Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 8 - March 21

3/8, Sunday - Off
Taking a rest day from the ~33 miles and 10,400' yesterday

3/9, Monday - Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3000', 1:42
Oh daylight savings time, how I love you. Despite missing an hour of sleep we finally got to run in the sunlight (more like sunset, which of course is even better) and in shorts and t-shirts. Another fine outing with the RMR.

3/10, Tuesday - 2nd Flatiron + Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3100', 1:53
The trails are getting pretty sloppy with the temperatures swiftly melting the heaps of snow down into slush soup. The rock was just dry enough to be enjoyable, though the social trail was a post-holing nightmare.

3/11, Wednesday - 2nd Flatiron x 4 - 5 miles, 3400', 1:50
I missed scrambling a lot so I biked to Chautauqua and maximized my time on the rock by hitting 4 laps on the Freeway. Good fun.

3/12, Thursday - Regency, Royal Arch, Hammerhead, 2nd Flatiron, SW Face - 5 miles, 2900', 2:28
I ran into my friend Jack - who was on a recovery hike from a blistering fast 50 mile race last weekend - yesterday, he asked if I could lead him on some scrambling routes. I was especially excited because he is a much faster runner but on a recovery week on foreign and technical terrain I would finally be able to be in front! We tagged a nice linkup of easy 5.0-5.2 scrambles finishing on top of the 1st Flatiron via the backside.

3/13, Friday - Regency, Royal Arch, Hammerhead, 2nd Flatiron, "Spyronette" - 6 miles, 3800', 2:27
More scrambling. I found yesterday's linkup to be a good logical line, so I repeated all of those. I still can't zero in on the ideal bushwhack to the Regency though. I was making excellent time coming off of the Freeway at 1:19, so I elected to tack on "Spyronette". These routes which are ~5.3 normally are easy slabs; the issue today was that the short sections of dirt between the rocks were soaking wet, so my shoes never seemed to be dry. Of course, the most exposed move is at the very beginning of the North Arete so once I pulled my slippery soles over that first roof I breathed a little easier.

I never really looked closely at this eye-bolt atop the 1st until I took this picture. Its cool to see the polished rope groove and twisting of metal from thousands of rappels.
3/14, Saturday - Off
School crap.

Week Totals:
35 miles

Two off days, one forced by school, the other for actual rest. Great to be back out scrambling. Low key recovery week for sure!

3/15, Sunday - Stairway to Heaven, Hillbilly Rock- 6 miles, 2100', 1:58
I was resolved to not let school keep me cooped up inside my room all weekend so I hopped on my bike. Chatted with Tony at the bike rack for a quick minute, then I set off for the Regency. Once I realized I had passed the turnoff, I decided to head over Skunk Canyon rather than backtrack. Stairway to Heaven and Hillbilly rock are the only worthy scrambles that are currently open over there, so I settled for those. Stairway was really fun, definitely worthy of its "Top 10" ranking. Hillbilly is also a classic (though not Top 10) and a new rock for me. Its a nice but lacks the glorious length of the other ridges in Skunk. Downclimbing was particularly tricky, but I found a ledge system off the back that culminated in an awkward slot with blind footholds. Bushwhacking on the south facing slope really put the kibosh on the day since it took forever to wallow through the remaining horribly deep and wet snow.
I ran into Kate, my old neighbor on the way back, who wound up taking this photo of me on Hillbilly Rock while she was at the Royal Arch, not knowing it was me at the time.
3/16, Monday - 1st Flatiron + Green Mtn - 10 miles, 4300', 3:00
Over the hump to spring break with a midterm in Electromagnetic Waves and large assignment due in Operating Systems today. To de-stress I biked up to Chautauqua a bit earlier than usual and finally got on the Direct East Face for jaunt up the 1st before joining the RMR crew for the ol' Green. Bonked pretty hard by the time I got to the top, so I was happy I wasn't out any longer than I was.

3/17, Tuesday - 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn, 2nd Flatiron - 9 miles, 3600', 2:31
Up the 1st again by the direct route. Felt as good route finding as I ever have today which lead to a 27 minute ascent (which is a decent time for me) at a relaxed effort. About half way up the rock I was immersed in a thick cloud giving a wonderful ambiance to the scramble. Continued up to Green to find last nights snow partially frozen into treacherous walkway. Coming down I elected to downclimb the Freeway on the 2nd since my scrambling was feeling so good.

3/18, Wednesday - 2 x Freeway + "Spyronette" - 5 miles, 3000', 2:10
Scrambling with Jack. We did a couple casual laps on the 2nd before embarking on some more challenging scrambling on the fringes of the 1st Flatiron. We made it up the First Flatironette just fine, but after the Spy he was feeling out of his comfort zone. Never a good idea to be feeling really scared when soloing, so we split paths there. He hiked around the backside and I tried in vain to keep his pace along the North Arete. Apparently, I also did the downclimb off the back in 4:22, feeling efficient!

3/19, Thursday - Green Mtn - 8 miles,  3100', 1:37
I didn't necessarily plan on going fast today but I fell into a nice groove on the way up and went with it. Given a rainy night scrambling was certainly not in the cards so I hit the next steepest thing, Green via Amphitheater/Saddle Rock. I PR'ed up Green by about a minute and a half, but my time fell just short of my 40min goal. With two switchbacks left I glanced at my watch and saw 39 minutes and let it all out, but hit the summit in 40:08. Including the 50 seconds I rested at the top I didn't break an hour round trip, not including them I barely did. I even split a sub-6 mile on the way home! Great workout despite all of the times seeming to end in "0:01".

3/20, Friday - Regency, Royal Arch, 5th Flatiron, 4th Flatiron + Green Mtn - 7 miles, 3800', 
This little linkup ended up working quite nicely. After biking up to the trailhead, I ran the Mesa trail to the Regency - finally figuring out the perfect approach -  which transitioned quite smoothly into the Royal Arch and 5th Flatiron. I hadn't been on the 5th since the Quinfecta, but I remembered being quite impressed with the quality of scrambling. I found the keyhole that pops you onto the west face for one version of the downclimb. Even for a really skinny guy like me its a  tight squeeze. After the mildly, unpleasant shwack back down I set off for the 4th. I really wanted to take my time on it today since last time was sort of, disastrous. The first piece is pretty standard flatiron slab, I saw a steady stream of water coming down from the "hanging garden" on the second piece so I went up the north side of the face and then found a tricky hand traverse (which felt harder than 5.4) to put me into the garden. The last piece is really weird, still definitely need figuring out the optimal line. I continued on up to Green feeling pretty tired and wobble-legged my way back down. Probably still feeling yesterdays hard effort. Beautiful day!

3/21, Saturday - Flatiron Quartet + Green Mtn - 8 miles, 5600', 3:49
Biked to Chat. as I ran to the 1st, I could see a white dot which must have been Tony screaming up the face. I took a more tempered approach but still clocked in at 25:44 (second fastest time ever, for me) and dowclimbed in a quite efficient 3:55 (PR). Despite the direct route on the 1st being a 5.6, I'm still not interested in returning to Free for All (also a 5.6), so I marched up the Freeway in 13:25. After some honest running I meandered up the 5th, pausing a couple times to try so as to take in the beautiful day (okay, fine! I was tired). Went with the keyhole downclimb again and found it marginally easier than yesterday. No surprise, the 4th was super stupid again. I have the first two pieces down, but on the third piece I end up in pine-needle soup for a few hundred feet before I find rock that's reasonably climbable. From the 4th its scramble-y zombie-marched up to Green. Going down I ended up taking a new route which descend the main northern ridge down to the Saddle Rock trail, short-cutting the massive switchbacks of E.M. Greenman. Long and hot day without food and water, but scrambling with a pack is no where near as fun.
A super flattering expression no doubt. For scrambling days, this 5.0 - 5.2 scrambling is mostly what it consists of. This particular spot is about half way up the 5th Flatiron.
The North Arete of the 5th has the best ridgeline of anythingI've been on. Its sharp in one respect but also has a smooth and sweeping curvature..
Week Totals:
50 miles

Good week of vertical gain here, though at the cost of low miles. Managed 18 Flatiron routes this week and my legs definitely feel it. I'll have a nice recovery for a few days on spring break. When I get back (from Utah) I should probably do some flat tempo stuff in the coming weeks with the Rattler 50k coming up in a few weeks, I'll probably still stick to scrambling and steep, as it makes more sense for what I want to do this summer.


  1. Dude that is a crap load of scrambling in a two week stretch. Nice work.

    1. Ha, sort of went overboard there since I had gone several weeks with knee+ deep snow without even seeing dirt! Got a 50k in 3 weeks though, so its time to *actually* run!

  2. Holy carp, I can't leave for too long without missing something awesome. That 50k is going to be sick.