June 9 – 1506/16/2014
Mon-AM: Mt. Rosa & Mt. Buckhorn (2:41, 5000′)
This was a great run. Parked at the upper Gold Camp lot at 7500′ and went up 7 Bridges. I had some tired legs from yesterday’s race/double outing, but once I got going I really enjoyed the mountain. Rosa (11,500′) is a great peak that I would hit on a near-daily basis if I still lived in the Springs. Alas, I just wasn’t quite in that mindset when I did live here. There was fresh snow on Pikes this morning—and a dusting on the last 1000′ or so of Rosa—and it was a surprisingly chilly, blustery summit. I maintain that the 4k’ drop off the east side of Rosa into Buffalo Canyon is the best in COS, and today didn’t disappoint. A half mile from the car I decided to tag on the extra 800’/13min bop up to Buckhorn to just get a little more time and vert and revisit a summit that I must’ve hit 100s of times when I lived here.
PM: Incline+Rocky Mt. (1:09, 3000′)
No trip to the Springs is complete without a lap on the Incline, so this evening I obliged. I parked in downtown Manitou and resolved to a reasonably easy effort on the uphill, notching a 23min tie-climb. The consistency and sheer unrelenting nature of the Incline make it a great training stimulus and at roughly 100′ vertical feet/min it’s definitely one of the quickest ways to get up high under one’s own power. At the top of the ties I didn’t break stride and instead continued west, following the highly switchbacked trail to the unexpectedly nice summit of the witheringly uninspiredly-named 9250′ Rocky Mt. This is the foothill on whose eastern aspect the Incline actually resides. The more logically-named and easy-to-confuse Mt. Manitou actually sits about a half mile to the west and almost 200′ higher. Even so, Rocky has a nice, well, rocky summit offering stunning views of Pikes and across Englemann Canyon over to Cameron Cone. I descended exactly back the way I’d climbed, plummeting back down the ties.
Tue-AM: Torreys & Grays Peaks (2:53, 4500′)
Started from my usual parking spot on the road where the private property begins. It was an early wake-up so as to avoid rockfall and wet-slides in Dead Dog couloir, my intended route up Torreys; I was running up the road shortly after 6am. Crampons, axe, gloves, and helmet all carried nicely on my Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest. The actual climbing in the 45 degree couloir was more strenuous than when I hit this line last year, due to the fact that there didn’t seem to be any bootpack anywhere. A lone, convenient cloud kept the route shaded for the first half, but once it moved on things heated up quickly and I was glad to be getting out of the chute. With only maybe 50 vertical feet left to go I happened to look back down the route and saw a volleyball-sized rock cut loose a ways below me—really happy I was outta there before the rocks really became unglued. I was on the summit by 7:45am.
There was the usual wind in the still heavily-corniced saddle between Torreys and Grays, and it was uncomfortable enough on top of Grays that I spent barely any time there, instead hustling directly into the perfect crunchy snowfield descent down Gray’s northern aspect back into the basin. Tired, sleepy legs made this a slower outing than usual, but the early start time meant I was back at the Roost by 9am, whereupon I promptly fell back asleep while reading with my breakfast. I guess the last few days have been pretty strenuous.
PM: Leadville Race Series/Runners Roost Denver Fun Run (0:34)
Made it down to the big city this evening for a group run of at least 200 people, probably more. It felt huge, taking over streets, etc. Afterwards, I was part of a Q+A panel with fellow former Leadville 100 champions Ashley Arnold, Tina Lewis, Duncan Callahan, and Timmy Parr and race founders Ken Chlouber and Merilee Maupin. The collective psyche was inspiring; I never get tired of Ken’s unique, no-nonsense, never ever ever ever ever give up evangelism. I think he’s probably inspired a lot of people in his life.
Wed-AM: 1st Flatiron+Green Mt & Bear Peak+Seal Rock (2:28, 5500′)
I had a sunrise video shoot for Zeal today, so after we were done I hit another cuppa jav and headed up to Chautauqua. After only 4hr of sleep last night I wasn’t sure how my already tired body would respond, but it ended up being a great outing. It seems like I haven’t been on top of Bear for a while, so it was nice to get over there, but my legs were pretty bumbly on the Fern Canyon descent. With the rapidly-warming morning and lack of water I was starting to fade by time I got back down to the Mesa, but I was excited for a quick lap on Seal Rock again despite the extra 1000′ of vert that would necessitate. This time, I took the classic 5.4 finger crack for the summit pitch (instead of the slightly more moderate north arete) and seemed to find a much more efficient downclimb than in my first couple of attempts. Great loop with a couple of quality scrambles.
PM: Green Mt. (1:00, 3000′)
Got really lucky on this one. After an appt with chiro Richie Hansen to make sure my legs are in order, I headed back up to Chat for a planned another lap on the First Flatiron and Green. The skies were threatening with the occasional diffuse, distant-sounding rumble, so I remained optimistic, but just as I got to the base of the First it started pouring rain and there’d obviously be no scrambling tonight. Instead I charged to the summit with a pleasing surfeit of energy in my legs, doing the last 1000′ of vert to the top a couple minutes faster than usual. I was very grateful that it started raining exactly when it did, because if it had just been a minute or two later I would’ve very likely been caught a couple hundred feet up on the First’s slabby, rain-slickened face with no good options. Pretty horrifying to think about, actually.
Thu-AM: Longs Peak (3:09, 5000′)
Went up and down the North Face/Cables with Joe. First time on the mountain in over a month (we had a pretty snow-heavy May), and it was great. I love this mountain. Still a lot of snow up there—the usual post-holing around treeline, and crampons and an axe felt pretty mandatory to me on the North Face itself—but all in all it was a stunning day with a spectacular inversion layer that we climbed above at around the 12k’ point and descended back through at treeline on the way down. Unfortunately, I seemed to have irrevocably damaged my camera on Torreys on Tuesday, so I didn’t get to digitally capture the beauty. No more summit selfies for a while I guess. Things were going great and we were about 5min from the parking lot when I unexpectedly turned my right ankle hard. I had sprained it bad enough to hear it pop last week on Mt. Yale, so this re-tweak was painful. I was able to run/limp on it back down to the car, but it swelled up right away, which I almost never have rolled ankles do.
PM: 1st Flatiron+Green Mt+2nd Pinnacle (1:19, 3500′)
Despite the fragile ankle, I was able to make it up and down the hill with little issue. On the summit of the First I was feeling in a really good scrambling groove and the thought occurred to me, oh, I bet I could break 2min on the downclimb (my best is 1:45 or so). In the very next instant it occurred to me that rushing through this downclimb on a weak ankle was about the stupidest thing I could do—where turning it again wouldn’t mean just heartbreak but also a 100+’ fall to the ground. Instead, on the way down the Amphitheater trail I stopped off for a quick skimper up the 2nd Pinnacle in the Amphitheater itself. This ~300′ climb is an engaging departure from your usual Flatiron slab—steeper, and with a couple interesting chimney sections. All in all, a great evening despite having to baby the ankle on the downhill.
Fri – Torreys & Grays Peaks (2:31, 4500′)
Drove up to the high country this morning with the intent of staying up there for a few days and getting some more time doing big uphills and downhills in the Sawatch. Alas, my easy day lap of GnT via the Kelso Ridge made me realize that the hyper-techy footing of the Nolan’s route’s off-trail descents would be the worst thing possible for my fragile paw. A heavy taping job seemed to help a lot, but I still had to be quite careful. Between the ankle and some extensive (and completely unnecessary) wallowing in the willows and soft snow-pack at treeline, this run took a good 15-20min longer than usual (I always park at the private property sign half-way up the approach road about 1.5mi before the TH).
Sat – Green Mt->3x(1st Flatiron+Green)->Green Mt->Bear Peak->Green Mt (7:14, 17,000′, 40mi)
So, six laps on Green plus a lap of Bear. After yesterday’s circuit on GnT, I definitely wasn’t confident enough in my ankle to subject it to basically the worst footing possible—a long outing on the Nolan’s route that Joe and I had planned for the weekend’s long run—so I drove back down to Boulder in the evening with the plan to instead get in a vert-intensive long run on Boulder’s steep trails. I suppose I could’ve stayed high and done laps on Mt. Elbert’s standard route or something, but in preparation for Lavaredo I wanted to get some more “real running”, and Boulder’s lower altitude and variety of trail steepnesses is more conducive to that.
My loose plan was to do six laps on Green, returning each time to the Gregory Canyon TH, where I had stashed a gallon of water and 11 gels the evening before (I would end up eating nine). This would give me ~15k’ of vert—about what Joe and I had planned for our Sawatch outing today—and 6-7hrs on my feet. For the first ascent I ran up the newly-reopened Amphi-Saddle Rock-Greenman route, which has been outfitted with seemingly broom-swept sections of new tread and even a ladder. I didn’t feel great on this climb and even considered bagging the whole long run, thinking that yesterday’s “easy” day hadn’t been enough to put some pep in my legs after the heaps of vert I’ve racked up this week. Alas, I’ve been doing this stuff long enough to know that it takes me a while to really get going, and sure enough, on the descent I slotted into a nice flow despite my wonky ankle.
Even so, for lap 2 I decided I’d scramble the First Flatiron on the way to the summit before it got too hot (the morning sun absolutely bakes these east-facing slabs), which would also make for an ascent with a nice mix of scrambling, hands-0n-knees grunting, and running instead of the pure running of the ASG or Gregory-Ranger trails. I felt great on this lap and even enjoyed pleasantly cool breezes on the rock face. Game on, let’s make a day of it. I was having so much fun approaching the First from a different location (Gregory Canyon, I usually run to its base from Chautauqua) and running every step of the Greenman trail above there that I did two more laps via the Flattie1 scramble. This ascent route was longer timewise—it turns out 5.6 scrambling isn’t quite as fast as Class 1 trail—but also nets a couple hundred extra feet of vert each lap as the summit of the First is about 200′ higher than the saddle behind it that connects it to Green’s NE ridge. On lap four, I was moving a bit slower on the rock—slipping above the 14min mark for the first time after a pair of low-13min climbs—but then ran to the summit of Green in my fastest split yet, so I decided that would be my last scramble for the day; no use risking a horrific fall due to fatigue.
After descending Green for the 4th time, I pocketed three gels and finished off the gallon of water at the Gregory TH before taking off back up the mountain via the smooth, gradual (well, it still climbs at more than 800’/mile) Gregory-Ranger route. It was past mid-day now and felt hot as blazes to me, but I could see some dark storm clouds moving in, so I was optimistic. After chugging nearly 40-50oz from my jug after each of the previous laps, I only had a few swallows left over for the climb up Gregory and I was feeling it. Encouragingly, though, I still seemed to have good running-uphill legs, and after chugging a couple bottles at the Ranger spring half-way up, the rest of the run to the top of the mountain was surprisingly pleasant, especially since the sun had disappeared.
From my 5th summit of Green I had determined I would head over and tag Bear and SoBo before descending Fern and running back up Bear Canyon for my 6th and final summit of Green. Which is exactly what I did, except that on the run up Bear’s West Ridge the clouds became increasingly rumbly and threatening and just as I scrambled to the peak’s summit it started hailing. Tagging SoBo didn’t seem worth it given the apparent electrical risk, so I just popped over the top and descended the now rain-slickened Fern Canyon, sacrificing the bonus ~800′ or so of vert that I would’ve netted from the SoBo out-n-back. No worries. I opted for all the gradual switchbacks on my climb back up Bear Canyon to the summit of Green so that I could keep a strong running stride and I felt unexpectedly capable until the final 200′ or so where I was suddenly completely punted. Good thing the vert was over with. I still felt great on the final descent and timed the end of my run perfectly as the skies opened up just as I was jogging up to the front step of my apartment. After this outing, I’m feeling very ready for Lavaredo.
Sun – 1st Flatiron+Green Mt+barefoot (2:11, 3000′)
A leisurely morning on the hill followed up by a mile+ of barefoot at Casey Elementary. Nothing much to see here. But, in the actual reality of things, I never get tired of this shit. Always grateful for a healthy scramble and a summit. This run capped off what ended up being a big week: 27h09min, ~140mi, 54,000′. I didn’t necessarily intend to do so much this week, it just kinda happened, but the timing couldn’t have been better going into Lavaredo.
I’ve been enjoying this little preview of Peter Bauer’s forthcoming album (former member of The Walkmen).