Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday, 9/30/08 Sanitas

~4 miles
~1,700 vertical

Allison and I got out for a nice hike/run around Sanitas, going up the East side, down the S. Ridge, then back up the valley trail before descending back to the car. The weather has been just so perfect lately and it is impossible to resist the lure of the trails.

Summed up my stats for September:

220.4 miles (PR)
84,170 vertical feet (PR)
45 Peaks

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday, 9/29/08 Green, Bear, S. Boulder, Bear, Green

~15 miles
~5,700 vertical

Got out for a run up Green today up past the 1st (again). At the back of the First, I was on PR pace, then a minute or two later I breathed in a bug which caused major coughing fits and cost me 3 minutes by the time I got to the NE ridge. I recovered and made up a minute and got to the summit in 38:28, scrambled up the rocks and back, then decided the morning was too nice, so I continued on to Bear. Got to the base of W. Ridge in 47:58, top of Bear at 1:13, then figured since S. Boulder was so close, why not? Got there at 1:23, back to true summit of Bear at 1:33, Green at 2:11 (yeah, I was starting to dog it), then took NE ridge route down back to Chautauqua, arriving there at 2:39:22. I felt great until I started the trip from Bear to Green. As I became increasingly tired, my coordination suffered a bit, and I started to cramp, as I brought no food or water. Still was a great run for a Monday.

Saturday, 9/27/08 LCW Peak Dash

~18 miles
~7,000 vertical

"Peak Y" (12274')
"Zephyr Peak" (12067')
"Peak Z" (12244')
Payne Benchmark (11780')
"No Payne" (11789')
Shawnee Peak (11927')
"X Prime" (12100')
"Peak X" (12429')

Participants: Jeff & Allison Valliere & Sierra, Dave Hale & Shep, John Kirk, Dwight Sunwall, Keith Bershader, Patrick Lilly, Jill Salva, Bob Dawson, Ryan Kowalski, Greg Hakes, Jeremy Hakes, Derrill Rodgers, and Kevin Baker

Got out with a great group of friends on Saturday for a jaunt in the Lost Creek Wilderness, starting from the Long Gulch TH, about 10 miles South of Jefferson near Kenosha Pass. Aside from hunkering down near treeline prior to our last two peaks due to a bit of lightning and graupel, we had great weather. Most of this was a bushwhack/tundra walk, but we did get a few miles of trail at the beginning and end which was nice. This was a very cohesive group in many ways and we really had a great time.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday, 9/26/08 Green Mountain

6 miles

Again, the First Flatiron route to the summit. Took Sierra along, so things were quite slow. An hour up, and 35 or 40 down, did not even look. Great morning though, nice to slow down and soak it all in.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday, 9/25/08 Green Mountain

6 miles

Went up past the First Flatiron again to the top of Green. Went pretty easy, going up in 42, down in 29. Awesome fall day, the colors are getting to be really nice on the mountain, but it was a little warm, felt good though.

Wednesday, 9/24/08 South Twin Cone Peak, LCW

~12 miles
2,420 vertical
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

Allison and I met her parents at the Fort and carpooled up to Kenosha Pass. We were hoping to do one of our favorite fall hikes on the Colorado Trail heading East through the HUGE stands of towering aspen. However, when we arrived at the pass, we noticed that our favorite stands were still green, yet the trees on the approach to N/S Twin Cone looked to be changing nicely.

We walked the extra mile from the pass along the smooth dirt road, to the 2wd TH described in Roach’s book, then past the gate and along the public right of way through the 1.5 miles of private property. The trees and willows through this stretch were stunning and I was snapping pictures like mad. The road switchbacks up the hillside through some great aspen that are now at their peak and we found an amazing rock outcrop over looking the valley to have lunch.

I did not intend on going up S. Twin Cone, but with it right there staring us in the face and the fact that we (I) intended to climb it 2 years ago when we were up on N. Twin Cone in the winter, I had to go. Allison and Sierra joined me, as her parents hung out and took a nap. We were tight on time, so we went pretty fast, doing some high speed bushwhacking through the trees on the way up, then some serious (but luckily not too long) willow bashing on the way down to regain the dirt road. It was a quick cruise out on the road and we eventually caught up to the rest of the group.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday, 9/23/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vertical
36:46 up (from Chautauqua)
23:38 down
60:24 RT

Wow! What a difference a day makes! Yesterday I busted my b@lls trying to get a PR on SBP and missed by 2 minutes. I felt like I had two left feet on the descent and was trashed all day, culminating with a splitting headache that made me sweat that evening, I could hardly hold my head up.

9.5 hours of sleep later, I felt great and busted my hump at work all day doing very physical work. All afternoon, I thought I would get done at a decent hour and have plenty of time to go run at a leisurely pace, but I kept getting set back, culminating with an error which cost me an extra 45 minutes, so I was running way behind. I got to Chautauqua and figured I would see how things went and started up my new favorite route up Green, going up past the 1st Flatiron and then bushwhacking to the NE ridge, then up Greenman. Fueled by the adreneline of not having much time, and an espresso (I don't really ever drink coffee), I was jacked and feeling good.

I made it to the Mesa trail in 5, bottom of the 1st in 10:37, top of the 1st in 20, NE ridge in 25:?? then the summit of Green in 36:46, my fastest EVER from Chautauqua by a lot (don't feel like investigating previous PR now), but by at least a few minutes. So much for my confession yesterday that I need to take things easy. Today I just felt absolutely on top of things and would have done another lap if I had time, I felt that good. Legs were unbelievably strong, lungs and breathing were hardly labored, my focus was absolutely intense and I was even listening to my MP3 player (Competitor Radio interview with John Howard).

I ripped the downhill (for me), sticking to the Greenman, Saddle, Amphi trails. 20:10 to the Gregory lot jct, then another 3:28 to the car. I was hoping to have done the RT in under an hour, but missed it by 24 seconds...... Dang. Oh well, maybe next time. It is runs like today that produce such a high, it constantly keeps me seeking that next fix to match it and cancel out bad days like yesterday that make you wonder how it is you can derail so bad.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday, 9/22/08 S. Boulder Peak

8 miles
3,000 vertical
47:58up/1:24 RT

Intended to go fast today, but was unsure about where I was at. I faked it for a bit and got to the first few time checks at or slightly ahead of PR pace, my time was 18:30 at mouth of Shadow, but I knew deep down I would pay for it soon and was on borrowed time. Sure enough as it got steep, I started to hurt bad and knew I was off pace. I kept at it though, despite knowing that I was falling off pace with every step.

Got to the saddle in 41:45 with a slow split through the canyon of 23:15. Ouch. Dug deep for the remainder of the distance to the summit and got there in 47:58. I knew it was not my day even before I left the house and it was getting pretty hot even at my 9:40am start. Excuses, excuses. Took it pretty easy on the down, just jogging it out. Fall began at 9:44am today, so this was my last run of the summer/first run of the Fall season. I felt pretty crappy and I think I need to take things easy for a bit, as today may have been a sign that I have already passed my peak for the season and need to tone it back a bit. I might get in some longer runs and keep the intensity down relatively, in hopes of putting in a good run at the Grand Canyon in November.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, 9/21/08 Mt. Helen

Mt. Helen (13,164)
5 miles
2,800 vertical
1:45 up/3:15 RT

Allison, Sierra and I spent the weekend at the cabin where we were married 4 years ago near Hoosier Pass to celebrate our anniversary. We spent the day Saturday hiking to Wheeler Lake, but not getting up anything due to a late start, fickle weather and other fun activities. Sunday morning, the weather was still less than inspiring with intermittent rain/snow showers, so we slept in and relaxed at the cabin with no agenda other than to delay as long as we could stand and see if the weather improved.

We ultimately got cabin fever and decided to give Mt. Helen a shot on the way home, as the weather seemed to be improving, albeit marginally. We parked at the Spruce Creek TH and began walking up the road to the Wheeler trail and then took a right. We soon came to a locked gate, walked around and then immediately headed West up the steep hillside following the path of least resistance. After a few hundred vertical feet, the terrain became a bit more manageable, although still steep. We found a nice shallow, grassy gulley that led us directly up the fall line to the open and grassy East facing slopes. High up, there were occasional patches of snow, nothing to slow us down, but just enough for Sierra to have a blast in. I can say with confidence that she is eagerly awaiting winter.

It was lightly raining at the start, but the sun came out and warmed things nicely. For the entire hike, there were dark clouds threatening all around, but none were electrical and we enjoyed a perfect little weather window. On the descent, we deliberately went out of our way to trek through a few small aspen groves that were at their peak and went picture crazy. This was an awesome consolation hike after pining away for a summit all weekend. We took our time and really enjoyed the day.


Saturday, 9/20/08 Wheeler Lake

7 miles
1,500 vertical

Allison, Sierra and I spent the weekend at the cabin near Hoosier Pass where we were married 4 years ago on Sept. 18th. We arrived at the cabin a bit later in the morning than I would have liked and settled in, had breakfast and discussed options (nearby 13ers that we have not done). We decided that we would try for Wheeler Peak, a nearby bicentennial. We did not get going until 10:15am and were slowed by wet conditions and a parade of SLOW moving jeeps. The skies soon clouded over and became threatening. We took a long break at Wheeler Lake and decided that Wheeler Peak was not to be. Allison was feeling sick (a bug she caught at work), plus the weather was deteriorating quickly, so we gladly called it a day. Of course, just as we decided to head down, so did the brigade of Jeeps which we played leap frog with, sucking in exhaust and filthy cigarette smoke. I eventually cruised past the redneck brigade, but Allison was lagging behind. I was feeling bad, but I was a bit peeved and stayed ahead hoping she would catch up. Soon, another parade of ascending Jeeps approached, creating a massive traffic jam, allowing Allison to pass and we never saw them again. Awesome day out despite the crowds of 4x4s and the not so great weather. The colors were amazing, contrasting vividly with the snowcapped peaks.

We arrived back at the cabin around 1:45pm and hung out reading, napping and relaxing, then headed out for a nice dinner in Breck.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday, 9/19/08 Green Mountain

6.5 miles
2,500 vertical

Got out with George today for a run up Green, same way I went yesterday and came down Ranger/Gregory. Up in 49, down in 32 (from Chautauqua). Went pretty easy, jibber jabbering the whole way. Crazy amounts of lady bugs on the summit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday, 9/18/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vertical

Sick of the usual trails, I headed up the trail used to access the First Flatiron. I took it easy, to moderate at the hardest and spent a few minutes poking around the 2nd Flatiron (anyone want to scramble this soon?). From the top of the trail, I descended a short bit West to reach the well worn trails that connect with the NE ridge trail. Topped out in 47, down in 29.

Wednesday, 9/17/08 Evans, Epaulet, "Epaulie"

Mt. Evans, Epaulet Mountain, “Epaulie”
~19.4 miles
~5,500 vertical
6:47 RT
TH: Abyss Lake

Needing to take some pictures and notes on the route to Abyss Lake for an upcoming CMC guidebook, I headed up there to review the trail and refresh my memory of the area. I got on the trail at 7:42am and started jogging at an easy pace, just trying to put some of the easier and familiar trail behind me quickly. After the first creek crossing, the views opened up and I had to bust out the camera. The aspens in this valley are slowly starting to change, maybe 25% at this point, but the trail went through a nice yellow grove where the warm morning sun was illuminating the forest, absolutely stunning.

I got a little carried away with picture taking and would for shorts periods of time forget that I had an agenda for the day. This became the theme, as I would jog for a while, then find great photo ops and space out for a bit. Once the trail neared tree line and got a bit steeper, the heavyish day pack made it’s presence known and I resigned to hiking.

The lake at 11,730 was flooded by beaver activity and I had a nice willow romp around the East side trying to not get wet. Soon after, the trail merged with a creek and it was a challenge to stay dry. Once out of the willows, it was easy cruising the remainder of the way to Abyss Lake on a nice trail and I arrived there at 10am. I took a long break here, drinking in the scenery and serenity. The morning was warm and calm, the only noise to be heard was the occasional marmot or pika.

My plan was pretty loose and I debated turning back, but with Evans and Bierstadt looming overhead, how could I pass them up? I worked my way up the steep slopes of Mt. Evans, gained the ridge and then traversed over to the summit. On the summit, I saw the first and only people I would see all day, a few groups of two who had hiked up from Summit Lake and several cyclists. I took another long break here and debated my options. I wanted to take Sawtooth over to Bierstadt, but I was not sure if there would be much snow/ice and there was a pesky dark cloud developing overhead. Since nobody really knew where I was, I decided to play it safe and head over to Epaulet and “Epaulie” since I had not climbed them before.

The trip over there was easy, but perhaps a bit longer than it looks. I took great pleasure in shortcutting the switchbacks in the road, as I always think about this when running or biking the road. From “Epaulie”, I headed West, then NW down a grassy gulley to re-connect with the Abyss Lake Trail at around 12,200 feet. Once on the trail, I jogged most of the way out, splashing through the creek and the lake, too lazy to avoid getting wet. I arrived at the car at 2:29pm, with dark and stormy skies at my back. This was a great route and a nice casual day out.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, 09/15/08 Bear/S. Boulder, reverse Bill Loop

10 miles
3,500 vertical

Had a great run this morning. Did not go too fast, but it was just such a perfect morning to get out for a good run. Up Mesa, over to Bluestem (Bluebell?), re-connect to Mesa, Shanahan past the slab to Fern, topped out on Bear at 59 going easy on the up and moderate on the approach. 10 more over to S. Boulder, then took the descent easy. 1:45 RT.

Sunday, 9/14/08 S. Boulder Peak

8 miles
3,000 vertical

An easy hike with Allison and Sierra in the afternoon once it finally got nice. 1:20ish up, a long summit break, then an easy walk back down. 2:42 RT.

Saturday, 9/13/08 Flattop Mountain

Flattop Mountain (12,324) RMNP
8.8 miles
2,849 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere
2hrs up/4 RT

Where oh where did summer disappear to? That is what we were asking ourselves on Flattop on Saturday as we intended to do something short, close to home, mellow and super easy but mother nature had other plans. As we were leaving the house, we were surprised to see how white the Indian Peaks were, but did not think too much of it, as we were taking an easy trail to only 12,324 (should have gone back home for boots/gaiters, balaclava/goggles).

We started up the trail at 8:15am from Bear Lake. It was a bit cool, but otherwise a gorgeous day. We quickly warmed up, and before long, we were walking on a snow and ice covered trail, but it was really no biggie and kind of fun actually. At tree line, the depth of the snow was increasing, as was the wind and soon we were in a full on raging ground blizzard, it really felt like full on winter. The going was slow as we tried to stay upright in the unconsolidated, and often times knee deep snow. Too bad we could not have brought the dog, at least she would be enjoying this.

The trail was only discernable by following the large cairns, but we were often times off of it, trying to find patches of less deep snow. Each step was a complete mystery and we never knew what we were going to step on or in. We made the uneventful summit after 2 hours and beat a hasty retreat. On the way down, going as cautious and slow as I could, I still managed to sink my leg into a deep hole and really smash my shin, probably the worst since my BMX/bear trap pedal days, OUCH!

Fortunately, the descent was a bit easier with the wind at our backs and once back in the trees, it turned out to be an amazing fall day and warmed quickly and dramatically. The leaves are really slow to change this year, and there was nary a hint of yellow anywhere. I slept in the car all the way back to Lyons and awoke to people riding bikes every where I looked, a stark contrast from winter in a seeming instant.


Friday, September 12, 2008

09/12/08 Sanitas

~ 4 miles
~1,700 vertical

For years I have been trying to break 17 on Sanitas and I came close to letting it go and just accepting that it is never going to happen. I often times gaze up toward Sanitas from Boulder and think to myself, "it looks so short, why can't I break 17?". The first time I ran it, I think I was 20 minutes, and I quickly slimmed that down by a minute here, 30 seconds there, quickly I got it down to the low 17's, 17:09, 17:05, 17:03, but felt like I was really busting a gut to go that fast and my best time here stayed stagnant for years.

Today, at the last minute, I decided to join Allison and Sierra for a trip into Boulder to run some errands and take a trip up Sanitas. On the way there, I was sleeping in the car and was totally out of it. The crappy weather kind of had me in a funk, along with not sleeping too well last night. As the weather improved, I slowly snapped out of it, and figured I would run hard and see how it went.

Conditions were perfect today, high 50's and the sun was just starting to make an appearance after long steady rains for the last day and a half which made the dirt on the trail nice and tacky. I had a few minute warmup and then hit it as hard as I could, keeping my steps short and fast, trying not to take long stides and blow it too soon. I was completely redlined, but at the same time staying within myself, quickstepping the steep and flying on the lower angle sections. I got to the "puddle" downhill and knew I was slightly ahead of PR, but could I keep it up? It got steep again, and I felt better than I ever have on this stretch and knew I was pacing myself perfectly. I really leaned into it on the final stretch and hit my elbow on the pole at 16:23:09!

I was totally stoked. Sounds piddly, but I have been wanting this for years and finally got it by 40 seconds, way more than I anticipated, yet in the range I knew I could do on a good day. Now, maybe break 16? Food for thought.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday, 9/11/08 Green Mountain

5.5 miles
2,400 vertical

Allison and I got out for a trip up Green today. The weather looked a little iffy, but what the heck. About 1/4 of the way up, we were in the thick of clouds and like our outing on Monday, you could just taste them. I don't think I went hard enough to break a sweat, but I was dripping wet from the supercooled air and high dew point, as though I was having a real tough workout. We went up in 50 minutes walking the entire time up the front side, then down in 36 jogging the back way. Later, went to Gerry Roach's slideshow at Neptune featuring the new edition of his Flatiron Classics. Awesome show, now I am itching to get out there on some rock!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday, 9/10/08 S. Boulder and Bear

9 miles
3,300 vertical

Pretty much just a long walk for the dog, really slow on the up with lots of waiting and water stops, 1:17 up S. Boulder from S. Mesa. 5 minute break, but it was a bit cold and windy. At the last minute, I decided to nab Bear as well. It was so calm and pleasant at the summit, that we got comfy for a 25+ minute session of napping and general zoning out. I was so relaxed, getting off the summit was a bit tricky and it took me a few minutes to snap out of it. The descent was a bit faster than going up, but not much. 2:47 RT.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday, 9/09/08 Bear Peak

6 miles
2,800 vertical
40:34 up
22:39 down
1:03:13 RT

Have not done this route in quite a while. Started off feeling like total crap and wanted to bail, but I just chugged along and stuck with it. I felt warmed up after 5 or 6 minutes, but was not feeling top notch, but I was moving OK I guess. I realized that a large lunch less than an hour before the run was really bogging me down. I was not expecting to set any records, but wanted to go up in under 40. I just missed it and topped out at 40:34, completing the final 1,000 feet from the saddle in 12 minutes. For some odd reason, I felt compelled to time my descent, 8 to the saddle, 15 to base of slab and 22:39 total on the down, for sure my fastest descent without snow. I was 3 minutes slower on the up than PR, but since my downhill was faster, I think I PRed on the RT by a handful of seconds.

Monday, 9/08/08 Green via Flag

8 miles
2,700 vertical

Ran with George Zack, Dave Mackey, Claude Clegg and Charlie Nuttleman up Flag, over to Green via Ranger. Went fairly easy, talking most of the way. Upped the pace just a bit for the last 4 or 5 minutes. It was cold, foggy and damp. I was freezing when I got home and stood in the hot shower for too long. 57 or 58 up, 32 down (according to George, as I did not look at my watch).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Saturday, 09/06/08 Carbonate (13,663), Cyclone (13,596), “Lo Carb” (13,591), Grizzly Mountain (13,708)

Carbonate (13,663), Cyclone (13,596), “Lo Carb” (13,591), Grizzly Mountain (13,708)
~9 miles
~4,500 verticial
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave and Emily Hale, Aron Ralston, Kevin Lund, Sierra and Shep

Aron and I had been exchanging e-mails during the week discussing possible plans for Saturday. I mentioned that we were thinking of heading to the Sawatch to climb some 13ers, but had no definitive plan, so Aron quickly suggested the above peaks and possibly Aetna/Taylor if we had time. I was game for getting them all, but I was doubtful Allison and Sierra would be up for all of them, so we just figured we would just play it by ear. Usual hiking partners for the weekends (Hales/Kevin) were eager to join and committed to the trip at the last minute and we were excited to have them along.

We got started at a not too early time from around 10,600ft, just a short stretch down the road from where Cyclone Creek intersects near the old Shavano town site labeled on the map. From our parking spot, we crossed the road and meandered North on the gentle South ridge of Carbonate. The pace was casual and we all just took our time conversing and enjoying the morning. When practical, we tried to stay just over to the East side of the ridge to avoid the cold breeze sweeping past, a nagging reminder that winter is not far around the corner.

We took a long break on top of Carbonate, allowing time for regrouping, snacks, pictures, register signing (we saw Kunkle’s mark everywhere we turned) and moved on to Cyclone and “Lo Carb”, taking short breaks out of the wind on occasion. Unfortunately, Emily was having a bit of an off day, so she opted to head down from the Carbonate/Cyclone saddle. After another long and leisurely break on “Lo Carb” taking in the amazing views of the neighboring peaks, we set off for Grizzly.

I had not really done my research, but we were a bit surprised to see that it was not the rolling tundra walking we had become accustomed to, but instead a steep and loose mess of teetery talus with a few class 3 sections.

Aron, closely followed by Dave and Shep, cruised across no problem, while I waited to help Allison, Sierra and Kevin along. After much procrastinating as to whether or not they should continue on, or backtrack, I finally convinced them into following. Nothing about this ridge was overly difficult, but it was a bit dangerous due to all the loose boulders stacked this way and that like a house of cards. Allison, Sierra and I made it unscathed, but unfortunately Kevin caught a rock on the elbow and decided to bail at the saddle.

Kevin insisted that he was OK, and was just done for the day, so Allison, Sierra and I continued on to Grizzly, where Aron and Dave were patiently waiting, having sat up there for quite a long time waiting. I felt really bad that we had kept them so long. Knowing that Aron had an appointment to keep, we encouraged he and Dave to cruise ahead while Allison and I rendezvoused with Kevin on the walk out and got a ride back to camp with him. All in all a great day out with great partners and perfect weather.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

9/5/08 Tabeguache and Shavano

Tabeguache (14,155), Shavano (14,229)
~11 miles
~6,100 vertical feet
3hrs 54 minutes

For a variety of reasons, we got out of town a few hours later than I had hoped and did not make it the Angel of Shavano Campground (closed for the season) until 3pm and set up camp just up the road in a nice little informal camping spot, as we were meeting Dave, Emily, Aron and Kevin for a hike the next day.

It was my intention to run a fourteener on the way, or Tabeguache/Shavano after we set up camp, but as it was getting so late, I was a bit conflicted. I quickly set up camp and got ready for a “run”, not really sure how far I would get, but I was hoping to check out the route up “Espirit Point” over to Shavano and see how things went from there. It looks short on the map, and the distance/stats looked reasonable for the remaining daylight I had, but just barely.

I got off to a not so alpine start time of 3:35pm up the Colorado Trail from the Angel of Shavano TH at 9,180 feet. Not having done my homework, I realized that after a few strides, I needed to bushwhack hard left to attain the steep SE facing gulley/ridge. I was thankful that I dressed/prepared for a hike, rather than a “run”, as I was quite thankful to be wearing pants, long sleeve shirt, work gloves and scree gaiters. Up I went through the dense bushes, sharp yucca, cacti and deadfall. Up, left, up, left, up, left I went, desert scrub, turning to deadfall, talus and branches to hit your head on. Often times I was on all fours, negotiating the loose slopes and numerous obstacles. I could never really settle into a steady rhythm because of the terrain and I don’t really think I was feeling 100%.

It was hot from the start, but I eventually put all the trees/bushes behind me and appreciated the cool breeze above treeline. 13,630 foot “Espirit Point” looks tantalizingly and deceptively close, but took a bit longer than planned. Without pause, I cruised over the summit and dropped the 300 feet down to the Shavano/Espirit saddle and standard trail, where I could move a bit more efficiently. I topped out on Shavano at 5:30pm, and again cruised over the top while sucking down a gel. I originally debated heading over to Jones, as it looked fairly close, but I was behind schedule and knew my time frame just for getting back to camp before dark was tight.

Since I was running a bit behind schedule, I was starting to get a little antsy about getting off the mountain in a timely manner. I considered turning tail and going the way I came (too steep and loose, would probably have taken me longer to descend than ascend), debated heading down to Blank Gulch, then the Colorado Trail, but it seemed long and some of it unknown. I ultimately decided to go over Tabeguache and descend to Jennings Creek, as I have been that way before and I knew as long as I can get to the road with enough daylight, I would have no issues getting back to camp (I did have a headlamp). In the back of my mind, I kept thinking there was some sort of issue with the Jennings Creek route, “little used?”, and perhaps “discouraged???” (I would later find out permanently closed and erased from the mountain).

I made the traverse over to Tabeguache from Shavano at a quick, but conservatively safe pace and again did not pause. I was anticipating a nice quick cruise off the mountain and although the West ridge was not so bad, it had a few more ups/downs and more loose rock than I remember. I opted to side hill the talus below 13,936 (not sure if this was the most efficient way), then after a long while made it to the nice ridge heading South. The trail was faint and the ridge longer/slower than I anticipated, complicated by a now stiff wind from the West. I eventually lost what little trail was left and then descended the slope where I remembered the trail to be. I got my lucky break here, and was able to drop 2,000 feet in 10 minutes due to the nice soft dirt (probably the old trail) and then finally bushwhacked my way to the road in another 15.

I had told Allison I would be back in less than 3 hours, but I was now beyond that, oops. I kicked it into gear and jogged down the rough/rocky road, thinking maybe 10 or 15 minutes I would be back to camp. The road really started to seem endless after a while, way longer than I remember, but I still had plenty of daylight. I was just anxious at this point to get back as I knew Allison would be starting to question my whereabouts.

After 29 minutes and 4 miles slogging down the road, I made it back 3:54 after I started with only about 30 minutes of daylight to spare. I was very happy to see that Dave and Emily had arrived and we built a nice campfire and had a great time enjoying one another’s company.


I’m really ashamed and embarrassed that I did not do my homework on this route, but my lack of commitment for a specific peak and late start unfortunately prevented me from taking this important step. Subsequent research revealed that my ascent route is suggested for winter conditions only ascents due to erosion issues. The old Jennings Creek trail is completely closed and has been snuffed out with nary a trace. Although I happily bushwhack on little used peak, I respect the work of the trail crews on busy 14ers and was not happy with myself for coming down that way. Lesson learned.

Treeline: :53
"Espirit Point": 1:33
Shavano: 1:55
Tabeguache: 2:20
Old Jennings Creek TH: 3:25
Camp: 3:54

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vertical

Again I was feeling lazy and almost bailed at the last minute, but I was at Chautauqua and ready to run after a few errands. 5 minutes to Gregory TH at warm-up pace, another 35:50 to the summit taking the standard route on the front side. I just chugged along in 3rd gear mostly, a bit of second gear on Amphitheater, a little 4th gear for the last few minutes. Came down in 22:59. Hoping to get a good run tomorrow up Tabgauche/Shavano/Jones, but it depends on weather.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Green via Flag

~8 miles
~2,700 vertical feet

Allison and I got out for a late evening run up Flag and over to Green. It was a nice cool evening and once I got warmed up, I was really into it, as I was feeling lazy at the start and was hinting at bailing. 1hr 50 minutes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


~4 miles
~1,500 vertical

At the last minute I decided to join Allison and Sierra for a hike up Flag. I was feeling a bit lazy and did not want to go, but even more, I did not want to pass up time on the trail. Allison ran and I powerhiked/jogged to keep up. We went up in about 22, then did the loop around the top. Nice and cool out, fall is right around the corner.

Monday, September 1, 2008

S. Boulder Peak Attempt

~4 miles
~2,500 vertical

Got out with John today for an attempt of S. Boulder from Eldo up the ridge. Some 5th class, lots of 4th and 3rd class, bushwhacking, boulder hopping. We only made it about 1/3 of the way after about 3 hours. Tough going, but really fun.

Sunday, 08/31/08 North Apostle and Ice Mountain

N. Apostle (13,860) and Ice Mountain (13,951)
9 miles
4,000 vertical
Jeff Valliere, Dave Hale, Dave “Hoot” Gibson, Dale Peterson, Sierra and Shep

Starting from our campsite ~.3 miles below the 4wd TH above Winfield, we got off to a prompt 6am start and headed up the road at a good pace. I was familiar with the Lake Ann trail to just above the junction of the Three Apostles Trail and was a little uneasy about how easy it would be to follow the route up into the basin, as I have read numerous TR’s where people have had mixed results finding the route.

Roughly .2 miles past the junction, the Three Apostles Trail crosses the creek on a large log. Beyond this, the trail continues to be well worn and very easy to follow along the West side of the creek up into the basin to 11,300. At around 11,300, the trail crosses over to the East side of the creek and loosely meanders through the willows S/SE to the base of a large rock pile below the headwall. From the large rockpile, we headed East up a steep grassy slope, until we saw a cairned route head SW up the hill toward the lake at 12,100 feet, exactly as described in the Roach guidebook.

Up the talus and scree we went to the saddle under less than inspiring gray skies. We topped out at the saddle after a surprisingly long ~2:40 from the campsite where we bumped into a solo climber named Ryan who asked if he could join us. He seemed like a nice enough guy and he immediately meshed well with our group as we made the short jaunt up to N. Apostle. The peaks were in/out of the clouds and this did nothing to relieve my trepidation for Ice Mountain.

Dave, Dale and the dogs opted out of Ice., while Hoot, Ryan and I carried on. The climb up the ridge is very straight forward and is easy class 3. I was starting to think Ice was cake and a bit over rated until we reached the crux. We got to the first gulley and Hoot went up and checked out a steep chimney. While I was waiting, I traversed over a minor rib at the top of the same gulley and found the route as described in the guidebook.

I crossed the gulley and started up the right side and reached the class 4 crux. The rock in this section is loose and the move up the crux was a bit awkward. Once past the crux, I missed the crossover on the right to the class 3 finish and kept heading up the gulley on ever steepening rock. Hoot noticed this and pointed out my mistake, but I was committed at this point. Up I went, testing and retesting each small and suspect hand hold. A few grunts, some foul language and a few stemmed out stretchy moves on knocking knees saw me to the top safely, arriving about the same time as Hoot who had taken the easier way.

I was a bit on edge and did not linger. I followed Hoot down to the class 4 crux down climb and knowing how awkward that one move was going up, I opted to find a better way down as Hoot accompanied Ryan to the top. I was able to gingerly descend the exposed rib to a point where I could cross over into the gulley below the crux. In my opinion, this was easier, but it was exposed for longer with many loose rocks and ledges to negotiate.

Once we were below the crux, it was easy street back to the saddle. Unfortunately, I let my guard down a bit and stepped on a rather large rock that looked stable, but just the slightest bit of weight from me stepping on it set it into motion. I surfed it for a foot or so until I was able to leap to solid ground and avoid going off the edge with it. It crashed 20-30 feet down the mountain and stopped just short of the big drop. This really startled me and I was ready to be done. From then on, I was on a heightened sense of alert as we picked our way back to the saddle and then the valley floor.

The trip out was a cruise and I sped ahead to catch Dave, Dale and the dogs and we walked the last mile together, arriving at camp around 1pm.

N. Apostle and Ice did not disappoint. As advertised, Ice is more dangerous than it is difficult. If you take your time, you can keep it at class 3, but it certainly is loose and a good bit of care needs to be taken.


Saturday, 8/30/08 Mt. Yale (14,196)

Mount Yale (14,196ft.)
9.5 miles RT
4,300 vertical
Jeff Valliere, Kevin Lund, Dale Peterson

When making plans for the weekend, Kevin proposed climbing Mt. Yale on Saturday before we met Dave and Hoot for a climb of Ice and North Apostle the following day. At first I was a bit hesitant as I was not really interested in climbing Yale for the 3rd time on a busy holiday weekend, but I started thinking that it might be fun to go take a stab at the fastest known time of 1:32 set back in 2001 by Bill Briggs. FWIW, fastest known times (or FKT’s) don’t really mean all that much and carry little weight, as there may be faster times but not known or posted anywhere, but at the very least it was a good benchmark time to shoot for.

We arrived at the Denny Creek TH at ~7:40am (snagging the last parking spot in the lot) and prepared for our ascent. Kevin was planning on hiking, Dale was planning on hiking/running at a moderate pace and I was intending to dig in deep and go for broke. While Kevin and Dale were packing their packs, I was already set to go, but used this time to get in a short warm-up. I started up the trail for a bit and it was a bit steeper and rockier than I recalled, but I knew my legs were feeling great and was eager to get on with it.

Back down to the car, I got Sierra leashed up for Kev and I gave a few route instructions and we agreed to just meet on the summit. I started my watch at the parking lot at 8:07am. Although the trail starts off steep and rocky, I was feeling even better than I anticipated and knew at that moment I was going to have an awesome day. The weather was cool, but not cold, sunny, clear, no wind.I kept a quick cadence up the steep trail, going hard, but knowing that I needed to pace myself just right for maximum efficiency. The loose and rocky trail was not conducive to maintaining an even rhythm, but I did what I could, always looking for the path of least resistance and cutting the apex whenever possible.

Before long, the trail leveled a bit and I was really able to up the pace. At 10:3? in, I came to the creek crossing and tip-toed my way across a few small logs and wet rocks (completely overlooked the nice, big dry logs spanning the creek slightly upstream) and was happy to have not gotten wet going at such a quick pace. In 5 more minutes I came to the junction and took right hand turn for Yale.

At this point, I was really starting to hit my stride, I felt like I was absolutely flying, cruising effortlessly up the trail and tearing through the rollers, my feet, legs and brain all working in perfect sync. By this point, I was starting to pass crowds of people who had started earlier and they were all great about stepping to the side as they heard me coming up behind them. As I passed, most people made some sort of complimentary remark, either to me or to one another. All of this super positive energy from others on the mountain only added fuel to my already hot fire.

There were some surprisingly steep sections as I neared tree-line and I was careful to not blow my quads and power hiked when necessary, all the while assessing the terrain ahead planning on where I would resume my run and always staying focused on maintaining a steady output regardless of the gear I was in ("changing gears" quickly was key here).I reached tree line at 38:?? and could now start to see the summit and the general path of the route. At this point, it was starting to seem somewhat unlikely to me that I would better the FKT, but I was hoping to come close.

Skeptical, but not deterred, I pressed on up the hill, now in full on, “hands on the knees” power hike mode, always looking for the best traction as the steep trail is pretty slick with loose dirt on hard pack.The trail just gets progressively steeper as it works it’s way up to gain the ridge, but occasionally there was a brief flat section where a running pace could be temporarily initiated, if only for 20-30 seconds. I got to the base of the headwall at an hour even, the point I would consider to be the start of steepest section of trail as it rears up to gain the ridge crest through a braided mess of loose dirt and rock.

The ridge still looked distant, but I caught a glimpse of a few guys topping out and it was closer than I had thought. I arrived on the ridge at 1:08:?? and knew it would be a quick boulder hop to the summit along the ridge. I cruised this section fast, hopping from rock to rock with surprising speed and agility, as the “super computer” as George likes to say was working at full capacity, everything was just coming together perfectly.At this point, I knew I had the FKT in the bag, but now it was a matter of how much.

I looked at my watch and was bent on getting in under 1:20, but could not up the effort any more, as I was already at my max speed, you can only go so fast across this type of boulder strewn ridge. I tagged the top at 1:19:24 and felt the most unbelievable runners high I have ever felt. I paced a bit and laughed aloud as I soaked it all in, looking down toward the parking lot, 4,300 feet below, feeling fresh still and not the least bit winded.

I poked around for a while checking the views and then built a nice recliner chair facing Harvard and Columbia, where I sat until Dale arrived at 10:20 and then Kevin/Sierra at 10:45. Everyone on the mountain was quite friendly and many asked about my run and offered congratulations or some kind words. I felt a bit awkward receiving so much fanfare (especially in the company of Dale who has placed top 10 at Pikes 20 or so times) but he and Kevin were quite excited for me.

We then headed down at a casual pace, talking to more people along the way. About a mile from the cars, we bumped into Shep and Dave who walked up to meet us, awesome surprise! We all had a great time chatting on the way down.

I felt absolutely amazing on my run, it was awesome hanging out with great friends, the weather was perfect and even though crowded, the energy and spirits amongst everyone on the mountain was at such a high, it was truly inspiring. I would have to rank this as my best run yet this year, perhaps one of my best ever, I sure wish all days could be this great!

Splits:10:3? to creek crossing
15:?? to Yale/Browns Pass jct.
38:00 to treeline
1:08:?? crested ridgeline
1:19:24 summit