Sunday, June 1, 2008

Goliath Peak (12,216), Rogers Peak (13,391), Mt. Warren (13,307), Mt Evans (14,264)6/01/08
~9 miles/~4,700 vertical
Start: Mt. Evans Toll Booth
2hrs 50 minutes

Thinking about the race up Mt. Evans I am signed up for on June 21st, I figured I had better get in some road miles and some altitude. I invited several running pals, but none could make it unfortunately. The lack of partners had me questioning whether or not I wanted to go and I just figured I would “sleep in” and decide when I got up Sunday morning. I woke up around 5:30am and felt well rested and antsy. What the heck, I’ll give it a go anyways. As I was getting ready, I kept pondering whether or not I really wanted to plug away on 14.5 miles of pavement and threw in some gear in case I decided to get off the pavement.

I have been wanting to hike over Goliath, Rogers and Warren for a while and a failed trip this past winter (it was too cold and windy to even get out of the car), had me anxious to finally get up there. Ultimately, I decided that I would run a bit of road and still get the peaks I wanted.

I started at 7:45am and headed up the quiet road. About 1/4mile up, I decided to head straight up the hillside and cut off some mileage. This generally worked quite well as I could avoid snow for the most part, but I eventually got bogged down with some serious post holing. As soon as I was about to get real fed up, the road miraculously appears. Coincidentally, I come out on the road 20 feet ahead of the runner who started from the lot about 10 minutes ahead of me. I wait and we jog/walk along at a mellow pace, talking about the upcoming race and people we know in common.I eventually say goodbye to John and continue up the road for maybe ¾ mile total until

I come to a dry S. facing hillside, heading up to the dry ridge. I plod up this, trying to run a bit, but it is a bit steep and my legs are feeling a somewhat tired. I plod along and make Goliath in a seemingly pokey 40 minutes.Rogers is looking discouragingly distant and I am now able to jog the slight downhill for a bit, dodging boulders and snow patches. I cross the road again at 54 minutes and debate jumping on it, but with a Camelback full of water and warm clothes and clunky trail shoes, I opt to continue my “hike”.

The route to Rogers is pretty mellow, but the terrain is not as “runnable” as I had hoped, so I just resign myself to fast walking and jog a step here and there.The snow patches start to increase and it is a game of avoidance and efficient route finding. Occasionally I opt to beeline across, but have mixed results. I finally top out on Rogers after 1:29, tag anything that seems to be a summit and continue on without breaking stride. Now the rocks become a bit of a jumble and I zig and zag finding ways that don’t require using my hands or stepping on snow (which would probably result in a broken leg).

I make it to Warren after 1:52 and again prod around for the highest point and waste no time lingering. As I am dropping down to Summit Lake, I see John (the runner I met earlier) running along the road and catch up to him, reaching the lake at 2:07. We walk and talk for another few minutes while I suck down a double shot espresso Clif gel to get me up the final stretch.I again say goodbye and I am torn as to whether or not I want to run the road. It has taken me a good bit longer than I anticipated to get here and I promised to be home by noon (planning on getting a ride down), so I opt for the direct route up to the parking lot. This is where I run into the most snow I have seen all day above tree line, and it is East facing and soft.

For the most part, with strategic zig zagging, I can stay on dry ground, but occasionally I have no choice but to cross the snow. Again, sometimes I stay on top, other times I am up to my waist. Uggg, it is really ugly when I drop deep and this really revs my already high heart rate.I am really starting to feel trashed and stop every once in a while to catch my breath as I clamber over rocks and through snow. As I stop, I curiously watch skiers schuss past, scraping on rocks as they go. They all seemed to be using good skis, which had me a bit confused. They either make skis much more durable than the ones I have purchased in the past few years, or they have a much bigger ski budget than I do. Gotta keep the core and edge repair business going I guess…..

Eventually I pass the parking lot and the final 100 feet seems to take forever as it is really icy and slick. I grind it out and am relieved to flop myself down on the summit rock after 2 hours and 50 minutes. Phew. I pant, drink, pant some more, add a layer and admire the views for a bit. I carefully pick my way back down to the lot and after a few minutes of scoping, I score a ride down from an older guy from Central City, named…… you guessed it, John (on the way down, we pass John 1 standing with his thumb out, but unfortunately John 2 has no room in his truck).

All in all a great day out, I got in 3 new peaks on the way to an old favorite (20th ascent of Evans) and got some great exercise in the process. Even though I did not run the road the entire way, I got a good review/reminder of the course which will be helpful in 3 weeks.

5/31/2008 Pt. 12,088, 12,567, 12783, Whale Peak (13,078), Glacier Peak (12,853)

Pt. 12,088, 12,567, 12783, Whale Peak (13,078), Glacier Peak (12,853)
~10 miles/4,300 vertical (including a bit of extra credit vert.)
From Jefferson Lake
7 hours RT
Jeff and Allison Valliere, John Prater, Pete Krzanowsky and Sierra

Failing to come up with a “local” plan to get up high for Saturday, I sent out an e-mail to a bunch of people on my e-mail list and Pete quickly indicated that he was planning Whale and some other nearby 12ers. Having wanted to climb Whale for quite some time, I was immediately in (pending approval from Allison of course…..). John was also on the same page and the group was set.

After a minor disagreement with the Jefferson Lake authorities over what passes work there and which don’t, we started from Wellington Lake around 7:50ish and headed due East up the hillside over some minor patches of still frozen snow up to the saddle between 11718 and 12,088. The going here was surprisingly easy and got us to the ridge quickly and efficiently. From the ridge, the views opened up and I was in absolute heaven. It was warm, no wind, no snow, clear….. just the day I have been patiently waiting all winter for.

We casually strolled North along the grassy undulations, picking up every ranked and unranked bump along the way, taking the occasional break to eat, photograph and chat. At the start of the final push up Whale, Sierra caught scent of what I figured to be some sort of ungulate and started to sniff all over, perk up and show too much interest. Fortunately I noticed this immediately and put her on leash. This turned out to be great as she towed me all the way up Whale, I was literally putting in half the effort as normal (maybe I can recruit her for Pikes…. Would that be cheating?).

We took a long break on Whale, then moseyed over to Glacier. The views were awesome and we were picking out nearby peaks to climb soon. John was quite bummed to not pick up Sheep along the way and we all teased him for wanting to drop down the wrong side to nab such a lowly peak. He strongly contemplated it, but figured he would save that one for another day.

The trip down was uneventful, until we came to the final pinnacle on the ridge at 12,000 feet. From here we got a great view of the lake and surrounding area. We noticed that there seemed to be too much snow to efficiently go around the West side of the lake, but there was a little ridge dropping to the East that looked like easier passage to the lake, which would then be easy street along the East side where there was no snow along the shoreline.

A few class 3 moves got us down through the worst section, then it was just steep going all the way down with the occasional patch of deep snow. We worked our way through the valley hopping over all the runoff as the day was warming significantly. The trip out along the East side of the lake went by quick and we were back at the cars about 2:50.

What an awesome day up high, super casual, great partners, great weather, great views.