Monday, 2/24/14 – Freeway + West Face
Tried out my new to me approach shoes: basically walkable shoes with sticky rubber on the soles that wears out really freakin’ quickly. Gave a somewhat wet and icy Freeway a shot in them. Somewhat terrifying, as anything that has ice, or really just wet is: Death. Shoes feel impossibly large, compared to climbing shoes, but they certainly are sticky. On friction climbs (like this) it’s almost a plus, as the surface area on the soles is so large, as you stick almost better than with rock shoes. Still, I found myself looking to stick my feet in little pockets and such and finding that that was a little impossible. “Smear” is the word for this shoes. Rounded out the morning with a summit of the West Face of the 2nd, which is rate I think around 5.0, and that’s for like a move or two. It’s a good 100 foot fall if you don’t stick it, but still…
Went to the climbing gym that same night, to climb plastic things indoors. Embarrassed to say, I felt the morning’s pursuits, which is somewhat a surprise. Freeway is like, an 800 foot route, but I’m pretty sure it’s been done no-hands before, and when you do use your hands (except for the first, say, pitch), it’s in a pushing off motion, rather than a pulling into motion.
Friday, 2/28/14 – Freeway x3 + Green
After a ridiculous (on paper) rest of three whole days, I finally got back outside again. I guess my excuse is, I bought a new laptop, and I gotta be on top of work, since these things don’t pay for themselves. Wednesday was another day in the gym, where I was able to send a few 5.11’s, without falling, for whatever that’s worth.
Thursday was such a beautiful day, which I totally was frustrated for missing, but so it goes.
Friday, I visited The Spot to Boulder in the morning, doing nothing at all spectacular, and not nailing the project I had been working on. The final move is the crux for me, and trying to pull it just feels like I’m going to hurt myself. Sigh.
Friday afternoon, I lapped Freeway 3x, w/one summit up the West Face, then made my way up Green Mountain, for a quick summit, before night fell, which, gladly, is getting harder to do, as the days are getting longer. Finally figured out the right switchback to leave the trail, to begin Baker’s Way on the First, but wasn’t able to talk myself into trying it. The first pitch is the crux at a pedestrian 5.4, but a fall isn’t 30 feet and broken ankles, it’s 30 feet, broken ankles, and then sliding down the East face of the 1st for another 400 feet. Intimidating. Didn’t think it was a good idea w/tired arms. Also the reason I only summited the 2nd only once, as well.
Again tried out the sticky approach shoes and felt a lot better with them this time. My first time up Freeway, I decided not to traverse to the right as is the natural feeling to do, but rather, just kept going straight up. I thought I may just bump into Dodge Block route, but I couldn’t find the sneak across the bottom of the Pullman Car, but rather found myself on the right side of a deep gully, doing moves that were a little over my comfort level. Holds get scarce, fast on these faces and you’re left kind of hoping that whatever you’re smearing keeps on doing what it’s doing. So very awkward. After a bit of reconning and getting myself in more and more trouble, I escaped by traversed up out of the gully and to the right, and back on route of Freeway. I guess the lesson to learn is that “bumping into” climbing routes is probably not the best way go about discovering things.
Sunday, 3/2/14 – Green, Bear, Sobo, Sobo, Bear Green
Missed doing anything on Saturday, as it was very uninspiring weather outside (snowing!) and I felt grumpy, so I just made the day a workday, as I basically took Friday off to run and jump and play, and the piper needs to be paid.
Sunday I didn’t feel very inspired or in the best of shape, as this week seemed to have been basically a wash, but got up at 7:00am to find really cold temps and more snow falling, so back to sleep for a few more hours. Still cold at 9:00am, but it wasn’t snowing, so I suited up for what looked like a day in the high mountains, but was in reality just my gear to ride a bike for 4 1/2 miles. I brought a princely amount of clothes just for the outing itself, I wanted a long day and didn’t want to freeze to death. Temps were in the single digits at this point.
Started up Green, but after a 1,000 feet or so of elevation, it started to get warm – really warm. I had to strip down to just one baselayer (I started with two, and a skin-tight top, and took off my wool hat, that I would constantly drop throughout the day. The clouds abated, and it was actually sunny! Strangest thing. After Green, I ran down, this time without even a shirt on (Spring can’t come soon enough), until I was very, very cold again. Clouds had come back and everything was covered in snow. Got back to the Mesa Trail and up Bear via Fern. Once again, as I ascended, it become much warmer – we’re talking 20-30 degrees difference! An amazing inversion layer for sure.
Tagged Sobo and down Shadow all the way down again to the Mesa Trail. At the trail junction, I traced my steps back up Shadow to tag Sobo once again. That made it three peaks tagged, while starting at the Mesa Trail – def. summits by far means, rather than simply taking the ridgeline and hopping between saddles. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that, or if I’ve done that, but I wasn’t done with the day, so I did the quick trip to tag Bear, and then off to Green. The plan I had aspired to do early that day, scheming as I do during my bike ride up to Chautauqua, was to tag Green/Bear/Sobo, and then reverse the entire route.
My mental state was fatiguing, and giving me a definite, “no”, and my legs were certainly agreeing with that, so what can you do: Instead of going down Fern, I took Bear Canyon down from Bear, and then up to Green via Green/Bear. That cut at least 1,000 feet of elevation and probably many miles. My body was faulting (finally) going up Green, and somewhat uncharacteristically these day, I had to stop my relentless forward movement and, I dunno, catch my breath or something, before finishing up to the top. The descent down from the summit of Green was nice, as it always is, knowing I didn’t have to climb up anything.
Felt so-so the entire day, and not so fast at all. Part of that was because I was schlepping so much gear: along with the 80 ounces of water, I had on/off two base layers, a stretchy top layer, a bottom base layer and running tights, gloves, a puffy vest, a raincoat, a hat, phone, camera, a ton of food, a head torch, microspikes and my GPS. My God, I’ve done the entire Colorado Trail with less.
The periodically mild conditions were completely unexpected. Running starts to get a little questionable, at that point of gear-schlepping, but maybe Milo was onto something. Looking forward, with most likely half of Boulder, for Spring to come and having the trails filled with pretty girls and bearded dudes without shirts on. Probably one half for the other half and vice-versa.
Week total on my feet: 29.4 miles, 14,381 feet
Week total on the bike: 0.
I think this week I really outdid myself with the idea that it’s better to go up then out, not even breaking 30 miles of ground covered, but almost hitting three miles of elevation gained.
Other than Sunday, this week was almost a wash and I almost wrote it off as such, but it turned out alright. If I was intelligent with my running (which I stubbornly won’t be), I might actually find value in running some more distance, but oh, do I hate running distance. This was also one of my slowest weeks, but again: Sunday was long and slow from all the gear I brought and the other days had a ton of scrambling on fairly tame routes. Three days climbing, plus scrambling out of doors is really the unsung triumph of my week. The other silent monster is the problem any enthusiast have: how to fit the time to do it all. Surprisingly, I didn’t find myself out after dark on the trails. My guess is that I’ll find myself out once or twice next week doing just that.
I’m also getting very restless to get out and like, ride a bike, but again, if I’m going to ride, it’s going to be up and down things, and the conditions of the roads are so poor with the snow that will not stop falling. One of the reasons, other than my dislike of well, the running aspect of, “Trail Running” is that running up steep stuff is so similar to the biomechanical act of pedaling a bike, that I feel like I’m not losing absolutely all my hard-earned bike form. We’ll see about that theory, as my bike racing calendar is quickly approaching, and I’ve got maybe 200 miles on the bike for the year.
Another frustrating thing I gambled on, and lost was an attempt to ride out to RMNP and at least attempt Longs. The weather report would just be excruciatingly the same, no matter what day I checked. The short range forecast would be deteriorating, the long range, say 5 days out, would be a good enough window – sort of. The current conditions would be absolutely phenomenal, but those current conditions weren’t what was being forecast. The next day it would almost the same forecast, just with one more day ticked off. Entirely impossible to plan.
So next week? Try again for RMNP and just be flexible with my goals. May just have to relegate myself to being stuck in Boulder until even after April 1st. It’s fine and dandy with me, as I’m getting seriously strong just going up and down these mountains in front of me, while getting sort of proficient in climbing up things at the gym.
Did some basic bike maintenance on my bike this week as well – replaced my saddle which had now two cracked rails and was getting a little more than uncomfortable to ride. Still have to put on new brake pads, as I can’t really stop all that well, but the drivetrain now has gears that can be shifted into and out of! The current rig is quite the spectacle, with a 10 speed front ring, 9 speed chain, 8 speed rear cassette, 7 speed front derailer and 6 speed downtube shifters. Fantastically, it all works. The rear cassette low gear is now 30t, replacing my 26t, which I’m very much excited about.