Sunday, August 10, 2014

TMR Race Report

Telluride is a pretty cool place

The San Juan Mountains have captivated my attention ever since learning about them and the notoriously challenging Hardrock 100 a couple years ago. And while having every intention of one day running that course, I also am not oblivious to the fact that its nearly impossible to get into, and that it lives up to its "graduate" level 100 miler status meaning I'm likely not ready for it after finishing one meager Wasatch 100. But when I discovered the Telluride Mountain Run, a 38 mile loop course through the San Juans with 14k feet of vert, it was like a perfect mini Hardrock opportunity. So I jumped on it.

Surprisingly Court signed up for it as well, making his race count a whopping 2 including Speedgoat, which is 2 more than he has ever run. Not surprisingly, Steve also signed up for it since he is always stoked on every race possible and it not shy when it comes to race fees. All he needs is an excuse(court and spence are doing it, I have to!) and his always supportive wife lets him head out.

The three of us met up early Friday morning for the 6 hour car ride through Moab, and it wasn't that pleasant with Court giving freely of his gaseous stench. We arrived and found a campsite in town which was lucky and very convenient as it was 5 minutes from the start.

Despite not reading the directions thoroughly and starting in the wrong spot, we quickly corrected our mistake and had a fun time climbing up at the Falls Wall on less than vertical conglomerate, which was basically like a less fun version of Maple canyon. (read, no jugs)
The boys gearing up for some climbing

Somehow the dramatic backdrop is ruined here

Wild Raspberries! I have 4 hands. We ate probably $20 worth 

That night we enjoyed the most expensive low quality hamburger I've ever had, and reminded myself why I hate eating out. I'm never happy with what I pay or eat. We rode the free gondola up the mountain because we could and then hit the sack.
Beautiful river trail through town

Start time was 6:30 am. While a few others in our campground busted out of there around 5 am, angering Court of his precious lost Nyquil induced sleep, we chose to get up around 5:45. With only 70 runners, it was a nice low key start. Dakota promised us it would rain(which it didn't) then we were off.

The first climb was up the ski resort roads, which was boring and took about an hour, then we were off on some amazing singletrack. I made the mistake of trusting one of last year's finishers at a junction with no flagging and followed him up a long hill before realizing our blunder and turning back. We went down, then back up. The fantastic pass leading into Wasatch basin was just what I was looking for from this run. A long steep descent down to Bridaveil Falls got us to the first aid station at mile 17.
This was a fantastic section of trail. Too bad it wasn't on route

It was like emptying your full bladder moving off the ski resort dirt roads and onto this. Euphoric
A group of early runners shortly behind me 

This is the 14 year old kid who was crushing it

I had been leap frogging with this guy from New Mexico for the first section which was annoying so I tried to put some space between us on the next long climb and it worked. Never saw him again. The next mountain pass was also gorgeous and I lucked out and passed a guy who was off course. (i yelled to him after I was a safe distance ahead of him)
Often times we went straight up

Cool trail up the scree

Lots of leftover mining ruins

The 2nd aid station was a water only, and after that came 7 miles of undulating terrain with much runnable singletrack. Some idiot teenager/ inconsiderate environmentalist  had removed much of the flagging on critical junctions, so I was often guessing which way to go which was stressful having already gotten off course once earlier. Luckly I made it to the last aid station with another local guy who knew the course. I thanked him for his help then promptly tried to ditch him. He caught me on the next climb, but unfortunately for him was suffering from bad heel blisters so I was able to put some distance on him on the last downhill.

I ran into the finish after 8:33 and good enough for 8th place overall. Happy with that for sure. Full results here. I got smoked by a 16 year old, so I guess I better try harder next time. But Court and Steve got smoked by a 14 year old, so at least my guy can drive.

Court and Steve finished about 2 hours later and we all enjoyed a burger and brat and headed home. All in all a fantastic run. No one had serious blisters/stomach/ultrarunning issues so it was a success. The actual course gets an A-, and the minus is strictly because I had to run on some pavement in the last ski resort climbing section.

Suggestions for Race Directors Dakota and Reese:
-ya gotta give out free t-shirts. You had tshirts but I expect free, not $20. and make em cool. not like this years Vaquero loco t-shirts. I want to actually wear it.
-improve the website. some of the links don't even work.
-i know its not your fault someone stole the flagging, but that's pretty critical stuff. Figure it out.
-get a more detailed course map or a google earth setup. c'mon, its 2014.
-somehow fit in a peak. I wanna summit a peak. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Nebo Traverse

Nebo Traverse and Loop

My two must-do ridge traverses of the summer were Timp and Nebo. I ticked Timp off a couple weeks ago so it was time for Nebo, which was inspired by the Brackelsberg clan. I recruited Court and Pete for the adventure, despite Court's horrible experience at Speedgoat the week prior and Pete's need to be back for a soccer game at 6 and his general whatever attitude to gear and training for events like these. I think he ran like 10 miles one time in the previous 3 months before his Buffalo 50 finish.

We headed up the southeast side of the mountain via Andrew's Ridge starting around 7:30. It was pretty standard steep hiking affair that was hotter and brushier than we would have preferred. We hit the ridge after about 9 am and enjoyed the breeze present up there. The ridgeline was fantastic and really felt more alpine than you would expect in Utah.
Heading up Andrews Ridge

Court enjoying some scree alpine trail

Really cool area. South Summit visible ahead

We traversed along mostly 3rd class terrain  from the south summit to the middle to the highest North Summit in a quick :30 where a larger than expected congregation of folks gathered. Not a Timp gathering for sure, but at least 50 people were found heading up or down the shorter North Ridge approach.  We ran down to the saddle then slogged off trail up North Peak and then down the nice trail to the parking area at Monument Trailhead.
Sloggin up the South Summit

Enjoying some testy 3rd class choss

Pete carried in his hand the entire way this whole bag of lays potato chips. "you need to have easy access for good nutrition". We need to get you a race vest my friend. 

Inspiring mountain

 At this point we were all pretty low on water 5 hours in, but Pete was essentially out. We were planning on retrieving water from streams and springs along our return trip via the Nebo Bench Trail, but were not confident when those options(if any) would occur. Pete asked a 4 wheeler dude for any extra liquid and was graciously given a plastic bottle of water. So he had at least 12 oz for the next 12 miles in the 90 degree heat. We rested in the shade of the bathroom before departing.
Running down North summit before heading up North Peak

One minute down the trail we found a cattle trough that was full of sewage looking water with a dead bird in it, but the entry feeding pipe was dripping some clean stuff so we took advantage of that and spent 10 minutes filling up our bottles, again not knowing what lied ahead. As luck would have it, 5 minutes after that we hit a fat stream which allowed for a quick and easy fillup. And for further stress relief we found 10-12 other plentiful spots to fill up all along the Nebo Bench trail. These seem fairly reliable even in late July.
Pete and I swore that bird was alive. It kept twitching.  Either way we decided death by dehydration was a better choice. 

Court is trying out for the remake of Sound of Music

Court and I wore matching blue shorts and green shirts, just like these two fast guys below. Too bad we aren't sponsored. 
Mike Wolfe and Hal Korner on their FKT of John Muir Trail. They asked us for wardrobe ideas. 

When you can see the Bench Trail is really is quite cool. 

Other than Court having a headache we were all doing quite well considering the mileage and vert thus far, so we plotted along south back toward Andrew's Ridge. The Nebo Bench trail is fantastic in quality for the first half, then gradually gets worse and worse till it is basically nonexistent at the junction with Andrew's Ridge, which would make it quite tough to locate if doing this loop counterclockwise. My only description of this junction is that it is basically near the top of the trail where a large gash occurs in a white sand dune like feature with a limestone cliff directly above it. Not marked at all.
Towards the south end the Bench Trail disappears but these markers keep you in the right vicinity

We began the quad bashing descent back to the car and finished hot and tired. We took a dip in the 12" deep stream to wash off and then hit Panda on the way home. Another really cool alpine ridge run close to home. Really want to visit Colorado in the future to try some of the endless alpine stuff that state has to offer. Telluride in 2 weeks!

Stats: 24.5 miles, 9500' vert, 8:20 hours. Its 13 miles from Andrew's Ridge to the Monument TH via the ridgeline, than 12 miles back along the Nebo Bench. The majority of the climbing is obviously in the first half but the Bench trail from North to South on the way back has quite a few climbs and downs and overall gains elevation back to the junction with Andrews Ridge, so don't expect an easy 12 miles. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Timp Traverse

I'm pretty sure everyone in Utah ages 6-85 has hiked Timpanogos at least once in their lifetime, or at least it seems that way on a given summer Saturday. Everyone from cub scouts in their sneakers to old badgers in their flannel shirts flock to either of the standard approaches to the 2nd highest peak in the Wasatch range. I have summited Timp somewhere in the 5-10 range, once in winter. My meager ascents pale in comparison to the likes of Davy Crockett or Phil Lowry who have hundreds of ascents. I personally find this idea somewhat ludicrous as there are hundreds of peaks in Utah to summit, but hey, to each his own. It certainly a magnificent place. 

With the Hardrock 100 happening this weekend, it inspired me to do something cool. I decided leaving my beautiful wife and new child at home was the correct thing to do. They were both supportive. 
This poor child

I have wanted to do the Timp traverse for sometime, first introduced to me by Mr Hardrock JC on his website. I'm sure its done fairly regularly by the ultrarunning/serious hiker crowd, though I'm not sure how exactly most people accomplish the task as the north end doesn't have a trail to it, but I certainly enjoy as pure a traverse as possible, meaning no out and backs. This means hiking the standard trail to the saddle, then traversing North, then traversing back South is not acceptable. I decided to approach it from the North via the Cold Fusion couloir.  but if you aren't a backcountry skier its likely this couloir is unknown to you, but basically it is a fairly obvious and massive couloir on the direct north face of North Timp. No trail, just steep talus and dirt with the occasional cliffband. 

Caveat: I am not as hardcore nor as pure as Jared, obviously, who started lower at the Bear Canyon trailhead(more vert), went up the Grunge(scarier,steeper) and actually traversed all the way to Sundance(didn't even occur to me), then did Nebo after(what?). I stopped after south timp. My excuse is I had a deadline to be back by 1 pm and no shuttle. But nothing I do is Jared worthy so why do I even bother justifying? 

I parked on the Timpanogos road about 6 am after finding the Timpanokee trailhead swarming with the usual Saturday crowd. After emptying my bowels, I followed the road as it traversed around the North side of the range, but unfortunately blew right past the entrance to the couloir as I usually cut up too soon on these type of routes. Heinous bushwacking ensued on my regurgitated attempt, but luckily I gained the couloir proper after only 15 minutes of Jackie Channing the wet foliage. 
Morning sun on North Timp

Cold Fusion approach

I summited North Timp around 8:30, 6.5 miles in. The traverse across the ridge to South Timp was outstanding. There was actually some resemblance of a trail and actual running occurred. I thought it was one of the best traverses I've done. Any traverse in the Cottonwood or Millcreek ranges seem to be either horrible jungle schwaking or slow 4th class talus. This had some slow 4th class for sure, but plenty of bomber trail. My Cascadia's did a horrible job on this type of technical terrain. I'd give them a 2/10 rating. I have been unable to find a more technical shoe that I enjoy since destroying my mesh clad Wildcats, so that's I all had. This section would have been 11/10 had I been shod in some good shoes. 
Always pretty wildflowers in Timp basin 

Me and the goats on the traverse past North Timp

Ridgeline to North Timp

My favorite part of the day was after the true summit running towards the glacier 

View back towards the true summit 
Tons of mountain goats out

Summited Mt Timp around 9:30, then continued onto south summit Timp. An unfortunate minor backtrack here was required, then glissaded down to Emerald Lake, traversed back up to the saddle, then road the ride that is the Timpanokee trail all the way back to the car with a short road section at the end. Fantastic! 

19.3 miles
5: 14 CTC 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Wasatch's Best Mini Traverse

White Baldy with Upper Red pine Lake

I've been dabbling in the Wasatch here and there doing my usual after work and Saturday adventures since Yosemite, but nothing too special worth noting. I've listed a couple of standouts here:

-hiked up Coalpit and found my skis lying right where I left em. Little rusted but intact.
-Mormon Pioneer to Bald Mountain to Alexander Creek Loop. 21 miles 4k
-Killyons Canyon to Lookout Peak then traverse the Ridgeline and down Red Butte Canyon. 16 miles 4k
-Up the Granite Halfpipe to Twin Peaks and then Triple Traverse and down Tanners. Didn't track this one
-Superior South Ridge then glissade down south face. 1.5 hours with court
-Desolation Trail to Porter Fork Loop. 15 miles, 5k
Court Glissading down Superior

Fun running on the Desolation Trail towards Gobblers Knob

Jake said because I survived AND found my stuff I must be invincible. 

My favorite part of the Bald Mountain trail 

I developed 3 different layers of blisters on one part of my foot

I am not currently signed up for any races outside of the 38 mile Telluride Mountain Run in August, which I am stoked about, so I've been fairly relaxed on my training schedule.

I also managed to send two of my hardest climbs to date, New Cliche 12c/d and Knuckle Up 12d. I'm also unbearably close on the Abyss, 12c/d. I'm hoping if I can send a few more 12d's I might be ready for a 13a this fall pending our overdue child allows it.

This week I took a trip up White Baldy on Monday night which I hadn't summited in quite a few years. I headed up Red Pine and then traversed the west ridge to the summit, and was hoping to traverse the east ridge down into White pine but ended up just heading straight down into Red Pine via some snowfields instead.

Looking west from White Baldy

Looking east up to the summit of White baldy

Knarly ridge over to Lake Peak 

Then I acquired a horrible stomach bug that put me out till Friday with some bad diarrhea and fatigue. Not fun. Saturday I decided to go check out the Wolverine Cirque since I had never been up there.

 I started at Brighton and summited Mt. Millicent in just over 30 minutes via the dirt road and then short talus ridgeline. I then traversed over to Mt Wolverine and hugged the jagged ridgeline all around the cirque, dropping down Patsy Marley to Twin lakes pass, then took the trail down to Silver Lake back to my car. All in all it was a fantastic outing that I would call the Wasatch's best "mini traverse".  In an area where giant traverses like the Beatout, Superhidden, Triple, Wildcat, and the super-epic WURL exist, its nice not to always have to devote an entire day and all your stolen race gels to get a fun traverse in.

Lake Mary from Millicent

The cirque from Patsy Marley

Mt Wolverine

After you're done you can catch a fish if you wish

The Wolverine Cirque Traverse (WCT if I may) is only 1.5 hours, 6 miles, and 2300'. It feels like you're in a major alpine setting, but the access is simple. Highly recommended. Another thing that is highly recommended is the new Sportiva shoe Bushido. Pretty slick for the technical stuff.

I hope to get the Timp Traverse Loop and Mt Nebo loop in sometime this year as well, which will likely require purchasing more gels.