Sunday, July 29, 2012

Old Fall River Road


I ran fall river road Friday before work.  Thanks to Wes Thompson, who was my drop off, pick up, and follow along car.  I didn't leave early enough, as bed is always too nice.  I started running a little after 7am and was hoping to run the entire 9 mile uphill run in an hour and half.  When Wes drove past me at 8:30, I contemplated just stopping and hopping in the car, but I only had 2 miles to go.  I put my head down, took a deep breath and kept on running.  I reached the Alpine Visitor Center in 1:44.  Fourteen minutes slower than I had hoped and 55 minutes before I needed to be to work.

Wes drove as a I stretched and rehydrated back to Estes Park.  The record (set by Bill Raiter in 2003) is 1:09.  That seems so crazy to me!!!

Old Fall River Road in the last mile or two. Alpine Visitor Center on horizon.  
I will try it again soon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Walk in the Park

Wes enjoying Thatchtop-Powell Ridge

Rainstorms at 9pm are not the usual where we live.  Monday the afternoon rainstorm came, but didn't leave.  Dark clouds lingered and thunder began to roll a second time.  Wes and I had plans to hike up to the Diamond Monday night and bivy for two nights.  We thought about it, and decided to cut it down a night.  We would leave in the morning along with our friends, Andrew and Buster.  They also had plans to climb the Diamond on Tuesday.  After some discussion and listening to the continuous moisture falling on the ground, Wes and I made a late night switch.  

Longs, Pagoda, and part of Chiefshead.  Spearhead in Middle

D7 was moist a few weeks ago and with our two friends vying for it as well, we moved to plan B.  "A Walk in the Park."  This has been on my tick list for a few years.  Justin Dubois did it in 2009 and ever since that eye opening day, I have been inspired and slowly convincing anyone that they should do it with me.  It involves a solo traverse of the Glacier Gorge in its' entirety.  Thatchtop, Powell, McHenry's, Chiefshead, Pagoada, and Longs.  Storm Mountain and Half Mountain can also be included.  Monday night my friend Wes finally agreed! 

I slept in a little longer than usual as my lower back has a pinched something or other.  Just laying in bed I could feel it, so motivating for a big day was a little overwhelming.  Thank goodness for too much ice cream.  I don't have a freezer so was 'forced' to finish almost a whole carton.  Gross.  That was one of the motivating factors at 5 am, burn off the half gallon of snickers ice cream.  :)

Wes--Thatchtop to Powell

The timer started at 6:45 am at the Glacier Gorge parking lot.  We hiked quickly uphill, jogged the flats or the gradual up hills, with Wes in the front.  I was lagging a little.  Thoughts of the ginormous day and a little bit of back twinge kept me from pushing it from the start.  We arrived to Mills lake in 27 minutes.  Not too terrible.  
The Shelf/Solitude cut-off, although slightly strewn with blown down trees and very muddy, proved easy to find.  I hiked first up the hill with Wes breathing down my neck, "I'm psyched!" he exclaimed!!!

One hour and 59 minutes Wes reached the summit of Thatchtop, "34, 35, 36 seconds, come on Quinn," he hollered at me.  Our goal was to reach the top in under 2 hours.  I double timed the last few steps making it just under the wire.
"Lets recover on the downhill," I panted, no time for a summit register--we kept moving.  

Our next goal was 4 hours to McHenry's Peak, I don't know where these time marks came from.  The night before, I think, I just translated some previous landmarks and times.  It takes about 2 hours to get to the base of Spearhead.  Thatchtop is closer but much more steep, so two hours would be mean we were going pretty fast.   

From thereafter I think I just estimated an hour to each summit?  McHenry's is summit number 3.  
Wes Thompson and I in McHenry's Notch

We booked along from Thatchtop, getting some fabulous ridge climbing and exposure along the way.  We summited Powell in 2:45.  Because we were eating along the way (or sucking on cliff bars since I couldn't breathe enough to actually chew), we didn't stop much.  

From the top of Powell through the Keyboard of the Winds, was new terrain for both Wes and I.  We descended Powell with one slight cliff-out error.  We reached the Notch at 3 hours.  Leaving our approach shoes on (North Face running shoes from a thrift store for Wes and Nike running shoes for me) we scrambled up the Notch.  This didn't feel exposed or much of fifth class.  Pretty mellow.  We reached the summit of McHenry's in 3:20, yahoo ahead of our made-up schedule.  We stopped here for a photo, a snack and a brief breather, less than 5 minutes.
 Stoneman Pass--find Quinn!

Chiefshead looked like a long slog in the distance.  No climbing, just a scree pile at 45 degrees.  Yuck.  Stoneman pass, though, is an amazing landmark.  The gradual ascent behind is a granite sidewalk.  Pretty awesome.  The trudge up to to top of Chiefshead was tiring, but I felt like I finally was in cruise mode.  I think we were on top at about 4:30.  

Pagoda ridge was next, the crux of the solo.  A baby Sierra California ridge traverse.  Gorgeous!  I can't remember our time on the summit of Pagoda, but we quickly descended again, picking the straightest line possible to the Southwest Ridge of Long's Peak.  Wes was sipping on water pooled on top of boulders at this point, having only brought one liter.  He drank one before Thatchtop, refilled at shelf/solitude, and had been slowly consuming the refilled liter.  I brought my camelback with 2 liters.

Cool feature on Pagoda Ridge
Arriving at the junction of the Narrow's and the Trough of Long's Peak, the Southwest Ridge plunges skyward.  We stood a top Longs Peak at almost 7 hours exactly from our start time.  With clouds looming and both of us long out of water, we opted for a descent of the North Face instead of Keyhole Ridge.  The North Face often has water running down it and we were hoping to fill up another liter or so for our descent.  Dry year, the North Face was the only place on the entire route that we were able to catch a drip that would actually fill a water bottle in under 30 minutes.  Both of us collected a liter, and pushed on down to the Boulder Field.

Pagoda's glorious Ridge
After a brief discussion, we decided to forgo Storm Mountain (which neither of us could remember if it was "required").  There are a few trip reports of people doing the Walk, or the Arrowhead traverse where they take the Storm Pass trail out.  Which means they avoid both Storm and Half Mountain.  Wes and I wanted to avoid that lengthy switchback trail that doesn't return you at your car.  We opted to stay near the ridge, just skirting the summit of Storm.  We jogged a little of this alpine tundra but with our tiredness and boulder dodging, a sprained ankle was inevitable.  We were tired, there was thunder, the ice cream had worn off, bla bla bla.  


In hindsight we should have nabbed Storm, as we ended up on top of Half Mountain anyway in a hail storm.  Ops.  Wes spotted a descent route down off of Half Mountain that returned us to the shores of Mills Lake.  Turns out this is the same way Rossiter descended, although descending straight north off of Half Mountain would be the straightest line!!  It would probably cut off a little more time. 

From the shores of Mills, Wes readjusted his fashionable fanny pack, and we were off running again the whole way back to the car.

Total time, 10:13!    

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Diamonds and Fives

This week was probably one of my most favorite!

Monday-  I woke up and headed to the local bouldering cave in Estes for a 730am session.  National Public Radio was my only choice of sound, aside from silence of the morning.  At 9 am I headed to the High School track, meeting Maren Bosely and Karla Dubois for a quick sprint work-out.  Afterwards, Maren and I both headed to work at Ed's at 10.
After work I returned to KMAC to find my boys testing a zip line that Wes had put up.  I watched them on the innagural run as I finished my slideshow for the following evening in a camp chair.  The Dubois had invited Wes and I to dinner, so zip line activities ended quickly and he, I, and our friend Matt headed over for some homemade Naan and Jerk Chicken Sandwiches.  Delicious!

Approach up to Arrowhead
ApTuesday- I returned to Karla's house for a 6:30 am egg sandwich.  After a quick bite, we headed up to the Glacier Gorge Parking lot, in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our destination was Arrowhead Peak.  Niether of us had stood on the summit yet of this fantastic little peak that lies off of the Contintental Divide.  We danced on the summit about 3 hours from the car and we were back home in time to shower and present a slideshow.  At 630 pm, I arrived at Ed's Cantina, Jes and I gave a little run-down on our Nose in a Day Women's Speed Record.  A great turn-out with a fantastic crowd.  Thank you to all who came!!!
Quinn, Justin, and Jared--All Ed's Employees
Wednesday - The sound of the alarm floated through my ears after a short nights sleep.  Justin Dubios and I were eating egg sandwiches again at 4 am, this time our destination was up the Black Dagger on the Diamond of Long's Peak.  The Diamond is an amazing east facing sheer cliff stacked with splitter cracks, located at 14,000 feet.  We were climbing the North Chimney a little later than normal, due to our slacker start time, but still not bad at 2 hours from starting time.  The pitch before Crossover ledge was a bit moist.  After I arrived at the ledge and set up the belay, Justin opted to continue up D7 hoping that it would be dry, as Black Dagger is notoriously wet up high.  His pitch was also wet.  He took a fantastic whipper, aided up the rest of it just as thunder began resonating throughout the cirque.  I followed the pitch in grappel, led another 50 pitch over foreign terrain to reach the nearest escape route.  We descended one pitch shy of table ledge in rain/sleet and some very near lightening.

Thursday-  I worked at Ed's from 10am to 10pm.

Bluebird!  Who is this guy?
Friday- I motivated for another Diamond day with a little coaxing.  Weather was splitter, Wesley was going (we haven't climbed alpine together in a year) and Justin had a partner....Wes friend Matt was in town.  We decided to leave a little earlier than our Wednesday start, as I had to work at 4pm.  Our plan was to meet at the Long's Peak trailhead at 3am.  We met alright, but in our grogginess forgot to bring the double ropes.  Luckily, Justin had thrown in an extra 60 in his van the night before.  We were committed to top as two parties of two and were forced to rap together.  WHAT A DAY!  To the north chimney and climbing in two hours from the start, Wes and I reached Yellow Wall Bivy Ledge at 7:45 having climbed 2 pitches.  We waited and I tried to convince him that we should climb to the top and rap Chasm view.  It would have been a push to summit Long's proper but man it would have be awesome.  We simul-rappelled as a party of 4, reaching our packs at 11:15 am.  Wes and I hiked out, napped, and I was off to work!
Keeping it Casual
Saturday -  Alarm was set for 6:45 pm.  Ops.  My wake up call was a ringing phone and an, "are you coming, slut?"  Erin J, a fellow Ed's gal, was waking me.  I was late for a 7:15 am meeting time for Team Ed's 5k race in Allenspark.  I grabbed my running shoes, a bottle of water and speed down the hill.  Five Ed's employees piled into Karla's 1967 VW bus, headed to Allenspark.  We registered, lollygagged around the elk statue and lined up for the 5k run.  I was tired, but suprisingly not sore.  I mentioned to Karla that she should keep me on a 8 minute mile pace, and she laughed saying she was running nines.  I shrugged and tried to keep the competitiveness out of my head.  I already had had a huge week, no need to go balls to the wall.  The gun sounded, I was off.  Bronson was by my side for the first 3 minutes.  The first hill I couldn't help myself, I pulled away and just kept going.  I ran across the finish line confused.  There were 4 sweaty looking dudes wandering around, but no chics.  "I won?" I thought to myself?  NO WAY.
Wes and I on Yellow Wall bivy ledge
Yes way.  I had one the 5k.  I turned around to see Karla sprinting towards the finish barely behind another young chic.  Bronson right behind her, and Maren a mere 30 seconds further.  Ed's girls just finished 1,3,4,5 in this little 5k.  WTF!  Hilarious!

I had plans to meet another Ed's employee at Suzuki boulder after the race and Bronson and Maren decided to join.  We warmed up quickly, having only an hour or so before we all had to be to work.  I climbed my 'project' and almost sent it first try.  I did it with some funky, unfamiliar beta but it felt pretty good so I decided to give it another rip.  Second try fell.  Third try send,  I think its a V5!  Thanks Bronson for inspiring me after all these years!

Bronson and I, this is how we start our races!

That was the week.  The rest ended in work, and more work!