Monday, June 19, 2017

Asgard Ridge

I'd imagine the Gore Range is on a lot of people's "list", its close to the front range and is as full of intrigue as it is vacant of 14ers. I also had something in the range on my "list" for a while and also like many had instead somehow forgotten to ever venture into the Gores. Well, I finally made plans to climb something in the range last weekend and in typical fashion I couldn't simply go recon the range with a fun, safe and easy jog up a pretty peak. No that would be far too much of a cop out when I could instead select a mysterious and technical ridge that had seen only two (I believe) prior ascents and then link it into another classic ridge traverse and then finally warm down on another moderate ridge to tag another arbitrary high point. If you're gonna do something, do it one-hundred percent -- or preferably, one-hundred-fifty percent.

The overly ambitious planned route -- clockwise from the Boss Mine.
So the plan was set to start at the Rock Creek TH, run to the Boss Mine then successively dispatch of Asgard Ridge (and of course a tag of Palomino and Valhalla), the Grand Traverse and the ridge walk to Keller then cruise back out on the trail back to my girlfriend, Abby, who I would drop off 20 miles south to run the Gore Range trail to the TH. Literally nothing about this plan could fail. Right?

My first view of the basin on route to the Boss Mine.
I left the parking lot around 7AM, later than I wanted but so it goes. I made it to the Boss Mine by 7:40 where I left the trail to contour to the southern side of the North Rock Creek drainage. The bushwhack was surprisingly straightforward, dry and thinly treed -- minus a small and grungy rock buttress that I stubbornly elected not to simply walk around. The snow began in the trees and was steep enough to warrant an axe but not crampons. The march continued upwards, crossing a few animal tracks then gaining the grassy meadows which compose the eastern end of Asgard Ridge. The route ahead looked complex, though without understanding  what I was seeing the towers camouflaged themselves into the north aspect of Valhalla Pk.

Easy early going on the ridge.
The ridge gradually morphed from a grassy runnable tundra to a narrowing spine of large blocky talus. What in retrospect was a benign knoll marked the first "challenge" of the day, fun 3rd class moves and what appeared to be just more talus walking ahead. Ha! The two reports of this ridge must have been full of it when they said "low 5th class" -- whatever that dangerously subjective term means! Figuring I would be finished with this minor obstacle of ridge I proceeded onward.

Things began to change. The ridge sharpened, towers grew more prominent and notches plummeted in sheer faces to thin cols. I reached the first of numerous notches and greeted an uninviting and exposed downclimb to the notch. I was able to leave the ridge and instead crabwalk down a dusty 4th class slab then traverse snow to the next tower. This next tower was almost comically imposing, Bypassing this tower was an easy decision but still involved a dirty traverse of the loose rock on its northern side. Okay, this traverse is getting pretty real!

The right most tower is clearly a technical challenge on its own!
The remaining ridge left little to the imagination: hard, loose, treacherous, spicy, exciting and adventurous. I began ascending the knife edge ridge to the next tower carefully testing each hold before using it. I searched along the north side for a bypass again but found nothing. I was beginning to feel uneasy about the route -- specifically the rotten state of the rock. I returned to the crest and decided I would check the south side and if nothing jumped out immediately I would bail. I spied a route around to the next notch by spiralling around the south face on a series of ledges. After an extremely airy series of down-mantles I found a Broadway-esque ledge to maneuver myself into the next notch. This was the technical crux of the day for me -- it felt 5.6 -- it was thankfully on good (well, good enough) rock. I believe this went around "Point Odin", it would seem from the only other TR for this route (or that I could find) that up and over may have been the easier option, though more exposed.

Some proper exposure on these moves!
Exasperated, I stared down the final tower standing between myself and Palomino Point. I climbed two thirds of the way to the top of the tower and then tried to find a similar south side traverse to what I found before. The ledge narrowed and then fell away in a startling drop. Reluctantly, I returned to the ridge crest to check the north side. Quickly scrambling back up I made biggest mistake of the day; reaching for a hold I blindly pulled and felt the bone chilling grind of the flake freeing itself. The rock was to heavy to push back but I was able to hold it in place for a second to set my feet, release it then dash out of its way as it thunderously cascaded down and into the air. Shaken, I collected myself. This could have happened at any point earlier, this terrain was no different than the previous two towers, but if you roll the dice enough times, things can happen. I wanted off the ridge immediately, turning around was certainly an option but there was less suspect rock above me then behind me so I elected to continue upwards. I found what I believe was the same "crabwalk traverse" mentioned in the beta TR. Despite strictly pushing not pulling on rocks and trying to evenly distribute my weight across all available holds I dislodged another block. Holding it in place, I again moved out of the way and then let it lose. The sound of crashing rock and the wind fluttering the hood of my coat paired with ominous feeling of being alone came to a peak. I nervously skirted the remainder of the tower to find a snow field softer than I'd prefer but a welcome change from the choss.

I used the leftmost snowy ledge to reach safer ground before reaching Palomino (center skyline).
I charged up to Palomino Point, slapped the summit, didn't bother signing a register, walked 100ft lower to a sheltered alcove from the wind, dropped my pack and sat down. I had never been so mentally exhausted. I had never felt fear like I had felt during the hour or so from the first rockfall to the summit. I had studied maps and knew I could bail down to Deluge Lake and find the trail down to Vail. I found cell service and texted Abby my change of plans, hoping she had yet to reach the TH where there was no service. She had unfortunately just reached the TH, having bailed on the Gore Range Trail due to snow covering the trail and instead ran 5 miles back to the N. Tenmile Creek TH and then ran the 15 miles of road, bikepath and highway to Rock Creek! Realizing my phone could potentially run out of battery (I had a SPOT as well), I messaged a couple other friends with my new descent route and location.

The Holy Cross on the horizon, Deluge Lake below

A thrilling shoe ski was enjoyable consolation prize for the day.
The descent to Deluge Lake was loose, but the fun non-exposed kind where you surf down then shoe-ski snow. After re-examining the topo and navigating to a contouring section of trail at a specific altitude I dropped beneath the snow line, found patchy sections of trail then eventually the trail itself which I happily -- and safely -- dashed down to the sanctuary of civilization and dare I say pavement! Unfortunately, with Abby out of cell service on the other side of the range, the only way for her to realize I was in Vail was to get really worried, go get cell service, get a bombardment of messages and then see my SPOT. My plan was to stay put and wait it out but a ride to Frisco was offered (can't thank them enough!) along with a phone charge. So, I was able to shorten her inevitable drive and get myself to the Next Page bookstore to continue waiting. Eventually and inevitably we reconnected driving straight to the Rio Grande for the biggest meals we could get!

This butterfly walked around my foot for about 15 minutes while I waited at Deluge Lake TH. He didn't seem afraid of me at all, this picture was taken without zoom and he didn't even flinch having the lens an inch from his body!
This was a hard route and learning experience in many ways. I learned its sometimes best to turn your back on something that doesn't quite feel right than to test the waters and find out for sure. I learned that objective hazard above anything else is something I'm not okay with. I learned that having full knowledge of the area is critical. I learned that being able to communicate and share your location is paramount, especially alone. I think I made a poor judgement pursuing this ridge, especially solo -- and that I should have turned back earlier rather than finding out what was ahead. I also believe though, that upon reaching Palomino Pk, my bail strategy was well equipped and executed. I'm happy I didn't listen to music on my phone to save battery, that I contacted a few people my change of plans and that I had a SPOT if I needed it. Its easy to not care you don't have these things when you don't consider there usage but I never want to be in the situation where I'm ill-equipped wishing I had other options. I love the mountains, climbing, running and scrambling but not enough to play Russian Roulette with them. I want to continue to explore the unknown and push myself but I always need to remember to first evaluate the risks and furthermore, to remember that harder, more exposed and higher doesn't always mean I'll enjoy it more. The most fun I had this weekend was romping up the standard trail on Quandary with Abby the next day, certainly not fearing rockfall on Asgard Ridge.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 1 - May 7

5/1, Monday - Off
A bit tired from yesterday's run.

5/2, Tuesday - Yellow Spur - 2000', 5:17
Biked to Eldo to meet Anton to climb the Yellow Spur. We didn't move particularly quickly but that wasn't the goal of the day. He led to the Red Ledge which was all familiar terrain to me, I had always been turned towards Icarus here due to time restraints. I took the lead up the first pitch and was only held up by this awkward friction-y corner that I eventually solved by just toe jamming up to the big shelf. Tony then lead the final premier pitch to the finish. Its tough climbing but its basically just a sport route (minus the traverse) till the final 5.6 arete. Downclimbed the East Slabs back to our bikes and rode home.
Anton following the second to last pitch at lightning speed!
5/3, Wednesday - 6 miles, 250', 0:41
Quick short run along the creek as the skies cleared of morning rain clouds.

5/4, Thursday - 3 x Mile - 11 miles, 400', 1:15 || PM: First Flatiron - 3 miles, 1600, 3:13
A mediocre workout. I wanted good rest between each interval (6 minutes) but still couldn't get my splits as low as I would have liked (5:17, 5:25, 5:27). Ah well, got the effort in -- the last quarter of each repeat was good if only as a mental workout for not giving in. In the evening I met Abby for her first time up the direct route on the 1st Flatiron. I soloed the rope up to belay her for the first 3 pitches to the party ledge, then we scrambled to the slot where I belayed her up to the arete. We then scrambled the remainder of the north arete as the sun fell behind the Indian Peaks in the distance. I'd never actually rappelled off the 1st -- always downclimbed -- but given the darkness it would be easier to just set up the rope than try to point out holds in the dark. Actually a really cool rappel, the bottom 30ft or so are free hanging and a 60m rope reaches the ground just fine.
Abby taking a lead up to the North Arete at sunset.
5/5, Friday - Eldo Scrambling - 2300', 2:41
After gulping down a ton of water, I hopped on my bike for a splendid session in Eldo. I had to make a slight adjustment to my Wind Tower circuit as West Overhang was taken -- so I skipped that -- and Wind Ridge was taken so I explored to rock up Tigger than traversed back to the Wind Ridge route once above the party. I was making good time and the wind was calm so I hustled over to the West Chimney where I was able to get going right before a large party began up Rewritten. What an absolute pleasure it is to move freely over such a beautiful wall. I hadn't soloed Icarus in a long time, so I was reminded of just how phenomenal of a route and position it is -- the arete to the top of tower one has got to be one of the best in the state if not country!

5/6, Saturday - Sooberb Lite & Blind Faith - 2500', 6:57
Kyle and I biked down to Eldo with plans for long day of climbing. We first got to Long John Wall, which was taken so we went a bit further up the hill to Sooberb Lite. Right as we were about to lift off a guy down towards Washington Irving -- not sure what route exactly -- took a near a ground fall bouncing down slab and through trees. Or at least it sounded like that. We unroped and ran down to find him moving and talking but clearly concussion symptoms. He had plenty of friends there to help (one was a nurse) so they said they didn't need any more help and sent us on our way. Sooberb Lite was actually a fun really fun route, though overshadowed by everything else in the day. Kyle led the first two pitches -- the second being the good one, while I lead the final. We then ran down to Redgarden and literally everything under 5.11 was taken so we jogged to the Bastille. Blind Faith (which was first climbed free solo) was open and I'd been wanting to try it for ages. I took the lead and got up just fine to the crux. Oh but the crux! I tried several times never able to commit and taking a fall once -- my first fall leading on trad. I definitely need to get better at crack technique and do some more pull ups! Eventually, I just traversed around to set up an anchor for Kyle to give it a shot with a top rope (after the rope was severely stuck on an under-cling!). I think he made it further than I did but then had to hang -- you can't really rejoin the route after hanging once on TR -- he was then hanging on the upper portion of the right crack variation and finished up that. I started leading up the next pitch but we were both so pumped and mentally shaken by this point that I down-climbed while back-cleaning gear then we set an anchor to bail. Thankfully, some guys were heading up as were rapping (moving quickly). The leader undid our anchor and sent down all the gear we thought we were having to leave, lucky for us it was not as expensive of a bail as we expected. Not a huge day by the numbers but mentally one of the harder days I can remember.

5/7, Sunday - Pine Tree Route - 1400', 3:35
Fun day with my house mates. Mike broke his leg pretty severely 10 months ago and today was his first day back outside and he wanted to lead -- and suggested biking to the crag! We ended up on Pine Tree route waiting for another girl to lead it (who broke her jaw last year and was also getting her head back on!). Mike took the lead with the mental trauma still major obstacle. Physically, he could walk up this route and I'm sure he would have scoffed at it before his accident. Today wasn't about physical limits it was instead about mental limits. It took a while but it was important to give him that time and space to sort out his thoughts. My other house mate, Jorge, followed the route then I soloed it. Hoping to squeeze in one more route I rushed the rope over to East Slab on the Dome but the storm broke before I could even get ready, I met the guys back at our bikes for a soggy ride home.

Week Totals: Running
20 miles

Week Totals: Other bike-climb-scramble stuff
112 miles (mostly biking)

Clearly, I didn't actually run that much this week. In fact I mostly just climbed, 5 days in fact -- time to retire my rope! -- which translates still to some good time on my feet and is frankly the most fun you can have! I also definitely needed to back off a bit of the volume to give my legs a chance to actively recover for race week. Quad Rock 25 next weekend, looking forwards to it!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 25 - April 30

4/24, Monday - South Boulder Pk, Bear Pk, Green Mtn - 15 miles, 4500', 2:47
Ran from home up the Bluestem trail to Shadow Canyon. I kept a moderate pace, hoping to catch the RMR group on Green Mtn. I put a good effort into my Green to Bear segment but came in just behind Sage's Strava CR on the traverse -- I lost most of my time on the highly runnable section of Green-Bear where his road legs are too quick to stay with! Hit the summit of Green just as the group was descending so I lumped onto the back to chat with friends rather than fight my way to the front with mindless competitiveness.

4/25, Tuesday - AM: Eldorado Canyon - 1900', 2:54 || PM: Salomon Run - 3 miles, 600', 0:34
Biked to Eldo in the morning and did my Wind Tower circuit (Boulder Direct, West Overhang, Calypso, Wind Ridge) then hiked to the col separating the Whale's Tale form the South Buttress. I started up Pseudo Sidetrack, a moderate 5.4 which I enjoyed to the halfway point then spied a fun looking section that appeared to be more fun. Heading up a steep face I joined a beautiful dihedral and handcrack, then some more face moves to top out on the East Slabs. I found out later the route I went up was PA's Variation, super cool! Salomon run in the evening.
Looking back down PA's Variation
4/26, Wednesday - 6 x 3min - 12 miles, 1200', 1:24
Warmed up to the Bluestem TH off of HW93 then started the intervals. Three minutes is a savage interval time, you can't really settle into anything sustained but its also long enough that the quick pace eats your soul for the final sixty seconds. I was motivated knowing that the faster I ran the intervals, the closer to the Mesa trail I would get which would inevitably be less sustained uphill! Since I still felt relatively alright after the sixth, I kept a steady effort back down the South Boulder Creek trail and through the Buffalo Ranch back home.

4/27, Thursday - Betasso Preserve - 3 miles, 500', 0:32
Kinda fun since it was a pretty morning but Abby and I both fell pretty hard over literally nothing on the trail! Given the carnage we called it early.

I think I fell a few seconds after taking this picture, serves me right for not paying attention!
4/28, Friday - Green Mtn x 3 - 16 miles, 7100', 4:11
Three ascents of Gregory-Ranger which is by far the most difficult since you have to actually run quite a bit -- not to say its not still steep! Not pretty, but got it done.

4/29, Saturday - Green Mtn x 3 - 15 miles, 8200', 5:06
A nuclear bomb of wet snow hit last night so today was properly slow. I kept the route to Amp-SR-GM but even with the most efficient line it was mentally trying to move along like a slug in such sloppy conditions. I was hoping to get to 10,000ft for the day but I had obligations for the evening so called it once it was after 2PM. I was able to get 1100ft more than yesterday by doing a bunch of little out and backs catching back up to Abby and Kyle (who joined for sections) at various points.

4/30, Sunday - Gold Hill - 29 miles, 4000', 4:16
It was rough getting going this morning for both Abby and I, so we were happy to let some snow melt (its now 60F after snowing 1ft yesterday!) while eating a proper breakfast. Without giving myself time to think of any of the great reasons to not do this today I left the house with two flasks of tailwind, a hotshot and a handful of gels. I took it pretty easy all the way up to Gold Hill. I stopped once at the bathroom at Sanitas then again up top where I bumped into Ryan on his bike. I still kept it easy heading back down Sunshine canyon until somewhere around the Poorman's Rd turnoff where I started a series of fartleks. I did a few intervals all the way home, the hardest being a relatively all out push from Eben G. Fine park to CU campus near Folsom street.
Gold Hill with Longs in the background.
Week Totals:
92 miles
. . . . plus a bit of biking

Good peak week of volume heading towards Quad Rock 25 in two weeks -- time to start easing off of the gas a bit.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 17 - April 24

4/17, Monday - AM: Easy - 7 miles, 0:55 || PM: Green Mtn - 6 miles, 2500', 1:43
Easy morning shakeout with Abby and Jackson with a mile or so by chance with Jack on Apache Rd followed by a Green summit with RMR in the evening

4/18, Tuesday - 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn, 2nd Flatiron - 7 miles, 3700', 2:14
My scrambling form is still properly terrible so it was another slow ramble up the 1st to tag Green. Downclimbed the 2nd Flatiron until I met Abby just at the main rib then turned around and finished the route with her. We then sprinted back down towards the Salomon Run but couldn't quite catch up.

4/19, Wednesday - Bike: Eldorado Canyon
I've been itching to get back into Eldo so despite the wind I hoped I could find something sheltered enough. The ride there took forever with the oppressive headwind putting me in my lowest gears just to get down hills. I made a few moves up Boulder Direct then surmised it was neither fun nor safe so I just rode back home.

4/20, Thursday - Independence Monument - 7 miles, 1500', 6:09
On the way out to the desert we stopped to check out Independence Monument, a proud tower of sandstone just outside of Grand Junction. I took the first lead but we accidentally started up "Geezer Highway" instead of "Otto's Route", the latter being much safer and easier. After carefully getting to an anchor of a fixed nut and an angle I had to leave a locking biner on the webbing to be lowered back to the ground. We then found the start of Otto's and started up. The first two pitches were straightforward, but the third really gave me hell. It was a tough move to make, especially with a backpack with an extra rope (for rappel) and a double rack (totally unnecessary). Eventually, I just tried harder and made it through. The next pitch was 4th class followed by a short section of bolts to a big ledge leading to the summit pitch. On lead, I got to within 5ft of the top but couldn't manage the last move. The combination of too much weight, really cold and strong winds and lack of strength was too much for me. Abby, freezing on the belay ledge was especially cold standing still in the wind. She lowered me back down then we made two rappels to the ground, the final a full 70 meters using both ropes! Super cool even if we didn't make the top.
Independence Monument

Abby on the final rap back to the ground
4/21, Friday - Pothole Arch - 13 miles, 2700', 3:49
After a late night of scavenging for one open campsite we were excited to get out for a run rather than drive around the city in the dark looking for vacant sites. I did this loop once before and really liked it. Starting from Kane Creek we ran along the Colorado River for a ways before angling straight up onto some slickrock to Pothole Arch. Next was a short section of trail before joining a 4x4 road which would loop us back to our car. Just as we were joining the road however, I noticed the car key had fallen out of my pocket! We turned back around and steadily searched our prior path. Having found nothing all the way back to Pothole Arch and knowing there wasn't cell service at the lot we used this blip of service to call AAA to send a tow truck so we could at least get back to town. By the grace of the heavens on the remainder of trail back to the car I spotted the key at the bottom of an especially steep hill I had ran down earlier. We should have expected it there, it was by far the most likely place it could have been!
On top of Pothole Arch

Abby looking back towards where we started and the La Sal's
4/22, Saturday - Canyolands NP - 26 miles, 4300', 6:15
This was the big one for the weekend. Last year I did a similar loop but had my knee lock up halfway and had to limp 9 miles back to the car without bending the joint. This time -- feeling generally healthy -- we planned a larger route to truly circumnavigate the park. Starting from Squaw Flat TH we first went around Lost Canyon for the long way to the Druid Arch out and back. Although a bit longer, this canyon is not to be missed; the whole route is in the depths of the lush canyon or up above on the slickrock bluffs with views of the Needles and La Sal Mountains. Getting to Druid Arch I remembered as a long sandy slog, but with a functioning ITB it wasn't too bad at all, and the views were tremendous! From Druid Arch we took the Joint Trail to Devil's Kitchen, a meadow between striking needles that is way more runnable than most of the trails -- but still quite sandy. Totally exposed to the desert sun, Abby began to feel pretty dehydrated. I've learned I really don't need that much water so I happily handed over the majority of my remaining water. The final section back to Squaw Flat is much longer than you'd think it is and can be difficult to truly appreciate while dehydrated and 5 hours into the day. Luckily, the parking lot sort of surprises you when you get close. Fantastic route that should be on everyone's list!
Lost Canyon

Druid Arch

Devil's Kitchen
4/23, Sunday - Wall Street Climbing - 2:30
For our final day in the desert we went down to Wall Street to clip some bolts before driving home. First we hopped on a random slab route that looked moderate so Abby could get back to leading. It turned out to be a rather slick 5.9, Stego Slab. We then traveled a bit further down the road and found the actual moderates to get Abby's head back into leading. She first lead "Chocolate Chunk", a 5.3 that she could easily solo but got could practice clipping on lead. Next she lead Yogini, a 5.7+, I was happy to see her moving confidently on the rock again! Last, I put the rope up on Banana Peel, 5.10a; after taking a few tries to get the starting moves I was able to clean the route. Abby, hesitant to start up the route found the start similarly difficult but was able to efficiently move through the rest of the route really well and was showing great trust in her feet (something I think has been holding her back). With a fine route under are belts we were happy to call the weekend in the desert to a close!
Stego Slab
Week Totals:
65 miles

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 10 - April 15

4/10, Monday - AM: 6 x mile - 11 miles, 500', 1:24 - PM: Streets - 6 miles, 200', 0:45
Jackson met at my house early then after we both took full advantage of access to a flush toilet we warmed up over to Marshall Road. Jackson wanted to do some form drills first, which I was happy to do -- I should probably be doing this 3-4 times a week anyways, rather than zero. For the odd reps it was down and even were up, the miles were split 5:26, 5:41, 5:16, 5:51, 5:32, 5:52. The ups were really tough and I may have over extended my abilities on the third rep. Regardless, I was essentially just trying to stay on Jackson's tail the whole time! Went out for another cruise in the afternoon by doing two laps of the CU-XC course in opposite directions.

4/11, Tuesday - AM: Flagstaff-Poormans - 13 miles, 2400', 1:58
From Abby's starting at 5:40AM with a headlamp I jogged up Flagstaff Mountain to descend Chapman Drive. As I continued down Boulder Canyon then up Fourmile Canyon towards Poormans Dr it was pretty cold on the western aspects which were sheltered from the rising sun. I happily met the sun at the top of Poormans and jogged down Seven Hills Rd for a soft surface then joined the standard Sunset Canyon trail back to town. Easy Salomon Run Club in the evening.

4/12, Wednesday - Flagstaff Loop - 9 miles, 1900', 1:40
Felt pretty tired today so I kept it really easy. After running up Viewpoint and down to Gregory Canyon, I hiked basically the whole way up that then slowly jogged down Chapman Dr back home. The views of the full moon setting over the alpenglow of the Indian Peaks is pretty spectacular from Chapman Dr, which I have to believe why I gravitated towards it again today.

4/13, Thursday - Bear Pk - 10 miles, 3900', 1:57
I met Len at his place ~0.5 miles from the TH then we jogged to the Cragmoor trailhead. I could tell on the warm up that the workout we had planned of tempo-ing the ascent would be rough but committed myself to the effort even if my time was slow. The first 1.5 miles or so are on a super runnable and low graded path so you should be able to run pretty hard, but I couldn't quite get my legs to respond properly. I was relieved to get the base of fern, hastily shed my coat and start the power hiking. Len put a huge gap on me on the running section but I was able to close a bit to the summit. I summitted in 41:10 (Len in 40:56) -- a PR, but I know I can take literal minutes off of that time which encourages me to go for the sub-hour round trip (FKT of 0:55 by Dave Mackey). We took it real easy heading down but I realized I left my coat at the base of Fern Canyon so I had to jog all the way back up from the TH to retrieve that. Oh well, an extended warm down in that beautiful morning weather was nothing to complain about.

4/14, Friday - Bear Pk x 3 - 9 miles, 6000', 2:54
Started from Cragmoor with Nick with the heat beating down hard. We were excited to get off the long approach from Shanahan ridge which is far more exposed to the sun and into the cooler temps of Fern Canyon. I split each lap pretty evenly just under 30min with Nick a bit behind each time. Started to cramp up a bit in the heat on the way back to the TH; the bike cruise back downhill felt amazing!

4/15, Saturday - Jurassic Park Climbing - 1000', 3:57
Abby and I camped in the Park then realized a certain harness was forgotten so had to drive all the way back to Boulder and back to Lily Lake (which was otherwise ~15min from our campsite). First up, was the mega-classic "The Edge of Time" (pictured below) which we somehow got onto before a long queue formed behind us. Being a 5.9 sport climb I thought it would be total cake but it was put up in 1960-something by Layton Korr, so its a legit 9. Thin face climbing with a good bit of runnout climbing for a bolted line. Abby followed and we then went over to "Middle Toe" where I lead the route and set up the TR for Abby then in order to clean the route I TR'ed "Copradelite", a really cool, thin and balancy face climb. Once I cleaned that anchor and was lowered we hoofed it back to the car and Estes for some snacks!

A post shared by abby mitchell (@abigail_km) on

4/16, Sunday - Poormans/Betasso/Green Mtn - 22 miles, 4700', 3:13
Got a leisurely start to Easter morning with a side by side comparison of a pour-over and an Aeropress coffee, I prefer the Aeropress. Kept a steady effort up Sunshine and down Poormans then dodged dozens of cyclists enjoying pristine weather in the Betasso Preserve. Technically foot traffic has the right of way, but its best to step out of the way -- you don't want to get hit by a bike. After a quick descent into Boulder Canyon I stared down the crucible of the day: Green via Chapman Dr. The ascent is 4 miles with 2300ft of gain; its not horrible but I wanted to run every step -- which is oddly slower than strategically hiking certain sections, and why I've never ran every step of Green before. I made it to the top without then turned right around to retake my CR down Long Canyon on the way back home. Pretty happy with the pace (8:45min/mi) on this longer effort over pretty hilly terrain.

Week Totals:

85 miles

45 miles

I'm happy to have a high volume week heading into the last training block before Quad Rock 25. The weather is incredible right now too, which lead to the fantastic day of climbing on Saturday. Excited for racing, climbing and long days in the mountains!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April 3 - April 9

4/3, Monday - Easy - 5 miles, 0:41, 500'
Easy jog with Jack around the XC course and along the streets.

4/4, Tuesday - Off
No time to run.

4/5, Wednesday - Off
Same as yesterday.

4/6, Thursday - Mt Pennel - 5 miles, 4100', 2:18
Elliot drove the dirt road until stopped by a fallen tree across the road where we continued upwards on foot. If I was driving we would have stopped a mile sooner -- I hate driving, especially on 4WD roads. Last time I attempted this peak in March, 2015 the road was a postholing nightmare laden with icy crust. So, this time I was determined to not only bag the summit but also avoid the miseries of the standard trail. The southeast ridge looked the most dry and accessible from our position so we trudged up the remarkably steep dirt for a ways. Having started after driving all the way from Boulder daylight wasn't guarenteed so 1,000ft below the summit Elliot turned around while I blitzed up to tag the summit. It was cold and very windy which made sense when the summit marker read 11,371ft. A vast pallete of colors extended into the distance; an expanse of red desert, dark brown canyons and the other isolated peaks of the southern Henry Range. The descent was a bit bumbly and uncoordinated at first -- really, just trying to get warm before I could enjoy anything. Eventually, I eyed a perfect looking gully filled with snow. I was even more delighted to see Elliot's footsteps shoe skiing all the way to the bottom where it met the road. The snow was perfect for glissading and soon I met Elliot back at the car with proper stoke in the dying evening light.

Summit Selfie.

Views to the South

Icy crust for the last ~700ft or so cuts the shins. Tis the season!

4/7, Friday - Bike: Blue Notch Rd - 35 miles, 4600', 4:56

This was the big one for Elliot, and since he wonderfully and irrationally signed up for the Dirty 30 (his current longest run being 7 miles!) it was time to put him in the pain cave. First up is gaining the "notch" from the highway, a moderate 700ft climb. Elliot encountered some mechanical issues that we sorted out on top then enjoyed net downhill but rolling route through canyons and washes to the waters of Lake Powell. The water looked gross and it wasn't particularly warm so we opted not to take a dip. Now the fun starts: back up to the notch its a 2,000ft climb but the road winds and rolls so you really don't gain a whole lot of vert until the last couple miles. This was tough on Elliot. Tough for me too, though, the final climb had me out of the saddle just to get the wheels to move up the steep incline. Finally we crested back to the notch and enjoyed the final descent to the car.

Typical section of road.

Elliot at Lake Powell
Stealtha laying down for a rest just below the notch.

Elliot topping out on the homeward bound push!

4/8, Saturday - Navajo Knobs - 9 miles, 3500', 2:49
For our final day in the desert we found ourselves conveniently proximal to Capitol Reef NP so we checked it out. In retrospect, we should have done Spring Canyon, stashing the bikes at the other end, but oh well. Instead we chose the Navajo Knobs purely as my executive decision as it was the longest and steepest route listed on the park trail map. The trail followed the canyon rim passing a viewpoint for the Hickman Bridge among other views until it topped out at a relative high point. The wind was really slamming up top so we turned right back around. Jogged some of the descent and evaded a light rain storm.


More Reefs

Capitol Dome (I think?)
Views were great.

Finishing back to the road.
4/9, Sunday - 1st Flatiron + Green Mtn - 5 miles, 2800', 1:25
After arriving home very late I met Kyle at a belated start for an easy lap of his hill (he is now at 102 or so summits for 2017). I went annoyingly slow up the first as I elected to wear speedcross which are perfect for trail and off trail days but decidedly terrible for scrambling due to their lug pattern. Got a call from Abby at the Saddle Rock junction while descending that she finished 2nd in the Austin Rattler 66k (2nd only to Michele Yates) and is headed to Leadville! Super psyched.

Week Totals (running):
25 miles

Week Totals (biking):
59 miles

A descent down-week of mixed activities and a fantastic little trip to the desert with Elliot to bag a couple peaks and enjoy some biking. Excited to get back in gear and running next week!

Monday, April 3, 2017

March 13 - April 2

3/13, Monday - Green Mountain - 6 miles, 3000', 1:12
34:31 up, 14:42 down, 49:43 round-trip
Last year, Ryan Smith put up a time that I believe will stand as the fastest round-trip time for many years to come and he did it on an icy slick trail in microspikes. Ouch. I've never really been able to execute a proper Green lap of my own. My ascent time was lowly, my descent time was outdated, obselete and inferior and my sole round trip under an hour was logged within a bike ride on Strava so it basically never happened. Arriving at Chautauqua, Kyle was just locking up his bike heading off to scramble so my warm-up was jogging a bit with him until our paths diverged. With my body warm I started my watch and hastily scurried up the trail. I really couldn't believe I ran as much as I did on the ascent, I didn't hike a step until the ladder -- unusual for me! Above the Greenman junction I felt my effort and willingness to suffer fading and I hiked more than I should have but made sure to actually run the top switchbacks. I topped out in 34:31 and immediately began barreling back down. The physical abuse of the downhill  (14:42 down) enabled me to sneak just under 50min (49:43).

3/14, Tuesday - Mt Sanitas - 4 miles, 1700', 0:59
Warmed up from Abby's house over Red Rocks then started the tempo from the bottom at the shelter. I felt yesterday's effort but no too much, getting up in 19:04. I was confident I could push another quality downhill to equalize my round trip time. I was descending at a quality pace until I rolled my ankle quite severely only a bit from the TH. I had to sit down for a moment before limping back to the TH (10:40 down, 29:44 RT) then slowly back home. The worst part of this was that it ended my RMR "Hell Week" prematurely. The goal was to time trial each of the 5 prominent peaks in 5 days, but I had to end at 2.

3/15, Wednesday - Off
Ankle very bad.

3/16, Thursday - Bike: Sunset-Switz-Lefthand-Old Stage - 54 miles, 5300', 4:21
With the ankle feeling good enough (thanks to Ginna) I was able to get out on the bike. I tried heading towards Sawmill road via Sunset-Switzerland Trail but got a bit lost on the out-dated section of the Switzerland trail past Gold Hill Rd and ended up hike-a-biking a good bit over snow banks and back up to Sawmill Road up some miserably loose scree. Cruised back down Lefthand Canyon and over Old Stage to get back to Boulder.

Sub-optimal biking conditions.

3/17, Friday - Off

More ankle rest.

3/18, Saturday - 1st, 2nd (x2), 1st Flatirons - 3 miles, 2200', 1:59
I planned on getting in a run in the morning, but an inconvenient forest fire just down the street from Abby's apartment (where we were staying) changed those plans. We were on the very edge of the evacuation zone and were awoken around 4AM by the police. Luckily it was taken care of promptly and completely. Anyways, I then got out for a little thing in the evening instead. I held a descent effort up the first then downclimbed Free For All until I met Kyle and Jackson on the Freeway and headed up with them. Kyle then showed us Baker's Way on the 1st. Its a cool 5.4 route that basically skips the difficulties of the lower slab. Easy jogging back down for the ankle.

The fire from Abby's doorstep

The fire from Flagstaff Mtn

Kyle on the 2nd

Jackson on the First

3/19, Sunday - 1st, 2nd (x2) Flatirons - 3 miles, 2100', 2:08
Same as yesterday but met Abby on the Freeway and skipped out on Baker's Way. Starting to feel more efficient going down Free For All.

Abby back scrambling -- for the first time since like October!?

Yegch, rough week. Started off great but the ankle roll clearly ruffled my feathers and prevented anything real for the rest of the week. Luckily, I was able to get in a good ride which didn't at all mess with my ankle and then Ginna was able to work on my ankle literal hours before she got on a plane to Europe for two weeks!


3/20, Monday - AM: Streets - 4 miles, 0:32 || PM: Bastille Crack - 600', 1:59
Easy morning jog then picked up Nick to take him to Eldo. This being his first time outside, I wanted to do Calypso-Reggae but it was taken. Instead we just moved over to the Bastille Crack for a fun moderate route -- probably my favorite route in Eldo.

Nick half way up the route

3/21, Tuesday - Hair City & Outer Space - 800', 2:21
Met Wade (who can climb about 4 or 5 times harder than I can) who lead everything. First up was Hair City a 5.9R with rather large 5.6-7 runnouts but protect-able when you want it. I felt fine and only had to hang once to get the rope un-stuck from a crack when my arms couldn't quite get it (just flopped on the rope with my body weight). Next was the -- or my, rather -- goal for the day, Outer Space is a 5.10b/c, just about my limit. Wade lead through the first two pitches of Bastille Crack only placing two pieces (draw on the bolted anchor then a draw on the old pin). We had to simul the lower bits but I was happy to have a proper belay for the try-hard first pitch of Outer Space. It was a tough stemming sequence that felt extremely steep; I was so happy to get it clean (barely) on my first time up, especially after still not cleaning Handcracker yet. We had to bail on the second pitch so he could catch a flight to Houston so we soloed the top 5.7 section of Hair City to top out quicker.

Wade romping up the Bastille Crack

3/22, Wednesday - Boulder Direct, Calypso, Wind Ridge, Zot/Rewritten - 1900', 3:44

Kyle got held up heading to Eldo so I did a fun scramble circuit before he arrived. We then headed for the Redgarden, a steep approach, I think. I lead up to the Red Ledge via the Great Zot in one long pitch with some simul climbing then Kyle lead the money pitches of Rewritten with again, some simul climbing. The main event took place jogging back down. Some Jerry looking fellows were off trail in the talus (its incredibly loose and steep), we asked them to stay on the trail then kept heading down. Not long after we heard rumblings and dove for cover; a rock the size of maybe a refrigerator was bouncing 20-30ft into the air going easily 30-40mph. With no warning shouts we were glad to have been out of harm's way but it was heading straight down switchbacks so we screamed out warnings. Thankfully no one was on the trail and it shot unimpeded into the creek like an artillery shell. Kyle shouted some "angry" words back at the guys who no doubt dislodged the ICBM of a rock then failed to say anything (not even sorry afterwards!), then we had to slowly walk back down since our legs were shaking!

3/23, Thursday - Bastille Crack - 600', 2:00
Another day in Eldo. Took Jackson up the Bastille for a wild ride. After leaving a cam he accidentally dropped his ATC at the belay of our second pitch. After some trials I figured out how to use the Munter-Hitch and was able to keep him safely still on belay to the top while he used my ATC.

3/24, Friday - Green Mtn - 7 miles, 2900', 1:19
Put in a tempo effort up the NE ridge of Green in 32:09, almost good enough to tie Kyle's PR up (but surely with 80 ascents thus far this year he should be good at it, right?). Jogged easy down the West Ridge-Long Canyon-Gregory Canyon route for more miles.

3/25, Saturday - 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn, Bear Pk, Green Mtn - 12 miles, 5400', 3:05
Started off with a casual ascent of the first -- lots of roped parties today -- then hiked up to Green. I continued straight over the top without stopping (the summit boulder has definitely become a hassle) and descended Bear Canyon to the drainage just NE of the Nebel Horn. The route up to the saddle is labeled "The Hardscrabble" in an old Boulder guidebook and I was excited to try it. It was a fantastically steep line, gaining 1800ft in just under a mile! I then had to endure the meandering route back over to Green with the Mesa Trail closure, which while annoying incurs a stronger running focus for the outing. Met Abby down at Chautauqua for a picnic dinner in the park!

The post-run scene at Chautauqua, preparing for the evening picnic at the park!

3/26, Sunday - Off

Week Totals:
59 miles

A generally easier week after letting my ankle recuperate but I was able to get in some descent efforts at the end of the week as the injury lessened.


3/27, Monday - Beark Pk, SoBo Pk, Walker Ranch, Green Mtn, Bear Pk - 17 miles, 7000', 4:12
This was a cool route. I started from the Cragmoor TH to ascend Bear and SoBo then descended straight west down SoBo's ridge to Walker Ranch where I could then connect via assorted and annoyingly only semi-legal routes to Flagstaff Rd. The ridge off of SoBo was wet in the shade and quite slippery at first, but I eventually identified an old and overgrown logging road where I could move much quicker. I descended Long Canyon then started up EMG for extra running before falling into a hike up Greenman to the summit of Green. Opted again for the re-routed Green-Bear trail for more running over to Bear Pk where I descended Fern Canyon back to my bike at the TH.

3/28, Tuesday - AM: Bobo - 7 miles, 300', 1:00 || PM: Streets - 8.5 miles, 400' 0:58
Easy with Abby in the morning feeling tired in the gloomy weather. We ended up on a trail so muddy that we were easily collecting a couple pounds of mud on our shoes before we escaped to the sanctuary of pavement. In the afternoon with the rain in full force I headed out once more to find some proper life in my legs. The impromptu progression run left me with a healthy mileage for the day and happy to be healthy!

3/29, Wednesday - Green Mtn - 8 miles, 2900', 1:44
With Kory, we both felt quit tired and thus ascended slowly; though Kory much quicker than I. The mountain was rainy and misty down low with icy decorations adorning the pine needles above the clouds on top. This atmosphere made descending a long route through Long Canyon back down particularly pretty as well as a fantastic day to use my Gore-Tex Speedcross 4's!

Low clouds along the canyons.

Kory dropping back into the clouds at the top of Long Canyon.
3/30, Thursday - 3 x 2miles - 12 miles, 400', 1:26
Met Len at the CU XC course for a good workout. We got in a 2.5 mile warmup and figured out that the loop was exactly 2 miles, which was properly convenient! I split 11:39, 11:44 and 11:48 repectively for the 2 mile intervals with a 5 minute jog between each. I felt pretty controlled at the 5:40 pace and hopefully will be able to execute a PR 5 mile tempo in the near future. Always good to push and suffer a bit.

3/31, Friday - Mt Sanitas - 4 miles, 1600', 0:56
Easy early lap of the youth sized hill. Being inside of a cloud with a headlamp really limits your visibility putting your head basically inside a light bulb of glowing mist. Easy effort up the ridge and down the valley.

4/1, Saturday - 2 x Green Mtn - 8 miles, 4700', 1:49
I wanted to do some repeats on Bear Pk from the saddle to the summit via Fern Canyon, but I forgot my bike lock key so instead I rode to the far less populated and visible Gregory Canyon TH then rolled the bike into the trees a ways to keep it hidden. Starting up the Amphitheater trail I felt descent and the cool temperatures combined with spectacular snow pack on the upper half of the mountain made me decide to go for a Green double in under 2 hours. I ended up splitting near identical splits for each lap -- 37min up, 17min down, 54min RT, twice -- letting me slip just under 1:50! Pretty psyched to blow away that goal.

4/2, Sunday - Creek Path - 18 miles, 400', 2:01
Got up real early so I could also have time for breakfast before work; thus, the first five or so miles were by headlamp. The goal was to get in a long run where I actually ran -- meaning that it wasn't some long mountain outing with a bunch of hiking and that I didn't just slowly trot out the miles. The morning was beautiful, a clear sky in the east gave a clear visual passage for the sunrise while low lying clouds along the frosted peaks to the west provided a mystical backdrop. I went out for an hour averaging 6:48min/mi and was determined to negative split my way back home. This was a pretty easy to gauge goal as it just meant getting back to the doorstep before the watch rolled over 2 hours. I made it back home in ~58:30 then did a short out and back up the street to round the run to 2 hours total, plus a minute, I suppose.

Week Totals:
84 miles

Good week plus about 60 miles/2700ft/4:30 of total commuting time on my bike left me pretty tired, but I can feel the fitness gained. Going under 40min used to be really hard for me up Green, now I can manage it handily two times in a row. Such is the benefit of a lot practice! I've been using TrainingPeaks annual training plan this year which has been generally prescribing the intensity, volume and timing of my workouts; next week however its saying to take a down week. Although this is something I don't usually take part in, I'm realizing the positive effects it can have physically and mentally, plus I'll be biking in the desert half of the next week so it'll make sense anyways. Five weeks till the Quad Rock 25 (B/C race goal) then three weeks after that the Dirty 30 (A. race goal)!