Sunday, November 25, 2012

Catching Up: Nov 12 - 25

Mon-AM: 2:31, 5300' ~ 2xGreen Mt.
Both laps I went up Gregory-Ranger and down the NE ridge.  Not a particularly inspired effort this morning--I seemed to be bonking pretty hard on the second climb--but got it in. Still waiting for encouraging signs of fitness; kinda feel like I'm in some doldrums right now.
PM: 1:06, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Up 1st/2nd Access and down NE ridge. Started this one pretty late, so that when I got to the base of the First Flatiron I decided the combo of soloing on icy holds in the dark was probably not very wise.  Just ran the trail to the top then.

Tue-AM: 1:00 ~ Creek Path
Got up at 5:00am for an easy hour mostly in the dark before flying to Tennessee.  This was the most pathetic run I've had in a while.  I usually reserve this kind of shuffling for the week after a 100mi race, but I think I woke in the middle of a sleep cycle or something because my legs would simply not function. Literally 10min/mi pace.

Wed-AM: 0:50, maybe 1000'? ~ Percy Warner Park, Nashville TN
Went out for what would've been a nice jog with a big group in the peaking leaves in Nashville except that I was coming down with flu-like symptoms and I felt absolutely terrible.

Thu-Sat: SICK
Suffered through the flight/bus home on Wednesday and spent the next three days bed-ridden.

Sun-AM: 2:10, 2500' ~ Satan's Slab & Fifth Flatiron
Parked at NCAR with Joe and hiked casually up to Skunk Canyon, enjoying the beautiful fall day. Changed into rock shoes at the base of the imposing slab and started up.  The first stretch up the water chute held the crux of the day with some semi-desperate weird little thin pocket holds on a slightly steeper stretch.  The 5.6 climbing there was legit.  Above that gaining the ridge was more moderate and the south ridge itself was a spectacular arete.  The next crux was the negotiation of a big boulder that had some wild exposure on steeper than average rock.  Not a slab.  The rest of the climb was a romp, finishing with consistent 5.4 to the fantastic summit.

Hours: 7h27min
Vert: 11,500'


Mon-AM: 1:51, 3000' ~ 5th Flatiron+Green Mt.
After yesterday's outing with Joe I returned to the Fifth to try out what was supposed to be an easier line on it's east face--East Face North Side--so as to be climbable in running shoes. Turns out it was a heavily-sandbagged rating in the guidebook (check the comments on the mountainproject link), and it isn't really any easier than sticking to the North Buttress route that we climbed yesterday. Some tense moments as a result, but I got through it, and after completing our downclimb (on the south side of the rock--the usual sneak is on the north side), I continued on to the summit of Green before descending.

Tue-AM: 2:52, 5000' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta
Awesome day out with Joe.  After feeling so sketched yesterday on the Fifth I advocated starting with the First so as to get my confidence back up (even though it contains, by far, the hardest climbing of the whole link-up).  After lacing together the first three Flatirons we descended to the Royal Arch trail, humped over Sentinel Pass, and decided to do the Fourth before the Fifth, poo-poo-ing reports that the descent between the 4th and 5th flatirons is truly heinous.  Climbing the Fourth was fun (only my second time ever) despite the grubby upper piece of rock and then we suffered and swore and grumbled our way down that gulley; I'll never go back there.  Finally, at the base of the Fifth I confidently led the way up the route that had given me the willies the day before with zero issue.  Joe and I were both bonking pretty badly at this point and were quite dehydrated on the ridiculously warm fall day, but 23min after leaving the summit of the 5th, we were back at Chat.

Wed-AM: 2:27, 4000' ~ Angels Way+5th Flatiron+4th Flatiron+Green Mt.
Joe and I were back at Chat this morning for another epic scrambling session.  Jogged the Mesa trail over to Skunk Canyon and quickly dispatched of Angel's Way--an extremely aesthetic ridge of rock but with only occasional 5.0-5.2 difficulties more of a hike than anything. From the top of Angel's we bushwhacked over to the base of the Fifth Flatiron where Joe climbed the North Buttress and I went up the East Face North Side.  Descended to the base of the Fourth, climbed the whole thing, and then I told Joe that I was either going to tag the summit of Green or climb the full east face of the Third (we were both pretty parched again). He chose Green, so we headed up there before descending back to Chat.

Thu-AM: 2:40, 5500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Starting from Chat I linked up the five Flatirons again: 1st-2nd-3rd-5th-4th.  Switching the order of the last two avoids the heinous bushwhack down the gulley between those two rocks.  And for me, today, it left the highest flatiron--the Fourth--for last, putting me the closest to the summit of Green at the end of the link-up. After this morning I have some new respect for Buzz Burrell's and Bill Briggs' extremely strong efforts on this enchainment.  Buzz has the FKT at 2:01:xx, but chose to downclimb the 2nd and 5th Flatirons--to make the 2nd more interesting, and to save time on the 5th, I imagine. This is impressive style and may be necessary in order to break the record, but something in me definitely appreciates the symmetry of actually ascending the east face of each rock.  If I had simply descended back to Chautauqua this morning--instead of continuing on to the summit of Green--I think I would've been in the 2:25-28 range for the full car-to-car link-up, so I definitely have some work to do. Going 2hr-flat definitely requires a higher level of fitness than I currently have, too.  Either way, a particularly fantastic start to Thanksgiving Day.

Fri-AM: 2:00, 3200' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Ran to Chat and then up the Royal Arch Trail to the true base of the Third Flatiron.  The standard East Face route starts a couple hundred feet up the rock from the East Bench.  I always thought that was kind of strange, but after this morning's scramble I don't mind it--there wasn't really any interesting climbing below the usual start.  After downclimbing and tagging the summit of Green I descended Greenman-Gregory.

Sat-AM: 4:45, 6000' ~ Longs Peak (14,255')
With Joe, ascended via The Loft and descended the Keyhole. It was so windy in the parking lot that we almost decided not to even attempt going up the mountain. but of course resolved to at least go to treeline to suss the conditions.  At treeline I suggested we head up to the Loft because I thought it would be a little more sheltered from the wind.  As we neared the top of the Loft couloir we clearly saw the easy ramp to the left that exits onto the Loft but instead donned crampons and scrambled up a more direct 4th Class line of exposed ledges and popped over the headwall to find a party of two building an anchor to rappel what we'd just climbed.  Our route-finding blunders weren't over yet, though, as I inadvertently led us the extra 700' up to the summit of the Beaver only to be stymied by the Notch, of course.  After dropping 1000' back down to Clark's Arrow we finally crawled our way up the Homestretch slabs to the summit of Longs--it'd taken us a ridiculous 3:35 to get there, losing nearly an hour alone on the headwall below the Loft--and descended the Keyhole uneventfully (other than the hurricane-like winds) in 1:10. Yet another learning experience.

Sun-AM: 2:16, 4000' ~ 5th Flatiron+4th Flatiron+Green Mt+The Spy
Ran up to Chat and took the Royal Arch Trail to the base of the Fifth.  Linked the two flatties, tagged Green, and then headed down to the base of the First Flatiron to scramble The Spy. It's a very short climb (300'), so if it wasn't such a cool position on a narrow, hyper-exposed ridge, it wouldn't even really be worth doing. Felt strong on the run home, nice to finally be feeling some energy again.

Hours: 18h52min
Vert: 30,700'

Even before I got sick out in Tennessee 10 days ago, my running wasn't going very well.  Ever since I got back from South Africa in mid-October I'd been low on energy.  For a couple of weeks I crammed in the volume and vertical, trying to build strength and fitness and confidence, but, of course, the harder I tried, the more forced and sluggish things became.  Pretty classic case of end-of-the-year burn-out.  So, when I finally came down with the flu and was relegated to laying in bed for several days, it was obvious my body was trying to tell me something so I decided to quit forcing things and just get outside on feel, with no goal-oriented ambitions.  I called off competing in The North Face 50mi Championships and for the past week have instead done a lot of scrambling in the Flatirons.  I'll keep up this schedule of running (/climbing) once per day at least until the end of the year, and probably beyond, before I truly begin to build up for a fun-filled spring and summer season of racing and summits.  I'll definitely continue to get out and tag peaks, but it will be with low expectations and probably a lot of slow, non-race-specific snow-slogging.  The best part is that I'm healthy and I feel fortunate to be voluntarily choosing to scale back the running instead of being forced into it by injury, which so often seems to be the case.

Picking my way up a crux on Satan's Slab last weekend. Photo: Joe Grant.
An airy perch hanging out over Satan's east face. Photo: Joe Grant.
The fantastic North Arete, just below the summit of the Fifth Flatiron. Photo: Joe Grant.
Summit of the Fifth last Sunday. Photo: Joe Grant.
North face of Mt. Meeker as seen from our perch in the Loft couloir Saturday morning. Photo: Joe Grant.


Unknown said...

happy thanksgiving but too bad you've been feeling under the weather. may be due to you shaving the beard brother hahaha. always nice to see your photos and posts though, find it really inspiring to get out there and explore.

Chris Cawley said...


Jamie said...


Unknown said...

Man, I know what you mean regarding the wind on Saturday. My wife and I hiked Mt. Yale and the winds were fierce up at the top...had to be 50-60mph. Forecast had said 10-15mph. Always fun nonetheless

Lisa said...


This rock climbing/scaling you are doing looks scary and kind of unsafe! I'm afraid of heights though so I'm sure I sound like a silly worrier.

By the way, that picture of you looked sooo different and I had no idea why until someone wrote "Mustache" ha! I can never figure out why my husand looks different after he shaves- ridiculous!

Haven't read your blog in some time- sounds like you are doing pretty well! But please be careful on all those rocks!!

Unknown said...

Hey Tony. Now that you shaved your beard you look exactly like Malcolm on the CBS show survivor. You guys look like brothers.

Kemp. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kemp. said...

Hey man,
Out of curiosity, do you mostly free climb the flatties? Is there really a need for ropes, gear, etc? From the looks of it, you're going free most of the time.

Bill said...

I have a question old lad. What do your measures of feet indicate? Accrued altitude gain only? Or is that both up and down? Do you measure this off topo maps and local knowledge, or your watch? And how well do you trust a watch on a long loop like glacier gorge? I ask because I am always dubious of the accrued gains my watch gives me, and wonder at times if your weekly listings (for the stuff not right in your backyard) are more map based or taken from the watch or perhaps just ballparked off the top of your head.

Rain said...

Sorry about being sick. I agree that it's much better to scale back because you want to...scaling back because of injury is beyond frustrating!!
I hope you have a great winter, and maybe you can relax a little? days off here and there? :)

Lux said...

Why don't you move to sky mountaneering during winter season like Kilian does, just to "spare" your body and use other muscles?
An italian fan.

Anonymous said...

We saw you briefly up on Longs on Saturday. We "ran" to Chasm Lake and back (in a very leisurely 4 hours) and can attest to the brutal winds throughout. All along the way we heard about "oh, are you with the other runners up there?". Figured it was more than likely you.

Anton said...

Kemp - The term "free climb" is generally reserved for climbing with ropes, harnesses, and gear to catch a fall but not to aid in ascending the rock. On the Flatirons, I'm almost always "free soloing", which is climbing up the rock with no way to catch or protect a fall--no ropes, no harnesses, etc.. I would never feel comfortable recommending soloing to anyone that I don't know. Choosing to solo is a very personal decision that must be made based on experience, skill, and mental attitude. The climbing in the Flatirons is generally very moderate (5.0-5.7 or so), but is also usually wildly exposed. People respond to exposure in different ways--some people are comfortable with it, some aren't. My personal ability to solo moderate rock can vary quite a bit from day-to-day: it's totally a mental-headspace type of thing. Soloing should never be scary; you should always be comfortable and confident. The danger is very real and very final, so the decision to jump on a rock face without a rope should never be taken lightly. Again, I would never recommend it to a stranger.

Bill - I use a Highgear Axio Max watch with a barometric altimeter. I have found it to be very accurate in calculating accumulated vertical gain (which is what I measure--the vertical loss doesn't concern me), as long as the batteries are fresh.

Lux - One of these seasons I'd like to start doing some ski mountaineering. But it requires a very expensive up-front investment in gear, not to mention developing a brand-new set of skills (backcountry skiing).

Court5km said...

Lookin good anton. Love seeing your smile (sans some of the facial hair) ;) Gonna keep the look?

buyenergydrink said...

Hi Anton, thanks for sharing awesome shots of your climbing. Take Care

Allan Barrett Van Cleave said...

Was surprised to see you were out here in Nashville, I just moved from Colorado, where I was building trails on some 14ers. You must've run on some tread i cut on La Plata. Glad it's getting some good use!

Unknown said...

Are you "big mustache" ?

Unknown said...

I'm astonished to known your experience.I'll come back again to know about your experience.I also shearing with you.
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Unknown said...

life is adventure. it makes man brave. liked your post.
Paul's Outdoor Adventures

Unknown said...

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