Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 3 - August 9

8/3, Monday - AM: Longs Peak - 12 miles, 5500', 4:07 - PM: Flatiron Trifecta - 4 miles, 2600', 2:30
I woke up feeling almost reluctant to head up, but I knew I would be happy once I was up there and I was right about that. I felt so-so but split a reasonable time to treeline and headed up to the Loft. I definitely didn't descend to Clark's Arrow (the correct gully) and ended up in some loosey goosey dirt chute. It wasn't so bad as much as it was frustratingly slow, meaning my sub 2hr summit goal was out the window. On the fly while I was heading up Keplinger's Couloir I decided to ascend all the way up to the Notch and traversed on some tricky flakes and boulders around to the upper southeast face. In retrospect I think I could have just downclimbed into the Notch from the Loft (allegedly called "The Beaver"), next time. From there I spied a little knobby crack system  (which I later found out was "Staircase", 5.5) which put me a few easy moves beneath the summit. Took the Cables down and jogged it home. In the evening I did an easy hike and scramble up the 1st, down the 2nd and up the 3rd instead of the typical Green run. Beautiful evening.
Jack topping out on the 3rd in a fresh pair of Nikes for his first time up.
8/4, Tuesday - Off
Helped Jack move then promptly fell back asleep at 10 until mid-afternoon. Ankle felt a little sore since I'm still building up strength and yesterday was reasonably big so rather than fight mid-day heat I took the day off.

8/5, Wednesday - Flatiron Trifecta - 4 miles, 3200', 2:25
2-1-3, met up with Logan and his friend Brendan at the base of the third for their first time up. Easy pace. The one piece of excitement came when I was hiking around the back of the 3rd when a flying object exploded some 10 to 20 feet from me. A few curses followed the detonation which also conveyed that the object was an iPhone which had plummeted 200ft into solid rock. BOOM! Ah, so sad but oh so funny. Ankle felt really good on the descent.

8/6, Thursday - Freeway, Zig-Zag, Direct
With Jack, we started up the Freeway at a good pace and apparently never let up, clocking out at 8:58 (Jack at ~8:45). We planned on tackling Atalanta next but my continued route blunders on the south side of the First took us up Zig-Zag instead. I had much better rubber on my shoes so I was okay pulling around the 5.7 flake traverse while Jack downclimbed back to dirt. I ran back down and after a little rest hit the Direct route. Man, tempoing these things hurts, its the class 3 stuff roughly halfway up that I dread as you just about have to run it. I gave myself 5 seconds at the arete to re-oxygenate just a tiny bit, then sprinted along the ridge to finish in 11:07, a PR by 1:55! It was a good effort but I don't feel like I'm as fit as I could be for this; I have the base but I need to start doing some tempo and interval work to get outright speed.
Pouring it on up the Arete. Photo: Jack
8/7, Friday - Longs Peak - 13 miles, 5500', 5:19
Woah! I don't think anyone can discover Kieners route and not be at least a bit intrigued. Today I had the privilege of being lead by Justin on one of the most classic route on the peak. From Chasm Lake we took glacier rib up, making a few wrong turns and climbing a 5.6-5.7 buttress. After navigating some loose stuff I pulled out my tent stakes and timidly ventured onto Lambs Slide kicking steps across using the stakes as hand traction. The entrance to Broadway was pretty easy to identify, even without being told. The Broadway ledge is glorious, but is far less freaky than pictures can make it seem. The rest of the route was cruiser with some fun 5.4 stuff in there and tons of options for refining a faster line. Speaking of speed it took us an stupid 4 hours from the car (admittedly parked way down the road) to the summit, double the usual as of late; this route needs serious refining. Uneventfully descended Cables to close out an awesome day.
The route goes up the left of the snow/ice/glacier before crossing it and taking the faintly visible ledge (starting from the dark rock) until you can engage the unseen rock behind and left of the Diamond.
The Broadway Ledge!
I'm usually not one to have his stomach turn from exposure, but upon peering over the edge the confidence in my ability to stand without falling immediately came into question. At the top of  the Diamond (see first pic for view from bottom). Photo: Justin
8/8, Saturday - Longs Peak - 13 miles, 5600', 4:42
Not tired of it. Was moving well and hitting every line perfect until I got to the Lambs Slide crossing where I found the outer edges of each side solid ice with a 3 inch layer of very soft snow. Thus, tent stakes and kick steps would not work. Instead I headed up and around and downclimbed to the entrance of Broadway which took a full a hour of time. Dumb. Romped up the remaining route feeling good and continued almost straight onto the North Face/Cables. Given the conditions of this thing I stopped and bought an axe on the way home, probably past due for one anyways.
A little cloud inversion to the west from the summit. I was conveniently well sheltered from some whipping winds by staying generally on the East face.
8/9, Sunday - Longs Peak - 13 miles, 5500', 7:19
Kieners-Cables, again, again. Relatively easy day with Rush. He's been dealing with some serious over-training-syndrome effects so we hiked all the way to Chasm Lake. My line on the rib wasn't as efficient as yesterday, but with the security of my newly purchased ice axe, the crossing of Lambs was infinitely more secure which also meant 55 minutes faster than yesterday. I had a fun time fitting the axe onto my AK race vest, but with some extra rope I managed to rig a tight and bounce-free pack. Given his health, Rush had scarcely trained over the past several weeks, which also meant his acclimatization to altitude was nonexistent. We slowed to a crawl on Upper Kieners, step. step breathe sort of day. Met a ranger on top who had just made his 122nd summit of Longs (and his only 14er, oddly). After a quick break from the extra exertion and heart rate required for the Cables downclimb we jog-walked it down to Estes for some burritos and much needed oxygen.
Rush taking in the views on Broadway.
Week Totals:
64 miles
31,000 feet

Obviously, a week nearly entirely dedicated to Longs and more specifically Kieners. I think the biggest allure of this route for me is that it can be a quick summit route. Sure, its not Cables fast, but its far more complex, technical and outright fun. Within the general route of Kieners there exists a huge margin for variation. For instance, would it be faster to take Lambs Slide all the way up instead of scrambling alongside on Glacier Rib, which poses its own difficulties? Is the Diamond Step or the Stepladder or the Staircase route the most efficient? What about in different conditions, would one way be safer, drier or faster? There is whole host of nuances which make this route much more fun than something like the Keyhole, where there are stupid painted bull's eyes for you to follow every 15 feet. I feel like this is how the mountains are supposed to be experienced. Not to mention, the wandering about is far more environmentally friendly since you're on rock or snow the entire time, as opposed to the fragile tundra which covers many other landmark mountains. I also thought it would be good to take full advantage of this time before classes start up in a couple weeks and I'm more confined to the more immediate Boulder area.


  1. Dude sick week. Very good decision to take the rest day. The views on the mountain are ridiculous. Hey what are the tent poles stakes used for??

    1. This video shows most of the route until the last ~700ft to the summit, which is relatively boring in comparison,

      The tent stakes specifically come in at 2:20. There is significantly less snow now so they don't quite do the trick as well right now.

  2. Wow that is sick...learn something new everyday lol