Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday, 03/08/10 Green Mountain

Today I met up with Mike O from Ohio, who tracked me down through Tony's blog. Mike is town visiting while on his Spring Break from Shawnee State University and wanted to check out the infamous Green Mountain that is getting some due notoriety thanks to Tony's current streak of daily (sometimes twice daily) training runs.

We ran a moderate pace most of the way and I backed off a few times to make sure Mike went the proper way through the intersections as I did not want to get too far ahead. My legs felt decent today and I was feeling as though I could go quick, but I figured I would be best to play it conservative as I know I am still recovering from a nice string of workouts culminating with a nice climb of Antero on Saturday.

I made the summit in 38 and Mike was only about 2 minutes back, pretty impressive I thought for never having run this peak and not really being acclimated. Mike recently set a 5k PR of 15:18, so I am sure that if he had the time to fully acclimate and run this a few times, he would certainly put in some really competetive times here. Great run, I plan on repeating tomorrow.

Saturday, 03/06/10 Mt. Antero 14,269

Mt. Antero 14,269
~13 miles/4,900 vertical from Baldwin Gulch TH
7:22 RT
Partners: John Prater, Dave and Emily Hale, Sierra, Shep, Kiefer

For at least a month, Dave and I had occasionally discussed the possibility of climbing Antero before Winter came to an end. The fact that there might still be a decent track left over from the recent Sarah/Dwight/Dominic/Kevin trip for us to take advantage of heavily influenced our decision, as did the ever improving weather forecast.

Since Dave and Emily stayed the night in Buena Vista and John and I would be driving to the TH in the morning, I suggested that they start as early as they would like and John and I would arrive a little later and do our best to catch up along the way.

The drive to the Baldwin Gulch TH ended up taking ~3 hours from my house in Louisville by the time I picked up John, stopped for gas, drove cautiously across the ice glazed roads from Kenosha Pass to Fairplay and stopped at Johnson’s Corner to use their facilities.

We finally got on the trail at 8:15am under sunny clear/calm skies and reasonably pleasant temperatures. I got a hold of Dave on the two-way radio and he indicated that they were about 1.5 miles up the road. John and I made good progress, going a steady but very comfortable pace, enjoying the nicely packed trail and the easy walking with Microspikes instead of snowshoes (I was the only one using them, they were helpful but not really necessary).

A short while after the creek crossing, I upped the pace a little, anticipating (hoping) that I would catch Dave and Emily by treeline where I could take a short stop for some food/drink/clothing adjustments.

I made great progress, but as I neared treeline, I took a few deep plunges into the snow, I was forced to put on my snowshoes very near treeline as the previous track petered out and the only tracks now were Dave/Em’s. I followed their tracks to the base of a low angled gulley and I could see them high above. Sierra saw them as well and took off up the slope and covered the ~800 vertical in just a few minutes, but unfortunately, there was no way I could match her pace.

I plugged along up the gulley and before long, we all convened on the road near the upper most switchback, where the road tracks toward the Cronin/Antero saddle. Instead of following the road on it's circuitous path away from the summit, we continued directly up the fall line, through variable snow and talus to the ~13,800 foot sub-summit. I was getting a little hungry by this point and decided that I would just put my head down, “cruise” to the summit and eat once I got all the climbing behind me.

The ridge was less “cruisy” than I expected, complicated a bit by the ample snow. I bypassed the most significant initial rock outcrop on the West side of the ridge which generally worked well, but this bypass was still a bit slower and more tedious than I expected. I should have just re-gained the ridge after the first tower, but instead was not exactly sure where would be the best spot to go back up. As a result, I continued a bit too far and got into some steeper terrain than I preferred and had to backtrack a bit to easily attain the ridge where Sierra was waiting patiently for me. I should have just followed her, as she always seems to find the easier way.

John and I met up again here and continued on to the summit together, where my long hiatus from the high peaks, lack of sleep the previous night and a bit of a bonk all added up and I was feeling a little crappy. I was very relieved to reach the summit, where I quickly gulped down a thermos of soup and soon started to feel a little bit better. Dave and Emily arrived soon after and we celebrated with congrats and high fives, taking some pictures and enjoying the excellent views.

The descent was straight forward, but a bit tedious with the variable snow and loose rock and I was regretting leaving my poles in the car, as they would have helped quite a bit. Once back at the snowshoe cache, it was smooth sailing down the lightly snow covered gentle ridge back down to the valley (if I had to do it over again, I would ascend this way as well, unless the snow in the gullies were more consolidated).

Dave set a mean pace all the way back down to the car and we only stopped once for just a minute or two, just cruising the packed trail and gentle terrain. As always, the miles of road on the descent seemed twice as long as the ascent and the cars were a welcome sight after a long day out.

Aside from a short amount of time near the summit, I was dressed quite lightly all day, just a base layer and light fleece, glove liners, ball cap. Unbelievable weather for this date, it could not have been better.

Antero was a new Winter peak for myself, Dave and Emily, satisfied a March grid slot for John and was a new 14er for both Sierra and Kiefer.
Thanks to the previous group and Dave and Emily for breaking trail, it really made the day quite a bit easier, it ALMOST felt like cheating.

Start from Baldwin Gulch TH: 8:15am
Creek crossing: 9:23am
Last road crossing/Snowshoe cache: ~10:50ish
~13,800 sub summit: 11:47am
Summit: 12:33pm
Leave Summit: ~12:55
Finish: 3:37pm