Driving up Hwy. 34 to the Rainbow Pit Trailhead (the 2nd TH off Devil's Gulch Road to Glen Haven), Chad and I discussed various routes and toyed with the idea of running Storm Mountain, but unable to find an easy route off Devil's Gulch Road we went with the original plan and parked up at the base of Crosier Mountain with a number of possible route combos in mind.
It was a beautiful morning, utterly still with just a few snowflakes drifting around as we set out up the very steep opening stretch of the climb. I was working so hard I felt like my two-week return to sea level might make today's climb more strenuous than it might otherwise have been. However, as the gradient settled down to a not-so-brutal incline I found my rhythm and got into a good groove. The final half-mile pitch (500ft) to the summit was as steep as I remembered it from the last time we were there, but I ground it out knowing the beautiful view of Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs and the Mummy peaks were just a few minutes away. Unfortunately, the mountains were sitting in the clouds, so the views weren't great, but I felt like I had put in a decent effort to get up (2,200 ft) in 55 minutes. Chad wasn't far behind, and we turned around pretty quickly for a relaxed 4 mile descent to Glen Haven.
From the Glen Haven TH we agreed to head back up to the summit and then return back to the car from there for what would be a solid 15 miles. The run back up afforded outstanding views of Crosier, which was basking in the morning sun, and I was kicking myself for not bringing the camera. There were a couple of spurs off the Glen Haven section, which could have added a few extra miles, but we agreed that a double ascent would be more than enough for today. I wanted to try and run the last half-mile grind quicker than I did the first time, but by the time I got to the intersection I was beginning to feel the almost 4,000 feet already climbed, and settled for a slow jog which ended up being a minute short (9:00) of the first climb. Total time for the second ascent was just over 57 minutes. After a week of no running, Chad was feeling the climb, and I met him halfway down the last pitch. We eased back down the mountain to the car for a total run time of 3:09:30.
Having now done the Crosier "single" and "double", the next progression for this run will be to add the third spur to the Drake TH, which would add 10 miles, 2,500 feet of climbing and a third ascent of Crosier (Rainbow TH to peak, descend to Glen haven TH and return to peak, descend to Drake TH and return to peak, return to car at Rainbow TH) for approximately 7,000 feet of climbing and close to marathon mileage. Chad and I agreed the "Crosier Treble" would be great training for this year's mountain racing season.