I saw a few guys gaining on me. At the crest of the hill I began a painfully slow shuffle downhill to try holding them off. When they passed I realized it was Eric Lee and his runner, which motivated me a little more to see if my legs had anything left in them. I was able to pick up my cadence a bit and keep up with them. Eventually, I was able to turn my legs over even more and drop them on the way to Ranger Dip aid (mile 92).

While rolling into Ranger Dip I was greeted by Meghan again. We both had puzzled looks on our faces when we saw each other. I was wondering when I passed Bryon since he passed me at Tony Grove and she seemed surprised that I hadn’t dropped or wasn’t just death marching in to barely beat the cutoff. Meghan jogged into the aid station with me and was kind enough to crew me one more time. I shed my rain jacket and pants since I was starting to get hot, downed a couple of breakfast burritos, and chatted for a few minutes. Eventually, I headed up to tackle the last climb of the day—about a 600’ ascent over a half-mile, I think.

I could definitely smell the barn at this point and my legs seemed to sense the end being near. So, I proceeded to cruise up this short grunt of an ascent. Once I topped out I noticed two runners just below me and caught up to them rather quickly. The runners were Gerbster and Kari. I remember Kari making a comment that led me to believe her legs were rather shot.

Near the beginning of the long descent into Fish Haven the skies opened up again and it rained for the rest of the race. So, I could either tip-toe through the mud and prolong the misery of being cold and wet without rain gear or I could run hard and get the damn thing over. I chose to run hard (well, run as hard as I could 90+ miles into the day). This entire descent was a muddy shit show, which ended up being extremely enjoyable on my newly revived legs. I proceeded to glissade, zig-zag, and belly flop my way down the muddy trails/roads and even passed 3-4 other people in the process. Once I hit the dirt road leading into Fish Haven I tried running even harder to make sure no one would pass me in the final stretch. These two miles on the road seemed to drag on-and-on…

After 29 hours and 12 minutes I finally crossed the finish line. Not exactly what I set out to do, but I finished and got my Hardrock 100 qualifier…  

Saturday, September 27th
Still Running The Bear…

Sunday, September 28th
OFF—My legs were a little sore, but not too bad. Later in the day I had to fight the urge to run. Fortunately, it was raining and that discouraged me from putting on the shorts and shoes…

Weekly Totals
Time—34 hours 15 minutes
Elevation Gain—26,500 feet

Week in Review: September 15-21

Monday, September 15th
AM—3 Miles—2:06—2,400’—2nd Flatiron (x3)
My legs felt pretty shaky this morning. So, I decided to stick to the Freeway route for a few laps rather than commit to having to downclimb off the 3rd or anything like that. On my first lap, I saw a guy way to the right of the slab who said he was bailing since he didn’t know the route. I invited him to follow me and proceeded to show him the correct path. So, the first lap up was a bit slow, but enjoyable since I had company along the way. After parting ways with Sam I continued to do two more laps on the
Freeway—11:30 and 9:35.

Tuesday, September 16th
AM—5 Miles—2:08—3,200’—2nd Flatiron Time Trial, 1st Flatironette, 2nd Flatiron
I took off from Chautauqua with intentions of doing some sort of linkup; figuring I’d hit the 2nd first as a warmup. I wasn’t lacking energy, but for some reason my legs just felt really heavy this morning. As I neared the base of the 2nd I realized that I was going to PR my approach to the slab. I reached the base in 10:59 and ran straight onto the rock without hesitation. My scrambling felt pretty good the entire way and I eventually reached the walk-off in 20:36 (9:37 split). So, I decided to run back to the Chautauqua trailhead in an effort to beat my previous PR of 34:28. After 13:20 of descending I made it back to the trailhead with a roundtrip time of 33:57. I spent about ten minutes chugging water before heading back up to tag the 1st Flatironette and getting in another lap on the Freeway. I managed to shimmy up the Freeway in 8:41 this time (another new PR). I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll be able to shave off some more time on some of these routes as soon as temperatures begin to drop.

Wednesday, September 17th
PM—4 Miles—1:14—2,400’—Green Mountain
A nice late afternoon trip up Green with Jeff. I always enjoy joining JV for a run because it’s almost always a guarantee that we’ll ascend/descend via some non-standard route. Today we ascended via the social trail behind the 3rd and descended some trails around the NE Ridge before coming out behind the 1st and following the main access trail back to the parking lot. I’ve descended this route with Jeff before and love it—short, steep, and direct.

Thursday, September 18th 
AM—4 Miles—2:44—2,900’—1st Flatironette, The Spy, 1st Flatiron, 2nd Flatiron, and 3rd Flatiron
This was a fun morning out on the slabs. I started out by tackling the 400-foot South Ridge of the 1st Flatironette. I hopped off the summit, descended a little ways, and found a short climb up to the East Ridge of The Spy. Joining The Spy from this point makes for a short scramble (maybe 200 feet?), but it’s a fun, exposed scramble to the top. The ridge keeps narrowing as you ascend and eventually you’re confronted with a rather steep bulge with thin holds. After hopping off the summit I hiked up a few hundred feet to the notch that provides access to the 1st Flatiron’s North Arete route and proceeded to follow the Arete to the summit. This is a fun, aesthetic little route that puts you in a few spectacular positions. It’s short and sweet. From the summit I was faced with doing the downclimb solo for my first time. I’ve only done the downclimb twice and both times were with someone who knows the route rather well. To me, it’s a pretty straightforward downclimb until you get to the last 10-20 feet where you have to pick your line back to solid ground. I spent a few minutes figuring out this line before committing to any moves. This was an enjoyable (though, round-a-bout) way of reaching the 1st Flatiron’s summit. I’m still hesitant to try the East Face Direct route on the 1st by myself since it has a few twists and turns in it. The route already goes at 5.6, which makes me think that the climbing could potentially get quite harder if I ventured too far off route. Once back on the ground I descended the access trail and got in a quick trip up the 2nd Flatiron’s Freeway route. This time I descended to the East Bench of the 3rd. The classic Standard East Face route on the 3rd seemed like a great way to end the day. I was beginning to feel pretty dehydrated and thirsty, but figured I could sneak this one in somewhat quickly. I passed 3-4 roped parties en route to the summit and chatted with them for a few minutes here-and-there. After 20’ish minutes I was sitting on the summit soaking up the sun and views. My last major task of the day was getting down the SW Chimney route. This would only be my third time doing this downclimb. I definitely still have a lot of figuring out to do on this one. Its crux is noticeably harder and more exposed than that of the 1st. The past two times I’ve spent probably fifteen minutes or so standing at the top of the chimney trying to figure out how to get past the chockstone and down into the first two moves or so. Once past this, the rest of the downclimb is quite easy. I’ll get it figured out eventually...

Friday, September 19th
PM—3 Miles—1:38—2,100’—1st Flatironette, The Spy, 1st Flatiron, 2nd Flatiron
Same outing as yesterday minus the 3rd Flatiron. Yesterday, I had the North Arete of the 1st all to myself. Today, I had to dodge three roped parties and wait on one of them for 5-10 minutes to get up the 5.4 crux section of the route. I was in a nice flat area that allowed me to sit down and take in the views while waiting. So, it wasn’t a bad place to linger around for a few minutes. I’ve noticed over the past two days that the rubber on my re-soled shoes is starting to lose its stickiness. The dots on the forefoot are completely worn down and the rubber is actually starting to rub off and leave black crap all over my hands when I touch it. It might be close to time to retire this pair?

Saturday, September 20th
PM—3 Miles—2:12—2,200’—1st Flatironette, The Spy, 1st Flatiron, Pullman Car, 2nd Flatiron
Fun last minute outing with Cordis. I had a few friends from New Mexico in town so I had spent the better part of the day drinking beer. This was my first time scrambling in the Flatirons while slightly inebriated, but it was quite enjoyable. A little liquid courage never hurts. Now, I think I understand why all of the pioneer climbers in Yosemite, Eldo, etc. were all tripping on acid during their climbs…

Sunday, September 21st
OFF—Driving to Park City, Utah

Weekly Totals
Time—12 hours 06 minutes
Elevation Gain—15,200 feet

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Catching Up on the Last Month

Week in Review: September 8-14

Monday, September 8th
Still descending from “Ninja Peak”…

Sunrise after a night summit of my last ranked 14er
Tuesday, September 9th
PM—3.5 Miles—1:12—1,100’—Little Bear SW Ridge Route Scouting
I decided to scout the route up to Little Bear’s SW ridge from near Tobin Creek. I wanted to see if there was a way to avoid the thorny bushwhack through Tobin Creek. I ended up finding a nice jeep road that went up to some mining ruins. From there, it looked like a bit of a bushwhack up to the ridge with the usual tremendous amount of downfall, but hopefully no thorn bushes. I had to turn around before scouting much further since night was creeping in and I didn’t have a light.

Mining ruins on the south side of Little Bear
Wednesday, September 10th
AM—9 Miles—5:53—6,500’—South Little Bear and Little Bear
I decided to head up the SW Ridge to summit the unranked 14er, South Little Bear. I forgot to hit this peak when Paul and I did the Little Bear-Blanca-Ellingwood traverse a few weeks ago. The bushwhack up to treeline seemed to go on forever, but once I reached the ridge it was smooth sailing with a lot of talus hopping. The ridge offered up a few fun, exposed knife-edge sections as I neared South Little Bear’s summit. I decided to shimmy over to the summit of Little Bear real quick and ended up lingering around for a while talking to other climbers. I met a group of three (Britt, Joey, and I can’t remember the last guy’s name) and chatted with them for quite some time before parting ways. Britt got some great photos of me on SLB, which he kindly emailed to me. The descent to treeline went by quickly. When I got below treeline I had to make sure I descended via the correct rib that would take me to the road for an easy descent that avoided the thorny bushwhack. I began making my way down a rib, which happened to be the wrong one. Luckily, there was a clearing where I was able to see that I was on the wrong ridge before descending too low. I quickly made my way over to the right one and headed down to some mining ruins that had a faint trail below them. After about 15 minutes on the trail I was back on the jeep road for a quick return to the Taco. I just hiked the entire day.

View of the Little Bear-Blanca traverse from South Little Bear

Gazing at Little Bear from the San Luis Valley floor

Traversing between South Little Bear and Little Bear (Photo: Britt Jones)

Summit of Little Bear (Photo: Britt Jones)

Reaching the summit of South Little Bear (Photo: Britt Jones)

Venturing up Little Bear's southwest ridge

Staring up Little Bear's SW ridge
Thursday, September 11th 
PM—3 Miles—0:43—2,200’—Treadmill
A little uphill running on David’s treadmill while house/dog sitting while he’s in Steamboat for Run Rabbit Run.

Friday, September 12th
OFF—Taking a little rest after several big weeks

Saturday, September 13th
OFF—Still resting a bit…

Sunday, September 14th 
OFF—Something about today being a “Day of Rest” or something like that…

Weekly Totals
Time—7 hours 48 minutes
Elevation Gain—9,800 feet

Week in Review: September 1-7

Monday, September 1st
PM—2 Miles—0:15—300’—Leadville Roads
Trying out the Hoka Rapa Nui’s that Dave gave me. Kind of squishy, but pretty comfortable.

Tuesday, September 2nd
OFF—Just plain tired…

Wednesday, September 3rd
PM—10 Miles—4:18—4,200’—La Plata Peak (14,336’)
Nolan’s 14 pacing for Ben. Up the standard route from Highway 82 and down into Winfield. Ben was a little dehydrated when he got to the TH so I kept his effort in check for the entire ascent. I kept bugging him to drink water, take rests, and just keep it mellow. It was actually quite warm as we made our way up, which was the big reason I didn’t want him working too hard. My main goal was getting him to Winfield feeling better than he felt at the Highway 82 trailhead. When we arrived in Winfield it seemed that the problems bothering Ben at the base of La Plata had faded away.

Thursday, September 4th
AM—16 Miles—13:40—11,000’—Nolan’s Pacing from Clohesy Lake to North Cottonwood Trailhead
More Nolan’s 14 pacing for Ben. At about 3:30am I joined Ben at Clohesy Lake and kept him company for the summits of Missouri, Belford, Oxford, Harvard, and Columbia before descending to North Cottonwood. This was a long day of easy effort hiking with only a brief period below treeline at Pine Creek between Oxford and Harvard. The weather was incredibly unpredictable all day causing us to change clothing countless times. The only positive about the weather was that it stayed dry all day long. Always great to spend a long day in the hills with Ben.

Belford—4:00 (1:49 split)
Oxford—4:56 (0:56 split)
Harvard—9:27 (4:31 split)
Columbia—11:51 (2:24 split)
North Cottonwood Trailhead—13:40 (1:49 split)

Ben emptying out his shoes on Elkhead Pass

Sunrise near Elkhead Pass
Friday, September 5th
OFF—Tired and a little sore after sleeping in the driver’s seat of the Taco

Saturday, September 6th
AM—5 Miles—1:03—1,150’—Colorado Trail
Just an easy run on the CT from the Blanks Cabin trailhead for Shavano. First trail run in the Hoka’s Dave gave me. I actually liked the way they felt…

Sunday, September 7th 
PM—26 Miles—18:08—18,400’—A tall peak that will remain Unnamed
Big peak summited using everything I’ve learned in my ninja training…

The beginning of a long night

Weekly Totals
Time—37 hours 27 minutes
Elevation Gain—35,050 feet

Week in Review: August 25-31

Monday, August 25th
AM—6 Miles—6:38—1,700’—Climbing on The Matron, North Face
David wanted to get out and climb up one of Roach’s Top 10 Flatiron Classics this morning. So, we headed up to The Matron to ascend its three-pitch 5.6 north face. I’ve never led trad before and didn’t really feel like “learning” how today. So, armed with the knowledge acquired from watching online videos about gear placement and setting up belay anchors, David proceeded to lead the route like a champ. Storms started rolling in right as we reached the summit. When you combine the possibility of getting struck by lightning with the ridiculous amount of gnats on the summit it was an obvious choice not to linger around for too long. So, we readied for our two rappels back down to solid ground. As David was doing the first rappel some thunder started rolling and I saw a flash of lightning. After impatiently waiting for David to get off the rope it was finally my turn to do my second rappel ever; it ended up being a lot easier than I remember. We both stood uncomfortably at the top of the second rappel while dicking around with knots in the rope. Thunder, rain, and the occasional flash of lightning had me wondering why everything David and I do seems to end up being a shit show of sorts. As I neared the ground David told me to look over for a photo. So I did. Then I felt this weird tugging on my face. It took a moment to realize it, but my friggin’ beard got caught in my ATC! Luckily, there was a flake right next to the face of The Matron that allowed me to stem out with my legs, while holding onto the brake end of the rope with one hand and simultaneously using my other hand to pull up on the top end of the rope. This allowed me to get out with minimal beard loss. My only thought after was “this is why I solo in the Flatirons…”

Little bit of beard hair in the ol' ATC (Photo: David Ponak)

Photo: David Ponak

Photo: David Ponak

Reaching The Matron's summit (Photo: David Ponak)

David sitting atop the first pitch

Approaching the north face of The Matron (Photo: David Ponak)
Tuesday, August 26th
AM—2.5 Miles—0:38—1,300’—2nd Flatiron Time Trial
I parked the Taco in the round-a-bout near the park just east of the Ranger Cottage. I trotted up to the trailhead and began making my way up to the 2nd Flatiron. Nothing felt especially good on the approach, but as I neared the base of the slab I noticed that I was making great approach time—I reached the base of the 2nd in 11:19. So, I decided that if my scrambling felt spot on I would do my first ever Flatiron time trial. I cruised through the crux bulge without any hesitation and knew I was going to have a decent split to the top. It was pretty hot on the exposed slab so I was sweating my ass off and breathing hard the entire way up. I stopped for a very brief rest (~10-15 seconds) right before taking the leap of faith and then kept cruising up to the walk-off at the top of the Freeway route—a 9:40 split for the scramble and 20:59 total time. The slowest part of the day for me was likely the more technical upper portion of the descent. As the trail became less rocky I gradually picked up my pace until I was hitting 5:30 pace for the last half-mile or so. I reached the trailhead in 13:29 from the top of the Freeway route for a trailhead-to-trailhead time of 34:28. Short, but fun day!

Wednesday, August 27th 
PM—2.5 Miles—1:21—1,700’—2nd Flatiron and 1st Flatiron
I waited around all morning for the slabs to dry after the night’s rainfall. My legs felt kind of tired so I hiked up to the base of the 2nd before scrambling up it. I think the easy hiking approach and the significantly cooler temperatures when compared to yesterday allowed me to shimmy up the Freeway with less perceived effort than yesterday, but with a similar time—9:56 to the walk-off. En route to the summit I passed another guy soloing the route. When he reached the top we chatted for a few minutes about the 3rd Flatiron downclimb before he invited me to follow him up the Fandango route on the 1st Flatiron, which we covered in about 21 minutes. With storms starting to roll in we didn’t waste any time hanging around the summit. We quickly knocked out the downclimb off the backside of the 1st in 6:17 and ran the descent back to Chautauqua in an attempt to keep from getting soaked in the coming rain.

Thursday, August 28th
AM—2.5 Miles—0:48—1,300’—Mount Sanitas
I ran up at a slightly hard effort, but on really tired legs. So, effort and fatigue cancelled each other out and resulted in an average ~20 minute ascent. After sitting on the summit for a while I did a mostly hiking descent.

Friday, August 29th
AM—17 Miles—7:43—7,500’—Little Bear Peak (14,037’), Blanca Peak (14,345’), Huerfano County High Point (14,340’), and Ellingwood Point (14,042’)
Paul and I headed out from about a mile up Lake Como Road at 5:30 am. For those who don’t know, Lake Como Road just plain sucks. It’s more technical than just about any trail you could ever choose to run on. After grunting up the road for about an hour-and-a-half we reached Lake Como and made our way to the east side. We began scrambling up the talus slope to gain the west ridge of Little Bear. Our line kept us on the ridge proper versus sticking to the marked route a little below the ridge. After a while we got off the ridge and began following the cairns to the Hour Glass. It seemed to us that the easiest route would have just stayed directly on the West Ridge crest and avoided the Hour Glass completely, but who knows? The Hour Glass was an icy and wet shit show. So, we decided to avoid this by climbing directly up on the left side of the Hour Glass—significantly harder climbing, but dry rock. Fortunately, we were the only ones in the Hour Glass, which meant that the consequences of kicking rocks loose weren’t potentially fatal. After 3:12 Paul and I were standing on the summit of Little Bear with full view of the ridgeline traverse in store for us.

After a few minutes of loitering on the summit and snapping photos we began dropping off the summit and onto the ridge. With the exception of one or two semi-cruxy moves this traverse proved to be significantly easier than I expected. Yes, there was decent exposure throughout the traverse, but the moves were all easy and never seemed to exceed easy 4th Class. We took our sweet time making our way across the ridge; taking lots of photos along the way and enjoying the exposure. The ridge certainly offered many opportunities for exposure junkies to get a little fix. After 1:35 (4:47 total time) we were sitting on our second 14k foot summit of the day, Blanca Peak. More loitering and photos ensued before heading over for the quick trip to Ellingwood Point. This segment was all easy 2nd and 3rd Class, which Paul and I knocked out in 0:28. After 5:15 we were sitting on our third 14k feet summit of the day and enjoying a few snacks.

The descent back to Lake Como was enjoyable, but came to an end far too soon. Once at the lake we had about five miles of the shittiest four-wheel drive road in Colorado (and maybe the States?) separating us from our trucks. I ended up bonking like a champ and walking the last three miles or so back home. Great day on one of Colorado’s four great 14er traverses!

Little Bear—3:12
Blanca—4:47 (1:35 split)
Ellingwood—5:15 (0:28 split)

Little Bear-Blanca traverse (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Bypassing the Hour Glass (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Our full Little Bear-Blanca-Ellingwood traverse from the summit of Ellingwood (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Little Bear-Blanca traverse viewed from Blanca

Making our way to Blanca from Little Bear (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Little Bear-Blanca traverse viewed from Ellingwood

Nearing Blanca's summit (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Paul with Little Bear looming overhead

Little Bear-Blanca-Ellingwood route viewed from Ellingwood
Saturday, August 30th
AM—12.5 Miles—7:02—7,300’—Crestone Peak (14,294’), Northeast Crestone Peak (14,260’), and Crestone Needle (14,197’)
Paul and I headed to the Cottonwood Creek trailhead just outside of Crestone after we got down from Lake Como yesterday. Eventually Brendan Trimboli rolled up to the parking lot to join us on the Crestones the next morning. Since the route was significantly shorter than Little Bear, Blanca, and Ellingwood we decided to start somewhere around 7am versus our previous day’s 5:30am start.

The next morning when I was getting dressed and ready I decided that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as the day before and wear way too much clothing. I opted for my usual minimal style today—shorts, shirt, wind shell (tucked into shorts), gloves (tucked into shorts), Buff, one handheld, and two gels.

Near treeline we had to avoid a significant amount of downfall. Once out of the trees we began making our way towards the base of Crestone Peak’s red gulley. My legs were pretty spent and not enjoying the steep ascent at all, but the climb was over before too long. We lingered around the summit taking photos for a few minutes. When I pointed out Northeast Crestone to Paul and Brendan I couldn’t help but think how much easier of a climb it looked like versus last year. Brendan decided he was going to go tag East Crestone while Paul and I stared at the descent/traverse from the top of the Red Gulley over to the base of NE Crestone. I had some reservations due to the path being covered in a dusting of snow and ice, but Paul took the initiative and led the way. Of course, I followed. It only took us 13 minutes to get from the summit of Crestone Peak to the summit of Crestone Needle—I guess it was an easy climb.

We made our way back to the base of East Crestone and joined Brendan for the beginning of our traverse to Crestone Needle. For the most part, this traverse stays way below the ridge crest and just involves a lot of skirting around before ascending the first of two gullies. Then there’s a little more skirting around to the Black Gendarme, which is where the most difficult parts of the traverse begin. While ascending this gulley there are two little bulgy sections of 5.easy climbing up to a very short knife edge section. Some scurrying up a few ledges finally gets you up to the final summit pitch to the Needle. This section is sort of steep, sort of exposed, and 4th class for a hundred feet or so. I’d probably compare it to everything on the 3rd Flatiron east face route minus the last summit pitch—holds are everywhere and the angle feels about the same.

On our descent we tried going down a gulley to cut out some distance down to the lakes. This ended up cliffing out. So, we made our way back down the long way. My legs were starting to feel the cumulative fatigue of the past few days, which let Paul and Brendan put a good gap on me. Back at treeline I got off route somehow and ended up doing a little over an hour of bushwhacking until I rejoined the trail. Then, I was finally able to run again. I trotted out the last few miles around 10-minute pace and called it a day.

Crestone Peak—2:41
Northeast Crestone—2:54 (0:13 split)
Crestone Needle—4:10 (1:16 split)

Crestone Peak's summit (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

Nearing Crestone Peak's summit (Photo: Brendan Trimboli)

Heading up Crestone Peak (Photo: Paul Hamilton, I think?)

View of the route Paul and I used to ascend NE Crestone Peak

Posing on Crestone Peak's summit with Brendan (Photo: Paul Hamilton)

View of the traverse to Crestone Needle from Crestone Peak

Brendan and I descending Crestone Needle (Photo: Paul Hamilton)
Sunday, August 31st
AM—11.5 Miles—2:57—4,800’—Mount Elbert (14,433’)
Pretty easy day up/down the East Ridge from the lower South Elbert trailhead near Twin Lakes. My legs felt awful on the two mile jeep road run to the upper trailhead. From the upper trailhead to the summit I pretty much hiked every step. It was unbelievably cold and terribly windy, which made me wish I had more clothing. I was wearing skimpy shorts, no shirt, a Buff, no gloves, sunglasses, and a Patagonia Houdini wind shell. Once above treeline, I kept my hands down the backside of my shorts the entire way to the summit. This helped keep them slightly less numb than just keeping them out and exposed to the cold wind. The shit weather had me tempted to bail on the summit on more than one occasion, but I kept trudging along. I reached the summit in about 1:55 and immediately turned around to begin my descent. It was great to get low enough that I could finally regain the feeling in my hands.

Weekly Totals
Time—27 hours 09 minutes
Elevation Gain—25,600 feet

Week in Review: August 18-24

Monday, August 18th
AM—16.5 Miles—7:32—9,500’—Mount Belford (14,197’), Mount Oxford (14,153’), Mount Harvard (14,420’), and Mount Columbia (14,073’)
My legs felt pretty crappy all day, but it still turned out to be a good day in the hills with Peter. I was most pleased with our route selection and time from the summit of Oxford to the summit of Harvard. I don’t think we could have picked a path with less resistance. Peter’s route finding skills are top-notch. The worst part of the day was definitely the descent of Columbia’s west slopes—steep and loose.

Oxford—2:10 (0:29 split)
Harvard—4:25 (2:15 split)
Columbia—5:55 (1:30 split)
Cottonwood TH—7:32 (1:37 split)

Mount Columbia in the distance
Tuesday, August 19th
AM—7.5 Miles—3:59—4,300’—Pyramid Peak (14,018’)
Pretty mellow day. I had a few instances while rock hopping and making my way up to the ridge where I didn’t think I would get the summit today due to rain. Luckily, it would just sprinkle for a few minutes then quit. Once on the ridge, this is a really enjoyable route on quite solid rock considering you’re in the Elks.

Wednesday, August 20th 
OFF—Climbing at Gold Butte (Aspen, CO)
I led and top-roped the 5.7 route, Flake Armour. I also led and top-roped the 5.6 route, Rat-A-Tat-Tat. Rat-A-Tat-Tat would likely have been much easier to solo since there was so much rope drag. Several times I felt like I was going to be pulled off the rock by the rope.

Sweet view from the crag
Thursday, August 21st
AM—13 Miles—2:11—2,500’—Sunnyside Loop (Aspen, CO)
A fun, runnable loop run with Luke. Our pace up the first big ascent was easy, but then we started hitting the descents and flats pretty hard. We ended with a couple of 6:15 minute miles on pavement.

Luke cruising through a nice, flat stretch of the Sunnyside Loop
Friday, August 22nd
PM—5 Miles—1:18—2,500’—Green Mountain
Just an easy day up-and-down the front side of the mountain. First time up this peak in a long time…

Went to Gold Hill Inn to celebrate Alex and Wayne's birthdays. My beard made a few people envious (Photo: Jeremy Gruber)
Saturday, August 23rd  
AM—10.5 Miles—3:54—4,000’—South Arapaho (13,397’) and Old Baldy (13,038’)
Cold, windy, and wet with poor visibility. I was a bit surprised with how many people I saw on the trails today considering how bad the weather was. From the summit of South Arapaho I decided to head over to North Arapaho, but was turned around at the crux slab since it was soaking wet. My shoes wouldn’t provide enough purchase to make the usual quick-and-easy shimmy up it. So, I decided to head over and tag the low-13er Old Baldy as a consolation prize.

My last good view while ascending South Arapaho. Visibility went to crap shortly after this.

Heading over to Old Baldy
Sunday, August 24th
AM—8 Miles—3:23—2,800’—Mount Audubon (13,223’)
Another very cold and windy morning, but fortunately there wasn’t any rain. The rocks were all frosted for the last several hundred feet of ascent. We (Donald, his brother, and I) began with intentions of doing a big traverse of 13ers in the area. We called it a day at Audubon due to the winds and frosted rocks. August is way too soon to have an ice beard…

August is way too early for an ice beard...
PM—4 Miles—2:26—2,800’—2nd Flatiron (x2) and 3rd Flatiron
After a couple of laps on the 2nd Flatiron (9:45 and 10:49) I decided to head over to the 3rd and see if I could remember the route Peter had just shown me. I ended up staying too far north (right) for most of the ascent, which made for slightly harder climbing (but not much harder). Down climbing the SW chimney sucked since it was 2:30pm and the sun was beating down on me. My hands were a sweaty mess…

Sweet view of the 1st from the 3rd's summit

Looking back up at the SW Chimney downclimb off the 3rd Flatiron

Weekly Totals
Time—24 hours 47 minutes
Elevation Gain—28,300 feet

Best double rainbow I've ever seen...