Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday, 08/27/10 Longs Peak

Longs Peak
Jeff Valliere and Dan Mottinger

On a whim yesterday, I decided to plan a run up Longs Peak. I sent out a few e-mails to a few potential, but unlikely candidates and coincidentally, I got an e-mail from Dan inviting me on a run next week, so I threw out the invite to him and he was game.

After a bathroom stop at the TH, Dan got a bit of a head start while I drove down the road to park the car and finish getting ready. I got on the trail a bit after 7am and was feeling a bit sluggish from a poor night sleep and my legs were not at all zippy.

I plugged along, having doubts about even getting to the summit, as I was feeling a little less than optimum and the tree tops were rustling in the wind. Though it was warm, the breezy and clear conditions seemed to me to be a harbinger of the quickly approaching Fall season.

My plan was to surpass my 1:52 ascent PR from 2005, then push hard on the descent and take some time off of our previous 1:26 descent (Homie and I) which was quick, but somewhat casual as we had chatted the whole way down.  I was very doubtful on the ascent portion, but was confident that I could rally and make up a bunch of minutes on that descent time.

Above treeline and approaching Granite Pass, the headwind was picking up to an annoying level, adding a bit to the physical/mental effort, so I soon stopped to add my windbreaker, gloves and get my hat handy.

The “trail” through the Boulder Field was a little tedious and not conducive to fast running, but I was moving pretty well and made quick work to the Keyhole. At the Keyhole, I was surprised to see that I was a minute or so ahead of PR pace, but was discouraged to see how many people there were picking their way along the route (vs. just a few people in 2005). I politely picked my way past nervous newbies, clinging to the rock and made descent time, but at a few choke points, there was no good way around and I was forced to wait. Also, in the trough, I made OK time, but I was constantly on alert for falling rocks, as there were so many people slipping/sliding their way up down, but fortunately, not a one was dislodged. I pushed hard along the Narrows and then wormed my way through the queues of people on the Homestretch and topped out in 1:51:59, about even with my previous PR. I think I would have taken a little more off without the crowds, but considering I did not feel very strong on the ascent, I took it as a positive.

On the summit, somebody relayed a message to me that Dan (who had ascended the N. Face route/Old Cables route) had topped out and already started down. I was confused, as I had not seen him on the Keyhole route and figured he must have changed his mind and descended the way he came. It was sunny, calm and not yet crowded on top, so I took the time to explore around the summit a bit and relaxed for while enjoying the views and the company of a few fellow hikers. It was such a nice day, I was in no hurry to run down.

The Homestretch is easy on the ascent, but I only fully trust about half of my foot placements coming down, as the rocks have been mostly worn smooth.  Even though the rock was perfectly dry, I was very careful and deliberate through here and took my time all the way back to the Keyhole, going quick when I could, but cautious when I had to. Negotiating the rocks through the Boulderfield, I never really got into a good rhythm, but still did OK with it, no accidents or mishaps at least. Once on the trail, I picked up the pace a little, but often times caught myself being overly cautious due to the technical nature of the trail and my ankles were a little sore for some reason. For the majority of the descent, I was just cruising along, never really pushing, just enjoying the run really.

I made it back to the TH, to find Dan who was already finished and learned that we had unwittingly passed each other on the Keyhole route, probably on the Homestretch where it was particularly crowded and we were focused on the rock. Funny.

So, I managed to scrape a few seconds off of my PR from 2005, but it was essentially and identical run, which I was quite happy with considering the crowds and my lack of commitment once I started and felt myself struggling a bit. My thoughts of getting this run closer to 3 hours I realize might be a real pipe dream, unless I experiment with the old Cables route, which I can’t ever see myself doing. So, for now, 3:18 on two occasions is about all I can muster up.

Ascent Splits:

Start: 0:00
Goblin CG: 13:38
BoulderField: 1:08?
Keyhole: 1:20
Trough: 1:30
Narrows: 1:42?
Summit: 1:51:59

Descent Splits:

Summit: 0:00
Keyhole: 31:??
BoulderField: 41ish
Finish: 1:26:28

RT: 3:18:27