I love drawing lines on maps and dreaming of sufferfests to do. I seem to squeeze out the most enjoyment from long ridge runs. I love being up high, teetering on top of a knife edge between two drainages, without the need of a trail to follow, yet having an obvious route in front of me. I revel in the exposure the position gives me to wind, weather, and of course: gravity.
The Continental Divide makes an obvious target for my doodles, and many of my past fastpacks have used segments of it already – either in whole or in part. Last year, I traversed the CD between Milner Pass and Berthoud Pass – located just outside my back door and earlier in that same year I traveled from Loveland Pass to Guanella Pass with a bike lashed to my back. Previously, I took on the Mosquito/Tenmile Range in total, where the CD makes an appearance for a few peaks (McNamee, Clinton, Wheeler), before bowing out. And of course, I’ve even ridden the Tour Divide Race on a mountain bike, which crosses the Continental Divide some three dozen times or so. All these trips had their unique aspects, and each one I believe is an ultra classic. What to do, next?
The Milner to Berthoud Pass Continental Divide Ridge Traverse Fastpack was one of my biggest and proudest projects of 2020. Like the L.A. Freeway route, I think we’re going to see a lot of interest from people wanting to take it on in 2021 and beyond.
This footage was untouched for a few months, but the trip was done last August (2020). I don’t feel a pressing need to edit these down – I kinda like the raw clunkiness of it all. It’s an incredible line though, and one I had the pleasure to have done three times last summer.
Pinned. In front of me, like plated back spikes of a malevolent dragon, was a sheer tower of rock twelve feet high, overhanging on all sides, 300-foot drops to the west and east, and no obvious way to climb up, over, then down to the next spire. How many more of these I would have to surmount was uncertain, but I’d already climbed over three of them. I told myself – perhaps in an attempt to keep calm, that it’s good I’m continuing to go forward, because there’s just no way I was going to be able to reverse the moves previous to get back down to the safer ground I left behind.
The mountains along the Continental Divide provide the backdrop to the city I live in: Boulder, CO. From town, nothing can be seen beyond their sheer, rocky, glacier-choked east faces and the ridgeline itself invites one to come explore their craggy features, beacoup exposure, and long expanses of carpeted-in-tundra plateaus.
From Milner Pass located in Rocky Mountain National Park, and Berthoud Pass closer to I-70, one will find over 50 named points and peaks. These passes are about 45 miles apart as the crow flies. No other paved roads are found between these two passes and no other roads – paved or otherwise, can be crossed via motor vehicles. The rest is mostly National Park and Designated Wilderness. The wandering ridge, if followed exactly at its apex, is around 75-80 miles long.
I was surprised to find in my research that there hasn’t been a recorded report of anyone traversing this section of ridge proper by foot. This seems extremely hard to believe, as the concentration of runners, backpackers, mountaineers, and world-class climbers in the area is very high, and the line itself is obvious. It takes a special blend of ultra-running fitness and technical climbing skill to be able to safely traverse the ridge.
Chapeau to John Paul Ogden and Bill Hilty and the rest of their partners for completing the Sangre de Cristo Range Traverse, from Como Road to Salida (pavement to pavement!). Ogden did the traverse in honor of his friend, Dirk.
For months only a whimsical idea, the Loveland Pass to Guanella Pass Over Mountain Route has been fully realized. Starting in Georgetown, one pedals to Loveland Pass, breaks down their bike and portages over a string of high mountains on the Continental Divide, dropping down to Guanella Pass where the bike is reassembled to ride back down to Georgetown. A most absurd, postmodern “cycling” challenge, it felt also perfectly fitting in the social distancing Covid-19 zeitgeist to visit the mountains with all you need on your back; forgoing the usual car shuttle needed for two disparate starting points.
This Winter, I had MANY audacious mountain projects brewing in my head, but never had the chance to even write them down to share before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. I’ll get to sharing them soon, but it may take on a more hypothetical feeling than a schedule – even if it’s a best-case scenario, like my 2019 Project Dreamin’ list.