Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Longs Peak Revisited

Despite already having two races on the calendar for this week, plus a hard effort up Towers scheduled for Thursday, I was still feeling like I needed to head back up to Longs (14,215') for another stab at Kraig Koski's fastest known ascent of the popular Keyhole route. I e-mailed Aaron Marks last night asking if he was interested in going up, deciding that I would let his response make the decision for me. He emailed me back within minutes in the affirmative. Decision made.

Longs from Twin Sisters

We got to the East Longs Peak trailhead (9,400') shortly after 6:00 and, as last week, were pleased to find the parking lot just minimally overflowing with cars. Aaron got a jump on the morning, leaving me in the facilities to contemplate the run ahead.

"Hmmm, go out hard on the six miles of running to the Boulderfield and try to hold on through the high-altitude muscle-burn sections of the Trough and Homestretch, or try for a more evenly paced effort?"

"Whatever, just get off the stool and run!"

Soon after getting started, the perceived effort was already feeling a little harder than last week with my breathing again being pretty labored. The legs weren't feeling too spry either. I caught Aaron a few miles in and was soon feeling the moderately strong wind that was now blowing unobstructed above treeline. The legs still hadn't kicked into gear, so I knew this one was going to be a grinder.

Splits to the Boulderfield:

Goblins Campground (1.2 miles, 10,120'): 13:47
Battle Mtn trail junction (2.5 miles, 11,000'): 30:16
Chasm Junction (3.5 miles, 11,800'): 41:26
Granite Pass: 54:33
Boulderfield wind shelter/outhouse (6 miles, 12,760): 1:11:38

I pretty much knew the game was up when I saw the 1:11 at the Boulderfield, as I was off Jeff Valliere's 1:52 pace by three minutes and didn't like my chances of making back that time on the technical sections, with both Jeff and Kraig being way more accomplished mountaineers than me. With that said, I felt like I got across and up the Boulderfield in a fairly efficient ten minutes, but the traverse to the Trough was slow, and once I started up the Trough, I didn't feel like I had much power and it was all a bit labored.

I hit the top of the Trough in 1:45 and knew there was no way I was going under 1:49. Nonetheless, I plugged onwards and upwards, hitting the summit, after a decent assault on the Homestretch, in 1:55. If nothing else, it was at least a PR and another good 14,000' workout for Pikes.

I think I'm done with Longs for a while, but I might take one more shot towards the end of summer if I can find the time and inclination.

Splits from Boulderfield to Summit:

Keyhole (6.25miles, 13,150'): 1:21:56
Top Trough/Start Narrows: ~1:45
Summit Rock: 1:55:18

I actually felt pretty beat at the top, so decided to go easy on the descent, which I knocked off in a very clumsy 1:45 for a RT outing of 3:41. Kraig's 1:49 is pretty darn stout, in my humble opinion, but it's definitely within reach on a good day.

Kraig's splits, Aug. 12, 2000, 6:15AM:

1st switchback to left- 6:04
Bridge- 23:10
Chasm Lake Cutoff- 40:54
Granite Pass cutoff- 53:49
Boulder Field Privi- 1:10:46
Keyhole- 1:20:22
Top of Trough- 1:40:14
Summit- 1:49:04


  1. Great stuff Nick, good luck in Karltown this weekend.

  2. Longs is a tough one to tackle FKTs. After the Boulderfield privi, it's not just about endurance and running ability. It quickly also becomes about agility, fearlessness and route-finding. Makes sense that it'll take a few outings to put it all together. It'll come.

  3. Jim - no doubt. I'm still trying to figure out the best way up the Trough. Not sure if it is quicker to follow the bullseyes on the looser stuff while weaving in and out of traffic or to try and move quickly and uninterrupted on the rock to the left.

  4. Nice work, again, good luck on the 5k!

    "I think I'm done with Longs for a while..."

    Bummer, for me, I now have some/all weekdays free next month. Looking to head up Longs, but some other good weekday early morning runs as well, let me know if interested.

  5. At least you still have that carrot to chase for Longs. I'm always almost as long coming down as going up. Karl says he is about to post some odds for Speedgoat. Curious to see how he rates you. I recognize a few tough mountain runners on the list but not a real deep field as far as I can tell.

  6. Mike - I'm easily persuaded. Throw some dates at me and I'll probably be tempted. Might check out some alternate routes or something.

    Rob - yeah, not a particularly deep field from what I can tell, but definitely some good mountain runners in there including this year's Hardrock champ, Jared Campbell. Luke Nelson will also be up there, as will Nick Pedatella and Kevin Shilling.

    Jared, I am sure, knows the course like the back of his hand as probably do Luke and Kevin, so it should be close, but I'd give Jared and I the slight edge given our recent 100-mile performances.

    There's also an interesting match-up in the women's race with Colorado mountain running star Keri Nelson running against Becky wheeler who had a great sub-20 run at WS this year for sixth place. Monica Ochs is a consistently strong ultra runner too, but I'd guess it'll be between Becky and Keri for the Benjamins.

  7. Sarah Evans beat Becky last year by 30 mins. This is her backyard. Erik Storheim will be up front, no doubt.

  8. Anon - didn't see Erik's name on the start list, but if he's running then you've got to think he'll be in the mix as the defending champ. Thanks for the tip on Sarah. I like Keri for the win, but I think it'll be close between the three/four of them

  9. shirt = drag. (keep the hair though, it gives you strength)

    Fun day up there, 3rd time will be the charm.

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