Wednesday, July 27, 2011

S.A. Ridge, Benchmark set.

One of the first runs of the season with my trusty running partner was up to Grandeur Peak where we noticed a beautiful ridge to the North that we hadn't ran before. As always happens on one adventure, another was formed.

Of course I wasn't going to do any research, but my motivated friend set out a course on google maps (or some more tech version) that showed the route. He even had a three dimensional track we fly by to have a look. It looked easy. About 8 miles of rolling terrain with a big decent at the end. We did a trial run shortly after that covered about the first 4 miles. It went very well, except it wasn't rolling terrain. The hills where big, and more importantly steep. At least big hills are great for training.

The highest altitude on the route is about 7500ft and it descends to 4800ft. Because of the low altitude, its more of a spring, fall, winter type route. Naturally, I decide to give it ago at 5:00pm at the end of July. After smoking through the first 4 miles I get to the new terrain (by smoking I mean slightly faster than walking). I'm expecting a short easy ridge to a big rocky decent. I was dead wrong. Had my wife been along she would have said something wise like: 'maybe we should turn arround' or 'that doesn't look too fun up ahead.' Unfortunately I was all alone and the thought of return never even crossed my mind. I jumped headlong into the Oak brush. As always I was wearing skimpy running shorts and a super light water wicking shirt. As you can imagine, the bush whacking didn't go so well.
I think I had about 1.5 miles of no trail on a steep almost knife edge ridge that was covered in thick, deep oak brush. I think I would label this section the meat grinder. for the first 30 minutes I found it very amusing how difficult it was to move at all through the brush. I was literally dragging myself through in sections. To add to the fun, at times you would come to a huge sandstone boulder that you got to climb over (don't ever say we don't have Sandstone in northern Utah). After an hour and a half it finally started to clear up. ( yeas thats 1.5 miles in 1.5 hours) My legs where bleeding, my shoes where filled with rocks, and I was in a fowl mood.
Just then my wife called to let me know she was still at work and it was ok that I was way, way late. Of course I complained about how much I was suffering (really? like when you get to work 40 hours a week?) and she generously showed much sympathy. From here the trail got really, really good. In fact, I would give this section a 3 star trail, and its accessible from my house! My mood rapidly improved, and as always within 20-30 minutes the bush whack from hell faded into darkness. I'll try and attach a movie or two this time which explains a little of how I was feeling at the time. You can see the bush whack section in the photo's with the sand stone boulder sections... see if you can find the trail of blood and broken branches. I think I am going to upgrade it from a no star run to a one star run.Stats:
Route: starting at the parking lot at the top of little mountain, finishing at the foothill clinic
Time: 3:04:13
Distance: 7.72 miles
Pace: 23:51
Starting Elevation: about 6,000ft
Ending Elevation: 4,800ft

This is your challenge to break my record, just bring your Levis.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Warm Nights and No Hights

For some reason this month I was given about 7 days off in a row and REALLY wanted to go do something big and fun. I've been dreaming about a number of routes in the Tetons and of course this WAS the year for it. Unfortunately the best skiing in the range happens to be during our summer vacation where we frolic in other countries. So last week was the first time I really had available to go for it. (In reality I should be well focused on my running schedule, which I'm behind and seems to be going rather poorly)

I had a strong partner queued up and ready to go and after scotty generously covered my last remaining shift we where loaded and ready to fire, until we talked with friends and climbing Rangers in Jackson. Turns out just 10 short days ago the snow was excellent and the ski descents where pilling up. But as summer can, things changed drastically. The nights stopped freezing causing the snow to become unconsolidated from above, and the geo-thermal heat from below caused it to start rotting from below. This is devastating to the snow pack. Most of the routes we wanted need the snow to make them safe, and when the snow isn't safe then the route isn't safe, and also no fun.
So in desperation I turned to Alaska, but based on my limited knowledge, at this time of year you need to be flying into the big glaciers up North if you want to ski, which is expensive and very time consuming. Plus, Oklahoma has family in town and I don't really want to tax his time any more than necessary because he is my only good AK connection, and of course a good friend.

Another dear set of friends was spending a few days in City of Rocks, but the biggest problem is, I'm not really in the cragging zone this year. More like fast alpine. So I just couldn't get psyched for that either. So what do you do when everything falls apart? Well, I went to work for three days. Dumb, I'm not sure there's a proverb anything like: 'if you can't find anything fun to do then go to work.' Oh well. So here is an excellent photo blog from someone who didn't go to work. Doing a route I'd like to do, with some good people from SLC.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Goblers Knob, in the summer?

So this week the fun mountain was Gobler's Knob. I've never been to it in the summer, in fact I didn't even know you could go, but as usual, I was wrong.

A good friend, lets say Kentucky, was in town and wanted to go for a run, so I headed blindly up Mill Creek Canyon to see what we could find that wasn't too hot or snowy. It was Saturday so we needed to think out of the box a little and the Alexander Basin trail came to mind. So we jump on it and started running for a very short period of time before 1.) it got really steep and 2.) Kentucky was having pulmonary tachycardia. We slowed to a crawl (actually faster than all of the other Saturday hikers) and continued upwards. The good news is that its a steep trail so no time is wasted and we where at Alexander Basin in no time. It is just as pretty in the summer as the winter.

We hit snow at about the bottom of the upper bowl and skirted it all the way to the saddle at the top of the North North East aspect of the bowl. We caught the trail again to the top of Goblers Knob and I got to see the geological survey mark, 10K feet. Then heading down into Mill A we caught Desolation trail 019 and finally got into a good clip to the East. The decent of of Goblers was a little hairy, but the perfect time between snow melt and overgrowth. We where able to glisade a good portion of the decent in our running shoes. It was the first glisade of the season and it started on a steep 30+ degree slope, but luckily my skills held together and I kept it upright for the whole decent. Kentucky decided to go with the sitting glisade with much success, and much humor for me.

We ran Deso trail 019 to Dog lake to see the 800 dogs, then quickly continued down to Little Water trail head, then back down the road to the Car. You can see the approximate route at:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mt. Olympus, revisited

So, I've been on a light and fast kick (or in my case light and slow), and since I just got back from a slack vacation and am slightly on the pneumonia end of a sickness, I figured I'd get in my spring (hmm... July 7th) ascent of Mt. Olympus via the normal route.

The Normal route for me (I decided today for standardized purposes) starts in the parking lot of Dan's Market on Wasatch at 3900 South (Barbacoa to be exact), head down Wasatch Blvd, up to the West Slabs via the Exum Rap route, then via the North Ridge to the Saddle, through the saddle to the Summit, touch the mail box and then descend via the trail to Wasatch, and finally back to Dan's Market.

I only took two pictures today, but I'll add some old ones. I started a good alpine start of about 8:00am and past 6 people (they where on their way down, not up) who gave me funny looks. One guy even said 'solo?' and all I responded with was yes, before passing by.

One of the humorous things about this trip was that I've been living at about 11000ft for the last 2 weeks so you'd think I had strong lungs. Well, today I was at my aerobic threshold, or slightly over it all the way up. Dumb, so much for acclimatization. This however doesn't mean I was setting any speed records, just breathing a lot.

The other fun (after the fact) part of the trip was I found a friend just off the top of the West slabs waiting for me, who was very quiet. See photo.

Here are the stats.
Water: 2.5 liters
Gu: 6 1 oz packets (used 4)
Climbing shoes
wind coat
patagonia base layer long sleve
running shorts
Merril's version of the Minimus running shoes

Car to car: 5 hours 12 minutes 20 seconds

Hopefully I will cut off a good hour of this time at the end of the season, or maybe Andy will cut it in half. I think the key to reducing the time is getting the in between route down. The section between the top of the Slabs to the Summit is always the slowest and most difficult to navigate, with a little work this could be much faster.