June 10 – 1606/17/2013
Mon-AM: 2:33, 4300′ ~ Huron
From Rockdale, ran the road up to Winfield and then over to the west side of Huron before heading to its summit. Climb was pretty standard, but the real fun came on the descent. Usually the drop down to Clohesy Lake (east side of the peak) is a fairly nasty scree/cobbles/talus/boulder chute, but today it was still all snow and was in perfect condition for a long, steep, run-out glissade that dropped over 1000′ of vert. Awesome. Found the goat path down to the lake and ran the 4wd road back down to Rockdale to complete the loop. Proper mountain run. Legs were a little tired from yesterday’s long outing, but not bad at all.
Tue-AM: 2:22, 5300′ ~ Princeton
Up and down Grouse Canyon. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite runs in the Sawatch. Proper goat path up the canyon, perfect footing for the march to the ridge at 13k’ and then an engaging scramble/talus hop to the summit. Doesn’t get much better. Seemed to be a bunch of smoke/haze in the air today, though. Legs had a bunch of energy despite waking up feeling groggy.
Wed-AM: 3:14, 6000′ ~ Princeton
Parked at the S. Cottonwood TH on the CT (8900′–this is the low point of the entire Nolan’s route) and took the CT 4.5mi over to Maxwell Gulch to head up the mountain. Came back the same way. Definitely an out-of-character run for me since it started with 46min of flattish running (only 1000′ of elevation gain total, more with the rollers), but once you get over to Maxwell Gulch things get interesting. Had no trouble finding the old trail on the northern side of the basin and took that up to ~10,500′ where I broke left to bushwhack through the aspens in the avalanche gulley. After only about 4min of ‘swhacking, though, I was on fairly open tundra/talus and marching uphill unimpeded to Princeton’s NE ridge. From there it’s just an extended talus scramble to the summit. CT to the summit was 1h16 (for 4300’ vert), so it’s actually a very comparable climb to any other 14er in the Sawatch, but just starts with the 1hr+/7mi contour on the CT from Yale’s Avalanche Gulch TH. Definitely the longest sustained running on the whole route. Took 40min to descend from the summit back to the CT; feeling really good about doing this route in the dark now, think I have it dialed.
Thu-AM: 2:11, 5000′ ~ Yale
Up and down NE Ridge/North Face from N. Cottonwood Creek TH. After what felt like a fiasco last Sunday afternoon, I knew I had to get back here to find the best line up this side of the mountain. Took exactly 15min to jog from the TH to where a bridge crosses back over to the north side of Cottonwood Creek. An avalanche gulley empties directly onto the trail right here, but I felt like I wanted to be in the next gulley to the west. Traversing/’swhacking over to that gulley through the forest proved to be surprisingly easy and within 10min I even found a (very steep) elk path heading up the left margin of the avy gulley. I crossed over to the righthand side when things looked good and then it was just a simple march up very good tundra and talus (and past airplane wreckage) to the ridge saddle at ~12,600′ or so. Took 42min to get from the bridge to the ridge. From there I contoured below the ridge (and Pt 13105 that I’d actually summited on Sunday) on the left into the basin below Yale’s north face and ascended directly up the center of this face to the summit. The last couple hundred feet of vert was kicking steps in steep snow, but it’d only taken 1h12 to get from the creek to the summit, so I was feeling really good about my newly scouted line. The descent was even more fun, glissading directly off the summit and contouring over to drop into the very steep avy gulley that deposited me right back at the bridge/trail 33min after leaving the summit. Really glad I went back to take another look at this side of the mountain.
PM: 0:58, 3000′ ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
From Chat; really good run. A PR for ascending Green via scrambling the First (39:35 at Green summit; 10:55 to base of First, 11:15 scramble, 2:05 downclimb), and then I think maybe a PR for descending Greenman-SR-Amphi in dry (non-snow) conditions (15:55 from summit to Baseline trail junction) before realizing that I had a shot at breaking an hour for the Chat-to-Chat roundtrip, so I picked it up on the run back across the meadow for a 58:54. Funny thing was I didn’t even start picking it up on the descent until about half-way down Greenman (wasn’t planning on going all-out on the descent), but maybe sometimes you just need to wait for the flow to come to you. Was feeling a little extra motivation in the first place because I was trying to squeeze the run in before an appointment, thus no pause on the summit.
Fri-AM: 2:58, 5000′ ~ Longs Peak
Up Kieners, down Cables. 1:55 to the summit, which was only a couple minutes slower than when I went up the Cables last week. It always surprises me how quick a route Kieners can be in the right conditions. I was feeling great on the run up to Chasm Lake despite carrying crampons and an axe on my back. The scramble up Glacier Rib (left of Lambs Slide) was a little bit more methodical than usual because there were patches of snow to dodge, but when I got the axe out to cross Lambs Slide the snow was surprisingly kickable, even in the shade. The first crux on Broadway was still snow, so I was careful on this small downclimb/traverse, and then there was a little more snow to cross at the top of the Yellow Bowl/Alexanders. From there, it was essentially dry to the base of Kieners. The chimneys were all wet but there was only snow/ice at the top of the Bombay Chimney. On the 4th Class section up to the Staircase I stayed a lot farther right (toward the edge) than usual so as to skip the snow, but soon enough I was on the summit. The North Face proved to be, by far, the crux of the outing. I stubbornly didn’t put on my crampons on the summit, so I lost a lot of time pussyfooting down the kicked steps in the snow above the Cables dihedral. When I got there it became very obvious that I wasn’t going to downclimb the upper part without some metal on my feet, so I finally stopped and put on my crampons and then carefully downclimbed over the snow/ice/rock. If I’d had a rope I probably would’ve just rappelled the upper part and never messed with the crampons.The snow below the Cables was in terrible condition–crusty, and punching through to my knee with basically every step, super frustrating. Finally made it down to dry rock for the always enjoyable cruise back down to the trailhead.
Sat-AM: 2:31, 5000′ ~ Longs Peak
Up and down the Cables for 2013 ascent #15. Woke up groggy and unmotivated—almost decided to just head up to Chautauqua to scramble some flatties—but that would have meant running right away, whereas running Longs would give me a 45min drive to wake up, drink some coffee, and feel like a human. By time I got to the trailhead, of course, I was in olympic form, ready to take on the day. Back at the hut, not feeling very brave, I had packed my vest with a 6mm rap cord and a harness (along with crampons, axe, and gloves), planning to rappel the top half of the Cables on the descent but in the parking lot, brimming with confidence, I thought better of that and took them out. Ah, the games we play. Legs were surprisingly poppy heading up the hill for the second day in a row, and by time I got to treeline I was undecided as to whether I would head back up Kieners or take the Cables. Eventually, I decided to just do the Cables. It’s funny; in my head, in the current conditions, I feel like the Cables are actually technically a little more difficult than anything I encountered on Kieners yesterday, but the amount of time that one is in a precarious position (just a couple of minutes on the Cables) is SO MUCH less than on Kieners (things are at least moderately technical for almost an hour). The climb up the Cables went really well, but I’m ready for that chunk of alpine ice on the top half of the dihedral to fall/melt out already. The descent of the north face–while soft in the hot sun–went way better than yesterday wearing crampons this time, and the downclimb was, of course, no problem. Happy I didn’t bring the rope. And then it was just the usual run back down to the trailhead. Quick and efficient.
Sun-AM: 7:19, 14,500′ ~ Princeton, Antero, Tabeguache, Shavano
Started from the Avalanche Gulch TH on the Colorado Trail at the base of Yale, with Joe. Finished at the Blank Cabin TH on the east slopes of Shavano where Joe’s wife, Deanne, graciously picked us up. Joe and I did some actual running today—1:04 to go the ~7mi on the Colorado Trail from the Avy Gulch TH to Maxwell Gulch on Princeton. Once there, the marching commenced and I hit the summit at 2:24 into the day. I was surprisingly quick down Princeton’s talusy SW ridge to Grouse Canyon, but just wasn’t really in a groove yet…feeling drowsy and unmotivated. Once I hit Rd 292 at the bottom and started running over to Alpine, though, that all changed and I had tons of energy, running every step of the Baldwin Gulch Road on Antero to 11k’ (shortly after the creek crossing) where I tried out a new, super-direct line that goes up the ridge straight to the summit. Not sure why other Nolan’s folks have never mentioned this as it by far makes the most sense and has solid footing the entire way. Summited at 5:03 and didn’t even pause as it was time to get off the high ridges with weather moving in quickly from the west/north. It only took me 29min to get from the summit of Antero down to Brown’s Creek at 11,200′ where I took a 30min break waiting out the storm that was passing through. I had a bit of a picnic here—drank four bottles of water, ate 3 gels in a row, dumped rocks out of my shoes, hunkered down in my jacket under a fir tree staying out of the rain—and when things seemed to be clearing I headed up the gulch to the Tab/Shav saddle. Another fast-moving storm cell was coming in as I made my way up, but this one turned out to be snow and a lot of it. By time I hit the saddle at 13,500′ I had broken into blue skies and was surprised how close the summit of Tabeguache was, only taking 51min from the creek—I was mentally prepared for a much longer climb. Did the short bop over to Shavano and ran the trail all the way down to the Blank Cabin TH, this being my first time ever on the mountain, managing a 56min descent from the summit of Tabeguache. The trail seems like it takes a direct-enough line from the summit of Shavano to the TH. Finished with the legs still feeling really good, plenty of run left in them. 10 gels.
After this week, I’m feeling really ready for Nolan’s and am targeting an attempt for the 24th or 25th, depending on weather, starting at 2am from the Leadville Fish Hatchery. Right now, it looks like it will be the 24th, which coincides nicely with a full moon. It’s been a blast learning everything I can about the Sawatch, but post-Nolan’s I’m also definitely looking forward to spending the rest of my summer pursuing objectives in other mountain ranges. The Sangres, Elks, Tetons, San Juans, and Indian Peaks in particular. I’m feeling about as fit as I ever have right now, so am mostly just curious to see if I have the discipline and stubbornness and luck to fulfill my potential on the Sawatch 14ers next week.
|Marmot’s-eye view of the march to the summit of yet another Sawatch 14er.|
|What Nolan’s mostly consists of–scrambling up talus slopes. Summit of Yale w/ Columbia and Harvard behind.|
|Looking back across to a duo on the entry crux to Broadway on Friday morning.|