Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Minerals, Mines, and the Room of Doom

Recently I've developed a bit of a fetish with run, climb, run routes. I'm not sure if its a desire to hold onto the climbing past, need for diversity in my training, or as my wife would call it--a man crush on Jared Campbell(

Yesterday I accidentally ran into (literally) excellent Wasatch Run-Climb-Run route. There is only one small downside to this route: You have to run the only ATV accessible trail in the Wasatch. Since I run on the weekdays, during working hours, it wasn't very busy. I passed 4 motorcycles and they where all very nice, and very bewildered at the weird guy in sissy running shorts. The trail starts at the Mineral Fork ATV trailhead in BCC. Follow the ATV width, loose rock/Sand trail almost to the highest basin where Regulator Johnson Mine is in sight (, As your climbing up the steep, loose trail keep your eyes on Cardiac Ridge and look for the obvious narrow clean low angle slab. The trail will take you within about 1000 yards from the base. (See photo) Cut off the trail here, and head straight up for the fabulous looking slab. You will see some old tracks where some hot shot four wheeler high marked on this hill.

I climbed this in my Merril Glove Running shoes ( Probably the best option for any such run/climb. The only other option would be the NB Minimus ( Normal running shoes are probably the WORST climbing option with their fat sole and lose fit. I don't know the actual height of the route but I'd guess 600-1000ft. I'd give it an alpine 5.6 with options on the slab to 5.9 and 5.10+ if you take the arete. There are two cruxes on the route the second being the scariest due to the integrity of the rock being questionable. The key, as with all alpine climbing, don't just pull on the biggest hold you can find, pull on the strongest one. All in all the rock quality is very good for its location, just slightly below what you'd get on the West Slabs of Mt. Olympus. And if you get scared you can traverse left into the dihedral for some dirty corner climbing.

When you reach the top, you will find yourself on the knife of Cardiac ridge. I contemplated going North on the ridge but due to time down climbed the Cardiac slabs into Cardiff Ford of Mill D South. If you did the climb to the ridge, you can do the down climb. Due to confusion with the actual location of the Room of Doom, I'm pretty sure this is NOT the Room, but just in case I'm wrong this could be a down climb through the Room of Doom, but I think this route is actual a few ridges South of the Room of Doom.

After getting off the slab head for the double track slightly up canyon (South) leading to the Baby M. Mine, which sits at the bottom of the Tunnel chute. From here catch the well traveled double track almost to the bottom of the canyon where you will see a distinct single track veer to the left (NW) as the road takes a sharp right (East). Follow the single track until you reach the power line trail. Follow the power line trail past the fancy pants houses until it almost disappears. When the power lines split, take the downhill trail that shortly becomes better. Follow this trail all the way to BCC highway. From there about a mile down the road back to the Mineral fork trail head.

Distance: 12.1 miles (gps)
Altitude: about 3700ft (7.5 USGS)
Time: 4:18
Average HR: 137
Max HR: 172
Calories: 2481
pace: 18:45

A note on safety: This route requires significant climbing and alpine route assessment skills. A major judgement error or fall could cause serious injury or death. If you are questioning if you have the skills, bring a rope and a small rack. Rock shoes are advised, although not necessary.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mt. Olympus Time Trial, Part 3

Today we went out for another round on Mt. Olympus to try and hit the season ending goal. See the previous Mt. Olympus blog for all the dirty details. Basically the route starts at Dan's supermarket on Wasatch Dr. then follow the moutain project driving directions to the new trail head. Solo the West slabs, run the ridge, cross at the saddle summit, run down the trail and back to Dan's.

Today Michigan Madness joined up for the attempt with his always eager personality, climbing shoes, and a camel back. We started out from Dan's at about noon at an easy jog toward the slabs. Michigan wanted to push it in the beginning but was able to hold himself back for the meat, when trail gets steep and the rocks get big. After quickly dispatching the trail section we slowed considerable through the boulder filled drainage as I couldn't quite remember exactly where to go on every section. Upon reaching the toe of the slabs we found a furry white friend who was desperately in need of a shower. He seemed to me to be the guardian of the slabs.

I strayed a bit West of the normal route (the Exum rap route) for a little variation and because I was going to use just my running shoes and was a bit nervous about the friction on some of the section on the normal route. The new section turned out to be just as fun and maybe slightly more user friendly, at least at the bottom. Upon topping the ridge with a small wait and we where both on the move through the complex system of knife edge ridges, gullies and North facing ledges. As I had anticipated, this was the place to make or break your time. I think I nailed to about a 90% efficient route. It still may be better to go all the way to the peak before crossing over to the true summit. Still, it was by far the quickest I've ever done this transition section putting us on the summit at in about 2:45. Michigan finally changed into his running shoes, and we where on the way down. We struck asphalt at about 3:53 and turned towards Dans. The road is always the most painful, and once we knew the season end goal was attainable, we hit it hard to make the finish.

I had in my mind the time 4:17:53, we finished at 4:18:00. Unfortunately after returning home and checking, it was actually 4:12, so we didn't actually get it. But close enough as far as I'm concerned. We easily could(and should) have made up the time in transitions. Michigan will probably make up that time in the climbing section alone next time, as the was his first time on the West Slabs. Also, if we cut the shoe to slipper change. I think the under 4 hr mark is very attainable at a similar level of fitness.

General Stats

Time: 4:18:00
Distance: 13.2 miles (gps)
Ave HR: 140
Max HR: 188
Cal Burned: 2612
Ave Pace:16.40
Elevation: about 4200ft (per USGS 7.5 topo)

The next goal is under 4 hours. Photo's provided are from 2010 about this same time, except for the Goat.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Uinta Mountain's 3 day Bike Tour

After much debate on what to do on the last big holiday of the year we finally settled on a local tour through the Uinta Mountains, the only major East West mountain range in the US. Since we got started Saturday night, it turns out to be an excellent 2 and a half day tour. You could leave after work on Friday night and finish the late afternoon of Sunday. Assuming you don't get buried in snow, rain, mud or hail.

We started out parking our car at the grocery store in Kamas, after asking permission to leave it over night (or two). Up mirror lake highway for 20 miles to a random campsite on the upper Provo river. If I would change anything, I would probably go for 25 miles on the first day to make day two a little easier. Due to our ability to camp almost anywhere, we didn't have a single neighbor, not like the 2 thousand other campers in the Uintas. Just us, our little fire, and the river.

After some warm oat meal and hot tea we got a good alpine start of 1100am. The first big grind starts today as you turn steeply up the hill towards Trial lake and then towards Baldy and Reids. I'm not sure what the grade is but at time it stressed our legs on the over loaded touring bikes at a speedy 3.8 mph. A nice lunch break with made yesterday hummus and chips at Lilly lake was the last stop before the Bald Mountain Pass at 10,700ft.

After dawning coats we descended the rolling terrain for about 18 miles to Whitney Road, then left up the wide dirt road for the next 7 miles to Whitney lake. After already crossing Bald Mountain Pass, and the extra mileage, this 7 miles could have been 25 miles of climbing. The road, although great for internal combustion engines, was lose and rough for a 26X1.5 road slick with 80 psi: Not to mention the 30 trucks and 15 four wheelers and 10 of those in-between truck/4 wheeler things. Normally I am a hater of the rat tail big truck, loud toy group, and there where a few that I wanted to throw rocks at, but in general 98 percent of them where very nice and would slow down enough to not envelope us in a cloud. I was impressed, I guess I shouldn't complain so much.

As we transitioned over one of the many, many ridges on our way to the lake we all of the sudden came to a noticeable different terrain. In the high Uinta's you see lots of rock, tree line, and then rock pile summits. All of the sudden the lots of rock became, a little rock. And the summits turned to real, green summits with not just pine, but also Aspen. It was a welcome change for some reason and gave me the boost needed to power through the last few hills to the campsite. When we arrived at our camp site we where both spent. In fact I couldn't even take in much food or water, which isn't usual for me. So we ended up throwing away about half of dinner. We hit the sack for 12 hours of tossing and turning.

The next day I woke up with a hangover from yesterdays ride. We where out of water and I need to trudge the 150 yards down the steep trail to the lake. When I reached the lake I looked with dismay at the millions of little algae floating in the water. After checking a few different places and hoping it was just the scum end of the lake I gave in and slurped up the water and algae for purifying. After 12 hours we where still not filling super hungry and I only did the standard oat meal with tea. Up until this point the route was pretty cut and dry. Go here here and then here. From the lake it could go a number of ways. We hoped to be able to take a 4x4 road to Moffit Pass, then catch another, closed road through 1000 peaks ranch to the Weber Canyon. But the 1000 peaks trail only showed up on 1 of 3 topo's so we didn't know how real it was. If the trail didn't exist, or was too difficult for 70 lb touring bikes, then we would have to bail back to the North end of the lake and take another 4x4 road out to chalk creek for a detour of 30 more miles, which in the back roads, high altitude mountain touring means another day in the mountains. We did however have a backup shuttle just in case this happened, or worse yet we couldn't get out any of the roads and had to go out via Evanston WY.

The road to Mofit Pass was definitely a 4 wheel drive road, and very steep. The pass is about 10,000ft but still is more of a Wasatch Pass, as apposed to your normal Uinta pass: which is good since we couldn't get our bikes though very many of the the Passes just South of our position. When we reached the pass I quickly noticed a completely overgrown road with a road closed sign off in the weeds. I was worried so I left the bike a took a walk down the road. Thankfully it was just an old connecter to the 1000 peaks ranch road, which was rough lose, and very steep... but travel-able.

We started riding down and instantly realized that Tectro Cantilever brakes do not have the stopping power to deal with a 79 lb bike and 160 lb rider on steep descents. Lucky for me the last week I had spent riding a friends old mountain bike that had Linear pull brakes which I of course complained about the whole time. My hands also hurt for days after each ride since I've been spoiled with hydraulic disk brakes for the last 5 or more years. I also developed a 4 finger brake technique for roadie levers (silly I know) so I could use all 4 of my phalanges to help arrest my rate of descent. My wife on the other hand went into full drop bar position to get the most leverage on the brake. Either way, most steep descent ended in out of control stops in the weeds or hill side to keep us from disaster.

We where descending very rapidly and went had an excellent diverse tree selection with entire groups of Aspens, Pines, and Grass. Between this and the fact that we saw no-one, this was one of the more enjoyable sections of trail... Even though the most difficult technically. After what seemed forever we finally reach 1 lane dirt road that felt like assphault to us. Then on to the main road, a creosote covered dirt road that runs the length of Weber Canyon until reaching the pavement at the confluence with Smith and Morehouse. From here the road was slightly descending and we got into a pace line (yes it was as funny looking as it sounds) for a good 8-10 miles of 20 mph riding before turning off towards Kamas just outside of Oakley. A short 6 miles brought us back to the car.

Speaking of mountain bikes, I took a good crash a week before the ride and injured one of my ribs which had yet to heal. When I got on the bike in the beginning it was clear that it was going to hurt, most of the time. However something about being on the bike I actually helped reduce the pain, and increase range of motion. I would assume it was a catalyst to the healing process. The only thing I can think of was that because I was in the same position for a good 6-10 hours a day gave it time to heal, that and the rib cage was expanded for most of the trip. On day three it still hurt to get on the bike, but I could get my water bottle without wincing in pain, I could yawn (don't laugh, yawns are important!), I could even almost do a proper snot rocket.

All in all, an excellent tour. I wouldn't change much except maybe run a tire in about a 2.3 semi slick to make the rocks less painful and the traction a bit better. I would also try and do 25 miles the first day to ease the pain of day 2. Stats are below.

Total Mileage: 87
Day 1: 20 miles
Day 2: 37 miles
Day 3: 30 miles
Estimated elevation: 7,000ft
Average Altitude 9,500ft
Highest elevation: 10,759ft
Number of Major Passes: 2
Off road Miles: about 35
Technical Off road: about 15

Best Time of year: Late summer, too much rain will make the climb over Mofit Pass very, very hard.