Week Summary: Oct 17 – 2310/23/2011
Mon-AM: 1:36, 2800′ ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Cloudy morning meant it was dark until I was half-way up the mountain. Ran to and from Gregory again for a total of 29min of running.
PM: 1:51, 3300′ ~ Green Mt. + 2nd Flatiron
Biked to Chat, up and down Green via 3rd access and then a quick scramble lap on the 2nd Flatiron, which added ~700′ of vert. Even though it was only partly cloudy and the sun was shining through on the horizon, there were a few flakes of snow falling on the summit of Green.
Tue-AM: 1:38, 2800′ ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down the front. This involved 27+ min of running from my door to the base of the 2nd Flatiron (trail really kicks up after that) and then another 13min of running home from the base of Amphitheater. More spectacular than usual sunrise.
PM: 1:19, 2500′ ~ Green Mt.
Up and down the front. Shin tightened up a bit on the hike up, so I took it pretty casually. Shouldn’t have done that extra 10min of steeper running this morning.
Wed-AM: 1:19, 2500′ ~ Green Mt.
Exact same outing as last night, but maybe 30sec faster on the way up. All hiking. Shin is tight. Cold morning in the lower 30s!
PM: 1:24, 2600′ ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st/2nd with Jeff and Aron. All hiking. On the way down we hung out at the base of the First Flatiron for a bit watching the scramblers rip up the East Face. Pretty inspiring watching Stefan and others literally run up the first thin 5.6 pitch in a pair of Crosslites like it was a 3rd Class slab. Stefan completed the Chat-to-Chat roundtrip (including the downclimb, eschewing the 100ft rappel) in an impressive 34:02, less than a minute off the FKT (which he holds).
Thu-AM: 1:14, 2500′ ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Kinda broke out of my lethargic funk of the last few days with a 33:23 ascent, but my shin was still tight, so all hiking.
PM: Appt w/ Mark Plaatjes.
Fri-AM: 1:19, 2500′ ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Tired again this morning with little motivation.
Sat- 5:29, 7000′ ~ Almagre Mt. + Incline
Went down to Colorado Springs this morning to take advantage of the late-season snow-free-ness that the Pikes Peak region still offers at high altitudes. Parked at the upper Gold Camp lot (top of Cheyenne Canyon Dr, 7500′) and hiked up 7 Bridges to Jones Park and then kept going up Bear Creek to the base of Almagre’s north ridge at 10,100′. Left the trail here at 1:31 and fought through the loose gravel to gain the ridge at ~11,200′. Stayed right on the ridge all the way to the summit, mostly boulder-hopping and scrambling with enough snow to spice things up and keep it interesting. From the summit I went south to Stratton Reservoir and the headwaters of North Cheyenne Creek where I took the goat path down the canyon and essentially followed the creek drainage all the way back to the car (on trails), some official, some not. Upon finishing I immediately drove the ~15min over to Ruxton Ave in Manitou and ground up the Incline in 22:48, descending Barr Trail.
Sun-AM: 1:30, 2600′ ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st/2nd access. Tired this morning, could really feel yesterday’s long outing in my legs.
I started out the week quite optimistic about my shin, but a slight transgression on Tuesday morning put it just a little back over the edge and I was stuck with hiking the rest of the week. On top of that, I was just plain tired this week. I guess vert takes its toll, even if it’s not technically running. The week ended on a highlight, though, with my day-trip to the Springs on Saturday.
Pikes Peak has a unique climate all its own that usually means it’s the state’s 14er that stays snow-free(ish) the latest in the fall and becomes comfortably(ish) foot-traffic accessible the earliest in the spring. Each year I try to take advantage of this by making my way up into the alpine down there one last time, usually around Halloween. This year, I was interested in a trip up and over Almagre Mountain (Pikes’ 12,400′ little brother to the south) because the trails down there are steeper and more direct than the heavily-switchbacked and gradual Barr Trail on Pikes Peak. Indeed, by taking the Seven Bridges Trail up North Cheyenne Canyon and then continuing on other less-traveled (but easily followed) paths further up the drainage, one can gain nearly 5000′ in little more than six miles. Not bad.
My ascent of the north ridge of Almagre, though, turned out to be a bit less ideal than I’d hoped. This ridge looks like a fabulous and logical line on maps and from a distance, and in reality the ridge itself was quite a lot of fun–airy but nowhere-near-fatal exposure on both sides with solid tundra and boulder fields on its upper reaches–but the first 1000′ required to gain that ridge was a giant pain in the ass.
Geologically, the Pikes Peak Massif is an enormous igneous intrusion of Pikes Peak Granite, which exists in various stages of decomposition. This granite starts out as a suitably solid material (the mountain exists, afterall) but over time (and at varying rates) weathers first to chossy rock, then a relatively unstable rock-like matrix, and finally the ubiquitous Pikes Peak gravel that is the defining characteristic of the region’s trails. The lower reaches of Almagre’s north ridge is dominated by this gravel, giving it all the shiftiness and solidity of a sand dune. It took me 50min to go maybe a mile and a half (granted, this included over 2k’ of vertical, but with better footing I could’ve easily dispatched of this in less than 30min), and left me with little desire to ever struggle through this line again, let alone establish it as a regular part of my outings in the region. Other than for some very short-lived sockless postholing in a shaded canyon, the rest of the loop was fantastic.
I punctuated the day with a quick lap on Manitou’s Incline. This hugely popular staircase of railroad ties offers up 2000′ of vert in one mile, about as stout and constant a climb as you’ll be able to find anywhere without venturing into consistent 4th or 5th Class territory. Despite living in the Springs for seven years, Saturday was only the third or fourth time I’ve ever climbed the Incline, and the first time since my freshman year of college 10 years ago (due to my before-now largely anti-hiking bias, I suppose). Even with all of the very specific hiking I’ve been doing lately, it was really tough. Part of that was the fact that it came at the end of an already big day with way too few calories, but by time I’d crawled my way to the top I realized that this particular climb has a lot to teach me–I hope to get back on it sometime soon, and often. Sub-20min feels like a good goal.
|Seven Bridges Trail, North Cheyenne Creek Canyon.|
|North ridge of 12,400′ Almagre Mt.|
|Summit, with Pikes.|
|Headwaters of North Cheyenne Creek at 12,000′.|
|Posing on the Incline a couple years ago for a magazine article. Photo: Dave Philipps.|