Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bear Peak Sunset

I timed my run perfectly this evening and ended up being on the peaks of Bear and South Boulder right as the sun was setting behind the mountains. I felt great on the approach from Shanahan Ridge to Fern Canyon.
Grabbed this before the sun dipped below flatirons' ridge

"The Slab" which I tried climbing at night once (not recommended)
In fact, I felt pretty good the whole time, but I still can't seem to ever get a consistent run to the top. Fern Canyon and the Bear Ridge is ludicrously steep and technical for holding even a jog sometimes. I know it is possible but how much training do you need before you can prance up the 40% grade stone steps covered in tall roots? Honestly I've never seen anyone had a decent run on the way up. Anyways, I'm sure some day I'll see Sage Canaday or Anton Krupicka gliding up with a smile on their face. EDIT: I actually asked Sage on his Instagram if he can run the whole thing and he actually cannot, if he can't I don't know if anyone can (besides maybe Kilian). Regardless, the sunset view were seen whether ran or hiked (but quick hiking!).
Top of South Boulder catching the last rays of the day
Okay now really the last rays
Back on Bear with the sun now out of sight
I actually made it down most of Fern Canyon before darkness hit. I clicked on my light about 100 ft above the mouth of the canyon. Not sure what an actual good time for me is on this route, but at the top I was at 1:30:XX so I decided I would try and make it sub 2 hours. This forced me into a low 6 minute pace final stretch to make it down in a final time of 1:59:09. 6 miles, 3,400 ft of gain, good "run".

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Green and Bear

For the first half of this year, I set a goal of getting 30 summits before school is out. So today I went for a triple summit adventure up Green Mountain then across to Bear Peak and then over the saddle to South Boulder Peak. The Boulder trails are generally hard packed snow right now, with minimal dry sections and a few parts with post-holing. Up Gregory Canyon from Chautauqua, I felt good enough aside from the thorn bushes which seem to be in full bloom while every other plant is dead. I really didn't feel like stopping on Green, and the summit was full of some stereotypical CU bros who had taken over the entire summit rock making all the noise they could. I normally don't mind such antics, but on a summit I enjoy silence and solitude.  First time I summitted Green without tagging the official summit marker, I don't think I even stopped. The stretch from Green to Bear was by far the most challenging. You can see Bear immediately, you just never seem to get much closer.
Sunny, but with the wind kept it chilly
I ended up hiking quite a bit of this, between being tired from already doing one mountain and from terrible, windy, snowy, post-holing conditions. As you may notice, I take more picture when I want breaks...
Short shorts don't care
I suffered to the summit of Bear where I consumed my sandwhich. I debated whether or not I still wanted to go for South Boulder. I decided to dig deep and go for it. I descended down off of Bear and within about 30 seconds saw that only one person had been on the trail, and I would be punching holes through deep snow the hole way there and back; I promptly turned around and began the return to Chautauqua. I really like steep technical descent trails like Fern Canyon, I zipped down and took the Mesa trail back pretty leisurely. I continue to wonder whether or not my foot is still semi-injured, felt good today though!
Reflection at a creek crossing

11 miles, 4,500 ft of elevation gain, in a hair under 4 hours, which is just under double Anton's time on this route - so I consider it a success.

Total Summits: 3 (2 Bear, 1 Green)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bear Peak Powder Day

Originally planning on spending a fun afternoon scrambling flatirons with friends, these ideas were quickly abandoned when we awoke to 6 inches of fresh snow. I got my friend to go on a "casual" run up Bear Peak - it was anything but casual. This was his first mountain run so he had no idea what to expect. There was probably about a foot of snow on the ground at the trail head, most of which was already essentially packed by our start time. Fern Canyon was difficult, but nothing terrible.

He insisted on bringing his juggling balls...
Bear Peak's South Ridge was Treacherous (notice the capital T). Having one pair of micro-spikes between us, we each had one super -secure foot and one useless peg of flesh that slid everywhere.

Top of Fern Canyon
My friend was not necessarily accustomed to the mountaineering, so the going was slow, but steady. At the summit, I quickly scrambled to the top, tagged the summit and scooted back down. I was extremely cold, completely numb pinky fingers and toes - I later found my sock was soaking from melted snow and had completely frozen around my foot.

I am colder than I look
Brief rest on summit
Wanting to warm up, I hinted at running, but didn't force it until we were off of the technical ridge and back to Fern Canyon.
Cruising down Fern Canyon
Going down Fern was pretty fun, almost like powder skiing. I finally started to warm up as we sped up, and it felt amazing. We walked the final packed downhill to keep the impact off the foot.

Things I learned:

  1. Gaiters don't look stupid, they look like comfortable warm dry feet, put them on at the beginning, not once your feet are numb
  2. If its cold and there is a chance you have to touch the snow, bring non-running gloves in the pack.
It was like 6.5 miles but it took like a year cause of the conditions, it felt like we were climbing Mt. Crumpet looking for the Grinch.