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.