Winter is a time where I regroup, starting training in earnest, and sketch out goals I want to do for the summer (’cause I don’t ski). Below is my list of things I’d like to take on:
Self-Powered Longs Peak Project (SPLPP!)
Summit Longs Peak once a month by a different route on each of those months – for a full year! Done by only a few, I plan to be the first to add a new wrinkle: starting in Boulder, ride a bike to the trailhead, summit, then ride back!
For this year, January and February are already ticked, and I’m anxiously awaiting a weather window for March. If March can happen, the rest of the months should be challenging, but a lot less trickier when it comes to weather, and (especially) avalanche conditions.
This project is so fraught with pitfalls, most especially just scheduling the time, every month, to do it. Route selection is almost an afterthought, but I would like to have one of the month’s be a route on the Diamond like, The Casual Route, or Pervertical Sanctuary. That’s a big wish though, as I don’t think I’m currently experienced enough to do either (climbing strength/skill: sure, but that’s not a replacement for trad climbing mileage). Finding a partner that would also be game to ride up with me would make this pretty special.
Watch Stefan Griebel and Anton Krupicka set the Longs Peak Triathlon FKT:
The Self-Powered Longs Peak Project isn’t really about speed, or finding the most difficult route, or anything like that. Part of it is finding a willing partner to share in the discovery of new-to-us routes. In essence it’s a year-long celebration of the mountain.
Although I haven’t been able to string 12 months of Longs Peak summits in a row (with an approach by bike), I have been able to now summit Longs Peak in this style in every month of the year in my lifetime, which I think is pretty cool!
Spring is a transitional time here in Colorado (mud season!), so I’ll be sticking pretty close to home, but still testing my fitness. Since my birthday is also in April, it’s easy to frame these tests into… Birthday Challenges!
24 Hours on the First Flatiron
Depending on conditions, I’d like to try to do multiple laps up the First Flatiron (East Face Direct, of course), for as long as I feel it’s reasonably safe for me to do so. I’d start at first light, and go until I’m too tired to keep trying. From my time doing something similar on the Second Flatiron, it may be my feet that throw in the towel, before it’s anything else.
Laps on the Second Flatiron:
Although I’m pretty comfortable soloing the route during the day while fresh, “soloing” wouldn’t be a part of my challenge – just rackin’ up the laps would be. To me, that sort of means: once night falls (and if I’m still game to do more laps), I’d probably pick up a partner and rope up to keep things chill on the crux first two pitches.
If I was to guess, the “record” is around ten laps, something “easily” done by a Minion like Stefan Griebel. Stefan is, and always will be, a better climber than I am, and his “record” (or breaking it) isn’t a real motivation for me – if he wanted to, he could do laps on this rock for days. In fact, my hope is to get people out there to join in the fun, either by taking a lap with me, or hanging out at the base where perhaps I’ll get some snacks and drinks happenin’ and keep the atmosphere friendly.
Plesko’ing Lookout Mountain
Chris Plesko is another local crusher that fills me with inspiration. Last year, he rode a single speed mountain bike (?!?!) up Lookout Mountain – a paved road, for a total of 23-laps/300km, to “Everest” the hill.
Being a fan of both Chris and single-speed mountain bikes, I would love to try to repeat his feat. I’m not as fast as Chris – or have as much of a head when it comes to wattage… pacing – the minutiae of training – so most likely I’m just going to get on the earliest bus from Boulder to Golden, and ride up/down the hill until I can’t, then bus it home! Lookout Mountain was one of the hills I cut my cycling teeth on, so it would be fun to revisit after quite a few years away.
I don’t know the most I’ve climbed via bike in a day – maybe close to 19,000′? It’ll be a trying day, for sure.
Sub 5 Hour Bike Century
Funny to think, but I’ve never, ever, ever tried to do a sub-5 hour bike century. This seems like an easy one to accomplish, as long as I’ve got a good route with minimal hills and stoplights, and an honest to goodness road bike (with gears!). Knowing me, I’ll try to stretch the ride out to a 300 km and try to do a sub, uh 9? hour 300km. One can dream!
Full Sangre de Cristo Range Traverse
(Highest Personal Priority)
The High Country should be starting to open up come June, and the Sangres are one of the first areas to be relatively snow-free.
But not completely snow free…
June is also a good time to do things up high, as you can squeak in long days, with minimal moonsoon thunderstorm action, and the weather is generally mild-enough to not expect a monster snow storm to move in. Usually.
This window is when I would like to try the full Sangre de Cristo Range Traverse. Starting at the base of Lake Como Road, I’d gain the ridge of the entire range, and take it to the last named peak: Methodist Mountain, then down into Salida. It’s around 100 miles, with ~77 named peaks along the way, including four 14ers, and two Centennials.
Cruxes abound, including the Little Bear/Blanca Traverse, the Class 4 section between Ellingwood and California (rarely done), the Crestone Needle/Crestone Peak traverse, the Obstruction Peak/Mountain Adams traverse, and all the wonderful surprises on the lower peaks, including biblical blow down and I’m sure: lack of water. I’m hoping for enough snow up high to get me through much of the traverse, but the lower sections are still going to be an issue.
Only two people have done this traverse that I know of: Nick Clark and Cam Cross (as a team) – full write up is here – worth a read, so I guess theirs is the time to beat. I’m not familiar with Cross, but I have the utmost respect for Nick Clark (who needs no introduction), and I can only imagine that someone who can keep up with Nick must be pretty fast as well! As I seem to wont to write, I don’t think I can match their speed, but I’m pretty comfortable on such terrain, having done the two great 14er traverses twice already. I won’t even be going for their time.
In fact, I plan to:
- Start in a slightly different place: Clark/Cross started from Lake Como @ 11,750′. I would want to start at the start of the road, way below on the valley floor next to the highway @ 8,000′. Since I’ll be ending in Salida, and not on Methodist Mountain, I figure you might as well start/finish at similar elevations.
- Begin on a slightly different route: Clark/Cross took on the venerable Hourglass Couloir to gain the initial summit: Little Bear. I would prefer to take on the Southwest Ridge. The entire route is defined by the ridge you follow – might as well start on a ridge too. This route will also bag me a somewhat minor peak (South Little Bear), to add to the total.
- Solo and Unsupported: Clark/Cross had food/water drops along the way (smart!). I will want to do this stupidly, by bringing all the food I need from the beginning and sourcing all my water en-route, just like I did for the Mosquito/Tenmile Traverse. I would prefer to not have to drop down from the ridgeline at all, which is why June is so attractive a start time (snow up high to melt into water), but this may not be a realistic, and I’ll have to drop down somewhere in the last parts of the route. I’ll bring a stove this time, I promise.
Is there another go-around of the soon-to-be uber-classic Tour 14er in my legs? I’m in a truly unique position – look: no one has as much experience as I do putting this Tour together, and no one else has done it basically: twice. I would be game to do it again if:
- I can make a serious dent in my personal time of 34 days+. I want the time to go under a month – 28 days preferably. I truly think it could go under that. This is really/truly the only timed event I’d be stoked on totally and completely crushing, sang-froid.
- I can use the trip to advance the work of, and promote a guidebook for others to do the project themselves.
The ridgeline from Longs Peak, to South Arapahoe Peak has my signature all over it: Remote (enough), long distance, on a ridgeline, lots of scrambling, mostly off-trail. If I can do the Sangres Traverse in June, and suss out some parts of the LA Freeway throughout the summer, I think I can make this one go, too.
Like many of my goals, hitting an FKT isn’t in my wheelhouse, really, but I would want to go solo/unsupported for sure. Around two days, or so?
I’ll be back guiding – this time in Rocky Mountain National Park! I thought that whole L.A. Freeway stunt would make good talking, once we’re up high following a similar line (Skurka’s version of the Pfiffner Traverse) at a more reasonable pace.
Flatiron Classics/Spring Classics
No real reason this is stuck in October, but Peter Bakwin and I have been working on doing recon to take on the Flatiron Classics – 53 flatiron routes! I don’t think a timed record is something we’re trying to break, but I think we’d both wanna do this within the span of a long weekend. Another option is to do the Spring Classics – only the routes that are open, while the raptor closures are in effect. That one would be a good one to do in, uh: Spring. We could also do both! The Spring Classics being a great warmup/recon for the full-meal-deal.
- Peter and Buzz Burrel took on the Spring Classics in 2018
- Bill Wright’s trip report on doing the full Flatirons Classics
(Under) Sea to Summit Route: Mt. Whitney
Once the permit system turns into walk-up season, I’d like to start at the lowest point I can (Death Valley), ride to Whitney Portal, summit Mt. Whitney, then ride back. Little if any sleep, plow through it, and set an FKT. Presently, there really isn’t one. I’d like to make mine stout.