Monday, November 19, 2012

Week Ending November 18

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap.

Tues - 7 miles intervals. City Park workout with Jane's group: mile steady (1.02), mile fartlek, (1.02), mile steady (.98), mile fartlek (.98). So two clockwise and two anticlockwise loops in the park, with three hills on the clock and just one on the slightly shorter anti-clock. Splits were: 5:38 (5:32), 5:31 (5:24), 5:17 (5:23), 5:25 (5:31). Had Chris, Mike, Ben and Tri dude to work with - mainly trailing off the back this morning.

Weds - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Wesir and I took a look around the base of the west side of the rock in search of a supposed 5.11a/b bolted route on the sheerer west face, in addition to a chimney route (Choss Chimney - 5.5). Located the chimney, but not the bolted route. We came up the Northwest Passage on a mixed and airy high class 4 route that topped out right at the terminus of the Rock Trail before the scramble to the top. Still lots of exploring to do on the west side of the rock, but will have to start bringing rope and protection for most of it.

Thurs - 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. HTH5MO&B with Lee. A couple of no-shows meant it was just me, Lee, Mary and a few flakes of snow. Out easy with Lee in 42:07, then back in a reasonably controlled 30:52 (7:40, 6:19, 6:28, 5:22, 5:02). Always good to dip under 31 - notched the effort level as the run progressed.    

Fri - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Late afternoon Horsetooth summit via north gap. Up Rock, down Southridge. Negotiated the last section of the Rock trail essentially in the dark. Got to get out of the house by 4:00 these days if I want light the full way. 

Sat - 11 miles (4,000') baggery. Met Nikolai early for a stealth mission on a couple of peaks that escaped me last time I tried. Although there is a conservation easement on the 4,100 acre Blue Mountain Bison Ranch (land cannot be developed but remains private), access is via guided tours only. It would be mighty awesome if there was a way for the county to negotiate trail access to the top of Blue Mountain (7,888'), because it's a very prominent local peak and affords killer and unique views of the Longs Peak area, in addition to the swell of mountains and ridges between Blue (essentially the first major mountain in the Berthoud foothills) and the Continental Divide. Alas, it remains private and those wanting its summit are forced into stealth mode from county land around Pinewood Reservoir.

Wanting to get across the grazing pasture on the northwest flanks of the mountain in the dark, we set off 30 minutes before sun-up, and by daybreak we had gained the north ridge and were safely under cover of trees. The summit was very straightforward once on the ridge. There were a couple of rough-hewn log benches on top in addition to three large cairn piles, suggestive of frequent visits. We took a minute to admire the view of Longs and Meeker sitting, as they were, magisterially in a wisp of still clouds, before setting off down the main west gulley from the north summit. The terrain was steep, brush- and cactus-filled, but nicely dotted with game trails. We were able to get down to a small and secluded pond at 6,800' with little difficulty. From there, we picked up a ranch road south for a while before descending southwest into a drainage to avoid grazing livestock and horses. Our next objective was UN peak 6,930' a quintessentially obscure and random List of John peak - but a Larimer ranked peak nonetheless. A house sits no more than 200 feet below the summit of this one, so we were sure to follow our drainage around to the west side of the summit in order to ascend our lump in a gulley protected from view by an easterly ridgeline. Again, there were good game trails through the brush and we were able to gain the summit without incident.

Our final summit of the morning was UN peak 7,383', which is no more than the high point on the north-south ridgeline west of Blue Mountain. We descended essentially the way we had come off 6,930' and followed a ranch road west, then north in a valley to the west of our intended ridge/summit. This is clearly a very lightly used road and we didn't see or hear a vehicle for the two or three miles that we followed it. We then followed an even lighter two-track trail up the hillside before eventually cutting straight up the steep west face of the hogbacked 7,383. The summit was about as unexciting as a summit can get: gently rounded, in the trees and with multiple candidates for the high point. Finding no cairns to mark the high point, we constructed one and then trundled off down the gentle eastern slope of the mountain back towards the car at Pinewood Reservoir, essentially due east of the 7,383 summit. This was a successful morning with few navigational errors and, more importantly, no human interaction. The terrain west of Blue and south of Pole Hill is beautifully rolling with deep valleys and stunning views. Obviously the access issues make it somewhat problematic, but it's big country back there with plenty of space to roam.

Sun - 3 miles (1,900') baggery. Christ Mountain (7,919') is the high point on the southern part of the ridgeline that extends south from Buckhorn Mountain and Rist Canyon all the way down to Masonville. The Christ ridgeline forms the western slopes of Redstone Canyon, which sits directly below and to the west of Horsetooth and Lory's west ridge. From the top of Horsetooth, Christ and its sub-peak to the south are clearly visible; consequently from the Christ ridge there are awesome views of the big west face of Horsetooth Rock. Earlier this year, I summitted the lower sub-peak by running up Otter Road from Masonville and then postholing through deep snow. Given the conditions, I decided not to bother with Christ Mtn that day, so I was back on Sunday for a spot of unfinished business. Rather than come up the long southern ridge approach, I found a pull-out on Buckhorn Road directly underneath the mountain to the west and hoofed up a steep gulley that would spit me out right on the summit. The pull-out is directly south of the sharp Buckhorn Narrows, a couple of miles before CO Rd 44H (Pennock Pass Rd). A quick duck under a barbed-wire fence and you are immediately in this very secluded gulley. I followed an old ranching trail for a short way, before picking up a really well defined cow path alongside the (dry) creek. I followed the cow paths to a clearing at about 6,600 feet, where cattle were lazing in the sun, before charting a much steeper southeasterly course up the heart of the drainage. About 500 feet below the summit, there was another clearing accessible by two-track road and then it was a very pleasant stroll through sparse woods for the summit ridge. The actual high point sits on a rock outcropping overlooking the northern end of Redstone Canyon. The ridge looked like it acted as a firebreak during the High Park fire, and marks the southwest border of the burn area. The eastern slopes of the Resdstone valley were completely burned out, while the eastern slopes of Buckhron Canyon (the other side of the ridgeline to the west) were untouched. Backtracked the way I came for a pleasant Sunday morning outing. Couple of burn area vids from top Christ Mtn below.


Total: 50.5 miles (12,200')



  1. Neat videos! It's interesting seeing the patterns of the fires. Must be nice living around mountains!!

  2. Cool! In case your readers are interested, Boulder Running Company has group runs and running clubs throughout Colorado