Gotchas When Estimating Trip Elevation Gain/Loss

The Crux of the Sawatch Continental Divide ridge traverse (in red)

I’ve been planning my future Sawatch adventure and the more I looked at it, the more I realize that the reputation of the Sawatch being full of gentle heaps of talus hills and nothing else is only true if you decide to ignore some nightmare ridges just off to the side from the more popular 14ers. Those ridges of course are one in the same with the where I want to travel on.

Continue reading…

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX

La Sportiva recently released a new take on their reputable Ultra Raptor trail runner: the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX. Building upon the battle-tested base of the current Ultra Raptor model, it adds a few new features and flourishes: mid top ankle cuff, Gore-Tex upper, a new black and grey colorway, and it comes in regular as well as wide sizes.

Purchase: La Sportiva NA | REI


Rather than being a conventional low-top trail runner, the Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX is a mid-height trail runner/hiker – the line on which I’d categorize it myself is pretty blurred. It features a Gore-Tex upper and – sit down since this is almost a first for Sportiva: it comes in both regular and WIDE sizes! Rejoice!

Continue reading…

Future Adventures: Traversing the Continental Divide Ridge Across the Sawatch

Mt. Huron

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?

Continue reading…

Vanishing Point Project Pages Up!

Pauite's North Ridge, one of the crux's of the route

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.

I’ve put together some evergreen content on the route itself, the vlogs I shot/edited while reconnoitering a route, photos from the route, a link to my own trip narrative, the Caltopo map, an interactive map, and a little bit of beta of the route. If I have more time in the future, I’ll further indulge in adding some more beta. Enjoy!

Continue reading…

Nutrition for a Nolans 14 (and beyond) Fastpack

Nutrition is a difficult subject for me to broach, as I don’t feel as if I’m an expert on the subject to give advice to others. But, I can share the strategies that I personally take when doing my projects, and invite you to use it as a model for your own experiments. What I cover in this article is for unsupported, take no prisoners, as fast you can fastpacks on difficult mountainous terrain. Pack space is at a premium and the total weight is something you try to keep at a minimum. This will not be advice for an ultralight backpacking trip, which is a different beast altogether. No stopping to prepare a meal, no stove.

Continue reading…

Monster Sportiva Mutant Modifications

The Sportiva Mutant is my personal Greatest Of All Time trail runner – and it’s a good chance, it’s yours too. Sock-like upper, tons of cush., knobby outsole, and sticky as all get out rubber. They’re my go-to shoe for any on or off trail adventure, be it a run, a fastpack, or a backpack. This is the shoe I used for my Tour of the Highest Hundred, and Sangres Range Ridge Traverse, as well as many other mountain adventures.

I gotta FEVER, and the only prescription: is more MUTANT
I gotta FEVER, and the only prescription: is more MUTANT!

But that doesn’t mean I don’t like modifying and customizing them, just like I do most of my gear. Here are some of the things I do:

Continue reading…

Milner/Berthoud Pass Continental Divide Ridge Traverse – Vanishing Point

Pauite's North Ridge, one of the crux's of the route

Milner Pass, Wednesday August 12th, midnight
Milner Pass, Wednesday August 12th, midnight

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.

Continental Divide, between Milner Pass and Berthoud Pass
Continental Divide, between Milner Pass and Berthoud Pass

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.

Continue reading…

Tour of the Highest Hundred Notes

My whip.

I’m currently writing some notes about my 2017 Tour of the Highest Hundred, where I bikepacked to the trailheads of all 105 Colorado Centennials, and then summited them by foot. This is a work in progress and the notes are currently spread in the post archives of this site:

Tour of the Highest Hundred Notes:

GPX Files/Caltopo Map

Found here.

Talk @ Bent Gate, March 2018

Continue reading…