Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Few Weeks & 2014 Recap

12/7 - South Boulder Loop - 21 miles, 2,200', 3:35
Pretty blah and boring long run. South Boulder Creek paths to Marshall, some connector to Mesa, eventually to the creek path, through campus and back home. I went slow as this closed out an 80 mile week, so I was feeling the miles quite a bit.

12/11 - "Royal" Flatiron Quinfecta - 9 miles, 5,900', 6:39
Big day. See here.

12/13 - Front Porch, Regency, Royal Arch - 6 miles, 2,600', 3:56
Easy day out with Andrea before the finals crush. We started up what we thought was the easy Tiptoe Slab route which is rated at 5.3. We ended up on the Southern edge of the rock, I ended up making a move that felt 5.6ish that Andrea didn't want to do, so I found my way to the top, downclimbed, then met up with him again after he had traversed like 200 feet horizontally across the rock. We started up a much easier route, then Kendrick and his friend breezed past us on route to some colossal day. I guess his Quinfecta recovery went faster than mine! All in all, the scramble was quite enjoyable once we got the route right. Next we scrambled up the 5.2 El Camino Royale on the Regency, which was quite fun aside from the approach. This leads perfectly to the Royal Arch - I'd bet no one has done the Regency and not Royal Arch.
Andrea taking a leap over 3rd on the Regency
Week Totals: 36 Miles, 10,800', 14h9m

12/15 - Streets - 4 miles, 200', 0:35
I felt like I had been living off of campus pizza and caffeine. Which I had been, during the study marathons...

12/19 - Front Porch, Stairway to Heaven, Regency, Royal Arch, Hammerhead - 5 miles, 2,800', 2:47
With finals done and my body full of all sorts of caffeine related toxins and about half a meal a day I was expecting to just flounder about, but the gods were kind and I felt fine. Dialed in the Tiptoe Slab route on the Front Porch, then shwacked through all sorts of undergrowth down to Skunk canyon to enjoy the lovely 1,000' foot Stairway to Heaven. I skipped out on Like Heaven, someday. After another equally detestable shwack I made quick work of the Regency/Royal Arch. A warmly welcomed trail - ableit it was mostly ice - lead me to Yodeling Moves on the Hammerhead. Its a pretty straightforward scramble with Freeway-esque ease. I read that you could actually get on the summit block but it looked heavily overhanging so I descended back to the car.
Shadow squatting jumping-jack thing
A lot of these approaches, and descents are pretty terrible with snow, undergrowth and so forth. I'm not sure why I enjoy them.
12/20 - Regency/Royal Arch - 4 miles, 1,500', 2:45
Hikin' round with some friends up the Regency and Royal Arch.

Week Totals: 13 Miles, 4,500', 6h7m

12/21 - Front Porch, Angel's Way, Hammerhead - 6 miles, 3,300', 3:07
I recently exchanged my climbing shoes for a bigger size - I had taken the "they should be tight" mantra to an extreme when I bought them 5 months ago. Naturally, I had to try them out, so despite not being on rocks I would normally wear sticky slippers, today I indulged. Front Porch is now completely figured out. The traverse from there to Angel's Way was predictably horrendous. Angel's Way seemed spectacular, but there was so much cold wind that my fingers kept going numb. In particular the high point was dreadfully cold, making the not insignificant downclimb excruciatingly cold. I definitely added a lot of time to this trip from stopping to warm up my fingers. I'll return under sunny skies. Given the conditions I decided to skip out on Stairway to Heaven, Hillbilly Rock and the 5th in favor of some smaller more sheltered routes - well, only one. I followed what I had to believe was Anton's prints in the snow (they had the resoled dot rubber, and from his blog I know he's been up there), which lead me to the Royal Arch trail. I aimed to fully scramble Yodeling moves. The east face was cake, I walked around the back and found the ledge up to the summit. Its super easy but is a very exposed face. Despite having water and gels for a much bigger day, I was more than done with the cold wind, so I called it.
The ridges of skunk canyon. From left to right: Mohling Arete, Angel's Way, Satan's Slab, Stairway to Heaven, Hillbilly Rock.
My hands were so cold. This brief moment when the sun finally poked out was treasured as gold!
12/22 - Skiing at Eldora - 14,700'
Not too much was open so it was mostly just getting my feet under me again. As is typical with the first day of the year, I was pretty sore. The vert I list is only descent - I'm not Kilian - I use lifts!

12/24 - Royal Arch Hike - 4 miles, 1,800', 2:40
Hikin' with mommy!

12/26 - Skiing at Eldora - 14,000'
Big snow falling all day, all but 2 runs opened during the day. Stuck mostly to the Brian Glades.

12/27 - Skiing at Eldora - 18,900'
Got up a little earlier than yesterday so was able to get in a few more runs today. Couldn't seem to land any trick today. I went 1 of 4 on front-flips and 0 of 2 on 540's, I stuck all the landings but couldn't ride away. Good day anyways.

Week Totals: 10 miles, 5,500', 5h48m (foot); 47,548', 10h33m (skiing)

12/28 - Green Mountain - 6 miles, 3,000', 1:45
Up and down the Amphitheater plus another little spur of trail, stats are estimates because I forgot my watch.

12/29 - Bear Peak - 9 miles, 3,800', 2:36
Up and down Fern Canyon from Chautauqua. I decided on a whim to forgo traction and see how my new Inov-8 RocLite shoes would handle on their own. They performed well enough, but the descent was borderline skiing. The temps dropped even further on the last push to Chautauqua (-10F maybe?), my eyelids almost froze together!

Slickery summit ridge
My mascara game is next level.
12/30 - Green Mountain - 7 miles, 3,100', 2:22
Up the middle route, down Amphitheater. Again, temps were below zero and I broke through fresh mid-calf snow on the way up. Enough snow to slaughter the downhills now. I even came within 1 second of a CR on Strava I've been reeling in descending the Amphitheater.
Looking down the Amphitheater back to Boulder.
Cold Summit
12/31 - Green Mountain - 6 miles, 2,800', 1:45
Up and down the Amphitheater. 0F at the parking lot. The ascent felt quite miserable, but my spirits were lifted when the sun was shining in its full Colorado, blue-sky glory on the summit. I ripped the downhill again, cutting 15 seconds off of the Amphitheater descent Strava CR. I was stripping off layers before I even got to the car in the relatively balmy 20F and sunny weather.
Typical trail nowadays

Year Review

The year started off mighty terrible with injury, but I was happy to capitalize on the time I was lucky enough to have healthy. It was also this year that I began keeping meticulous and detailed records. I'm also of a mathematical and analytical personality, so I find great pleasure in finding meaning and trends in the numbers.

So first off, some raw numbers from running.

Miles: 1,324
Vertical Feet: 364,200'
Time: 478h4m

Given this is my first year of data I have nothing to relate it to in terms of what a year would or should look like. I did the math on some averages per week and day - they're nothing extraordinary. In terms of looking at my training essentially all of it is packed from April 5th, my first day running post-hip injury to September 27th, the day of the Bear Chase 50. During my heavy training period a typical week fell around 36 miles, 10,000' (oddly, 10,000' is the exact average) for 12 hours 20 minutes; an average day then being 5 miles, 1,400', 1 hour 45 minutes. So apparently I enjoyed taking my time!

The other metric I kept was that of summits. Summits are cool (duh), so they get a more detailed review. All routes are assumed to be via the standard route unless otherwise noted. Asterisks denote "technically improper summits by the decree of the deity of the Rocky Mountains" - I still generally count them because I can. If its really pushing the envelope on it being a legitimate summit I gave it a double asterisk.
  • Total Summits: 85 total, 35 unique
    • 14er Summits: 23 total, 13 unique
      • Mt Elbert (14,433'): 1
      • Mt Massive (14,421'): 1
      • Grays Peak (14,270') & Torreys Peak (14,267'): 4 each
        • Kelso Ridge: 2
        • Standard: 1
        • Via Loveland Pass: 1
      • Mt Quandary (14,265'): 1
      • Mt Evans (14,264'): 1
        • via Sawtooth
      • West Evans* (14,256'): 1
        • via Sawtooth
      • Longs Peak (14,255'): 4
        • Keyhole: 3
        • Loft: 1
      • Mt Shavano (14,229'): 1 (2 if you count the mandatory re-summit from Tab.)
      • Mt Yale (14,196'): 1.5 (if you're in the boat of counting failed summits as 0.5...)
      • Tabaguache Peak (14,155'): 1
      • Mt Bierstadt (14,060'): 2
      • Mt Sherman (14,036'): 1
    • 13er Summits: 15 total, 11 unique
      • Mt Spalding* (13,842'): 1
      • The Sawtooth** (13,780'): 1
      • Mt Sheridan (13,748'): 1
      • North Arapaho Peak (13,502'): 2
      • Grizzly Peak "D" (13,427'): 1
      • South Arapaho Peak* (13,397'): 2
      • Mt Lady Washington* (13,281'): 1
      • Mt Sniktau (13,234'): 1
      • Mt Audubon (13,223'): 2
        • Standard: 1
        • Southeast Ridge: 1
      • Mt Cupid** (13,117'): 1
      • Paiute Peak (13,088'): 2
    • 12er Summits: 5 total, 5 unique
      • Mt Toll (12,979'): 1
      • Pawnee Peak (12, 943'): 1
      • Mt Jasper (12, 923'): 1
      • Mt Neva (12,814'): 1
      • Hallet Peak (12,713'): 1
    • Italian Summits: 2 total, 2 unique
      • Croda del Becco Seekofel (9,219'): 1
      • Mt Mare (6,560'): 1
    • Boulder Summits: 44 total, 4 unique
      • Green Mountain (8,150'): 22
      • Bear Peak (8,455'): 11
      • South Boulder Peak (8,549'): 6
      • Mount Sanitas* (6,863'): 5
Still, the coolest thing I've seen in Colorado.
The worst was by far Sherman, which will likely come as no surprise to anyone who has climbed it. Picking a favorite is pretty hard. Longs has to be my favorite to climb, but its summit views don't quite stack up - though the view from Chasm Lake and through the keyhole are legendary. For summit views I go with Mt Yale. You can see something like 36 other 14ers from the top of Yale, I was lucky enough to be atop on a clear day.
From the Denny Creek trail heading up Yale with my sister. I guess when I summited I didn't take any pics besides getting one of myself; good job Cordis, you egotistical prick!
I did a bunch of scrambling routes too, but I still feel like a freshman in terms of my "scrunbling" resume that I'll wait until next year to work with those numbers. But for a general feel, I did 96 routes, of which about half were Freeway on the 2nd. This is probably what I'm most excited about for next Spring - at least right now.

For 2015 I have a vast spread of goals as of now. The Radical Slam on Longs is something I probably should have done this year. Its a linkup of Meeker, Longs, Pagoda, MLW, Storm, and the Estes Cone; only 19 miles but 8,000' on some tricky terrain. I'd also like to check off one or more of the Crestone Traverse, Maroon Traverse and Little-Bear/Blanca Traverse. I was hesitant this year, but I think my scrambling/climbing abilities have been nicely refined to the point where I would be more than comfortable. One more is Vestal Peak, it looks like 23 miles/8,000' and features a beautiful approach and wonderful slabby scramble. Amongst a few others.

My primary ambition however, is the Chicago Basin 14ers (Eolus, N. Euolus, Windom, Sunlight. Traditionally done as a multi-day backpacking affair, given my lack of patience complemented by a more than slight enjoyment found in suffering I'd like to tackle them in one day. Its 42 miles, 12,000' at an average altitude of ~11,000'.

I've yet to study the route in detail yet, but from the general info I've read I devised myself several training objectives to complete by summer - I suppose June 21 then? 100 summits, I'm allowing basically everything here - including Flagstaff - given the quantity. A handful of 20 milers, a pinch of 30 milers, a dash of 10,000' days and a mixture of some other time goals should sharpen me up nicely for success.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Royal Flatiron Quinfecta

The Flatiron Quinfecta - linking together all five numbered flatirons on the East side of Green Mountain - had gone from a distant dream to a conceivable reality over the past year. This Thursday with Kendrick poised to flee Colorado after the next snow storm we were able to set an outing for the Quinfecta. Kendrick had completed the link-up once before, having the namesake of an Ultimate Direction Pack (I here this is in fact one of his lesser accomplishments), Peter Bakwin guide him for some new routes before finishing it off himself. Given we would have no decorated veteran "scrunbler", we figured it would be prudent to tackle the route in descending order so as to not be route finding on tired minds and legs.
The 3rd Flatiron from the South either on the Royal Arch or the 5th Flatiron.
We weren't sure how long it would take exactly, but we figured we could make it back down before dehyrdation set in (deliberate foreshadowing). So, despite putting together a small pack for the day, I left it in the car. We jogged up to the Royal Arch which is the most proximal to the base of the 5th Flatiron. Figuring to get a quick warm-up we quickly scrambled the 5.0 East face of the Royal Arch (thus making our Quinfecta royal). A few minutes later we had made the short bush-whack up to the base of the 5th. We scrambled the East Face, North Side route I can't remember too many details which means it went smoothly - which I do remember. The one thing that did stand out was the fabulous North Arete which I found  to be beautifully airy as well as engaging while not presenting too much difficulty. The downclimb went easy enough, we scrambled down a bit of the face then popped off onto the ground.
Kendrick a few feet below the summit. Please excuse my thumb.
Downclimbing the 5th (Photo: Kendrick)
Next up was the fourth, we chose the standard East Face route. Its composed of three discontinuous chunks of rock. We navigated the moss and lichen forest at the base before quickly finishing up with the first chunk. Then came the route finding, you're not supposed to go all the way to the second piece's summit so we traversed off to the base of the third chunk. We then were deposited into a miserable, miserable gully (repetition very much purposeful). With a trickle of water down the center we kept our feet on bits of ledges along the walls, often caked with lichen. This lasted far too long and was quite unenjoyable and a smidge difficult. Leaving the gully we found to our displeasure more thin holds amongst several cracks which we used to finally gain the summit. Though the downclimb was a walkoff, the summit of the fourth is practically aligned with the summit of Green - we had a long descent to the base of the 3rd. Lumbering down the access trail (the term trail is used loosely here) we straddled logs, post-holed in snow, dodged icy talus and shimmied down miniature faces. Needless to say, I will not be returning to the 4th for a while.
Finishing off the gully on the second piece of the 4th (Photo: Kendrick)
Summit of the 4th, looking at the 5th. The Royal Arch can be seen somewhere in there, I believe right above the sun flare.
Takin' Care of Business, a Roach Top 10, on Green Mountain Pinnacle we passed on the descent. Quite the chimney.
Top o' the 4th. Face should describe how I felt about it. (Photo: Kendrick)
Finally at the base of 3rd, we had spent about 90 minutes ascending and descending the 4th, 3 hours on the day. We realized that we were going to be really thirsty and hungry by the end. We ascended the 3rd, happily on a familiar and less technical slab, in a hair under 20 minutes. Not terrible considering how we (or at least I) was feeling at this stage. The downclimb went smoothly in 23 minutes. After the short grunt around to the North side of the rock I was ecstatic to know there was no more uphill. Well, running that is; though there was still that pesky 2,000' or so of scrambling left.
Kendrick on the top o' the 3rd
SW Chimney downclimb on the 3rd (Photo: Kendrick)
Getting to the base of the 2nd we labored up not even caring about our route. We've both done  the Freeway route enough times to scramble it completely mindlessly. This was quite handy now that dehydration and lack of calories was really setting in. We left the Freeway route about half-way up in favor of gaining the true summit via Free for All. Ascending a gully to the Northeast corner of the Pullman Car, we traversed around to its South Face where after sailing through a sea of pine needles we climbed a few ledge sytem before rolling around onto the East face of the Car. I was happy to finally gain a legit summit of the 2nd, but I won't be doing this route for fun anytime soon (or ever again).
....Aaaand the sun is behind the mountain.
With the end in sight we powered (bumbled more like) down to the base of the 1st. Kendrick suggest we could do the North route if I didn't feel like doing the frictiony first pitch. I feel quite comfortable on the Direct East Face of the 1st after making a point to practice it, and I would not have any asterisk next to this Quinfecta. Given how completely far off our time goal we were at this point we went slow as sloths up the face, enjoying the company of a several other soloists. Eventually we stepped through the last notch and onto the summit - only 20 minutes from water. We downclimbed in less sloth-like fashion than we ascended though I know I still was feeling quite sloth-like. Gingerly jogging back down I was happy to check this behemoth day of scrambling off my list.
Good ol' climbing butt-shot of Kendrick on the final moves before gaining the North Arete. Camera angle makes it look vertical, but its definitely not.
Summit of the 1st. Zero flatirons in sight or left to climb!
Done! Well, pretty much. (Photo: Kendrick)
I'm very happy to have accomplished this goal, but I scrambled a few routes that I will not be returning to in the near future; namely: the 4th Flatiron and Free for All. The fourth while probably not as hard technically as the first (if you're on route) is a far cry from fun fluid scrambling. Free for All is wildy exposed - not something I want to regularly solo - and also a discontinuous mess. My favorite part about scrambling the flatirons is having my entire body engaged in nature while still getting a great workout. I'll still regularly scramble the 1st, 3rd, 2nd (Freeway) and likely will add in the 5th at times for the cherry on top of a Royal Arch run, as those lines are awesome.
Another pitch of 5.4-ish scrambling along the North Arete of the first. Photo: Kendrick
Feet from the finish. Feeling like this. Really do please click that link, I had that scene stuck in my head for the last 2 and a half hours. Photo by Kendrick
Route was a hair under 10 miles with about 5,800 feet of gain, so yeah, it was mostly "hills". It took us 6 hours 39 minutes (including stops) - a full 4 and a half hours longer than the FKT - but with practice it could go much faster. I probably won't practice it though. I'd rather do "Royal Quartets" skipping the 4th all together and enjoying my precious Freeway. 

I linked all the routes we did to their description on MountainProject, just for fun if someone wanted to read more about a route. I might add more pics if I get some from Kendrick who took a bunch.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

11/23 to 12/6

11/23, Sunday – Treadmill, 2 miles, 0’, 0:18
Don’t be fooled thinking this was just a boring run after driving all day. This was actually a huge accomplishment being the longest I’ve ever lasted on a treadmill.
11/25, Tuesday – Indiana, 6 miles, 150’, 0:41
In Indiana for Thanksgiving. Today I was thankful for sea-level allowing me to comfortably hold 6:50’s.
11/26, Wednesday – Indiana, 9 miles, 300’, 1:10
I ran on a flat straight street until it ended and then I ran home. I miss Boulder and am painfully aware of how spoiled I am there.
11/29, Saturday - Freeway, 7 miles, 1,750', 1:20
After arriving home from the drive from Indiana, easy effort just getting some fresh air.
Week Totals:
Distance: 24 miles
Vert: 2,200’
Time: 3:29

Well, it was break time I suppose.
11/30, Sunday – Freeway + Green, 9 miles, 3,200', 2:44
A heavy wall of clouds blanketed the mountains along with 20 degree temps. The scramble was very cold on my fingers so I took several “hands-in-pockets-to-warm-up” breaks. This was my 50th ascent of freeway, so that was a fun stat despite seeing on social media a couple of guys closing in on their 1,000th summit of Green. I stumbled my way through the clouds on a trail that more closely resembled an ice rink than a path for my comparatively lowly 23rd summit of Green mountain. Amazingly, the summit was able to just get above the cloud layer, it was one of the best views I’ve seen in my life. I sat up on the summit rock for 30 or 40 minutes as waves of clouds would rise and fall over the summit, basking in the sun. Then it was back to the deathly ice luge back home.
12/1, Monday – AM: Streets, 7 miles, 300’, 0:53 – PM: Track, 5 miles, 0’, 0:41
Rent was due, so I made a run out of dropping it off in the morning. After class I dropped by the rec for a little speed session of 4 by 800m. I’m not quite believing the conversion of 10 laps to 1 mile as I was hitting the 800’s at about 5:30 pace min/mi while feeling like I was going much faster. Anyways it was a good workout.
12/2, Tuesday – 1st Flatiron, 7 miles, 2,100’, 2:12
The wind was howling on the jog up to Chautauqua but appeared to have died down once I reached the 1st. The scramble felt awkward and eventually the wind kicked right back up making for a uncharacteristically unpleasant experience. By the time I reached the arĂȘte the gusts were quite unnerving. At the summit I was feeling some slight nausea, likely from the illness everyone in my apartment seems to have. I waited a bit for the wind to subside for a moment (seriously, it was really powerful) then proceeded to down climb in slug-like fashion still pausing in little nooks to evade the gusts. At the current state of things it was an easy decision to wobble back home rather than suffer up to Green for a potential reward of puke.
12/3, Wednesday – Track, 6 miles, 100’, 1:00
Another speed work session at the rec. After a 2 mile warm-up, 10 minutes of 30 second sprints with 30 second “rest”. Rest in quotes as my goal was to keep the rest pace at about 7:30-8:00 min/mi. Finished with another 2 miles for warm-down. I ran to and from the rec -  if you’re doing the math on this wondering how I allegedly did a 10 minute two mile and managed 100 feet of climbing on an indoor track.
12/4, Thursday – Mount Sanitas, 11 miles, 2,000’, 2:05
I originally intended on doing the Poorman loop, but the Boulder Canyon segment of the creek path was closed. So instead I meandered up and down Mount Sanitas. Still feeling a bit under the weather sickness wise so it was a slow day.
12/5, Friday – Creek Path, 6 miles, 300’, 0:45
Easy jog on the ol’ path.
12/6 Saturday – Flagstaff/Myer’s Gulch/Walker Ranch/Eldorado Canyon, 17 miles, 4,000’, 3:30
A weird backside-esque loop. I started at Chautauqua headed up Gregory Canyon to the Long Canyon trail. I had never before been on the Long Canyon trail pre or post flood but it appeared to be the worst hit trail I have seen. Long Canyon eventually dumped me out on Flagstaff road which I followed until I saw what I thought was a shortcut through Myer’s Gulch. I had biked Myer’s Gulch like 6 years ago so my knowledge was a shaky. It did end up taking me to Walker Ranch, but it would be more accurately termed a “long-cut”, but only maybe a half mile. From here I could see the backside of the Boulder skyline, the western perspective (looking east from the west) makes Green look almost dismissible as a slight high point. The best view was that of James Peak along the divide. I took the slightly shorter section of Walker Ranch to Eldorado Canyon, but I ended up somehow losing the trail briefly and wasting a bunch of time back tracking. By the time I reached the Eldo junction I felt wrecked, maybe a nagging cold, being a bit out of form or not giving enough respect to the route I planned. I finished off my water and my second (and last) gel. Despite being in a depleted state, Eldorado Canyon is an absolute gem, I’m almost sad it had taken me this long to get there. Running out of the canyon the sun and the warmer temperatures both began to fade. Not wanting to shiver my way back across the Mesa trail in low light, I hitched a ride to a mile or so from my car.
About what it looked like, picture taken from
Week Totals:
Distance: 65 miles
Vert: 12,100’
Time: 13:41

Well it was a good weak, albeit a bit rough. Even though I’m trying to get back to regular training, I probably will have a down week or two given I have finals next week. I actually like the speed workouts and with all the random exercise stuff at the rec it makes me stretch and do all the exercises I know I should be doing. Lastly, just as I’m posting this I couldn’t help but notice another stacked field for Hardrock 2015. Given my Boulder roots and general high respect for the man, I was stoked to see Krupicka on the list of entrants. I was already hoping to get an extended trip in the San Juans next summer; maybe I could volunteer at an aid station or something. Of course, barring complete implosion Kilian should handily win as he did last year, but it would surely be a race well worth watching.