Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 3 - 9

Mon - Green Mountain (1:33, 3000') + climbing in the gym
Nice and warm day out on the mountain this morning, feels like spring. Today I was randomly listening to Broken Social Scene's first real album You Forgot It In People, which was released in late 2002, but I didn't get around to it about a year later. Anyways, it kind of took me by surprise that I'd been listening to the album for over 10 years. It's (still) really good and there was a time when I would've placed BSS as probably one of my top-3 favorite acts---they're easily still in my top-10.
          I saw them live twice, both in 2011, the last year they were together. The March 2011 show in the Boulder Theater is still the most expensive music ticket I've ever bought ($37) and I remember feeling quite ambivalent about paying that much, being used to paying ~$20 less for a show. It was absolutely worth it. Most indie acts I've seen are $15-20 and will predictably play for 60-75min, take a short break, and then come out and play maybe a couple more songs as an encore before calling it a night at 90min of entertainment, tops.  The BSS show in Boulder was unlike anything I'd ever seen. They played non-stop for two and a half hours and with infectious enthusiasm the entire time. One of the best shows I've ever been to. Here's a performance of a classic track from them from a brief get-together of theirs last summer.


Tue - Green Mountain (1:38, 3000')
I have an acupuncture appointment this morning, so I'm on the mountain earlier than usual, which is always a treat. I love running at sunrise. Just as I'm leaving the summit, I bump into my friends Homie and Bill. These guys happen to be two of my biggest inspirations in the mountains. Like myself, both are simply average climbers (though Bill leads harder than anything Homie or I could), but their enthusiasm and appetite for the mountains is virtually unparalleled.
          Homie's attempt on the Colorado 14ers speed record from a couple years ago is legendary, and Bill has continually concocted logical and interesting climbing projects that only require moderate technical ability but heaps of endurance, planning, and resolve. Bill has co-authored a book about speed climbing, directs the Tour de Flatirons scrambling races each fall, climbed 100 pitches in Eldo in a day, and linked up all 53 of Gerry Roach's Flatiron Classics in a long weekend. When I did the Glacier Gorge Traverse in 2012, Homie and Bill's trip report was my main source of information. Both men have absolutely encyclopedic knowledge of Colorado climbing and mountaineering, and beyond being directly inspired by their actual mountain endeavors, it's the way they approach them with such enthusiasm and energy that really gets me excited. Ultimately, they're living examples of the fact that you don't have to climb 5.12 in order to have innumerable fantastic and satisfying adventures in the mountains.
          Bill parts with a cheery, "I see you've been going to the gym a lot, we should climb together some time! I usually go at 6am; it's great, hardly anyone's there!" Before I turn to start descending, I chuckle and sheepishly reply that I'm usually either still sleeping or just sipping coffee at 6am, so that seems pretty unlikely.

Wed - AM: Green Mountain (1:39, 3000') + climbing in the gym
           PM: First Flatiron+Green Mountain (1:42, 3500')
Now that I'm back running, my sleep is more regular and I wake up earlier. It's a much more natural pattern to be in (rising with the sun), and today it affords me a brilliant display of alpenglow combined with a fresh layer of sparkle on the Boulder peaks and Flatirons, which I'm very fortunate to be able to view from the comfort of my apartment window, coffee in hand. The run up the mountain is slowed by the 3-4" of fresh snow and is further hindered by my breaking both of my Microspikes early in the run (they're an old pair). I descend past the First Flatiron to scope the conditions, and though it's wet in a few key spots, I'm confident that it'll be dry enough for a safe scramble this afternoon.
          After the run I head to the gym for a couple hours of climbing with Caroline. She's just returned from a few weeks in Catalunya, taking pictures of climbers and doing a little climbing of her own. Caroline is a far better climber than me, but I always enjoy watching what it looks like to be proficient on the plastic. She's extremely precise with her feet, deftly executes energy-saving adjustments in body position, and generally floats up the wall. For some reason, I seem to climb better in the gym with her than with anyone else because I fully accept that she's on a different level and I don't waste mental energy comparing my own (woefully lacking abilities) or getting frustrated when I can't match her on the wall. It feels like a fruitful session.
          Spring is in the air this afternoon and I decide to test the hip a little with a second outing. My legs are heavy and unresponsive on the run up to Chautauqua, but the hip feels good, so I resolve to just soldier through it and hopefully start building some fitness. The trail leading up to the First is an alarmingly sloppy, slushy mess, so my shoes don't initially offer the best friction on the rock, but within a minute or two I find a great rhythm despite having to be attentive in a few damp spots.
          Back on the ground, the warm afternoon has made the snow and ice on the trails pleasantly tacky, and I enjoy good footing sans Microspikes. On the way down, I spontaneously pop into the Amphitheater at the base of Green and scramble a couple easy 100' routes on the east face of the West Bench to just further revel in the warm, calm gloaming. Maybe all the time in the gym has been worth something, as when I first tried these short lines last November I remember being a bit apprehensive; tonight I'm thoroughly warmed up and they're a nice little tag at the end of a great evening on the mountain.

Not a bad view for morning coffee and a book.
Thu - AM: First Flatiron+Green Mountain+2nd Pinnacle (1:56, 3500')
Ugh, so tired. I was bonking pretty hard right from the beginning this morning, so it was a pretty desultory outing. The extra time and vert came in the form of tagging on a scramble of the south face of the Amphitheater's Second Pinnacle (one of the four Roach Flatiron Classics that is in the Amphitheater) as I was descending the mountain. It's a nice route with a funky chimney and an airy pull-up on a huge horn to gain the worthy summit, not your typical slab-mongering.
          After the run, I have yet another acupuncture appointment with Allison. I feel super grateful for all the work she's put into getting my trending towards health. Not much has been working on this particular injury, but her diligent trigger-point therapy seems to be the key thing that has finally gotten me back on the trails.

Fri - AM: Green Mountain (1:37, 3000') + climbing in gym
         PM: Green Mountain (1:39, 3000')
I linger over my coffee and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test about 20min too long this morning, and as a result just miss the available window for scrambling the First before the incoming snowstorm. My brain is by far at its peak comprehension abilities before 10am, so every day I try to take advantage of that with 30-40min of reading before I hit the trails. Today, though, as I leave the door at 7:15am the clouds are just beginning to wisp in over the summits of Green and Bear and during my run to Gregory Canyon it starts raining. By time I reach the 6000' level or so the rain has turned to snow and on my run back down the mountain to my apartment, my 3oz jacket is just enough protection to keep me on the pleasant side of uncomfortable.
         After an afternoon session in the climbing gym with Joe, I'm excited to head back out into the elements again for a second lap on the hill. Something about inclement weather always stokes my motivation and due to appropriate apparel choices the evening romp is a real pleasure; I'm doubly stoked to find that my hip seemingly obliges the day's rigors as well.

Sat - Green Mountain (1:51, 3000')
Though the snow was sticky last night, cool overnight temps have rendered the footing sugary and unconsolidated, making for a sloggy uphill. This is countered, however, by brilliant sunshine and rapidly warming temps. After the morning lap, I spend the rest of the day visiting my two sisters and two nephews down in Colorado Springs, highlighted by a stroll through the Garden of the Gods. My nephews turned one year and six months old this week, respectively, and their rapid progressions into little human beings is rather amazing.

Compression for post-holing protection and a tight calf Saturday morning.
Sun - AM: Green Mountain (2:05, 3000')
          PM: 1st Flatiron+Green Mt. (1:14, 3000') + climbing in gym
Today is by far the nicest weather day of the year so far---temps were near or right at +70F---and I took full advantage. There was still a little lingering snow on the First Flatiron, so I instead tested my hip with a longer circuit of the mountain, descending down Bear Canyon and coming back on the Mesa Trail. The hip is in a weird place where it doesn't seem to be getting any worse, but it's not really improving either. Descending is still the most troublesome, but overall, the acupuncture seems to be keeping things in check.
          In the afternoon, the incredible weather begs for further enjoyment, so I bike up to Chautauqua and lace a quick lap on the hill, including a really on-point scramble of the First Flatiron. My footwork and coordination is very precise for the entire outing, and I carry this directly into an indoor climbing session with Joe as the sun is headed behind the mountains. We crank through what turns out to be probably my most productive couple of hours in the gym of the whole year. I'm able to comfortably climb routes I usually fall on, and it's a nice end to a full day and week of activity.


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