Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, 9/29/09 Green Mountain

Met George, JT and Brandon for a trip up Green. Took the bushwhack route up past the 1st Flatiron, went fairly easy, topping out in 47:22. I then opted for the short route down (standard) and got back to Chautauqua in a really slow/cautious 32. Great day, really warm.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday, 9/28/09 Green

Super easy "dog jog" up/down Green via Gregory/Ranger. Felt good, but was happy to go Sierra's pace and enjoy the perfect afternoon.

49 up
39 down

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, 9/26/09 Belford, Oxford and Pecks

Mt. Belford, Mt. Oxford, Pecks Peak (13,270)
~11 miles
~6,000 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave and Emily Hale, Sharon Hale, Kevin Lund, Ken Nolan, Jean Aschenbrenner, Sierra, Shep, Kiefer and Sophie

Although Allison and I have climbed these peaks before, we decided to join Dave and Emily for Belford/Oxford, as Oxford was one of Emily’s final two Sawatch 14ers and I had not hiked with them for over 3 months. As usual, Kevin was game for anything and a last minute e-mail to Ken revealed that he and Jean were considering this combo to fulfill grid requirements. A great group formed in an instant and I was very much looking forward to catching up with good friends on a bluebird day in the high mountains.

We got started from the Missouri Gulch TH a bit before 7am and made good time to the cabin at treeline. After a short break, we continued up the trail for a few hundred feet and then left the trail to engage the steep but grassy West slopes of Pecks peak, just for something different. The slopes were mostly dry, save for a thin, but crusty and inconsequential dusting of snow higher up.

The summit of Pecks seemed very much like the insignificant bump on the ridge to Belford that it is, but was enjoyable regardless and the dogs had a blast chasing one another and wrestling in the drifted snow.

Belford still looked surprisingly high and distant, but turned out to be a quick and easy walk up steep, snowy (but solid and intermittent) talus and tundra. The summit of Belford was a bit breezy, but just ducking down a few feet on the South side made for a warm and toasty spot for another long break.

Eventually, we mustered up the motivation to get off our lazy butts and head over to Oxford. The initial descent to the saddle had a good bit of snow in spots, or at least enough to make things a bit slick. Oxford, though distant looking, comes up quick, as the terrain is mellow and the walking fast and easy.

The summit of Oxford seemed a little busy with another group of 5 and some others crossing back and forth between the two peaks, but I guess busy is relative and I found it somewhat enjoyable to see others on the trail/peaks for a change.

Ken, Allison, Dave, the dogs and I made a 2nd visit to Belford, while the remainder of the group headed down in the general direction of Elkhead Pass. They had quite the jump on us, but we boogied hard to catch them and did so easily once they plopped down for break.

The walk out the valley was surprisingly long, but incredibly scenic and enjoyable, enhanced by the perfect weather and great company. Leisure was the theme of the day and we made it back to the TH around 4pm. A perfect day in the mountains with a great group.


Friday, September 25, 2009

"Race Across the Sky" (Leadville 100 Movie)

I meant to post this sooner... "Race Across the Sky" starring Lance Armstrong and JV (hobbling along as a spectator) will be showing on October 22 at theaters nationwide. Tickets go on sale today, looks awesome!

I am going to the showing at Westminster 24. Feel free to join us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday, 9/24/09 Green

Started at Chautauqua as a rain squall was moving through. Undeterred, I continued on as the rain moved passed and headed up the trail between the 1st and the 2nd Flatiron, of course realizing before long that I was again over dressed. At the back of the 1st, I took the little shortcut up to the NE ridge. Made the summit in 41:30 and decided to head down via W. Ridge/Long Canyon. Jogging easy, I made it to the top of SuperFlag at 55, back to the car at Chautauqua in 1:28. Took it very easy on the down.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday, 9/23/09 Sanitas

Plans changed at the last minute from Green to Sanitas, as I needed to get home a bit sooner than I anticipated. I wanted to go "fast" because I was in a hurry and because I was slowed down so much by the dog yesterday, but unfortunately I was not feeling nearly as peppy. I went about as hard as I could muster, but I was a bit bloated from lunch and feeling generally tired, not to mention I was a bit over dressed, wishing I was in shorts and a t-shirt instead of long pants, thick wool socks and two warm shirts. I just zoned out listening to my walkman, not really paying attention to time and ended up making the summit in 18:20. I turned tail and made the descent in a semi conservative 13:40. Not a bad run all things considered, lots of room for improvement.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday, 9/22/09 Sanitas

Today was the first day I felt truly good about running uphill since sometime in May, long before I broke my foot, as I had been struggling for some time. Unfortunately, Sierra was not feeling as eager to go fast and I ended up having to stop, wait, encourage and backtrack as to not completely drop her. We ended up making the summit in 23:28 which was a little bit of a downer considering how good I felt. I am certain that I would have been good for at least 5 minutes faster. Took it easy on the down, 17ish.

Despite this being a "dog jog" as GZ would say (more like dog walk), I felt awesome about being out and was encouraged with how well my foot was feeling.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, 09/20/09 Bear Peak

I was planning on a bike ride, but when I got out of work it was cloudy and really windy, so I called Homie to see if he was game for a trip up Bear Peak and he was game. We started around 5pm from the Cragmoor TH and it was actually quite nice out, surprisingly little wind. We took it fairly easy, conversation pace the entire way as we always have lots to talk about. Made the true summit in 51:29 and then took it slow and easy on the down. 1:32 RT.

Friday, 9/18/09 N. Twin Cone Peak (12,323), Mount Blaine (12,303)

N. Twin Cone Peak (12,323), Mount Blaine (12,303)
~11 miles
~2,800 vertical
4.5 hours
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

On our way home from a few days in Fairplay, we decided to stop on Kenosha Pass for a short walk to enjoy the fall colors. We started walking at a fast pace along the road toward N. Twin Cone Peak at 10:30am with no real plan, aside from taking some pictures and enjoying the warm sunshine.

Before we knew it, we were well on our way to the summit of N. Twin Cone Peak. We had climbed it before in December, so it was nice to climb it again under more pleasant conditions. I had hoped to take a long leisurely break in the nice warm sun to soak up the views that we sacrificed on our previous trip, but as soon as I took a picture or 3, Allison pointed toward Mount Blaine and suggested we head over.

From N. Twin Cone, Blaine looks very close, 10-15 minutes maybe? We reached the saddle quickly on the dirt road, but the trip to the summit of Blaine from there was a little slower than expected as it is all uneven grassy mounds, rocks and willows. Normally it would be no problem, but since I am still favoring my healing foot, I was being slow and cautious as to not tweak it on the unstable footing.

Eventually we made the summit and were surprised by the jumble of huge boulders which made for an easy, but very fun rock hop. The weather and views were great and I was pleased to get an unexpected new LCW peak.


Thursday, 9/17/09 Mt. Evans B (13,577), London Mountain (13,194)

Mt. Evans B (13,577), London Mountain (13,194)
~11 miles
~3,200 vertical
5.5 hours

After climbing Decalibron the previous day and a great night of sleep in the cabin in Fairplay, we headed over toward Mosquito Pass for a few new 13ers. In this area, Mt. Evans B and London were on my unclimbed list (as well as Pennsylvania, but we decided to save it for another day).

We parked below the London mine, walked past the mine and headed directly up the hill to cut off a little walking on the road. Once on the road, it was smooth sailing up to the pass, where everything was covered in a layer of rime ice. It being a Thursday, we were surprised to encounter a Jeep on the pass. The guys were quite friendly and we chatted it up a bit, mostly about the poor little dog that had been lost up there a few weeks prior on Mosquito Peak as indicated by the signs posted throughout the area. I hope he was eventually found and maybe the posters just had not been removed?

The stroll along the ridge was pleasurable as the day warmed the views to the West opened up. The summit of Mt. Evans B was enjoyable, but somewhat unremarkable (except for the views of course).

On the way back to the car, we took the little side trip up London Mountain. Though not much vertical is gained, the initial section of the ridge is a bit scruffy and requires a little route finding to keep it at class 2+. After the scruff, the ridge rolls for a long time over several false summits before topping out and took a surprising 25 minutes from the road at a not too fast hiking pace.


Wednesday, 9/16/09 DeCaLiBron

7 miles
3,600 vertical
~5 hours
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

To celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, a co-worker friend of Allison’s loaned us their cabin in Fairplay for a few days. We do this annually and climb local peaks, enjoy the fall foliage and have a nice dinner in Breckenridge.

Allison came up with the idea of climbing Decalibron, as she had climbed them all before, but never all at once. The weather report looked iffy and our somewhat late 9am start was no guarantee for success, but our plan was just to keep an eye/ear on the sky and be willing to turn back if things looked bad.

Not much to say about the route, as it has been recited many times before. I will say that this was my first time up the entire trail leading to the summit of Democrat and was impressed with how nice it is. In the past, I have always taken different routes, or deviated from the main trail on snow or talus. I think next time I run this loop, I will stick to the trail exactly and save some time.

It was a nice change of pace to interact with others on a mountain, as we have been climbing obscure 13ers on weekdays as of late and never see anybody. We exchanged hellos with 5 people descending and passed two others on the way up and on the summit who we spoke with a bit. The first was Joe from NC, who was on his 3rd 14er (after summiting Grays/Torreys the previous day). Joe was planning on the whole loop as well, but we never saw him after Democrat, so I am assuming altitude got the best of him.

Also on the summit was a 75 year old gentleman from Kansas who drove out for what I think he said was his 10th 14er. We were impressed and gave him kudos and encouragement and remarked that we hope we are still as fit at that age.

Although there was a fair amount of fresh snow, it added to the enjoyment, especially for Sierra who was rejoicing that winter is on it’s way (Allison was not so pleased with the snow on the descent of Bross).

Crossing from Cameron to Lincoln, we were walloped by a quick moving snow squall which forced us into all the warm clothes we had and reduced visibility greatly. Since there was no thunder or lightning and I am very familiar with the route, we thoroughly enjoyed the short winter preview.

All in all a great and somewhat leisurely way to spend the first of our 3 days in the mountains.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday, 9/13/09 Sanitas

Got out with Brandon for a trip up Sanitas this evening. It was starting to rain and there was some thunder/lightning threatening to the SW, but since I talked Brandon in driving down from Longmont, I did not want to bail. It was actually really nice out despite the threat of electrocution. Went fairly somewhat easy and felt good despite not having run in 2 months. Up in 21:28, 45 for the RT.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday, 9/12/09 A soaker of a road ride.

All week I was hoping to bike a 14er or 3 as I had the day to myself, but last minute changes in the forecast had me scrambling for a plan B. I went to bed with my only plan being to sleep in and see what the weather does. Sleeping in for me today was 6:45am and views of live Breck cams showed sunshine. Should I chance it? I was skeptical that the weather would hold, so after conversing on the phone with Kevin, we decided to stay local and ride the road bikes.

Had Kevin not driven up from Lakewood, I certainly would have scrapped any outdoor plans, but since he made an effort to come up, I was committed.

After passing time watching Youtube vids of the Leadville 100 MTB race and drinking coffee, waiting for a break in the drizzle, we finally got on the road. It was cool and cloudy, but the roads were dry at least. Within the first mile or two, the coffee and Lucky Charms were making me a bit dizzy, so I quickly downed a Gu and ate a Clif Bar. This made me feel good enough to suggest heading NW to Old Stage instead of South to Eldo. Big mistake.

Once on the top of Old Stage, we went zipping down the other side toward Lefthand as the rain began to fly. Occasional drops turned into a steady downpour and the temperature was hovering around 50 or less. I was somewhat dressed for the occasion, but was still soaked and water was beginning to slosh in my shoes. I cranked down Lefthand and did not slow a bit for the turn onto 36.

With Kevin in tow, I got as aero as I could and just hammered back into Boulder, going between 28-36mph most of the way, only dropping into the low 20's on the little hill just before Broadway. Kevin hung on for the most part, but drifted off a few times and I waited for him to latch back on before I ratcheted up the pace again. This went on all the way out Jay to 75th, then the rain subsided and thus the pace. Though cold as could be, it was exciting to hammer through the rain, imagining I was leading a Spring classic..... Only in my dreams. We managed 37 miles in crappy conditions and it made the long hot shower and relaxed afternoon in warm clothes feel well deserved.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday, 9/11/09 Green Mountain

I joined Allison and Sierra for a trip up Green today, started off hiking, going slow up Gregory (for the sake of Sierra's sniffing needs) and looking for the bear we heard down in the bushes (did not see it). Near the Ranger hut, we started jogging a bit, which felt good. I pushed a bit over the last 10 minutes, not hard, but not too slow either. Took the descent super easy.

53 for the up
50 for the down

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday, 9/10/09

80.2 miles
~6,500 vertical
5 hours

After being a bit lazy and scared off by lightning on Tuesday, then doing my civic duty participating in the trash bash on Wednesday evening, I wanted to get in a good ride today. Allison wanted to join, but I wanted to get in lots of miles and vertical, so I sent her along in the car to the mouth of Lefthand and boogied over there on my bike to meet her. I got a bit of a head start and she passed me on Jay road near Diagonal. I thought I would be chasing up the canyon, but arrived at the Lefthand/36 junction just as she and her friend Jen were about to start. I rode with them for the first 8 miles, then upped the pace a bit and continued all the way to the Brainard gate. At the gate, I sweet talked the nice older lady into letting me through without paying and she even gave me a People magazine to keep me warm on the descent. Things were quiet at the lake and I took my time riding around it, soaking up the awesome views. I really love this spot, especially when it is vacant.

I cruised back down at a quick but safe pace, met up with Allison and Jen at the general store in Ward, chucked my People magazine in the trash and coasted down the hill to fill my bottles with spring water. While there, I glugged a full bottle, re-filled then joined the girls for the effortless descent. I felt good and considered biking through Lyons and Longmont to get 100 miles on my odometer, but then decided to go up the backside of Lee Hill to run an errand in Boulder.

By the time I got into Boulder, I was too worked over to run the errand I went there for and knew I was on the verge of bonking. I had eaten 3 Gu's, 2 packs of Shot Bloks, a sample size Clif Bar and drank 5 bottles of water, but was bird fooded out and just needed some serious food. I worked my way home, realizing I would only get 75, so I looped around through the neighborhoods to make it over 80, which is a high for the year I think. 100 would have been easy if I had stuck to the flats, but with all that vertical, it was not in the cards for me today.

As I was churning along nearing home, I was thinking of some of the tougher stages of the Tour and could not imagine still having to cross the Galibier or the Tourmalet. Ughhh, I'll just leave that to Lance.

Weighing in at 140 lbs today, but will work to counter that with non-stop eating tonight and the Pancake House in the morning.

Monday, 9/7/09

56 miles
~5,500 vertical

Allison and I drove to the mouth of Lefthand, parked then got on our bikes for the trip to Jamestown. I rode with her all the way, then on the way back down, I decided to head up to Ward. I was considering Brainard, but opted not to since the sky was getting dark and I needed to be home by 4pm for company. Made it back at 4:03.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thursday, 9/03/09-Saturday, 9/05/09 Twining Peak, PT. 13,500, Sayres Benchmark

Twining Peak (13,711), PT. 13,500
Thursday, 9/03/09
~4.5 miles
~2,300 vertical
3 hrs RT
From Independence Pass
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

After setting up camp at the base of Graham Gulch (there is some great informal camping there), we drove up to Independence Pass to poke around and see if the weather would cooperate for a hike of Twining Peak. The sky looked a little iffy, but the dark clouds to the West looked somewhat benign and it was sunny overhead, so we started up the well worn trail to the North at 3pm and made our way up Pt. 13,500. We were making good time, but as we neared the summit of Pt. 13,500, the sun went away, almost as if somebody flipped off a light switch and suddenly it was dark, cold, windy, snowing and there was somewhat proximate thunder and lightning.

I have a mild case of PTSD when it comes to lightning after a frightening experience 12 or so years ago, so I immediately wanted to turn tail and run back to the car. In a complete role reversal, Allison suggested we wait it out for a while under some nearby rocks and see what happens, as the danger did not yet seem imminent. We hunkered under some very sheltered and protective rocks (protective from the precipitation, not lightning) for nearly 40 minutes, as wave after wave of graupel passed overhead, until we were assured that conditions were safe enough to proceed upward.

We found if most efficient to pass directly over Pt. 13,500 en route to Twining, then drop the ~350 feet to the saddle. The remainder of the climb from the saddle was straight forward and we reached the summit of Twining around 4:45pm. The sun was out and the conditions were pleasant, so we hung out for a while enjoying the scenery.

Before long, a bolt of lightning several miles to the NE forced us into gear, where Sierra and I were nearly running back toward the saddle with Allison in hot pursuit. There were a few more rumbles, but fortunately, the micro cell moved away from us. Again, we were in a nice calm weather window, so we took a nice long (relaxing this time) break on Pt. 13,500.

We arrived back at the pass at 6pm, as the weather was clearing and headed back to camp for a warm meal and s’mores. An interesting afternoon.

Sayres Benchmark (13,738)
Friday, 9/04/09
~10 miles
~4,000 vertical
5 hrs RT
Sayres Gulch TH
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere, Kevin Lund

We met Kevin at the La Plata TH and he drove us 2.7 miles up the South Fork Lake Creek Road to the head of Sayres Gulch. After a minor route finding snafu (vague and/or out of date route description) and a return trip to the car for a forgotten burrito left on the roof, we were finally on our way up the twisty and now defunct dirt road up toward Sayres BM at 8:35am. If I had to do it over again, I would just head directly up the ridge and skip the road for the most part, as it is ridiculously circuitous and gradual, but if you are looking for a casual walk, the road is a refreshing option. Finding the road requires close attention early on, as we walked right past it and fortunately realized the mistake within a few minutes.

The easiest way to find the proper road is to take a left at an obvious junction 2.6-2.7 miles up the road where there is a sign for Sayres Gulch. Immediately, there is another junction, choose the left option and the road soon comes to a dead end at a foot bridge. Park where the road ends, cross the bridge, walk for a minute or two until the trail intersects with a road and go left. This is the 4wd road that heads South into Sayres Gulch and you have to look for a locked gate immediately on the left, where on the other side is the proper road that ascends the NW ridge of Sayres. This gate is set back a bit and easy to miss if not looking closely for it.

There are a few minor junctions along the way as you ascend the road, but if you pay attention to the map, it is easy to follow. At around 12,500, there is a junction where you have to make a choice. You can keep climbing the road that ascends almost to the false summit of 13,430, or you can take a right on a spur road that drops a few hundred feet and ends below the Sayres/13,430 saddle, which is the option we chose on both the ascent and descent. I had hoped to catch 13,430 on the return, but threatening weather ruled that out. Either way, there is extra elevation gain/loss involved.

The ascent to the saddle is steep, but for the most part, it can be done on solid ground and minimal scree negotiating is required. From the saddle, it is a straight forward class 2 climb on the ridge to a false summit, then a short, but steep and loose climb to the summit (class 2 moving sidewalk scree/dirt).

We arrived on the summit at 11:15am, just as a storm was brewing over La Plata. We did not delay after the first crack of thunder and scampered back down into the basin from which we came to access the mining road, where we had to climb ~300 feet before our final descent back to the car. Although there were storms on either side to scoot us along, fortunately, neither one caught up to us, as we again lucked out upon a near perfect weather window above us the entire time. We arrived back at the TH around 1:30pm for a 5 hour RT.

After lounging around at camp for a while, we decided to head down the road to track down Jason who was supporting Bill and John for an attempt to run over all the Sawatch Peaks (except for Holy Cross). We contacted him by two way radio at the Echo Canyon TH waiting for Bill and John to come off of Elbert. I headed up trail for a ways until I met them, then accompanied them all the way to the La Plata TH. I was gung ho to join them up La Plata, but since I had no gear with me, nor had I eaten yet, I passed on the opportunity. Once darkness fell, I was pleased with that decision.

Pt. 13,198 Attempt
~5 miles
~1,500 vertical
2 hrs RT
From Independence Pass
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere, Kevin Lund

I guess this is hardly worthy of being called an attempt, but since I tried to get there, then perhaps it qualifies? Our original plan was to head up Lackawanna, but some niggling pains for my partners and my foot not being 100% healed, we decided to head up to the pass again for something easy and see how far we could get heading South.

From the pass, it appears that it is possible to get all the way to 13,198. There is a nice double track trail that rolls across the tundra, eventually turning to single track and picks up some (to the best of my knowledge) un-ranked and un-named 12er bumps along the way. On the highest bump, the character of the ridge changed from grassy tundra to volcanic towers, blocks, then loose choss.

The ridge down to the 13,198 saddle is a steep series of steps with lots of loose rock. I did an exposed class 3 down climb to the bench below and walked over to peer off the next step, which was longer, steeper, looser and more exposed than the one I had just negotiated. Turning around was a no brainer, so I headed back up to meet Allison, Kev and Sierra.

Again, we took our time on the summit and getting back to the car. On the drive home, I was shocked to see so many cars headed up I-70 so late in the afternoon (2pm-ish), it was nearly a parking lot, bumper to bumper and just barely moving. Everyone getting a late start on the 3 day weekend I guess. We had 3 days of near solitude and were thankful for that.


Day 1:
Day 2:
Day 3:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday, 9/02/09 SuperFlag

28 miles

My intention today was to put in a hard ride up Superflag. What "hard" meant in regards to time, I did not know, but I wanted to beat my 31:24 from a few weeks ago. All the smoke in the air from fires in the West did nothing to encourage me, but when I got out of work at 4, things seemed quite a bit more clear. I started pedaling toward Boulder and the air quality seemed great, but as I got closer to the foothills, I started to smell and see smoke. Although nothing compared to yesterday, I am apprehensive to put in a hard effort when air quality sucks, as it wreaks havoc on my throat and lungs.

Only mildly deterred, I continued up Baseline at a conservative pace, saving my efforts for the climb proper. Near 7th St., I pulled over real quick and stashed my bottle and seat bag in the bushes, trying to save every bit of weight that I could.

At the bridge, I started my watch and began spinning a low gear at a fast rate, but never really hanging it out there and figured I would see how it goes as I ascend. I felt great, but the smoke was definitely noticeable and for the next 1.5-2 miles I waffled a bit, debating how much I really wanted to put into it.

Although not a super time, I hit the turnoff in 16:05 which surprised me a bit and gave me confidence. I upped the effort, as I knew now that I had nothing to lose and felt as though I was soaring up the road. Normally, I sit in the saddle for the entire climb, but today, on the steeper sections, I stood up and really put some force on the pedals. This is a bit of a risky tactic, as it increases HR by 5-10 beats, but my cardiovascular system is clearly stronger than my cycling legs, so I figured what the heck.

For a long time, I did not look at the watch, but couldn't help sneaking a peek before the final switchbacks and knew I could go under 30. Although near my max, I pegged it for all I was worth and snuck in at 29:47. Certainly not a time to rave about, but it was a bit of milestone for me, as I have not been able to break 30 minutes for many years, as my riding has been sporadic at best since 1996 (my PR on this climb is 27:??).

I was super elated and riding a major high as I bombed back down the hill. I was going a bit over 40mph, just beyond the Amphitheater turnoff whan a large deer came up from the steep dropoff on the right, hopping a guardrail and ran right in front of me. I could not believe it, one of my worst biking fears being realized. I squeezed the brakes hard, trying not to skid, as it ran along the yellow line in the same direction as me with my front tire just a few feet away. A little bit of luck, fast reactions and good bike handling avoided a potential disaster.

Still on my high, I jammed home from the summit in 34 minutes. I also weighed myself for the first time in ages (I was afraid to look) and was pleased to see 141. My foot felt good enough today that I ran with the dog on the nearby trails and felt as though I am almost at the point where I can start running up peaks again, maybe in another week. I am burning to get after it again.....