Monday, September 17, 2012

Week Ending September 16

Mon - Noon: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth south summit. Slow.
PM: 2 miles easy on the bike paths pushing the stroller while Alistair was at x-country practice.

Tues - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.
PM: 11.5 miles track. Workout was 800, 400, 400, mile, 800, 400, 400 w/lap jog after 800s, 200 jog after 4s and mile. Started with a mile open to warm up (5:41), then: 2:37, 76, 74, 5:25, 2:42, 76, 74. Died a death on the back half of the mile with the short rest, and the 800 wasn't much better but rallied a bit for the final 400s with the extra rest after the 800. Really looking forward to cutting mileage and working on some speed this fall/winter. I feel pretty slow right now. 4 mile up, 2.5 mile down.

Weds - Noon: 7 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit in a heavy fog. Finally a break in the weather. Excited for the cooler weather ahead.
PM: 6.5 miles pushing the stroller on the bike paths while Alistair was at x-country practice. Easy, easy.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,500') tempo. Finally managed to get out and run some asphalt this morning with a return to Centennial Road and the HTH5MO@B (Horsetooth Half 5 Mile Out & Back), a winter staple. Basically the route goes from the Maxwell parking area up onto the rolling dam roads on the east side of the reservoir. We go out five miles at a social pace, then drill the return five at varying intensities depending on desire and motivation. Anything sub 31 minutes is a good workout for me coming back. First mile includes a 300 foot climb up the north dam in the first half mile with a slight downgrade over the last quarter, then the next two miles are a rolling, net uphill, grind that require frequent reminders to double down on the effort, and then the last two miles have a couple of ripping descents, a quarter mile of flat and two short speed bumps. Definitely one of the best test pieces in town, and I only wish I'd gotten out for a few more sessions in the last month before UROC. Oh well. Scott, Celeste and Ziggy ran out three with me on a perfectly foggy morning, and on the remaining two miles to the turnaround, I decided that given the lack of company and a somewhat sore lower right calf, I would take things easy for the first session back. The out was a slower than usual 44:50, and the return a pretty mediocre 33:36 (7:52, 13:31 (mile 2 & 3), 6:17, 5:56), more than four minutes off my PR at what felt like a harder effort than it should have been. 
PM: 9.5 miles (1,900') steady on Towers. 31:45. Tired legs and a still gimpy right calf, but after a 2.5 mile warm up and an easy first mile, I picked things up a touch and felt good at a tempo-type effort. Perfect evening for running.

Fri - Noon: 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit from north gap. Felt good, but kept the effort easy to give my calf/achilles a break.

Sat - AM: 10 miles (1,100') steady. Bluesky trail to Devils Backbone. Dana and the kids picked me up on the south end and then we took off to Brighton for Alistair's first cross country meet (fun times). Climbed up the Keyhole rock, but pretty sure a rib to the north is the highest point. Some private property issues there, but will get it another time, as I can always use an excuse to run Bluesky, which I tend to neglect. Getting on the Keyhole was straightforward from the back (north to northwest side). The actual Devils Backbone high point is ranked a 5.1 climb, and this wasn't that. Ran hard this morning to make up for being lazy and not getting up early enough to jam in 20 miles. 
PM: 6.5 miles (2,100') hike/run. Estes Cone (11,006'). After heading west to Lyons for lunch (Oskar Blues) from Alistair's cross country meet, we headed north up to Estes, detouring off for a stop at the East Longs trailhead and a go at Estes Cone with the kids. I guess Alistair wasn't really into it, so we stopped halfway at the old mine site on the way to Storm Pass and played for a bit. Dana was happy to hang out with the kids, who all of a sudden were having a great time, so I finished things up by running up to Storm Pass and Estes Cone. Tagged the top after a good steep climb, took in the killer (like, uber killer) views of the Divide (from the Mummies all the way to Longs), and then hoot-footed it back. The kids were still cool and the gang, so it was quick work on the return leg back to the trailhead. Dana and Alistair played tag pretty much the whole way, while I brought up the rear with Stella on my back. Ice cream in Estes, then home. Fun day.

Sun - AM: 21 miles (2,200') long run. 2:45. Ran a loop of the reservoir counterclockwise via 38e, South Dam, Centennial, Lodgepole to Lory, Valley trails to Bluesky, 38e. I wasn't too excited for this run, so procrastinated for an hour two before getting going. This meant I had to suffer through the heat of the morning on a totally exposed route, which is never much fun. I was feeling tired, so just plugged into a comfortable 8:00 average and got around. Chased one road biker up Monster Hill on Centennial after giving away about 100 meters on Spring Canyon dam and almost caught her by the top, but other than that this was a total one-gear run. 

Total: 102.5 miles (14,800')

Good week on balance. Wanted to run 20 on Saturday, but just couldn't get going and so gave up an hour of running time, but other than that, I got done what I think I wanted to get done this week, including a good number of road/flatter miles. I really don't think I can or should cram any more volume before UROC, as I've been feeling a bit tired and flat this week. The wise thing from here will be to cut the volume aggressively, and just do the workouts to see if I can inject a bit of zip into my stride.

The field at UROC looks to be road-background heavy, so I'm expecting a different kind of race than I'm used to. I'm 100% prepared to let a lead pack develop ahead of me if I feel the pace is unreasonable for me and the distance. My strengths versus the faster road guys should manifest themselves in the second half of the race, and if Steamboat is any example then hopefully there should be some significant gains to be made as people start to get tired. Despite the impending and guaranteed suffering, I'm looking forward to participating on a good mix of terrain against some talented runners that I've either never run against or who I haven't raced over a longer distance.

In other news, Pete and I are finalizing permitting details for the Quad Rock 25/50 mile trail races for May 11 next year, so get that one on the calendar. As race directors, we were extremely fortunate that the High Park blaze (which torched approximately 200,000 acres north and west of town earlier this summer) did not impact the race course at all. In fact, the Timber trail in Lory State park acted as a fire line on the southeast perimeter of the fire. So, same great course, same great volunteers and same great giveaways and prizes. We're both super excited to build on the successes and lessons from 2012 with an eye towards three things: impeccable course marking, great value, and a post-race experience to match the running and racing itself. I've already ordered up a sunny forecast for 2013. Registration will be going live in December.

Also, if you're looking for a little autumn racing, then think about signing up for the Bluesky Marathon here in town. The race takes place October 7, and I believe there are still spots available. This is a great race with trail mileage in Horsetooth and on the fast Bluesky Trail. Proceeds benefit the Larimer County trail network, Larimer County Search and Rescue, and local youth running programs.

Oh, and one other thing. I just saw Karl's post-bunny-race interview over at iRunFar, and it sounds like he's going to take a shot at the Grand Slam record next year. I've been mulling that one for a couple of years now, and was kinda thinking that 2013 might be a good year to give it a go. Now that Karl's taking a run at it, I almost feel obliged to do it; nothing like a bit of competition to add some extra motivation, but that ain't set in stone just yet.  I also think Pedatella should get on board for the GS now that he has a WS spot. He knows how to stack 'em up back to back. And while we're at, Neal, you should come on out and defend! Anyone else?

Regardless of who takes a stab at it next year, I think there's still a good three to five hours of play in Neal's (stout) record, but it would take a stellar and injury-free summer of racing to get it done.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week Ending September 9

Mon - 1 mile (500') hiking. Tooled around in the lower Big Thompson above the narrows after aborting an approach on Larimer ranked peak 6,674' due to private property lines that were posted in an extremely aggressive fashion. This one might have to be a night summit.

Tues - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.
PM - 8.5 miles track. 800 open, then 600-800-1000-800-600 with 200 jog after 600 & kilo, 400 jog after 800s. Motivation was low tonight, so kept things comfortable: 2:51, 1:56, 2:38, 3:23, 2:40, 1:58. 2.5 mile up, 3 mile down.

Weds - Noon: 8 miles (2,300') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap. Actually thought I was in the south-center gap, climbing the center tooth, so was somewhat surprised to clamber up and be on the north summit. There is a doable line from this gap up to the center tooth, but I deemed it too sketchy to attempt without protection when looping back around for a second look after the north summit. Southridge/Audra up, Wathan, Spring Creek back.

Thurs - AM: 14.5 miles (6,100') mountains. Mount Ida (12,880'), Chief Cheley (12,804'), Point 12,820' (Chorier Point), Cracktop (12,766'), Julian (12,928'), Terra Tomah (12,718').
L-R: Terra Tomah, Julian, Cracktop, Chorier Point (12,820'), Chief Cheley, Ida
Gorge Lakes loop.
Steph, Mike and I got an early start for this one from the Milner Pass/Poudre Lake trailhead off Trail Ridge Road. The circle of peaks that we were heading for are probably among the most photographed in the whole park, given their striking prominence above Forest Canyon and their visibility from Trail Ridge Road. Given the relatively scant internet beta on the route, however, they are apparently far less visited, which is somewhat surprising as access is actually very good from Milner Pass. Indeed, the trail from the TH to maybe 500 feet below Ida's summit is one of the best that I've ever had the pleasure of running. The views of the cirque peaks heading out are substantial and the cruise back to the trailhead is about as cushy as it comes, and made all the better by the consistently stunning views of the as-remote-as-it-gets-in-RMNP Never Summer Range. For whatever reason the trail is not marked on any maps, which helps - I am sure - to keep this route a hidden treasure.

Mount Ida from Chief Cheley
Anyway, as stated, the four miles or so of trail leads you to just below the Ida summit, after which it is a very straightforward mix of talus and tundra to the top. Ida offers views of the whole line all the way around to Terra Tomah, with the intermediate peaks and connecting ridges of Chief Cheley, Cracktop and Julian along the way. As a bonus, the ridgeline (12,820') between Chief Cheley and Cracktop is one of three Larmier County ranked high points on the route (along with Ida and Julian). The descent off Ida is steep but straightforward, as is the 400-500 foot climb up Cheley. From there the high point on the 12,820' ridge is also easy, with the ascent of the two Cracktop summits a little more involved, but still no more than class three maneuvering.
Top Cracktop
Cracktop Descent Ridge
Mike, Steph on Cracktop
The ridge between Cracktop and Julian slows progress a bit, with some route finding to be done, but again things can quite easily be kept class three, with a class four move thrown in here and there for the impatient. Once off the ridge the climb up Julian is stout but uneventful and then it's no more than a pleasant rocky tundra traverse over to Terra Tomah to round off the circle peak action.

In order to completely encircle the beautiful lake-filled basin we decided to roll the dice by dropping down a steep and loose gulley on the not-insignificant northwest face of Terra Tomah. With no beta and an uncertain cliffy-looking edge 500 feet down the gulley, we were prepared to reascend if necessary. As it happened, a series of tufty ledges and class-four rock slabs opened up and kept the route alive all the way down to the Doughnut Lake drainage. With that said, this was by no means a trivial descent.

Scoping the Terra Tomah descent. Rest of pics: Steph Lynn.
Terra Tomah descent line with slight variations. Red: Nick; Blue: Mike, Steph.
From there, it was an easy ascent on firm rock to the bench above Lake Arrowhead, then a grunt back up to Ida's northeast ridge and a tundra traverse to the Continental Divide and the Mount Ida trail. As previously described, the rolling alpine descent along the Divide was an absolute classic and left me with an unquenchable desire to hit the full Never Summit traverse from Mount Baker on the southern end all the way north to the stunning summits of the venerable Baron von Richtofen and the Nokhu Crags.

This one gets a Rocky Mountain two thumbs up. 

Arrowhead Lake, Terra Tomah, Julian.
Azure Lake

Highest Lake, Chief Cheley, Cracktop

Arrowhead, Julian, Cracktop
Never Summers
Steph, Nick above the shores of Lake Arrowhead with Ida, Cheley, 12,820' and Cracktop behind
Fri - PM: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth south summit via crack towards the north end of the east face. 

Sat - 35 miles (8,500') hills. Ran up and down Towers 4.5 times during the second annual 24 Hours of Towers. Added an ascent of Horsetooth to the first Towers summit (40 mins from campsite), with a line up Slush's Slit - an easy chimney on the north side of the south tooth. Mike took an unfortunate fall while we were scoping other lines up the north summit from the middle gap, so we had to cut further exploration short to get him back to his vehicle so he could get a gash on his thigh attended to. Needless to say, we hit the shortest line possible from Horsetooth back to Soderberg via Wathan and Herrington. A text an hour or two later confirmed that Mike was fine after a total of 18 stitches (wowzer). A lesson or two learned there.

The rest of the morning was spent trying to catch up with Cat who was by now a lap and a half ahead of me. After two more Towers summits (38, 41), I took a 3.5 hour break to play with the kids down by the lake before pounding out another quicky before the 'family lap' (37 up, 22 down). As it turns out, pushing a jogging stroller with flat tires up Towers on tired legs with an ornery six year old in tow isn't that much fun. We cut it short at Herrington after two miles and let Mom get on with her lap while we headed back for food and fun at the campsite. I had no further interest in running up Towers, even with 12 hours left on the clock. Rob would go on to knock out a further 4 summits through the night (after taking the day completely off) to take the 2012 crown with 7 summits, 50 miles and 12,000 feet of vertical.

Sun - 4 miles (2,200') peak baggery. The original plan was to run a 20 mile road run as a bookend to the vertical from the day before, but on waking up I had zero motivation, so took the easy option with the time that I had to go bag a couple of Larimer County peaks. I decided on a couple of neighbors up the North Fork of the Big Thompson.

From the Upper North Fork picnic area on Devils Gulch Road, I found a steep scratch trail that led to the Triangle Mountain ridgeline, which I then followed to the summit. A very faint trail leads the whole way to the summit, but it is very easily lost in the scrub, grass and rocky outcroppings that define the terrain up on the ridge. Nonetheless, the summit was very straightforward given the lack of tree cover and offered killer views of the Continental Divide, Mummies, Crosier, and east down the Big T to Round and Palisade Mountains. A most worthy - and highly recommended - peak.

By contrast, point 7,470, some two miles down the North Fork, was a total 'schwak fest through thickets of nasty prickly stuff by the river and heavy tree cover above. Having no beta on this particular summit, I wasn't really sure where to start, so I chose a random (large) pull-off on the south side of the road by an aggressively posted private log bridge over the river. The private property (aside from the bridge) appeared to mainly be off to the right once I was on the south bank, so I cut a line straight up the steep hillside veering slightly to the left. After 400 or so feet of very steep bushwhacking, I gained a connecting ridge for the 7,470' summit, which I had to traverse for a quarter mile before pushing out the last 300 feet for the true summit. As expected there was no register, although there was a small cairn just below the summit. The top was lightly treed, which allowed me to confirm from topographic landmarks that I was in fact on the correct summit, so I built a more substantial summit cairn for future LoJ peak baggers before heading down. I took a slightly different route off the summit heading in a northeasterly direction through more open terrain for the first 200 feet of the descent before cutting due north for the river through heavy tree cover on a very steep line. It took me a little while to find a suitable spot to cross the river (eventually finding a downed tree trunk over the river) and then it was a short quarter mile jog back up Devils Gulch to the car.         

Total: 82.5 miles (22,100')

I failed again to put in any kind of course-specific training for UROC this week, but with 11 summits on the week (8 new, 9 unique), I can't complain. I guess I'll have what I have for the Blue Ridge Parkway in three weeks.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week Ending September 2

Mon - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth south summit. Southridge/Audra both ways.

Tues - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Waterfall loop. Couple of miles with Aaron.
PM: 7 miles track. 1.5 mile warm up with the last couple of laps a little quicker to test the waters post Leadville. Things felt okay so I decided to give the workout a decent effort. On tap was 800 open, followed by 4(800/100 float/300/400 jog). Warmed up with the 800 open (3:01) then 2:39, :57, 2:36, :57, 2:37, :57, 2:40, :55.

Weds - PM: 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Jogged up for a north Horsetooth summit. Rock trail up, Audra/Southridge down. Totally flat.

Thurs - AM: 12 miles (5,000') mountains. Mike and I parked up at the RMNP Alpine Visitor Center then jogged down the Old Fall River Road to tag Marmot Point (11,909'), a ranked (and named) bump of no more than 400 feet of prominence from its nearest saddle. From there we picked up game trails to Chapin Creek and then hopped on the climbing trail that contours under Mount Chapin. When that petered out at Chapin Pass, we were forced into a couple of miles of talus/tundra sidehilling on a 12,000' - 12,500' contour under Chiquita and Ypsilon to the connecting ridge between Desolation Peaks and Ypsilon. We followed that ridge up to the west summit of Desolation Peaks (12,918'), picking up point 12,768' along the way.

As we were enjoying the views from the west summit, I started to get a tingling feeling of electricity in the air. As I relayed this information to Mike, he mentioned that a few of my hair strands were standing on end too. However, the skies did not look particularly malicious, so we foolishly ignored the warning we'd been handed and started the process of connecting the west and east summits of Desolation via the scrambly east/west ridge. Then, BOOM, out of seemingly nowhere a lightening strike as close as I've ever heard one. I didn't see the strike, but it sounded like it was right over our heads. Panicked, Mike and I scrambled off the ridge and found a talus-rock cave to hide in. It started hailing and the thunder/lightening kept coming, so we crouched for a good 40 minutes before we decided things were safe again.  
Cave dweller.

The skies looked a little grey in places to the north and east once we emerged from our cave, but we deemed things safe enough to quickly pick off the true summit, East Desolation (12,949'), by scampering across the ridge. Wet rocks made what would otherwise have been a straightforward class III ridge traverse a little more spicy. We quickly backtracked after gaining the class IV summit and then headed west off the mountain in the direction of the Chapin Creek/Cache La Poudre Valley below. This involved way more bushwhacking through heavy forest (and deadfall) than anticipated, but it was good to be off the alpine and away from potential lightening strikes. A couple of miles (and over an hour) later, we finally popped out into the clearing, some 2,800 feet below Desolation.

Original plans called for a summit of the heavily forested 'nutcracker,' a ranked Larimer peak (10,855'), but my nuts were already cracked from the heavy bushwhacking getting off Desolation, so I made the call to head back up the valley towards the car. We followed Chapin Creek up the valley a ways before picking up a drainage coming off Marmot Point, which we tracked through the woods (with mercifully good game trails) up into the alpine before rounding off with a tag of point 12,005' (a higher put unranked sister to Marmot Point). Mike insisted on a goosey gander around the kitsch-filled visitors center before we took off, and lo and behold it was full of tat.    

West and East Desolation Peaks above and to the right of me. All pics: Hinterberg.
Rowe Mountain back right, with Fairchild and the connecting ridge to Ypsilon in the right foreground. Desolation Peaks obscured by my head.
Summit shot.
East Desolation from East/West connecting ridge.
Chapin Creek/Poudre Valley
Backside of Chapin, Chiquita, Ypsilon and Desolation from slopes of Marmot Point.

Fri - 7 miles (1,700') easy. Jogged up to the Horsetooth south summit.  
January: 330 miles (45,200')
February: 445 miles (58,500')
March: 501.5 (79,600')
April: 430 (66,800')
May: 387.5 (70,700')
June: 297.5 (48,500') 
July: 369 (71,100')
August: 330.5 (67,100')

Total: 3,091 miles (507,500')
Avg: 386 miles (63,438')

2012 Summits (129):
Horsetooth (7,255') (58 - Sep 1)
Mount Elbert (14,443')
Longs Peak (2) (14,259')
Mount Belford (2) (14,197')
Mount Oxford (14,153')
Missouri Mountain (14,067')
Pacific Peak (13,950')
Emerald Peak (13,904')
Crystal Peak (13,852')
Atlantic Peak (13,841')
Iowa Peak (13,831')
Hagues Peak (2) (13,571')
Ypsilon Mountain (13,514')
Fairchild Mountain (13,502')
Mummy Mountain (13,425')
McHenrys Peak (13,327')
Pecks Peak (13,277')
Whitney Peak (13,271')
Powell Peak (13,208')
Taylor Peak (13,153')
Mount Chiquita (13,069')
West Mount Sheridan (12,952')
East Desolation Peak (12,949')
West Desolation Peak (12,918')
Hallet Peak (12,713')
Otis Peak (12,486')
Mount Chapin (12,454')
Flattop Mtn (12,324')
Marmot Point W(12,005')
Marmot Point E (11,909')
Twin Sisters (11,420')
Mount Baldy (11,068')
Hidden Peak (10,992') (2)
Lookout Mountain (10,626')
Storm Mountain (9,918')
Lily Mountain (9,786')
Crosier Mountain (9,250') (4)
Pilot Hill (8,829')
Mount Ethel (8,471')
8,415' (Leila Peak)
Buckhorn Mountain (8,341')
Round Mountain (8,250') (4)
Palisade Mountain (8,225')
8,194' (Giant Boulder Point)
Alexander Mountain (8,144')
Spruce Mountain (7,781')
Sullivan Stump (7,778')
Green Ridge (7,402')
Green Mountain (7,335')
7,260' (Ziggy Point)
7,098' (Poll Mtn range)
Table Mountain (7,074')
Arthurs Rock (6,780') (5)
Milner Mountain (6,893')
5,773' or 'Aggie Peak'
5,740' (Hwy 34 B4 Narrows) (1)
5,740' (Off Masonville Rd) (2)
Reservoir Ridge (5,735')
Goat Hill (5,604')
Aitxuri (1,551 meters) 
Aizkorri (1,528 meters)
Aratz (1,443 meters)
Sat - AM: 15.5 miles (6,400') mountains. Flattop (12,324'), Hallet (12,713'), Otis (12,486'), Taylor (13,153'), Powell (13,208'), McHenrys (13,327'). Met Tony early at the Bear Lake trailhead for what was intentioned as a full Glacier Gorge traverse - an uber-classic RMNP loop that runs the rim of Glacier Gorge, picking up 11 peaks along the way, including Longs - the monarch of the northern Front Range. I had a good bit of familiarity with the route through the first four peaks and also with McHenrys and Longs, but not so much with Chiefs Head and Pagoda, the headwall peaks. I hadn't seen the techie crux sections from Powell to McHenrys and from Chiefs Head to Pagoda, so they were weighing on my mind a bit as we got going, especially Pagoda's west ridge which is considered by most to be a very airy 5.6/5.7. Without protection there's no way I'd take that on, but Tony had beta on a low-class-V sneak on the south face of the ridge. I guess I was dubious about the sneak, as there was simply no beta on it anywhere that I could find, but I told myself I'd at least take a look.

The ascent from Bear Lake went as quickly as it always seems to, and before you could say 'my god those aspen are turning early,' we were above the trees and working into a bit of a breeze, albeit a pretty tame one by Flattop standards. Anyone who's been on Flattop knows that it's not really a mountain in the true sense of the word, but for whatever reason it is named and popular - probably more for the route options available from the plateau than for any aesthetic reasons (and also its relative proximity to the Bear Lake TH). Nonetheless, I was sure to tag the summit boulder (ahem!), before getting started with the meat of the route with a quick ascent of Hallet. Tony got a step on me up Hallet, tagging it a minute, maybe two before me, and he was off before I got there. It was clear he was on a mission, so I didn't bother hanging around either, hoping that I could hang on to his coattails. While I consider myself a decent enough talus negotiator, I couldn't match Tony on the descent off Hallet, so I soon resigned myself to a solo morning in the mountains.

I was heartened to see that I was still within a couple of minutes of Tony off the summit of Otis, a close neighbor to Hallet that offers killer views of the Gorge, Chaos Canyon and Loch Vale (if you take the time to stop and look). The run to Taylor is always a grind, and I once again dipped too low by essentially hitting the rim above Andrews Glacier rather than staying a little further west and maybe 80 feet higher. Not a big deal, but maybe two or three minutes, if you care about such things. I also managed to misdirect to the east a bit after Andrews by being drawn in by false summit 12,829', an unnamed rim bump. I soon realized my error and straightened for Taylor, seeing Tony up on the summit ridge a few hundred feet above.

After Taylor comes Powell, which was to be my first virgin summit of the morning, so I took a few minutes to enjoy the new-to-me vista before heading south in search of the scree gulley that I knew would hook me into McHenrys Notch. I found the gulley immediately, but doubted that it was the right one. I hit it anyway and was relieved to find the cliff bands (easily traversed) that circled back to the base of the Notch a couple hundred feet below the summit of Powell. Looking up at the McHenrys side of the Notch, I was relieved to see what looked like a very straightforward climb. And indeed it was. There may have been a class V move in there somewhere, but it was mainly class IV slabs with surprisingly low exposure (given how vertical the Notch looks from afar). I was up above the Notch in no time, and then it was just a question of negotiating a couple of ledges to the right and a couple more hundred feet of scrambling for the summit. The descent off McHenrys to Stoneman Pass went way quicker than the last time I was up there. And then my engine stalled.

Up on the ledges of Stoneman, I kept cliffing out in search of the line onto Chiefs Head. Backtracking after a second unsuccessful search for the route, I bumped into Joel Wolpert (who was there to film Tony but got to the pass too late), and pretty much felt my desire to continue fade. I looked up at Chiefs Head and all of a sudden the 1,000 feet of relief looked like an insurmountable 3,000 feet. Joel decided that he wasn't going to be able to catch Tony and said he was heading back down the Gorge. Content with six peaks on the morning (and still dubious about the Pagoda route), I stepped in behind Joel, tripping and stumbling my way back down to Bear Lake on legs that were all of a sudden leaden and more than ready to be done.

We were back at the trailhead in a little over five and a half hours, and I have to say I was pretty shocked to see Tony roll in not long after in a time of 6:17 - easily a new standard for the route. Turns out the Pagoda sneak did go. I probably won't get another crack at this until next summer at the earliest, but now that I know the line can be done safely without gear I'll be more committed mentally from the get go. Although not fully successful, this was still a great morning in the mountains.


Flattop: 0:59
Hallet: 1:09
Otis: 1:27
Taylor: 2:05
Powell: 2:35
McHenrys: 3:05

Sun - Noon: 1 mile (600') hiking. Took the kids up the Big Thompson a ways and had a picnic at a bend in the river known as Sleepy Hollow. Alistair wanted to do some exploring, so we set off up the steep slopes of the canyon for a ridgeline 500 feet above the river (hard work and somewhat nervy with your daughter in a pack on your back.) Stopped for another picnic at the top and then downclimbed on some pretty sketchy rock that cliffed out on us twice.
PM: 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. A nice late afternoon summit of Horsetooth (north) with Alex. Visibility was way better than it's been in months. Saw Pikes 100 miles to the south for the first time since spring.     

Total: 67.5 miles (19,700')   

I need to start running some road miles to get ready for UROC, but it's so difficult at this time of year in Colorado. Roads are so much easier to deal with in the winter.