Desert Vibes

Desert Vibes
Photo: Ben Clark

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 SpyronĂȘtte 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
Miles—56
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