Monday, March 31, 2008

3/31/08 Sanitas

3 miles/1,300 vertical
21:15 up
15 down

Thought I was over the achilles thing today, but a few hundred feet up Sanitas I was reminded of it. I slowed to a walk and just lightly jogged the less steep or flat sections. I think I did a good job of balancing a bit of exercise and not making it worse as it does not hurt at all tonight. I think I'll stick to the flatter terrain for a bit.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Summary for the past week.

Not much to speak of other than it was a skimpy week due to an aggrevated right achilles. I noticed it after hiking S. Boulder at an easy pace with Allison last week. I totally forgot about it overnight, then the next morning engaged in nearly 2,000 feet of vigorous frontpointing which seemed to flare it up a bit. Took monday off, felt OK, went easy Tues, where it hurt again, especially on steps. I then decided to completely take a few days off which was facilitated by poor weather and other obligations. Yesterdays peaks had me feeling the achilles again, but just enough to remind me there is something there. Today I feel great, but figure I will use the poor weather this morning as an excuse to rest up one more day. Spring is in the air.

3/29/08 Cooper and Ruby Mountains

Cooper Mountain (12,782)
Ruby Mountain (13,277)
~9.8 miles/~3,600 vertical
~7hrs RT
Participants:Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave and Emily Hale, Jeff and Jean Kunkle, Keith and Beth Bershader, Kevin Lund, Piper, Steve Nicholls, Steve Cassin, Sharon Adams, Dave Gibson, Carol Gerber, Scooby, Shep, Sierra and Denali (did I miss anybody? Hope not!).

Last week, Dave and I had such a great Spring day on nearby Santa Fe Peak and we were itching to come back and further explore the area. A few e-mails quickly saw this grow from a party of 4 or 5 to a party of 15! Sweet! A 14erworld Spring gathering/climb!

The group rendezvoused at the Peru Creek TH around 7:30am, geared up and we eventually started our way up the well packed trail around 8am. The pace was casual and we all enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new friends.Before long, we reached the turn for Chihuahua Gulch, put on our snowshoes and headed up on Dave’s track from his previous day’s climb up Grays and Torreys. When we came to the arrow Dave had stomped out the day before, we headed up the steep hillside to gain the SW ridge of Cooper. The going here was quite steep and provided ample opportunity to hone our wallowing skills. Hoot, Kunkle and I took turns breaking trail and eventually we gained bare ground.

Once on the ridge, I was a bit surprised at how far it was to the summit of Cooper. I was expecting an easy cruise, but the ridge was a bit more rugged than many of us were expecting and there were several false summits. Nothing too difficult, but the fresh snow on top of ice made things a bit interesting in spots and provided a few class 3 moves.The summit of Cooper was a complete whiteout, and the winds were increasing.

We followed Kevin down to the saddle and on to Ruby, which was quite a bit easier terrain than the initial ascent up Cooper. There were a few brief glimpses of the surrounding terrain and the remainder of the route up Ruby which fortunately looked pretty easy.As anticipated, the hike up Ruby was cake, but the increasing winds added a bit to the challenge. Once the entire group made the summit, we turned tail and boogied back down to the Ruby/Cooper saddle, where (inspired by Sarah T’s TR from last April), we got in some nice glissading/easy walking down the well consolidated S. facing snowfields, as avalanche conditions were rated as low.

We were all thankful to not have to retrace our steps back down the SW ridge of Cooper and were back down to the valley floor in no time flat. The walk out was quite enjoyable in what now seemed to be somewhat “Florida” like weather as Dave likes to say. As always it seemed twice as far walking out, but nobody seemed to mind.Despite the inclement weather up high, this was an amazing day with a great group of friends. I feel inclined to note how cohesive this group of 15 was. It was so cool how everyone stuck so close together and helped one another. All in all another great day out!


3/25/08 S. Mesa Loop

7 miles/1,300 vertical

Started at the S. Mesa TH and headed North, putting together a random loop of misc. trails. Bumped into Claude, talked to him for a while. Went fairly easy, as my achilles has inexplicably been hurting for a few days.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tiptop Peak 12,053
Morgan Peak 12,474
Santa Fe Peak 13,180
Sullivan Peak 13,194
~7 miles/~3,300 vertical
4 hours and 50 minutes
Jeff Valliere, Dave Hale, Scooby, Shep and Sierra

This came about at the last minute, as we really had no solid plans for the weekend. Dave was spending the weekend up in Keystone, so I quickly looked at the map and checked to see what was near Montezuma. I recalled Sarah T’s TR from last April, so I re-read it to get the scoop (thanks for the valuable info Sarah).

We decided that it would be best to set up a car shuttle to avoid having to walk back on the road with the dogs and left my car at the winter closure South of Montezuma and headed back to town in Dave’s truck. Both Dave and I are quite ready for spring and we were lamenting the -4 reading as we started up the hillside at 8:13am, what the ….?

We were both dressed a bit light and quickly stopped to add warmer mittens and face masks etc.A short distance up the road, before the first switchback even, we noticed a nice set of ski tracks heading straight up the hillside. Just what I was hoping for and we followed them straight up the fall line.

It was steep, but quite efficient.Despite a few lengthy stops for gear adjustments, we still passed treeline in an hour even and took a short break on Tiptop to take in the stunning scenery. Morgan looked far, but came up on us quickly, where we took yet another one of many picture breaks. It was a bluebird day with hardly any wind. The cornices along the ridge were some of the largest I have ever seen, quite impressive. We were careful to keep the dogs and ourselves far away, as a mishap in many places would have been a touch rough.

The trip up Santa Fe was a breeze, even with the several false summits. Our original plan was to continue on to Landslide, but both Dave and I were happy to call it a day after Sullivan and sneak home before ski traffic.

We dropped down a low angle gulley between Santa Fe and Sullivan (closer to Santa Fe below the Silver Ware(?) mine). Although there were some avy prone slopes nearby, and the lower part is in an avy chute, avalanche danger was quite low and we were careful with our route, mostly sticking to rocks and grass on the sides. I would not attempt this descent when the avalanche risk is higher.

The trip out was a breeze as we followed a welcome snowmobile track, then a longer than expected dirt road. What an incredible day to be out in the high country!


3/22/08 S. Boulder Peak

S. Boulder Peak
8 miles/3,000 vertical
1:15 up

Allison, Sierra and I went to the S. Mesa TH with no real plan, other than staying in the sun and avoiding steep, icy, snowy trails. Before we know it, we are heading up Shadow canyon just to see how far we could go before snow and ice became an issue. It never became an issue, as we could avoid the icy spots and before we knew it, we were on the summit, a bit surprised as we had no intention of heading up here. All in all a great day out with the wife and dog. Once back at the car, I saw Jesus, well not really, but it looked just like him, mostly naked too. I was a few hundred feet away and speculated that it was Anton Krupicka, but what would he be doing in Boulder? I just checked his blog and sure enough it was him, just as I suspected. Not too many guys out there that look like him. Although it was decent out yesterday, it was still only in the 40's and I was wearing pants, long shirt, jacket, wool beanie and gloves. Not sure I am ready for just shorts, maybe I'm just a wimp.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

3/20/08 Sanitas and change

4 miles/1,800 vertical
18:41 up (167bpm)

I still have heavy legs from Tuesday's run up Green in the snow, so I went moderate today (maybe a bit on the high side) for one lap on Sanitas. On the trail I bumped into a few 14erworld members (Steve, Paul and Lincoln), so I ran down to meet them hiked back up. We all started down together, but soon the wind changed and it really got cold, so I said my goodbyes and took off for the car as I was not dressed very warm.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

3/19/08 Father, Son and the Holy Ghost or something like that.

9 miles/1,288 vertical
1:17 142 bpm ave

Went for an "easy" run with George today. My legs were trashed from trudging through the snow the day before, so it seemed a bit harder, especially on the downhill and toward the end. Long conversations with George, mostly about Pikes made the run feel like 15 minutes. As always, it is great running with George. If we are not killing each other, the conversation is always entertaining.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

3/18/08 Green Mountain via Bear Canyon

~9.5 miles/~3,350 vertical

1:17 up (154bpm ave on the ascent)/42 down

Listened to some great Phil Liggett interviews today on the mp3 player that I downloaded from the Competitors I never thought I would be one of "those guys" who would do such a thing, but after downloading something like 50 podcasts from the Competitors, I am hooked like crack. It is so cool listening to friends/acquaintences such as Andy Hampsten, Tyler Hamilton, Greg Lemond, Matt Reed, Hunter Kemper and others who I have raced with, or met in the past (like Phil Liggett, Dave Scott, Alexi Grewal, Lance etc...), the list goes on and on.

The mp3 player makes 2 hours of running go by in a flash and I am wishing for more time so I can run another 2 hours and listen to more shows. I enjoy the entertainment while I run, but I have noticed a few things. 1st, I get so distracted, I have trouble focusing on maintaining a steady effort and truly focusing on the task at hand and my surroundings. I also tend to not pay close attention to my body's needs, whether I need food, water etc....

Oh yeah, I also had a bit of a taxing run today up Green. Parked at Chautauqua and on a whim decided to go up Green via Bear Canyon. The Mesa trail is a complete mess, mud, slush, packed snow, loose snow.... you name it. Once I turned into Bear Canyon, there were a few sets of old footprints for a short ways, but soon I was breaking trail in shin deep snow. Knowing the trail well was quite helpful, as it would have been easy to stray. I did not see another person from NCAR to the Gregory TH, and the only tracks I saw on the ascent were a rather large set of tracks made by a huge cat, maybe a few hours old. This had me turning down the volume and looking over my shoulder a few times. I was going an OK pace on the ascent, nothing too demanding, but the trail breaking made things slow and a bit tiring. Made it to the top in a very slow 1:17. The descent was even more of a mess. The studs on my shoes were of little help and I took it slow and cautious (42 minutes back to the car). For some reason, my quads were really cramping toward the end, must have been the deep snow.

3/17/08 Sanitas

5 miles/1,800 vertical (including 2 mile warmup)
20:30 up (159bpm for the ascent)

Had a nice warmup over red rocks to Canyon and back. Not sure what I was really warming up for, but I guess I was not too eager to get to the steepness of Sanitas.

The trail was slushy and slippery with the fresh snow and I kind of lollygagged as I was listening to my new mp3 player.

3/15/08 Ski Train to Winter Park

Jim Creek
~8.5 miles/1,500 vertical

Kevin got Allison and I free tickets for the ski train as his company Whiting Petro rented 2 cars. We wanted to ski, but $65 per lift ticket was a bit stiff (not to mention Spring Break/weekend crowds). We just figured we would go and enjoy the train ride, free breakfast/dinner and enjoy a day of snowshoeing. We headed up Jim Creek toward James Peak. We briefly entertained the idea of climbing up to the divide, but we were a bit ill-prepared for above tree-line travel, not to mention we could not afford to miss the train. We just went up the valley, and wallowed in the deep snow for a while until we came to a nice sunny clearing with great views. We lingered for some time, then took our time getting back. The return trip seemed long, as there was hardly any vertical gain on the way up, and now gravity was of little help on the return trip.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

3/13/08 2 More Laps on Sanitas

6 miles/2,600 vertical
1st lap 20:04up/15down (161bpm, up only)
2nd lap 19:50up/14down (174bpm, up only)

I know, boring, more laps on Sanitas. When it comes right down to it, I am craving sunshine and a dry trail and Sanitas delivers. Tried out my new mp3 player today for the first time. It makes time go by faster, but does not make me go faster. Entertaining, but I feel that I lose focus easily and am all over the place. Good for rambling easy runs, but I don't think I'll use it when I feel I need to focus. Felt a little crappy today, seemingly more effort than expected to produce slow times. I think I am a bit tired from my efforts on Tuesday. Will probably take tomorrow off and rest up for weekend adventures suffering in the mountains.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

3/12/08 Sanitas

3 miles/1,300 vertical

Sierra and I got out for a lap on Sanitas. I was hoping to do 2 laps, but she was really "dogging it" today for some reason. Made it up in 23:44 at 144bpm going pretty easy. It was just a good day to be out enjoying the sunshine.

3/11/08 2 Laps on Sanitas

8 miles/3,100 vertical

It was nearly 70 degrees today, which was really adding to the serious spring fever I have been having as of late. It was my first day of the year in shorts and I was feeling a bit pasty, but the warm sun felt so nice physically and mentally. I took a 15 minute warm-up over Red Rocks to Settlers Park at 144bpm average.

Started up Sanitas at a quick pace, but somewhat conservative as to not blow myself up on the first steep section. Was not sure how it was going to go, as I felt good, but not great. My effort was high, but not really a full on effort. I was moving smoothly and my HR was not too high. I checked my watch at the puddle and I was at 14:08 which put me a good bit ahead of last week.

I arrived on top at 17:42 and my HR was 174. I was stoked to be 28 seconds faster than the previous week at one less bpm which is a step in the right direction. Ran back down in 13, including a few minutes to talk to my friend Rex. Did a U-turn and headed back up at a good pace. I did not go too hard, but was surprised at how fresh my legs felt and went up in 19:25.

Rex was waiting at the top and we jogged down together. Today was the first day in a long while that I felt absolutely great in every way and am really looking forward to more of these Spring days.

3/10/08 Eldo Run

~5.4 miles/~1,800ft

Took some of the back trails into Eldo, ran up Eldorado trail to the Rincon Wall climbing access, went East of the wall to a steep S. facing gulley, then went left up an East facing gulley to the top of the wall. Was surprised to see two climbers high on the wall. The gulleys were quite steep and the footing was terrible, lots of loose rock and a few class 3+ climbing moves. Was being careful to not mess myself up, as nobody knew where I was.

Would like to go back soon and explore some more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"Platte Peak" 11,941

“Platte Peak” 11,941
~10 miles/3,681 vertical
From N. Ben Tyler Trailhead
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave Hale, Scooby, Shep and Sierra

In an effort to avoid the nasty weather predicted for the high country, we figured we would settle an old score with “Platte Peak” (since we completely missed it in the poor weather in early December and climbed Kenosha by mistake).We met up at the N. Ben Tyler TH a bit before 9 and were on the trail a few minutes after. We clomped along on packed trail/dry ground in our snowshoes for what seemed like quite a long time. We eventually got sick of this and removed them, only to find that we needed them again minutes later. Oh well, when you need them, you really need them. The snow got progressively deeper as we ascended and Dave did a great job breaking trail while I hung back and waited for Allison to tend to blisters.As the valley began to steepen, we decided that we would beeline it toward the summit and save us a bit of distance since the indistinguishable remnants of weeks old trail was quickly fading. It was here the real fun began as we trudged up through the ever steepening, bottomless, unconsolidated snow on North facing slopes. It seemed as if we were going nowhere and frequent checking of the GPS confirmed this in an oh so painful way. It was a very high level of effort to even make any forward progress. Every now and then, we just literally could not go up, so we would just traverse left until we found more solid snow, then head up again. Up, left, up, left..... as Dave and I took turns breaking trail.As soon as we were getting pretty fed up with this, we emerged from the trees and encountered an nice, bare, rocky, grassy slope. We stashed the snowshoes and then cruised on up to the ridge. It was still another 4/10th of a mile, but it was total easy street and we were quite proud of ourselves to make it here on account of the wallowing.We spent a little over 20 minutes enjoying the nice, calm summit and remarking that it looked a bit worse on the higher peaks.The trip down was a complete blast. Easy walking along the ridge, then world class snowshoe skiing as we picked a more direct and steeper line back down to the trail. We were glad to be in the trees and on generally safe terrain as we heard some good “whoomphing” from time to time, a first for me.We made it back to the car in 2.5 hours, vs. 5.5 for the ascent. This was quite the hard earned 11er, yet one of the more rewarding days in the last week at least.Pictures:

Thursday, March 6, 2008


5 miles
1,800 vertical

Had a great little warm up from the hospital, over red rocks to the bike path and back. 19 minutes at 129bpm ave. Got to Sanitas and intended to go moderate and stuck to my plan. Went somewhat easy on the steeper sections and aimed for a bit of speed and turnover on the flatter sections. I was able to keep my HR at a very consistent rate and the effort seemed easy, fluid and well regulated. I felt as though I could have held a conversation most of the way. Funny how I went 38 seconds faster at 2 more bpm on Tuesday, but felt as though I was giving it just about my all, but today I felt like I was hardly giving it anything.

On the summit, I was pleasantly surprised to bump into my good friends Steve Hoffmeyer, Gerry Roach and Jennifer Roach. We had a bit of a chat and started down. Soon Gerry and I got a bit ahead of Steve and Jennifer and conversation with Gerry as always made the time go fast. I wanted to wait for Steve and Jennifer, but poor Sierra had been enduring many long hours of boredom, so I felt the need to get home quick.

I am so stoked on the progress my knee has made. I am still aware of it, but only SLIGHTLY, it may just be a touch of paranoia, but it has caused me no pain, discomfort or weakness in nearly a month and I have gone hard uphill and down several times without a hitch. I am really getting sick of the snow and cold and long for warm sunshine and shorts.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


7.2 miles
2,450 vertical
18:10 up Sanitas S. Ridge
11:39 down Sanitas S. Ridge
29:49 RT
175bpm ave HR on the ascent

I felt so good yesterday, I knew I had to give Sanitas a quick run today, just to see where I am at. I did a 1.5 mile warm up, went back to the car to swap out for a lighter jacket and I was off.

I started off at a seemingly fast pace. I really cranked, but soon found myself power hiking on the first steep section. I quickly went back to a run and was feeling OK and keeping a good tempo. At about the half way point, I started to feel as though I was fading a bit and was hacking up a lot phlegm (I think due to the cold air). I kept plugging away, trying to maintain a good pace, but there was no denying it, I was progressively fading. I tried my best to not look at my watch, and only looked at it once at 14:39 before the very short downhill where there is always that puddle. I knew focusing on the watch would not help, if anything it would discourage me.

I went a fast pace on the downhill, but was still being a bit cautious. Afterward, I headed over red rocks toward Settlers, across Eben G, started up Flag, but it was muddy and I was not committed, then backtracked.

Overall, I was pleased with my improvement, as I was 33 seconds faster than I have done all year, but I am still a minute slower than I was in January 2 years ago which is not so good.

Even though I only averaged 175bpm, I felt that I gave it about 95% effort. Why not 100%? I tried, but don't have the fitness to give 100% right now if that makes any sense.

Monday, March 3, 2008


3 miles
1,300 vertical
15 down

Ran Sanitas today and felt great, but went pretty easy on the first half, then moderate on the second half.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mt. Sherman (14,036)

Mt. Sherman (14,036)
~12.4 miles
~3,400 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave Hale, Kevin Lund, Scooby, Shep, Sierra and Bullwinkle the Moose

Driving through Four Mile Creek valley at 8 am we call Dave to let him know we are just a few miles away. He informs us that he is sitting in his truck, stuck in a snow drift, observing a large bull moose near the Fourmile Campground 8 miles in. SWEET! Kevin steps on the gas and gets us there quick. We slow down as to not scare the moose, but he hears us and eases up the road a bit. We creep up to Dave’s truck and now get a good view of him. He is lingering 200 feet or so up the road and we take copious amounts of photos and gawk for a while. We all remark that if we turned around and went home now, it would be a worthwhile day.

Ah, but we are here to climb Sherman, so first things first, we have to get Dave’s truck out of the drift. We dig, push and tow with Kevin’s Jeep for some time and finally extract Dave's truck and park on the side of the road. We probably could have gotten through, but the drifts came in quick succession beyond and became continuously deeper, so there was no point in trying to go any further.

We finally got walking around 9:30am and the first mile or so went by quick as we followed the moose, keeping the dogs on leash and under control as we did not want to stress him out at all. Eventually he disappeared and we lost his track. What a large and impressive animal.The weather reports were calling for temps in the 30’s and high winds. The prospect of high winds got me a bit discouraged a bit late in the week, but we just decided to go for it regardless and were very well rewarded for our efforts. We started off the day in just light layers, ball caps and glove liners. I have been much colder in July before.

At Leavick, we donned a layer, as there were a few sporadic gusts of wind, but nothing too threatening whatsoever. We moved fast while we were moving, but stopped a few times and really lingered as it was absolutely enjoyable lingering weather. It was tempting at times to just kick back and lounge for the day.Above the highest mining cabins of the Hilltop Mine, we decided against taking the standard route to the saddle and up the ridge, so we angled right toward the Sherman/White Ridge saddle to avoid some steep snow and the sure bet of strong wind on the ridge.

At around 13,400 feet on our revised route, the wind kicked up a bit, but was at our backs fortunately and was balmy. At the saddle, we were eventually coaxed into our shells for the final dash to the summit. The wind occasionally created a good ground blizzard on the summit plateau, but let up some while we took 20+ minutes or so to take pictures and enjoy the crystal clear views from the summit. I believe we arrived there at 1:55ish.

This was probably the best day in the mountains we have had since last September. Warm, clear and calm for most of the day and when there was wind, it was hardly an issue. I felt amazingly fresh today, what a difference 2 weeks and better weather conditions can make. While climbing Bross 2 weeks ago, I felt like I was redlined and going nowhere. It felt as though I would never make the summit. Today I felt as though I was barely beyond idling speed and moving up the peak with extreme ease. The summit appeared surprisingly quick. Today we were all strong and well matched, nobody ever really got ahead or fell behind.

The trip out was a cruise and we stopped and lingered many times just enjoying the sun and warmth. We arrived back at the vehicles at 4:50 and said our good byes to Dave.

Now the real fun begins……On our way out, while still on the dirt road, we hear a belt squealing under the hood of Kevin’s Jeep. I dismiss it as just a minor squeal due to the slush puddles we just splashed through. Soon Kev’s power steering fails and we think that perhaps it just needs some power steering fluid. We limp into the Shell/Subway in Fairplay, pop the hood and realize that we have major problems. Anti-freeze is covering the engine and is now pouring out on the ground. We then notice that the serpentine belt has slipped off, shearing the tension pin in the process. This could be a late night.

Several calls, a few hours and lots of Pizza Hut later, Kevin’s brother rolls up to save the day. We make it home at 10pm tired, but no worse for the wear and are quite thankful to get home and thankful for such a great day in the mountains.