Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dec 17 -23

Mon-AM: 2:16, 3700' ~ 3rd Flatiron+Green Mt.
My scramble of the Third was pretty hairy with 50mph wind gusts trying to blow me off while downclimbing the exposed final pitch in running shoes (sans sticky rubber).  But I survived. To change things up, I descended the Ranger trail to the double-track that heads down to the Red Lion in Boulder Canyon and then ran back home on the Creek Path. This appears to finally be open to the public--no fences or No Trespassing signs anywhere.  Nice to really get the legs turning over for once on the long, smooth downhill.

Tue-AM: 2:49, 6500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green+First Flatiron
Awesome morning on the mountain.  I wanted to get out and do one more big scrunbling session before the snow hits this evening and I head home to Nebraska later in the week.  I started out sort of cold and sluggish on the link-up, taking an uncharacteristically slow 17min to scramble the First, but I got in the groove soon after that and enjoyed really high energy levels this morning as I worked through the rest of the flatties.  The Fourth and Fifth had a surprising dusting of snow on them that could've been sketchy if it had been just a little heavier, but I moved through it with no issues, even setting a PR on the Fourth.  After popping up to the summit of Green, I still felt so good that I decided to hit one more lap on the First Flatiron--I couldn't let my clunky performance on it earlier in the morning be my last effort on it for the next couple of weeks--so I descended back down to its base and fired the east face in 12:05, my best time on it since I took three weeks off back in October (my PR is 10:50, but that's in approach shoe sticky rubber). Executed the downclimb in an efficient 2:45 and descended back to Chat feeling super psyched on life.  I love days like this!
PM: 1:30, 1700' ~ Satan's Slab
Parked at NCAR and hiked up to scramble the slab with Joe and Dakota. Damn that first bit up the water groove is a little thin for my liking (5.6), but we made it through. Really nice evening up on the summit. It started flaking a little while we were up there and by time we had made it back down to the car the snowcloud had moved most of the way down the mountain. Probably the last scramble for a while.

Wed-AM: 2:13, 3200' ~ Green Mt.
Up Gregory-Ranger and down Bear Canyon. Ran up to Chautauqua in the fresh snow and then broke tracks most of the way up the mountain...maybe 6" on the summit?  Really only my second run in snow in Boulder so far this season, which is pretty crazy. Really enjoyed the extra cushion that snow provides.

Thu-AM: 2:29, 3700' ~ Bear Peak
Ran up to Chat to meet Jeff and George, before heading over on the Mesa to go up Fern Canyon.  Lots of wading through drifts, especially above the Nebel Horn Saddle, but eventually made the summit. Unfortunately, I had to return the same way in order to make an appt and leave them to return over Green, which I would've preferred. Quite windy on the summit.

Fri-AM: 2:01, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Up Amphi-NE Ridge, down Bear Canyon. Nothing very special about this outing except that it was so warm (40s) that I was in shorts and a t-shirt despite cruising through at-times shin-deep snow.

Sat-AM: 2:26, 4500' ~ Bear Peak & Green Mt.
Ran to Chautauqua then over on the Mesa and up Fern Canyon before cruising up and over Green on the way back.  While descending Amphitheater I encountered a large group marching up the mountain, which included Bill and Homie.  I carried Microspikes this entire run but ended up never putting them on due to my heavily-lugged shoes. Great run.

Sun-AM: 2:04, 1600' ~ Nebraska
It was about -2F this morning on the farm, but only a light breeze, so I got out for a tour of some of my old hills from my running roots.  Ended up doing an 18mi loop that dropped in and out of the Bazille Creek drainage and finished up with a 5:40 mile to cap off the sub-7min mile average for the morning.

Hours: 17h48min
Vert: 27,900'

Posted up a report on my Double Flatiron Quinfecta from a couple weeks back, over on the Ultimate Direction Blog.

Another week of mostly getting out and doing whatever moved me.  Tuesday was an above-average day of scrunbling, which was on purpose as I knew the snow and cold was going to move in after that. My first run back in Nebraska on Sunday reminded me of how much fun it can be to get out and just run with a quick turnover for a couple of hours...but also that it engages some different muscles even if my heart and lungs were barely taxed. Also, that Nebraska is f'ing cold in the winter!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dec 10 - 16

Mon-AM: 2:11, 3300' ~ Green Mt.
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Canyon from my doorstep.  This is about the flattest possible trail loop you can do in Boulder and still summit one of the 8er peaks.  Taking every single twist and switch-back on the Green-Bear trail, it seems to be almost a full mile longer than the old line.  I must admit, on a day like today where my legs were tired and I was just looking to go easy, that new buffed-out singletrack was pretty fun to cruise.

Tue-AM: 1:01, 800' ~ East Leadville
Got up early in the dark and did an out and back on 7th St before spending the rest of the day doing a film shoot with NB at Turquoise Lake and Twin Lakes.  Bitter cold, windy, and snowy all day, I felt bad for the film crew as I spent a lot of time just sitting in a heated SUV in between takes.

Wed-AM: 2:32, 4500' ~ Mt. Elbert (14,433')
I had the morning off from shooting with NB while they constructed an interview set, so I got up early and headed up the mountain--my 26th summit of Elbert all-time and 21st this year.  This might be my slowest-ever ascent (1:48), though, due to breaking trail through ~6" of fresh snow below treeline.

Thu-AM: 1:56, 4000' ~ Green & Bear
Planned on doing some scrambling, but it seems that Boulder received a bit of snow while I was out of town and there was still some ice and snow on the Flatirons, so instead I just opted for the standard Double Hump outing, heading up Bear's West Ridge and down Fern Canyon after summiting Green. Mellow easy effort today.

Fri-AM: 2:18, 4500' ~ Bear & Green
Ran from the house up the Mesa trail to Fern Canyon, which was fun because I haven't gone up it in months. Descended the West Ridge of Bear and then grunted up the 1000' climb to the summit of Green before descending the front and heading home.  Such a great loop.  28min ascent of Fern from the Mesa Trail--you'd have to be going really fast in order to make running above the Nebel Horn Saddle worthwhile (I hiked every step today)...

Sat-AM: 2:32, 5800' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Just did my usual outing Chat-to-Chat except that I descended Ranger-Gregory instead of the front of the mountain, adding 5min to the overall time.  I was 1:56:15 at the summit of the Fourth Flatiron (the end of the climbing...I scramble the Fifth before the Fourth), which is only a couple minutes off my PR, so I was moving pretty well despite having to check my foot placements a few times on the Fifth due to a few remaining pockets of snow and ice.  By time I made it to the top of Green the clouds had moved down out of the high mountains and a few flakes were starting to fall.

Sun-AM: 2:46, 5800' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Oy, bit of a rough day on the mountain.  Started out tired and sluggish and then bonked like a champ on the Fourth (and final) Flatiron.  I could tell on the climb to Sentinel Pass that things were going sideways, but then my scramble of the Fifth was fairly normal before totally cratering on the slog up the Fourth.  That flatiron alone took me five minutes longer than usual. Still marched to the summit of the mountain to finish out the day, though.  I guess each of the last five days has been a pretty solid outing and it finally caught up to me.  The real reward today, though, was the low-lying layer of clouds blanketing the city...pretty awesome to be in some heroic, exposed position on the face of a Flatiron and feel like you're just floating on top of the clouds.

Hours: 15h16min
Vert: 28,700'

Another solid week.  Right now, my main goal is to get out and do a lot of scrunbling if the weather and rock conditions permit, and if they don't, then do a more "normal" run.  This has been working out well, giving me a fun mix to the daily rhythm.  I'll be heading home to Nebraska to see my parents at the end of this coming week, but I still want to tick some more December 14er Grid slots before the first of the year...Longs, Grays, and Torreys specifically.  Don't worry, Homie, I'm a neophyte with only 96 grid slots (out of 708) at current.  Silly, arbitrary peak baggery goals such as that are easy for someone like me to denigrate, but the fact of the matter is, there's part of me that is a lists/numbers guy and even more importantly, these kinds of goals can motivate me to get out the door and have experiences that I would otherwise let slip by.  Once I'm actually out there on the mountain my inspiration and motivation becomes much different--it almost always transfers to being the mountain itself, not some tick-mark on a list--but lists admittedly often offer a crucial, initial, inertia-overcoming nudge.

I do have a loose goal for 2013 of summiting Elbert, Grays, Torreys, Longs, Pikes, Evans, and Bierdstadt in each month of the year.  Maybe not Evans and Bierstadt...for some reason I've just never found those peaks to be very inspiring.  Maybe because there's a road to the top of Evans? Maybe because the approach from Echo Lake is so long?  Maybe because the trailhead at Guanella Pass seems cheatingly high? But, they are on the Front Range and that's why I'm including them.  I think March will be the crux month as this is typically the most wintry month of the year in Colorado and I'll be out of the country for most of it.

Moving right along, race-wise 2013 is looking super-exciting for me.  Of course, Hardrock really has no match when it comes to being the race-that-inspires-me-most, but the Ronda del Cims 170K in Andorra three weeks beforehand looks to be at least as aesthetic of a course, and--being included in the Skyrunning Series this year--it should attract a top-shelf group of athletes. At 105 miles/40k' of techy vertical, and the sobering fact that it took Miguel Heras 30hr to get around it...there's no way it won't be an epic outing in the Pyrenees.

My second half of the summer should be equally as quality.  I'm excited to go back to Speedgoat to support Karl's directing efforts and hopefully have a proper good run there--last summer was a scantily-salvaged disaster--and then Dakota's brand-spanking-new Telluride Mountain Run (T-Rad!) is sure to be an instant classic.  I love the fact that it's an off-distance 44mi and comprises one clean loop starting and finishing in Telluride.  As anyone who has been to the San Juans knows, there's simply no way you can go wrong there, course-wise.  And the course he's devised looks to be a true monster.  Right now he's sand-bagging everyone with the 15k' vert number, but it's really more like at least 16k' and we've had some programs register as high as 18k'.  It's gonna hurt.  Seven hours will probably be super impressive. But at least the scenery will be as good as it gets.

After that, I'll be treating my attempt at Nolan's 14 at the end of August like a race effort--train specifically all summer, focus, and taper--and it's probably the thing that I'm most excited about on my calendar.  Finally, if there's any gas in the tank after Nolan's, it'll be hard to stay away from UROC given that it's the Skyrunning Series Final this year and virtually in my backyard.  It looks like Francesca and Gill have done there level-best to put together a proper mountain course whilst linking together a bunch of Colorado's most iconic mountain towns (Breck, Frisco, Copper, Minturn, Vail).

Just gotta remain healthy...

I don't post many (any) Flatiron pics because they are all some variation of this. I find it's really hard to capture the scale and angle of the rock when solo, both because I'm holding onto the rock and because there's no one else around for scale.  This is looking down the East Face from the summit of the Third during a recent enchainment.  The low-angle, slabby final pitch is in the foreground with the rest of the face steepening and disappearing below.  I guess looking straight down on the pine trees nearly 1000' below offers a little scale.
Of course, I'm still making it to the top of Green regularly; I'll be right around 200 summits this year. This is representative of a pretty typical December weather day in Boulder this year.  Wildly mild, though that might finally change later this week...
La Plata Peak as seen from the summit of Elbert on Wednesday. Lots of blowing snow that morning due to some heinous winds and fresh powder.
I know I'm way behind on the whole Beach House thing, but I'm glad I finally gave them a chance. This song and really this whole album has been nearly non-stop for me for a few weeks now.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dec 3 - 9

Mon-AM: 2:33, 4500' ~ 3rd Flatiron+Green & Bear
Got up early for a romp over the peaks before flying to Texas.  Legs took a minute to get going but once they did I cruised a really solid pace for the full loop up Bear's West Ridge and then down Fern Canyon back to Chautauqua and back down to my apartment.

Tue-AM: 1:15 ~ Town Lake, Austin TX
Steady cruise all the way around the lake with Jurker (10mi+ loop).  A surprising amount of dirt to run on right from downtown and the hot humid weather even motivated a short swim at Barton Springs in the middle of the run.

Wed-AM: 1:15 ~ Town Lake, Austin TX
Reprisal of yesterday's outing, but solo, and no swimming as it was a markedly cooler morning.

Thu-AM: 1:44, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
I was hoping to go for the big Double Quinfecta this morning, but as I jogged out of Chautauqua there were a few sprinkles and then half-way up the First this changed to snowflakes, so that, combined with my tired legs made it easy to bail after the First and just head to the summit of Green and enjoy a run down Bear Canyon instead.

Fri-AM: 4:07, 10,000' ~ Double Flatiron Quinfecta
One of my favorite days on the mountain recently. Starting from Chautauqua I scrambled all five flatirons, twice, in an out-and-back fashion: 1-2-3-5-4-5-4-3-2-1.  Right away I was in a pretty good groove and that just kept getting better the longer I was on the rocks.  On the bushwhack from the summit of the 4th back to the base of the 5th (for my second ascent) I traversed straight south, snuck around the backside of a big slab and descended the south side of the 5th, thus avoiding the hideous descent down the gulley between the 4th and 5th Flatirons. Also, on my second ascent of the 3rd I crossed the dry streambed next to the Royal Arch trail and did a full ascent of the 3rd, starting at the very bottom of the rock, instead of the standard East Bench start.  By time I'd made my way back to the base of the First Flatiron there were no less than five different parties roped up and perched on the lower East Face.  I was able to climb past them quickly and efficiently, though, and thanks to carrying a bottle of water and four gels I finished feeling strong. Full time Chat-to-Chat was 4:07:17. Including downclimbs, this outing consisted of somewhere between 100 and 110 pitches of climbing.

Sat-AM: 4:31, 6200' ~ El Chubbo Fat Ass Marathon
Headed up to Ft. Collins with Joe to get a tour of Clarkie's backyard hills.  I'd never done any running in Ft. Collins (other than racing XC), so it was fun to get in some miles with friends on fresh terrain.  Very runnable terrain, I must add, making this the longest proper run I've done in exactly a month.  Legs were tired from yesterday's big outing.  Afterwards was a jovial gathering at the Casa de Clarkie, replete with food, brews and friends. Good times for sure.

Sun-AM: 2:38, 5700' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
I awoke to dry (but cold at +18F) conditions when I'd been expecting rain/snow, so I modified some old gloves into fingerless gloves so that I could get some skin on the rock and went and laced the Five Fountains one more time.  Can't stay away, especially when I know I'm going to be out of town the next few days.  Despite the cold it turned into a very pleasant morning out on the mountain.

Hours: 18h03min
Vert: 29,400'

Not much new to report.  Things are pretty mellow this time of year and I've been embracing that by focusing on a lot of scrambling (which, at the intensity I tend to go, still gets the heart rate high and keeps it there, believe me).  This week involved a lot more "real running" than usual, though, because of the trip to Texas and then the Fat Ass on Saturday.  If it ever snows, there will continue to be more of that in the mix.

The five numbered Flatirons on the east face of Green Mt here in Boulder.
A salty duo rehydrating at Clarkie's after El Chubbo. Photo: Rob Timko
Definitely worth 15 minutes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nov 26 - Dec 2

Mon-AM: 1:50, 4000' ~ Green & Bear
Got out with my college bud Dan Kraft (Imogene Pass winner this year) on a morning of freezing drizzle.  I was hoping to show him some scrambling but the glaze of ice over everything relegated us to the trails, which were also crazy slick in many spots.  My first time on the West Ridge of Bear since the fire this summer and the small re-route of the trail near the summit is actually quite nice. Also, I've been neglecting Fern Canyon for too long; love that descent.

Tue-AM: 2:07, 4500' ~ Mt. Elbert (14,433')
Up and down the NE ridge. Got up early and drove up to Leadville for some thin air. Hardly any snow and reasonable winds.  At least compared to the hurricane I experienced on Longs a couple days ago.

Wed-AM: 2:21, 4500' ~ La Plata Peak (14,336')
Up and down the NW ridge. Cold start (+5F at the trailhead) warmed up eventually until I crested the ridge at 12,700' or so when the wind kicked in. Not quite as snow-free as Elbert, but still distressingly dry.
PM: 0:43 ~ BRC Group Run and Ultimate Direction Signature Series Launch
Cruised a mellow loop on the creek paths with a couple hundred other folks before showing off the packs that we've been working on for the past nine months--and that are now available!

Thu-AM: 2:26, 5500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Awesome day in the Flatirons.  I did the usual link-up, going 1-2-3-5-4 before grunting to the summit of Green and running back down to Chat via the NE ridge.  My scrambling skills were perfectly on-point today and I was moving really well all day long on both the climbs and downclimbs.  I tagged the summit of the 4th 1:54:35 from Chautauqua, so if I'd descended back to Chat from there I would expect to have done the full car-to-car link-up in 2:12 or so.  Still 10+ minutes off of Buzz's FKT, but I can take 5min alone off of my ascent to the summit of the First, so I might get there eventually, even without Buzz's downclimbing shenanigans on the 2nd and the 5th.  Right now, this is by far my favorite "run" to do in Boulder.  It offers over a vertical mile of ascent in probably less than 8mi of bipedal travel.
PM: 1:00, 1500' ~ Climbing: The Matron w/ Joe.
Parked in Eldo Spgs and hiked up Old Mesa to the Matron.  Joe led the first (sand-bagged 5.5) pitch after which we packed the rope and gear and just soloed the majestic East Face (5.0-5.2).  This is definitely one of the proudest rocks in the Boulder area. Our late start meant that by time we'd gotten to the second set of rap bolts it was basically dark already and definitely dark by time we were on the ground, which made for a frustrating stumble back down the boulders and through the woods back to the trail.  The whole outing ended up taking nearly 3hr--the 1hr timeframe was just the approach and descent.

Fri-AM: 2:01, 3000' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Nice easy day.  Jogged up to Chat and the base of the Third for a super casual scramble and downclimb before tagging Green and descending Ranger-Gregory.
PM: Climbing w/ Joe.
Got in a quick cruise on The Owl on the Dome in Boulder Canyon.

Sat-AM: 2:32, 5500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
I'd wanted to go up Longs Peak this morning, but it was forecasted to have 85mph winds, so opted for a bunch of scrambling instead. Starting from Chat, I linked them all together in the usual order: 1-2-3-5-4.  I was right on my splits from Thursday until I got to the 5th where I decided to take the North Buttress route instead of my usual East Face North Side line.  The latter stays maybe 20-30' left of the north arete before joining it at an airy shoulder, and by doing so, avoids a ~30' section of slightly steeper 5.6 climbing with thin holds.  Today was my first time negotiating that in running shoes, so it took me a little longer.  Went to the top of the mountain after #4 before descending back down to Chat in sub-21min.

Sun-AM: 2:30, 5000' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta
Longs was still supposed to have 50mph+ wind gusts, and with the beautiful weather in Boulder it wasn't hard to convince myself to take advantage of the unseasonably warm temps and sneak in some more scrambling before heading down to Texas for the next three days. Decided to mix it up by going in descending order this morning, which allowed me to scout the descent off the top of the Fourth back down to the Royal Arch trail and then do a proper full ascent of the Third Flatiron (the standard route starts a couple hundred feet high on the face, from the East Bench).  I ran into Bill Wright at the base of the Third who was out linking up a bunch of Gerry Roach "Classic" routes, and then at the base of the First I ran into Dr. John Hill (medical director of the Leadville 100)--who helped me a lot with a knee injury a couple years ago. Good to see folks out enjoying the gorgeous day. The warm weather left me pretty dehydrated though, and by time I did the downclimb off the First I was bonking in spectacular fashion and couldn't find the motivation to ascend the extra 1000' to the summit of Green.  This hardly diminished the outing for me, though.
PM: Climbing with Joe.
Third Elephant Buttress, Standard Route, in Boulder Canyon.

Hours: 17h30min
Vert: 34,000'

I could feel myself starting to get some mojo back this week, even though I had a heavy emphasis on scrambling--or, "scrunbling", as Joe has dubbed the hybridization of running and scrambling.  This spate of weather won't last forever, so I've been trying to squeeze in as much rock as possible before it gets covered in snow and ice.  Especially as the weather turns, I'll be working more continuous running back into the routine, though, as my first couple of races in 2013 are very runnable affairs that will require a little turn-over, for sure.

Summit of La Plata Wednesday morning.
The lovely Sawatch.