Monday, July 12, 2010
To WURL or not to WURL
So I've been thinking about the WURL a lot laterly. First because Jared did it on skies (WURLOS) and because it seem like an excellent training tool for the W100. WURL stands for Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Link Up. I haven't really done my research on it like I should, but basically you start somewhere either in Ferguson or Broads and climb to Twin Peaks then hit them all to Twin Lakes Pass, then you turn South to Alta and then Turn West again and hit them all to lone peak and exit out Bells. Its doesn't seem to be set in stone the course, but that's the basic idea. I had two days off left of my vacation so I figured I'd go up and try it out and see if its plausible for someone like me. So I packed up a small pack with enough goodies for 2 days out (2 days of suffering, not comfort) with just a few items.
I planned on leaving at 300am, but by the time I was packed it was midnight so I set the alarm for 400am. All in all I started hiking at 5:38am, probably 30 minutes to an hour too late, but I didn't expect to finish the whole thing in one day.
After taking a different route to the summit of Twin(11330), it was about 3 hours in, 1 hour later than I had hoped. A short photo and I was off.
Twin I might add is a bit of a rip off because you have to summit both peaks and it takes a good 20-30 minutes to hit them both, but you only get one.
I also got the peak north of twin(10800), at the top of Stairs Gulch. Then moving on to Sunrise (11275) their was one extra(11200) in between and some serious scrambling. Sunrise has some full on climbing I would give about a 5.4 with some lose rocks and ending in a choss pile (like every other peak). It turned out to be not too bad except the exposure, and the running shoes. Then moving down Sunrise turned out to be the biggest thrill of the day as it was extremely difficult to transition through the saddle to Dromedary. In retrospect I could have chosen a better line but I'd give it down climbing 5.7 with lose rocks and dirt EVERYWHERE.
A short moment to describe the traveling. Its like taking 1000 granite tiles and stacking them on top of a low pitch roof, on top of the Sears Tower. This is about the consistency of the rock on all of these peaks with short burst of good stuff. So you move agonizingly slow, and carefully place every foot and hand most of the time. A slide could be fatal a good portion of the time. I would describe this as having a 'high objective hazard' or a hazard that you can't do anything about. I do have time climbing choss piles, but not piles of it, so this was pretty stressful for me.
After the summit of Dromedary I got sucked into a trail that led down towards Lake Blanch. Turns out it was the wrong trail so I ended up crossing a Quartzite slab, that also happened to be the run off from remaining snow. Another very stressful moment. then going around to the decent side I reach the knife edge ridge, choss pile. Similar to the one on the Pfeiffer, but longer, chossier, and maybe even higher off the deck. After a moment of thinking I decided I'd had enough and the payoff wasn't worth taking yet another risk crossing this ridge. If I came off with a boulder it would mean serious injury, or more likely death.
I don't mind crossing some sections like this, but when you've been doing it for the last 3 hours the risk becomes too much. I decide then that I wouldn't come back to the WURL, because of the high danger associated with this first section. As time has pasted it seems less and less, so who knows I might come back. I'm not sure what the answer is, but it seems like a rope would be too big of a burden. Maybe climbing shoes and a partner, I don't have an answer. Either way the risk is pretty big on this one. I would much rather take a 40 foot wipper than fall off of one of those things.
I down climbed from Dromedary on the trail I noticed down to Blanch lake and at first was thinking about heading back up on far lookers left of Mill B South to the back side of the saddle between Superior and Monte Cristo. Not a bad plan, until you figure out how high above the lake you really are.
I would estimate it took me 2-3 hours to get from Dromedary to Lake Blanch, even with a sick section of Glissading.
Again the down climb was difficult and very slow, but reasonably safe. Then climbing back up would take a while to because of the brush, rivers and indirect route. I was at hour 9 by now and decide to just bail because I was so far behind where I should be.
If you where on ski's, I think this would be the choice because it would only take 10 minutes down and maybe 1 hour back up.
All in all car to car time was 10 hours with 5 peaks, all over 11000ft and about 7000ft of vertical and somewhere in the range of 8 or 9 miles. As of now, its not to WURL