Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feb 11 - 24

Mon-AM: 1:06, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Biked to Chat and went up and down the front. Psyched to finally have the hip back to feeling in fine fiddle. Determined to stay smart with it this time around.

Tue-AM: 1:40, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Biked to Chat and met Jurker, Rickey, and his friend Bryce for a run up Bear Canyon and then down the front of the mountain. Apprehensive about the longer distance on my hip but Rickey needed the relative flat of the Mesa trail to loosen up his achilles at the start.
PM: Climbing with Joe at Animal World, Boulder Canyon after acupuncture at mid-day.

Wed-AM: 1:05, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Biked to Chat and went up and down the front of the mountain. Finally starting to feel some strength on the hill again.

Thu-AM: 1:04, 2700' ~ 2nd Flatiron+Green Mt.
Biked to Chat and scrambled the Freeway on the 2nd on the way to the summit.

Fri-AM: 1:16, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Biked to Chat and went up and down the front. Didn't wear Microspikes, but it would've been helpful in the 2-3" of fresh snow, which definitely slowed progress.

Sat-AM: 1:13, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Biked to Chat and went up Gregory-Ranger and down the front. My first time running up the backside in a really long time, but it was good to start working on that uphill running rhythm again.

Sun-AM: 1:11, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Biked to Chat and went up and down the front. Tired this morning.
PM: 1500', Climbing in Eldo Canyon with Buzz.
Really fun afternoon. When I got to Buzz's he asked if I'd brought my rope---inexplicably, I hadn't, I just assumed he would have one.  Well, it turns out all of Buzz's ropes are totally non-standard (short, skinny, static) so we ended up taking his only lead rope, which was only 30m long because he normally uses it for simul-climbing.  In the end, this led to a little more adventurous afternoon in the canyon. When we got to the base of Rewritten/Zot on the Redgarden wall there was (understandably) a line to get on the route, so Buzz instead carefully led up the West Chimney (directly to the right of Rewritten). I took the next pitch up to the Red Ledge and then we traversed over and simul-climbed Swanson's Arete to the top of the Lumpe Tower, which was a total blast. Definitely solo-able material.

In classic Buzz fashion, getting down was a touch trickier. Our short rope made the standard rappels impossible and we both wanted to avoid downclimbing all the way down the East Slabs as we hoped to get in another route before the sun set.  This led to Buzz belaying me as I led a wildly-exposed but reasonably juggy down-traverse pitch before belaying Buzz past the difficulties.

After the quick 4th Class descent back down the west side of the ridge we found Rewritten to be open and I convinced Buzz that we had plenty of time to get up it before running out of light.  I led the first run-out pitch, but was forced to belay Buzz up the crux a little short of the usual ledge because of our short rope. From there we simul-climbed up to the 4th pitch where I then led the uber-classic hand-traverse and finger crack before we simulclimbed the last two pitches to the summit. Ended up getting back to the base of the climb just as the sun was setting in perfect timing.

Hours: 10h43min
Vert: 20,500'


Mon-AM: 1:14, 2800' ~ 2nd & 1st Flatirons
Biked to Chat and ran up to the base of the First. The bottom 30-40' were covered in ice and snow, including my usual entrance onto the rock. Above there, things looked good. I spent a lot of time looking for an alternate way onto the rock and even started up on a small lie-back feature slightly farther north on the base before backing down as I wasn't willing to commit to the slabby section above it that would connect me into my usual line.  Ran over and scrambled the 2nd Flatiron as a consolation, even though there was still some snow and ice in the gulley leading to the climb onto the Pullman Car.  On the run down from the summit of the 2nd you go right by the base of the 1st and when I got there I decided, screw it, I'm gonna give it another go. Funny how much easier some rock moves feel once you're warmed up and in the flow. The lie-back and the slab went with zero issue but above there I had to improvise a few other moves because of snow and ice still lingering on some cracks/ledges. There was a BD stopper stuck in the perfect finger-lock hold underneath the Ear chimney move, so I resolved to come back the next day with a nut tool to retrieve the booty.

Tue-AM: 1:20, 3000' ~ 1st Flatiron+Green Mt.
Ran to the base, scrambled in 16min, downclimbed in 3min, and then continued on to the summit of Green. Strategically brought a nut tool with me and was able to get the stopper from under the Ear. Acupuncture in the afternoon.

Wed-AM: 1:20, 3000' ~ 1st Flatiron+Green Mt.
Was able to sneak in just under 15min on the scramble today and then on the way down descended Greenman to Gregory (kind of the longest way down the mountain), just to get a little extra running in. Cold morning, could tell it was going to snow, so I was psyched to get in one last ascent of the First for a while. Hip has been feeling quite good.

Thu-AM: 1:54, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Lots of new snow this morning, so I ran to the Gregory trailhead where I met Gavin, Skurka, and Jeff for a lap up and down the frontside. Jeff broke trail all the way up, which was nice of him.

Fri-AM: 1:46, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Ran to Gregory to go up and down the front. Lots of new snow on the mountain but the trail is starting to get established.

Sat-AM: 1:12, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Biked to Chautauqua and ran up and down the front. Trying to remain conservative with the hip.

Sun-AM: 1:57, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Ran to Gregory and went up and down the front right in the thick of the snowstorm. Probably close to a foot of new snow up top. Hip seemed 100%.

Hours: 10h43min
Vert: 20,500'

Injuries are a funny thing.  I've run every day for over two weeks now, but I still don't have 100% confidence in my hip. But it's never really hurt, either. I'm hoping that with continued vigilance, diligence with my exercises, and acupuncture, I'll gradually get there.

These last few days of snow in Colorado have seen me using some new tactics for getting up the hill, notably a pair of trekking poles and some of Kahtoola's new K10 crampons. We haven't had much snow all winter, so this might seem like overkill, but when the footing is deep, unstable, and loose the combination of these two things definitely makes the uphill a lot more efficient.  When I first saw the K10's I wasn't convinced of their utility.  They only have 3/4" teeth (compared to the full inch on Kahtoola's KTS Steel model), but now I see that they're a much more durable (made from a steel alloy) but only slightly heavier alternative to Kahtoola's aluminum crampon.  And the buckling system is very clean and simple.  Who knows how much more snow we'll get down here in Boulder this season (I stick to the KTS Steel with the 1" teeth for the high country), but I've been enjoying the K10's extra bite this past week when Microspikes have been pretty ineffective.

Monday, February 18, 2013

In The High Country

Last July, I got an email from Joel Wolpert about filming me on some of the mountains I was running up at the time.  I'd first met Joel in November 2010, when he contacted me about making a short film for Running Times about running in the winter.

Our subsequent actual face-to-face meeting was quite odd.  I was out for a typical jog up Green Mountain when I came upon Joel about halfway up the hill, at the junction of the Saddle Rock and Greenman trails. He was wearing a plaid shirt, a blaze orange trucker's hat, and had a camera tripod slung over one shoulder, which---given the rest of his outfit---from 100 yards out I thought might actually be a rifle.  He introduced himself, though---"I thought I might find you up here"---and after doing some filming with him the next day and seeing the final result, I was impressed with what he could do with just a camera, a tripod, a rented steadi-cam, and his running fitness (even with low-altitude, West Virginia lungs).

So, when he called me up in July, I was happy to work with him again, knowing that he had the vision and ability to produce something beyond the standard mountain porn.  What sets Joel apart---and what I think will be apparent in the final product---is his impressive commitment to the craft. Eventually, Joel was able to russle up some backers---including support from my personal sponsors, Ultimate Direction and New Balance---but before any of that happened, Joel simply packed up his aging Subaru wagon in mid-August and sight unseen drove half-way across the country to meet up with me in Leadville for the 100 mile race.

Post-Leadville 100, we spent virtually every day of the next month together, each of us living out of our respective vehicles as I bounced back and forth between Boulder and the state's high mountain ranges, chasing as many summits and scrambles as I could before the weather turned and I had to fly off to Spain for a race. A family man, Joel committed to my itinerant summer lifestyle of 14er summits, mountain stream baths, Flatiron scrambles, trailhead sleeping, and coffeeshop internet-snaking. Don't worry, it's not as romantic as it might sound to some, but it does let me see a lot of mountaintops.

Lots of people can wield a camera, a few more can work some magic in the editing room.  Not very many possess those skills while also being able to keep up on pre-dawn 14er missions and 5th Class scrambles with a 1000'+ of exposure, clinging ropeless to the rock with one hand and pointing the camera with the other. And then keep it up for a month, also dealing with my at-times obsessive and uncompromising personality. Without getting paid.

Obviously, I have a bias, but I'm excited to see what Joel comes up with this time around.