Sunday, October 4, 2015

2015 Flagstaff Sky Race - VERTICAL KM

This past weekend I competed in the Vertical Km race at Snowbowl in Flagstaff, AZ, part of the Sky Race Series. The course climbs 3,281 ft. and descends 1,026 ft. over a distance of 3 miles. Other than climbing several mountains this summer, I didn't do a lot of training having signed up 3 weeks before the race.

I finished the race in 1:01:41. I was shooting for a sub hour time, but I got pretty close. 10th place overall. 5th in my age group. 52 competitors.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Engineer Mountain, CO

Engineer Mountain (12,968 ft.) - September 13, 2015
Northeast Ridge (class 3)
4.5 miles round trip
2,400 ft. elevation gain

Engineer Mountain stands fairly isolated from other summits but quite close to Coal Bank Pass along scenic Highway 550 in the heart of the San Juan mountains of southwestern Colorado. The mountain is interesting both as a climber and as a geologist.

I spent the weekend camping along Lime Creek Road with a class of undergraduate geologists that I was teaching. We spent our time on the relatively mellow terrain south of Potato Hill. On our last day however, I got up at 4:45 am, snuck off towards Coal Bank Pass to the Pass Creek Trailhead. I started my early morning adventure at 5:15 am. I cruised up the mountain in the dark and reached the summit by 6:40 am. I spent 10 minutes on the summit waiting for the sun to crest the Needle Mountains to the east until I got too cold; the sun rose on my descent. Once off the rocky summit ridge, I ran the entire length of the trail back to the trailhead, which I reached at 7:30 am. I was back at camp in time for breakfast and the caravan back to Flagstaff.

2 hours 15 minutes round trip.

Sun still hiding behind the Needle Mountains
Looking up the Northeast Ridge of Engineer Mountain
Class 3 crux section
Some exposure on the north side of the ridge
On my way down, sun still ain't up. Rock glacier below
Engineer Mountain
Looking back at the sunlit mountain

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Long's Peak via Keyhole Ridge

Long's Peak (14,255 ft.) via Key Hole Ridge - 5.6 grade III (Free-soloed)

August 26, 2015

14 miles
5,5000 ft elevation gain

Michael and I seem to never settle for the standard routes up mountains. We decided to attempt the Keyhole Ridge route on Long's Peak to make the outing more interesting. The route (5.6) follows an exposed ridge from the Keyhole area directly to the summit, instead of skirting around the mountain as the standard keyhole route does.

We started our adventure around 5:30 am at the Long's Peak trailhead in the dark. We reached the tree line during sunrise and we reached the keyhole area by 8:30 am. By 9 am, we were on the route making our way towards the summit. We free-soloed the route but we wore our rock climbing shoes and our helmets.

We primarily stayed on the east side of the ridge, following the path of least resistance and avoiding the cold, windy western side of the ridge. Route-finding was challenging but not a problem. The exposure on this ridge is real. We both felt uncomfortable in a couple of spots, but for the most part it was all fun scrambling up Long's Peak and not slogging along with the other hikers on the standard keyhole route.

We reached the summit by 11 am. We descended the Keyhole standard route and reached the car at 2:30 pm. 9 hours round trip.

Sunrise near tree line 
The diamond of Long's Peak ahead
Diamond on the left, keyhole ridge on the right
Keyhole Ridge from the Boulder Field
Close up view of Keyhole Ridge 
Getting started on Keyhole Ridge 
Our first crux - 5.6 terrain on the second tower of Keyhole Ridge
Michael making his way up some cracks on the east side of the 2nd tower on Keyhole Ridge
Me on the first crux - exposed 5.6  
Scoping that route
PC: Michael D 
Michael working his way up Tower 2 on Keyhole Ridge
Lots of exposure
Steph Davis, what?
Looking over to the west side of the mountain. Keyhole standard route traverses below
Michael on top of Tower 2
Michael traversing on the west side of Tower 2 after a challenging downclimb. This is the only section that we were on the west side of the ridge 
Working our way up the third and final tower on the route 
We traversed quite a bit until we found blocky terrain that led us to the ridge crest
Working our way up blocky terrain to the ridge crest on the third tower 
Michael scouting his route ahead 
On top of the route, Michael looks down the sheer west face
Michael takes a rest on the summit ridge
The broad plateau summit of Long's Peak, looking south
Walking down the trail before the storms moved in

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Evans and Bierstadt - Tour de'Abyss

Mt. Bierstadt (14,065 ft.)
Mt. Evans (14,265 ft.)

August 25, 2015

Tour de Abyss Loop (Class 3)
5.72 miles
3,377 ft. elevation gain

This route seemed to be the most interesting way to get both peaks in one go. I parked my car at a small pullout at the bottom of the steep switchbacks in the road up to Mt. Evans (see map for starting point). I dropped down into the Abyss Basin and began the loop starting up the East Ridge of Mt. Bierstadt (class 3). I followed the ridge around the entire basin until I reached Mt. Evans and then dropped back down to my car. A fun, quick outing that involved summiting 2 more 14er's.

Sunrise through the inverted smoky haze
Rocks in the Abyss Basin
Sunrise on the Sawtooth
East Ridge of Mt. Bierstadt
Looking down East Ridge from Bierstadt summit ridge
Gray's and Torrey's out there
Shadows of the Sawtooth ridge
Goats on the ridge
Panorama of Bierstadt and Abyss Lake below
A nice view of the parking lot near the summit of Mt. Evans
Bighorn Sheep