Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, 10/27/10 Eldorado Mountain

After a few days off tending to babies (not to mention the hideous wind), I was driving toward Boulder intending to run Green, but turned toward Eldo at the last minute with the intention of running up Eldorado Mountain.  I parked where the road turns to dirt and took the back way to the Fowler Trail and then up the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail at a very easy pace.  About 2/3 of the way up the trail, where it switchbacks near the bench and signs, I got off the trail and headed up the steepish hillside onto the NW ridge.  This worked OK, but seemed a bit long and I think was slower than my normal route of staying on the trail, almost to the tracks and heading directly up the very steep hillside at the log fence.

I was cold to start, but since I was going uphill, I was maintaining a decent temperature in shorts, t-shirt and a thermal bike shirt, but once on the ridge, the wind was pounding and I was glad that (reluctantly at the last minute) I stuffed another light long sleeve shirt and light windbreaker into my jersey pockets and frantically put them on.  I kept going along the rough ridge, often times getting thrown off balance.  I came down with a bad case of "ice cream headache" from the freezing temperatures and hammering wind and was really wishing that I had a warm hat and/or balaclava.  Puddles in the rocks were frozen solid, which helped assure me that it truly was cold and I was not just being a wimp (OK, I was being a little bit wimpy).  Each step I contemplated bailing, as this was the most uncomfortable I have been in recent memory.  I tried working my way up on the steeper and more over grown leeward/East side of the ridge, but progress was painfully slow and at times dangerous, so I alternately took my chances with the wind.

With low motivation, I was just not on top of my game and my coordination, recollection of the route and navigational abilities were a bit off and I constantly found myself taking more time than necessary to route find around obstacles.

I tagged the summit and paused for not a second and started working my way down.  As has happened to me before, the terrain slowly lures one a bit far to the right on the descent, but I was leery of this and only had to make one minor correction through some rough bushes to get back on track and re-find the start of the NW ridge.  My descent was slow and cautious as I tried to not get blown off and make a bad mis-step into the talus or take a ~15 foot fall.  I bailed off the ridge a bit earlier than on my ascent which made for a more efficient line back down to the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail.  The remainder of the run back to the car was relatively warmer and pleasant, even though the wind was still cranking up intermittently.  This was really more of a hike/bushwhack with a jogging approach.

Up: 1:07
Down: :53

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