Sunday, June 2, 2013

May 27 - June 2

Mon-AM: 2:03, 5000' ~ Mt. Elbert
Up and down the NE ridge. Did the roundtrip from TH to summit and back in a few minutes under 2hr, but got in some extra time/vert on the corniced southwest ridge as Joel was waiting for me up there so he could do some filming. Brilliant morning on the hill.
PM: 1:06, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
Ran from Chat with Joel, who joined me to the top of the First. With Joel initially nipping at my heels I tagged a snappy 12:30 scramble on the slab before downclimbing and heading to the top of the mountain alone. So awesome to see the transformation of Boulder from spring to summer in the past week I've been away.

Tue-AM: 3:53, 5000' ~ Longs Peak
Up via Lambs Slide and Clarks Arrow, down the North Face. Got a 5am start from the trailhead, giving Joel a 45min head-start. There wasn't much snow until Chasm Lake, but all of the snow was in excellent condition, consolidated and frozen, accepting Khatoola crampons quite well. Lambs Slide and Keplinger's Couloir/The Homestretch were classic snow marches in perfect conditions, nary a breath of breeze all day. The descent of the North Face down to the top of the Cables was by far the spiciest terrain of the day. Descending such steep snow facing in was tedious and required focus. Rapped the top half of the Cables and downclimbed the bottom half before running down the apron of snow below there, removing crampons, and enjoying a smooth run back down to the cars. Back below Mt. Lady Washington, the now slightly softer snow conditions were ideal for descending fast. Really good to be back on the mountain after not being up there since early April. #12 of the year.
PM: 1:06, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
Biked to Chat, 12:25 scramble, then to the top of the mountain and descent of the front. Had a bunch of energy in my legs, which was nice.

Wed-AM: 2:01, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Ugh, one of those rough days. The string of early mornings and big days of vert caught up to me, plus motivation was severely affected by the cold rain falling. Eventually stumbled out the door, though, and jogged up and down the mountain at the easiest effort possible. Up Gregory-Greenman, down Ranger-Red Lion-Creek Path. The rain eventually stopped and I was treated with a lot of magical clouds sweeping around the summits.

Thu-AM: 2:17, 5700' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Got a late start because Joel and I drove up toward Ned, headed for the high country before realizing that, yes indeed, the weather forecast wasn't lying and the Divide held truly apocalypse conditions (snowing, hurricane winds). So we headed to Chat for some flatties, instead. After some stop-and-go, leap-frogging each other on the First, we ran into Dakota on the summit and had a long, casual conversation in the sun. From there, though, I continued on alone and clocked some of my best splits ever in linking some Flatirons together; legs felt really strong. Yesterday's easy day did a lot of good.
PM: 1:05, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
Really good pep in the legs tonight, and I made it to the summit of Green from Chat in 42min, which has to be a PR or close to it for ascending via the First Flatiron. Good downhill, too.

Fri-AM: 0:58, 1800' ~ First Flatiron
Got up really early for some filming in good light on the First with Joel. Really windy on the arete and downclimb, though. Ran back down to the hut after we were finished. Had planned a peak in the high country in the evening, but the hurricane winds persisted up there so I decided to just save the energy for tomorrow's outing.

Sat-AM: 7:41, 13,500' ~ Massive, Elbert, La Plata
First three peaks of Nolan's 14. I started from Halfmoon for logistical reasons and to hopefully save some postholing below treeline (if I'd started from Fish Hatchery), but because of the extensive snowfield on Massive's upper face I ended up reaching the summit in a similar time that it usually takes me to summit from Fish Hatchery (1:46). Immediately turned and started descending Massive's SW slopes, which started dodgy but then turned into an incredible 2500' drop completely on perfect, steep snow that took something like 12min. It was awesome. Too early in the morning for glissading, but running was probably even faster, if harder on the ol' quads. Somewhere in this plummet, however, I lost my 8oz Hydrapak flask, which had been my only water-carrying device for the day. Bummer. I spent a lot of time drinking at streams before the monster climb up Elbert's west ridge, but apparently it wasn't enough as I was really fading toward the top and had even mostly resolved to bail at the summit (3:55) and just descend back to Halfmoon. Luckily, Joel was up there for a couple minutes of film and was in a particularly cheery mood after PRing up the NE ridge; his mood was infectious, and, even more importantly, he gave me a bottle to complete the rest of the run with. The descent off Elbert past the Golden Fleece mine and down Echo Canyon was particularly fast with snow every step of the way until the mine, and by time I started up La Plata (trailhead at 5:04) my energy seemed to be at an all-day high. Things were really good on the LP climb until I got above 12k' or so...where the altitude proceeded to smack me hard. The final 1500' to the summit was a total, staggering horror show on an endless, baking hot reflective snowfield. I had plenty of gels and water, so that, along with the splitting headache I had seemed to indicate that it was just all the time above treeline finally catching up with me. It's still early in the acclimation process for me. Fortunately, there was another perfect snow descent off of La Plata, too---this with some of the best glissading of my life---and despite what felt like days of thrashing around in the hip-deep snow/willows/water just above treeline I was down in Winfield less than an hour after leaving LP's summit. Awesome day, but my fitness---both mental and physical, specifically my altitude acclimation---still has a ways to come before I attempt Nolan's later in the month.

Sun-AM: 2:07, 4500' ~ Mt. Elbert
Up and down the NE ridge. Jogged about a mile on the road to wake up the legs before starting up the hill. Gorgeous day, perfect conditions, the snow is shrinking quick. Legs were tired, but not terrible.
PM: 1:01, 600' ~ East Leadville
Easy shake-out jog in the evening.

Hours: 25h18min
Vert: 48,100'

This felt like the first week of proper summer running. A few 14ers, some flatties, all of it really enjoyable. As expected, the first real foray onto a chunk of the Nolan's line was sobering in its difficulty. What a monster route. I spent a lot of Saturday relearning techniques of not looking too far into the future, remaining in the moment, staying concerned only with the task at hand. Something like Nolan's is impossible to complete if you get too far ahead of yourself mentally.

Sunrise over Twin Sisters Tuesday morning.
Snow beta shot on the condition of the East Face. Flying Dutchman and the Notch both look good still.
Joel marching up toward the base of Lambs Slide.
Joel on upper Lambs Slide, well above Broadway.
Joel crossing the saddle between the Lambs Slide and Flying Dutchman couloirs.
Joel slogging up the Homestretch. Three 14ers in four days for a West Virginia boy.
Obligatory summit shot with the 'tinger.
The North Face descent above the Cables was uncommonly steep, but very good snow.
Summit ridge of Mt. Elbert on Sunday morning.


R. Logan Brooks said...

Those are some impressive hours spent out in the peaks Tony. Happy you've been able to keep it together. On a side note, take my word and get The National's new album, Trouble Will Find Me. My god it is nearly a masterpiece. Remember listen to it twice before you make up your mind on it. It's haunting. Its real.

Dominic Grossman said...

Mountain Man! Hauling yourself up cracks is giving you a HK upper body. Keep it up, you're going to do something really special on Nolan's.

mike_hinterberg said...

Great stuff. The snow of course can speed up the descents, especially, and provides for convenient water, but also provides additional variability throughout the day (in addition to training/scouting) -- so will the end of June be the optimum time for your best attempt? It seems like Nolan's is overwhelmingly historically attempted in August, although that may also be a legacy of post-Hardrock time and additional fitness/acclimatization, so I'm curious if you find late June to be more advantageous. Best of luck and looking forward to the pictures (video?) and tales.

Anton said...

Logan - I've given it one listen-through on Spotify, definitely need to hear it again. My initial impression was that it sounded like more of the same from the National, which, in my opinion, is definitely not a bad thing. I really enjoy them.

Dom - Yeah, getting jacked these days. Clearly. Nah, sometimes the camera just catches you at a good angle.

Mike - I think the best timeframe(s) for Nolan's each year are either the first 10 days or so of June (before the afternoon electrical storms start kicking up) or sometime around Labor Day weekend. Basically, you're balancing acclimation with snow with lightning. Last year would've been perfect for the first week of June (with the low snow) if I'd been up high for the full month beforehand. I can't do late summer this year because of UTMB. Snow prohibited getting up high earlier this year. On Saturday I was actually thinking that if my acclimation was better, this week would actually be pretty solid for giving it a shot. Then I got to the willows coming off La Plata, spent a couple days doing the backstroke and searching for a route through all the soft snow and decided that another week or two of melt are needed for optimal conditions. Consolidated snow is only optimal on the uphill if you're wearing crampons. Consolidated snow on the downhill is awesome. So, my current target date is some time the last week of June, basically keeping a close eye on the weather and waiting for a high-pressure system that will keep the weather as stable as possible. I really don't want to have to lose an hour or two at treeline waiting out a storm cell, but I never mess around with lightning, either. Other than avalanches, it's the only thing in the mountains that really scares me.

Anonymous said...


As always man awesome several days, and I look forward to seeing you perform well on this massive mountain run!

Any ideas on how you would like to finish? i.e time completed?

I was thinking it would be a cool idea to share a special "Go Pro Edition" to serious Blog/Fan Followers. I know myself and many others on here would love to see a video documentary (even if simple point and shoot video) of this.

Any release date on your already promising documentary The High Country?

Court5km said...

48k of vert is a prettyy solid week! With your training in the high country and massive mileage, as a runner & dietitian, I'd love to hear a little about your pre/post run food, just out of interest. Also, my bro and I are going to do Longs at the end of July and it will be my first 14. What route would you recommend?

If you want, check out my fave post run smoothie, you might enjoy:

Berry & Beet Smoothie

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries/raspberries/blueberries

1-2 chopped, whole beets or 1/2 of a can of canned beets

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 cup plain yogurt

*can add a little honey or raw sugar to taste, if needed J


some studies have shown that consumption of nitrate-rich, whole beetroot improves running performance….. ..whatever tho, whole foods are the best way to energize and revitalize a runners body :)

mike_hinterberg said...

Cool, great reply. It will be nice to beat the monsoon, I was just wondering about getting the route dialed in with respect to the dynamics of the snow across freeze-thaw cycles in a long outing, that hasn't been as play in much in previous attempts. It's an extra dimension of challenge, but probably adds to the fun of creative problem solving.

Anton said...

Dallas - NB is planning some videos documenting the Nolan's attempt. Joel and I just finished some extra filming for ITHC last week and the premiere will be in Boulder July 19th/20th, spearheaded by Ultimate Direction. I definitely have a goal completion-time for Nolans, but it's a little too ambitious for me to be comfortable stating publicly. I think anyone else can do the same calculations in their head that I do based on my training runs and have an idea, though.

Court5km - You don't want to ask me for diet advice. Seriously. Definitely just do the standard Keyhole Route on Longs Peak. Longs is quite ambitious for a first 14er as it is, and the Keyhole is 3rd Class, so more than just your usual walk-up.

Mike - Snow is becoming less and less an issue by the day and definitely won't be by the last week of the month. My timing also affords me a day that will basically have the most daylight of the year. Should be able to go headlamp-less from 5am to almost 9pm or so.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the response! I should be home to make the July event (assuming it will be a public release event of some sort).

I just got the email about UD Public Event that your doing this month called "Trail Tails". I'm deployed in Afghanistan and will miss that one by a few days....bummer.

I also like the fact NB is making some videos on your Nolan attempt and look forward to seeing that as well.

Barry Bliss said...

I noticed the muscles too.
I agree about the camera angle thing---and yet...

Rob said...

Are you driving out to your routes everyday or have you set up residence near Leadville to train?

Brad Williams said...


Off of the top of your head if you were to head out for an out and back on the standard routes for Massive and Elbert, in current conditions, how long would you expect that to take you?

I'm planning a run and trying to gain some perspective.

Thanks a lot and best of luck with your training and upcoming race season.


Anton said...

Brad - Take me personally? ~4h30 from the Halfmoon Creek trailhead. 1h30 massive ascent, 1hr descent, 1h15 elbert ascent, 40min descent.

Court5km said...

Thank you the route information and response. You are a gem.

Harikesh Chauhan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea in ABQ said...

Thanks for sharing all of this stuff! I saw a hilarious "cameo" of you in a Continental Divide Trail thru-hiker's video today.

Check out at 5:40, for the reference to 'the guy in track shorts' and a short video pan. Hehe.