Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kieners Route on Longs Peak


Last week was a fun experience.  I was back spending a few days in Boulder, supporting Scott's book tour, seeing friends, etc.  Part of this involved getting out on Kieners on Longs Peak with Buzz and Peter.  Last fall, when my shin injury gave me time to rekindle my interest in technical rock climbing, Buzz started taking me out on the Flatirons for some scrambling--soloing on moderate terrain.  After a few times up the uber-classic Third Flatiron, Buzz commented that we would do Kieners in the summer.

So, last Friday we did.  I'm working closely with Buzz and Peter (and Scott) on developing a series of new packs with Ultimate Direction, and one of them is dubbed the "Adventure Vest". Kieners would be a perfect line for testing the performance of this kind of pack.  Kieners is a classic mountaineering route on an even more classic mountain.  "Mountaineering" meaning that it isn't just a simple walk up a Class 2 trail, like most standard routes on 14ers around the state.  Instead, K offers a spicy and engaging mix of standard trail; talus and boulder hopping; the ascent of an almost 1000', 50 degree snow field; and then Class 4 & 5 scrambling along the edge of the Diamond before summiting and descending the 5th Class North Face. Kieners' consensus grade is 5.4, due mostly to some moderate crack-like climbing after the Broadway traverse.

Up the red, down the blue. Photo: summitpost.org
It can be a fairly long day (I think we were out for around 6hr on Friday) in an exposed and prone-to-quick-changes true alpine environment, so usually it's necessary to carry food, water, and an extra layer or two along with an ice axe, crampons, and--because our planned slabs descent on the North Face was still soaked with meltwater--a rope for rappelling.  As such, the packs would be tested doing exactly what they've been designed to do--mix running with mountaineering, or just carry a slightly larger-than-normal load.

Buzz's post re-capping the day is here, but from my perspective it was simply a joy to be with such experienced friends in such an exhilarating landscape.  So much so, that as we were negotiating the moves that Buzz and Peter deemed the crux, I pronounced that I was going to come back the next day and hit it all again.  The line is that good.

Peter works his way up Lambs Slide. Photo: Buzz Burrell.
Traversing Broadway. Photo: Buzz Burrell.
The crux move on Broadway. Photo: Buzz Burrell.
Climbing onto the Diamond Step, ~200' below the summit, with Chasm Lake almost 2000' below. Photo: Buzz Burrell.
Happy to share the summit with a pair of pioneers. Photo: Buzz Burrell.
So, I did, along with my oft-partner-in-crime for such alpine adventures, Joe Grant.  At the last second, Joe decided to bring his Go Pro Hero headcam for pics and video, which turned out to be a good idea; he got some good stuff, per usual.  On this particular outing--inspired by Buzz's stories about leaving behind the hardware and just scrambling the 3rd-4th Class ridge next to the Lambs Slide couloir instead of heading up the snow--we tried that ourselves and it worked out great.  There was a lot of stop and go on the day as there often is during a tandem adventure, and especially because of the digital documentation that Joe was performing.  However, I clocked my moving time from East trailhead to trailhead at only 2:38, so knew immediately that I would have to come back very soon to give it an honest, non-stop, FKT-style effort.  Why not the very next day?

A critical piece of beta that we'd taken advantage of the previous two days was that a climber working a project on the Diamond had fixed a rope on the North Face descent slabs.  This little fact meant that, even in the current water-slick conditions, I could do the route in nothing more than a pair of shorts and sticky shoes (with climbing rubber) and carrying only a 3oz shell (always a good idea in an alpine environment, even if you don't use it), one gel, and a pair of tent-pegs for crossing the snow-filled couloir.  A unique opportunity, indeed (at least until the Cables slabs dry out later this summer and I can just downclimb them).

Here is a quick synopsis of my day out looking to set an FKT, that I posted to the Satan's Minions listserv.

Just got back from Longs Peak (for the third day in a row :).   Worst conditions of the four times I've been up there, with crazy winds between treeline and Chasm Lake.
Today was a concerted see-how-fast-I-can-go effort on the up, but, unfortunately, my climbing legs were way flat today and then the wind above treeline was extremely discouraging/slowing.
At any rate, going up Kieners and down the Cables and taking every short-cut I know of, I went 2:28:31 car-to-car with a 1:41:37 ascent and a 46:54 descent.  I sat behind the summit rock catching my breath for ~20sec before leaving the summit at 1:42:00.
On the way down I ran into none other than Andy Anderson (the absolute RT record holder on Longs at 2:02:54, Cables up and down) hiking up the Jim Grove trail w/ another climbing ranger, and I stopped and chatted for 90sec-2min or so with him mostly because I didn't feel like I was actually on that quick of a descent pace (the wind had been throwing me around a lot whilst descending to and then crossing the Boulder Field); I really got after it, though, below treeline again (only a few navigational mistakes) and was really surprised to see my high-46min descent.  Just w/o the stop to chat, I think I would've been approaching Andy's 44min descent from his record run.  Of course, I batmanned down the still-there fixed rope on the Cables, which I imagine more than makes up for the ~2min I spent talking with Andy.
I also lost a couple minutes by absent-mindedly climbing too high on the Lambs Slide ridge before traversing the snow over to Broadway.  This put me at a wider part of Lambs Slide and also meant I didn't get to use the steps I'd kicked yesterday, as I'd planned.  I should've just dropped back down the ridge 100ft or so, but was stubborn about not losing any elevation, and I think it cost me as I got into some pretty slow icy snow and actually climbed up to the rocks for handholds before dropping back down to the Broadway entry.
Other than that, I look forward to coming back with fresh legs and a more calm day.  Also, getting the trail dialed in just below treeline and between the summit and the top of the Cables will yield another minute or two for sure.
              Splits:
              Goblin - 12:30
              Battle Mt CG sign - 26:45
              Chasm Lake (east end) - 47:30
              Bottom of Lambs Slide ridge - 59:40
              Start of snow traverse - 1:12:00 
              Entry to Broadway - 1:17
              Base of Notch Couloir - 1:23:10
              Diamond Step - 1:38:15
              Summit boulder - 1:41:37

              Left summit at 1:42:00
              Top of Cables rope - 1:48
              Chasm View - 1:50:40
              Crossing Keyhole trail below Granite Pass - 2:05:40
              Battle Mt Campground trail - 2:14:50
              Goblin sign - 2:22:25
              Trailhead - 2:28:31


Overall, I was proud of the effort, but I know it isn't my best, nor most focused, so I guess I'll be having to go back in the future.

Also, as per the above-mentioned run-in with Andy Anderson, I've become quite interested in the absolute roundtrip record on Longs (generally speaking, the shortest/fastest route involves ascending and descending the North Face slabs). Currently at 2:02:54, sub-2hr seems like a worthwhile goal.  In the meantime, I really look forward to continuing to deepen my relationship with this profoundly beautiful slice of Colorado.   

23 comments:

Ken Bess said...

Sorry to hear about Hardrock, but glad that you're running Speedgoat. It kind of makes me wish I weren't running the Speedgoat so I could watch the race unfold from on top of Hidden Peak, this is going to be an awesome race!

Spencer said...

I've been reading for a while. And this stuff gets me going. I've live in eastern Washington, where alpine is hard to get a hold of, usually a four or five hour drive away. So recently I've been seeking the steepest lines on the mountains around, usually 40 to 50 percent grade. But, I saw this, and it seems like something you'd dig. http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/dropping-in/Grand-Slammed-20120701.html.

Rain said...

Amazing pics as usual. Looks liek a great time with friends!
Scott was in Austin last week and I didn't know until after, I would have loved to see him.
Looks like another great week, hope the shin is cooperating!

Danna said...

Really enjoyed your last two posts on Longs. Such an amazing place. Took a trip a couple years ago to attempt D7 but had to turn back a few pitches from the top both times. Can't wait to return this summer give it a go now that I have solid running legs for the approach.

I keep wishing for a NB approach shoe... like a sized down 110 with sticky rubber and a stiff upper. Will probably leave my clunky approach shoes at home and just bring wt10s for approach/talus and climbing shoes for climbing. Also loving the wt00s for being near weightless when balled in a pack or clipped to a harness.

Huge thanks to you and Joe for the constant inspiration!

Danna said...

p.s. Love the tent stake axes. Tried to use a nut tool last time, but only had one.

Jan said...

I could never come close to the types of things that you do, but I find them inspiring nonetheless. Thanks for sharing your story and amazing photos, too.

C.J. Hitz said...

That crux move on Broadway looks harrowing

Wyatt Hornsby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cwells51 said...

I notice that you're wearing La Sportiva shoes. Is there a switch coming from the trusty New Balance line?

Buzz said...

In addition to being talented and motivated, you are an inspired being; a delight to be around

Anton said...

cwells51 -Absolutely not. But when soloing a climbing route, it's safer to be wearing shoes with climbing rubber.

Unknown said...

I couldn't decide whether to go biking or trail running after work yesterday. Your blog inspired me to do the Pawtuckaway State Park Mountain tour here in NH. It's a tiny adventure compared to your escapades, but after a day in the office the 9 mile loop with 2050 in elevation gain was perfect. Thanks for the inspiration!

nomeatbarefeet.com said...

I see that you a wearing the experimental pack. How does the placement of the bottles feel when running? Do they bang or rub against your arms at all? I am really excited about this pack, as there us nothing really like it out there. Thanks for helping to develop it, and putting up such wonderful and inspiring pictures and stories.

danielle said...

TONY, YOU ARE A BEAST. Mixing running and mountaineering? Totally inspiring. Sounds like you're out of Boulder for now, but maybe I'll see you up high.

Cheers,
Danielle

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Rishi Nepal said...

Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest base camp trek "A lifetime achievement visiting worlds highest mountain from classic route to Everest South base camp amidst the rich buddhist culture, warm-friendly locals, traditional village, land of worlds heritage, high alpine valley's in the shade of the mighty Number On 'Mt.Everest'."This trip allows you to view Mt.Everest and other breathe taking snow capped panorama, our adventurous journey takes you to the classic south face of Mt.Everest in Nepal. This trek begins with a sweeping scenic flight to Lukla and the trek starts from here, the trek follows many farm villages on route with beautiful views of the high snow capped peaks of the world, and to the highest spot at Kalapatthar for the outstanding breathe taking view panorama of peaks and its glacier including Mt.Everest at a stone throw distance. After reaching the Everest Base Camp near the greatKhumbu Ice Fall our journey ends at Lukla for the scenic flight back to Kathmandu
http://www.encountersnepal.com

Rishi Nepal said...

Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest base camp trek "A lifetime achievement visiting worlds highest mountain from classic route to Everest South base camp amidst the rich buddhist culture, warm-friendly locals, traditional village, land of worlds heritage, high alpine valley's in the shade of the mighty Number On 'Mt.Everest'."This trip allows you to view Mt.Everest and other breathe taking snow capped panorama, our adventurous journey takes you to the classic south face of Mt.Everest in Nepal. This trek begins with a sweeping scenic flight to Lukla and the trek starts from here, the trek follows many farm villages on route with beautiful views of the high snow capped peaks of the world, and to the highest spot at Kalapatthar for the outstanding breathe taking view panorama of peaks and its glacier including Mt.Everest at a stone throw distance. After reaching the Everest Base Camp near the greatKhumbu Ice Fall our journey ends at Lukla for the scenic flight back to Kathmandu
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Mount Everest trek begins from Lukla, after 35 minutes scenic Mountain flight from ancient city Kathmandu. Our Everest base camp trek commences through the Sherpa villages and farmlands gradually rises to Namche Bazaar (3440m.) where couples of nights spend for acclimatization to be familiar with altitude. One of our rest day, we visit the large Sherpa village at Khumjung and experience their lifestyle, beliefs, skills and warmth. The Prayer flags, Chortens, Mani walls and Monasteries justify to the importance of Tibetan Buddhism in their lives throughout the wilderness.
Everest Base Camp trekking route continues with several ups and downs to higher altitude, exploring the alpine vegetation where the night-time temperature drops down to zero. Eventually, the one way trekking destination ends at the base camp of Everest or climbing the view point Kalapathar. Staying in the lodges and capturing the world's highest towering peaks, we retrace to Lukla and fly back to Kathmandu.
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mina thapa said...

Everest Panorama trek begins with the 35 minute early morning flight from Kathmandu to the Tenzing-Hillary airport at Lukla (2642m). After breakfast and handover of luggage to the porters, we trek to Phakding through farmlands and the Sherpa heritage villages where you will begin to meet the local peoples and observe their culture, beliefs and way of living.

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Mount Everest trekking to Tengboche takes you to your highest point and a plateau that overlooks the surrounding countryside against the backdrop of the imposing Ama Dablam, Kangtega, Thamserku and the Everest group. Enjoy its hospitality and explore the famous monastery, the Jandanma Kharka (Yak grazing Land) and the rhododendron forests. Absolutely photographer’s paradise! Spring and Autumn are the best season to trek, though Mountain Mart Trek-adventure team make it happen four season comfortably. The return journey via Monjo allows you to sleep at a lower altitude for greater comfort.