Saturday, July 4, 2015

Timbre

Well, we've officially moved to Gainesville Florida, and the first week of PA school is in the books. It is unlikely much adventuring will be happening out here for the next 2 years due to the lack of mountains, rock, and time, but who knows? Maybe a blog post or two will show up if we make it back home during breaks.

Timbre turned 1 year old today, so Annie and I compiled a little video of the last year. Enjoy!





Friday, May 8, 2015

West Side Yo

Up Battle Creek, down TK, around on TK road, back down BC

Mt Timpanogos(Timp) is one of the most popular hikes/runs in Utah, let alone the Wasatch. Hoards of folks flock to one of the two major trails on the mountains east/northeast side with 99% of ascents occurring between June and September, or thereabouts when snow levels are minimal. The two trail choices are Timpanokee or Aspen Grove, both classics in their own way and more or less equally difficult. Hundreds of people can be found hiking on any given summer Saturday.

There are quite a few other ways of gaining the summit, though less trail and more ridge traversing is involved. Everest Ridge or a traverse from the North Summit via the Cold Fusion or Grunge couloirs are more obscure but classics for the adventurously endowed. Equally unorthodox and new to me was the approach from the West Side of the mountain, via the Battle Creek route. Pretty simple route honestly, hike up the popular Battle Creek trail in Pleasant Grove, gain the actual avalanche path/river gully, and hike your butt a total of 7k' of vertical in 4.5 miles straight up to the summit. This is largely an early spring route, as snow prevalence is mandatory due to the loose talus/scree that abounds in the couloir, both for safety and efficiency purposes.
Courtesy SP

Steve and I drove down last night and slept in the Eurovan at the BC TH. We woke around 6am and were huffing(air, not glue) by 6:30. Somehow I got us off route by taking a side trail about 2 miles up, but we managed to correct our course and find the BC avalanche path without too much time lost.

The first quarter of the gully was snow free, so we found ourselves river hiking until we reached the obvious "waterfall" feature, though it wasn't living up to its name today. Bypassing on the right, we donned crampons(microspikes for me) and busted out the axes. We moved efficiently up the solid snow, reminiscent of the Stairmaster 8000 at Momentum, and were without incident until a rogue, terminal velocity moving grapefruit sized rock beaned me in the left wrist. I thought it might be broken, but luckily it was just my watch that broke instead.
Early snow in the gully, waterfall cliff ahead

Steve coming up while the angle was still hands free

We pressed on despite the rock stinger, navigating 2 icy bulges with loose limestone talus for purchase, and made it to the summit in 3 hours exactly(SP guy says 8 hours is a "moderate" pace). Really a fantastic and direct route.  After some obligatory summit photos, we headed down. We had no desire to downclimb BC since that would be slow, less interesting, and dangerous, so we had two options available to make a nice loop: traverse the ridge north and descend Cold Fusion, or drop down Timpanokee.

Some normally loose talus was solidly secured via icy snow, providing more security

Hands on 

Icy bulge in the bottleneck

Microspikes are must have's for icy limestone bulges. 
Cheesy ice ax and summit shot


The descent down to the saddle was slow due to lots of traversing on steep snow, and we decided to head down TK instead of traversing due to time, weather, and safety(lots of cornices).
Its still winter on the Timp ridge

Contemplating the meaning of life(and how to get down)

I tend to prefer rocks to steep snow, but its nice to branch out

Unfortunately the snow was totally mushy heading down into the cirque, and we couldn't even butt glissade without completely body postholing. It took way longer than we thought to traverse the cirque as every step resulted in sinking up to our knees. Largely miserable. 5000 postholes later we made it to the descent, but there was still tons of snow, making hiking the trail impossible to see and totally burdensome. So we continued to fake glissade down through the cliffbands, and much sketchy traversing and downclimbing muddy rocky 5th class dirt to access the next snowy couloir that we hoped would lead us to freedom. Steve was the hero here as he had pants on that allowed less skin loss so he took the lead through this heinously uncomfortable section.
What normally is a trivial descent off the saddle was made more difficult by large cornices

Why is he crawling? Because that is the only way to not posthole
We glissaded/downclimbed through those thick pine trees. Yea, not ideal. 

Shorts+2.5 hours of Breakable Crust=Shredded chicken

Finally, 2.5 hours after leaving the summit we reached dry trail, or at least the best we could hope for as snow continued to appear throughout the descent to the parking lot. After refueling at TK, we began the 8 mile, 1500' journey on the TK road that traverses around the north side of the mountain. It was largely dry, but about 5 miles along the large thunderstorm predicted by Mr. Weatherman rolled in and dumped some rather large gumball sized hail on us.

At this point we were tired and just didn't care. We were cold, hungry, and wet, so let the hail fall. We had it in the bag as all we had to do was find the obvious BC descent trail off the road. I managed to bungle our descent down Battle Creek just as I had done on the ascent, and took the wrong trail down(literally impossible to do unless you're me) that led us to an overlook of BC, with 1000' of loose talus lying between us and the car. We sighed, and started down. The ski descent of the talus was the best glissade of the day(no postholing!), and we rolled back to the Volkswagon in just under 8 hours CTC.

Overall a really enjoyable outing with a little bit of everything. I wouldn't want an outing like this all the time, but definitely memorable.

Stats: 20.3 miles, 8200' vert, 8 hours. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Olympus Scrambling Loop

The route, counterclockwise from bottom

In order to be a true Wasatch runner/climber, you have to have done the West Slabs on Olympus at least once, and preferably time trialed it with a descent down Apollo. However, I don't think nearly as many people, including myself, take advantage of the other 2 high quality scrambling routes the mountain has to offer. Chad Ambrose enlightened me to the option of linking the West Slabs into Geurts Ridge with his last blog post, something that hadn't been on my radar at all. Luckily I subscribe to a ton of blogs, so new ideas are always materializing.

Anyway, I decided that I am pretty bored with running the standard trail on Olympus in any direction as I've done it 27 times, which is what Chad did, so I thought "why not add another ridge on to the docket?" So I did. Kamps ridge is the 3rd excellent ridge scramble that I have been interested in trying, so I designed a route to link all three:

Up Zeus to the West Slabs, West Slabs, downclimb west ridge to saddle, head south to Geurts, up Geurts to South Summit, down one of the memorial Couloirs(the one just southeast of S. Summit) into Neffs, up Kamps to North Summit, down West Ridge, down Apollo, back to Zeus and the car. Should be good!

I started at around 7 am, and with the overnight rainstorm found the slabs to be pretty wet, which made the ascent slightly slower due to increased slickness and the risk of potentially falling to ones death. I have also been sidelined with a cold the past week, so much phlem and coughing ensued on the slog up Zeus, which made me nervous. Neverthless, I proceeded, and hit the top in around 1 hour, which isn't bad, and proceeded down into Tolcat and over to Geurts, still hacking and blowing snot rockets, but less miserable than I was earlier. Some thick bushwacking was involved in Tolcat, so I got in and out of there as quick as a shy guy in a lingerie store.

Geurts was fun, but the bottom section isn't much to get excited about. The top section is excellent though, lots of great scrambling and two fun downclimbs around potential rappelling cruxes, both pretty easy. Most of the ridge is easy 5th class, but a couple sections merit a 5.6 rating if you stick to the ridge(the point) with fun cracks to make it secure. While likely the least interesting of the three objectives, still worth doing at least once.
West View looking at Geurts Ridge
Geurts from top of the Slabs, with S. Summit at far left. Pictured is the best section, but the ridge extends out of frame to the right for quite a ways

Hardest section of climbing on Geurts, 40' of  steep 5.6 with good cracks

First rappel that can be bypassed by downclimbing to the south, left here. (climbers right)

Hit the south summit in 2:30 elapsed time, and ran into Jason Eichhorst from the Bear 100 nightmare on the top who had run the standard trail. We chatted, then I descended and glissaded one of the memorial couloirs down into Neffs on some pretty slushy snow.
Descent glissade

I knew there was a 90% chance of picking the wrong ridge to do Kamps, since I suck at routefinding, was approaching from above versus below, and there are about 10 different ridgelines on the east side. Still I was disappointed when I discovered halfway up my chosen ridge I was on the wrong one. Curses! I could have proceeded up the unknown ridge or bailed down one of the couloirs, but I decided to stick it out. I attempted to traverse directly north, but got cliffed out was forced to pretty much descend back down to my starting point after some wet slabby downclimbing into another memorial couloir. This was frustrating and the detour overall cost me an hour at least. Oh well.
I can see the aesthetics of skiing these lines. Kamps is North of this couloir
View from east with my blunder ridge up/down shown in the middle

After righting my wrong and feeling better that I was on track on the new ridge, I scrambled up the lower Kamps which was fun, but again, not awesome. But the upper section was really engaging. Lots of exposed 5th class on a thin toothpick of a ridgeline. Most of the ridge could be climbed on either side but some straddling was also involved. The crux is the last part of the ridge with some exposed face traversing and offwidth cracks, though I was disappointed that an easy bailout point into the memorial 1 couloir to the south was possible, which makes it seem contrived. But the ridge was much more interesting, and pretty easy climbing although a fall would land you down in Dan's parking lot. It's no Grand or Evolution Traverse, but still a good time.

Couldn't help but add this photo from MP. Fantastic shot. Photo Cred: Moon Mountain Photography

Upper Section of Kamps Ridge, with crux on right face. 

Looking back after the crux

With all my poor routefinding I hit the north summit after 4.5 hours elapsed, which likely could have been 3.5 if I had nailed the correct route first go. Then a short scramble down to Apollo and half glissading/half death talus led me back to the Zeus connector and the car, 5.5 hours, 8.5 miles, and almost 7k' of vert after departing. Sans mistake, I would estimate 8 miles and 6k of vert.

Someone(jared campbell/dorais bros/Ueli Steck) with speed and route knowledge in the spring with prime glissading conditions could go sub 4 on this route if they wanted, which seems ridiculously fast considering most normal mountaineering folk do one of these in a day, or at least that's what summitpost and MP suggest. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Creek


Battle of the Bulge

After last week's debacle involving a dearth of climbing due to Timbre's antics we were happy to be invited back by Court and Megan for another long weekend excursion to the Creek where multiple belayers/babysitters would ensure a more pleasant and productive experience for us. We piled in the van and enjoyed a fantastic 2 days of splitters at Way Rambo, Battle of the Bulge, and Blue Gramma. Highlights were the namesake routes at all those crags, plus The Cave Route, Layaway Plan, and The Fuzz. Routes we attempted but spit us off were Slice n Dice and Swedin Ringle. 5.12 at the Creek is pretty hard.

Court Sending Way Rambo. Dang .75's spit me off

Getting ready to pull around the roof on Layaway Plan

Slice N Dice. No one sent, but its a beauty of a line

More Slice N Dice

MegaBlox enjoying wide hands on Blue Sun

Hands hands baby

Court Taking a turn 

Chest Full of Kind, weird name, fun climb

Timbre wants to be like the cool kids

Nap time for 2/3 of the Weiler clan

Thursday, April 2, 2015

So Much Flat Running


Monument Valley is super cool

I quit my job on March 20 in hopes we could cram as much fun in 3 months as we could before PA school starts in the flatlands of Florida, so we immediately set out on a road trip. Our wishlist is long, but with a little kid we nicknamed Bean we had to try to structure our trips around non multipitch related endeavors(bummer) and mostly sport climbing with some trade off runs mixed in.

It feels like it has taken me a long long time to do the Zion Traverse, but I've only actually failed it once, which was a few years ago when we had the whole gang trying it over Thanksgiving. This is the only DNF that I can think of in my resume, even though its not really a race, but who cares. If you set out to do something you should do it. Its been on my hit list for awhile, and maybe its because I've run from the West Rim to the East Rim, and lots of other sections independently of each other that is feels so overdue, but regardless, day 1 of our journey was going to be the day I set out from point A, Kolob Canyon, and finished at point B, the East entrance, clocking in around 50 miles and 8500' vert.
The Zion Traverse

It felt great to run after taking the previous week off, and from the 6 am start through the morning I reveled in the solitude and beauty of Kolob, though I didn't really enjoy the 56 creek crossings in Hop Valley, but the sand wasn't Princess Bride quicksand bad like I had heard either. I met Annie at 8:45 at the HP TH where she was about to ditch some water since the Kolob Terrace Rd was under construction and if she wasn't out by 9 am she'd be stuck there all day. She said she just barely made it out. 14 miles down.

The run up to the West Rim was fine, and I hadn't seen anyone all day. I was moving well, and had hopes of finishing in under 10 hours so I could talk smack on Steve and Court who had finished in around 11:45 or so. My hip started to hurt after around 30 miles and I was moving very sluggish into the paved section, where Annie and Timbre were waiting for me at Scout Lookout along with thousands of other spring break folks. It had been 7 hours and that was about 3 hours longer than my poorly planned long runs had been leading up to this, but whatever.
My crew

I had 3 hours to go 10 miles to meet my goal, but the next 5 had the most climbing of the day. I slogged up to the junction with the Deertrap Trail, vertical done, and had adequate energy but my hips felt like there was sand in them. I walked 90% of the remaining five miles, which is all very runnable and even mostly downhill, which was frustrating, but that's life, finishing in 10:45, Overall a spectacular run and glad to have finally finished it. I realized afterwards my complete ineptitude at actually running. I'm used to hiking up steep mountains and knee bashing down, not this flat garbage. 8500' in 50 miles isn't much when you're used to that much in 20 miles.

I took the next couple days off  watching March Madness with Timbre in the condo while Annie did some running in St George, and we did some sport climbing at the Black and Tan and the Cathedral. Timbre did not do so well sitting by herself while we tried to climb, which was frustrating. She'd cry and eat rocks and try to crawl down steep slopes into holes that fell into the bowels of the earth. Just take a nap kid. We need a tag-a-long babysitter who works for free. Know anyone?
Speaking in Tongues 12b

Crazy cool crag, polished, and crappy for kids

We left St George on Sunday and made a brief stop to check out the Hurricave, though no climbing was done due to the Sabbath and complete unsafe child conditions, not to mention the lack of skill we possessed to climb there.
A reason to get better at climbing is so you can climb cool stuff like this! 

Monday the 3 of us enjoyed a really nice hike 3 miles down Buckskin Gulch out east of Kanab. Very cool slot canyon. After we got back to the car around 2 pm, I suggested one of us do the 21 mile loop down Buckskin and up the Paria, since it was a classic but required a shuttle. A 6 mile hike isn't going to cut it. That or we poach The Wave since permits are impossible to get, but our ethics edged out our desire to see it. Or we thought we'd get fined. We can't get fined again. Annie was tired so she let me do the run. Score!
The Wave. Not my picture. One guy at the TH said it was "like the antithesis of all that's wrong in the world". You mean like impossible permit systems to see a beautiful feature in nature? 

I was feeling OK after last weeks 50 miler, but a quick 7 mile run on the Zen trail 2 days before had awakened my old man hip pain, so I was a bit worried about another flat 20 miler. But you gotta take what opportunities God and your wife give you. I set off from the Wire Pass TH at 3 pm at a nice clip, barreling down the slot canyon passing the many folks doing an out and back like we had done earlier, hoping to finish by dark. Three miles in and it was just me and the canyon. It was fantastic.
Lunch time 

Really cool

Morning is the best time to catch some nice lighting. Or so I read. 

Literal singletrack in a slot canyon is what this is, and it didn't require signing up for some lame 50 miler like Antelope Canyon where you get 1 mile of slot and 49 miles of sand. Halfway down the slot the terrain got a bit wetter, and some wading was necessary. This got kind of frustrating as trying to keep a decent running rhythm was hard, but it made for unique and curious travel. I ran into some backpackers here who were curious if I knew how far to the confluence. I gave them the bad news they were likely only halfway as we hadn't reached the Middle Exit yet. One guy looked like I had stabbed him in the thigh he was so dejected.

3/4 of the way down is a short downclimb via some cord and cut rock steps, where some backpackers who had started the same time as us that morning were planning out their descent. They let me be the "guinny pig" and though not difficult it would be scary without the cord.

13 miles and 2.5 hours later I hit the confluence with the Paria. If I thought the Buckskin was wet, then the Paria is a waterpark. 6 miles of wading, running, then swimming, then running, repeat 78 times. I decided 6 miles in the Paria is plenty, and the full 50 miles to do the whole Paria to Lee's Ferry is no longer on the to-do list. Once you have 8 pounds of sand in your shoes that's when you need to call it, which takes like 1 mile. This is by far the best flat-land trail I've done. I enjoy more mountainous terrain for most of my trail running, but if I had to recommend one trail with no vert it would be this one.
The Paria 

Annie was waiting with some Chili at the White House Trailhead when I finally rolled in after 4 hours, and we enjoyed a nice sunset and then began the drive out to Monument Valley. Unfortunately, Mr. Eurovan wouldn't start after filling it up with gas in Page AZ, a problem we have had previously. We had to push it down the street as far as we could and sleep on a fairly bright and busy street that night. Not ideal.
If they ever open the Totem Pole for climbing, I'll start practicing my aid 

Luckily the van started up the next morning as expected and we talked ourselves out of taking it to a mechanic since its reliable once it starts again. Monument Valley was cool, but $20 and no climbing or hiking possibilities make this a one and done visit. I've also had my share of Navajo jewelry stands for the next lifetime.
.
The Creek was next on our list, and we had the same problem with the van in Monticello, but it fired up after only an hour of waiting. Very convenient.
VW ad worthy? Maybe they'll fix our problems if it makes it into a magazine

We climbed at the Optimator Wall, and Timbre was a monster. If we were giving out citizenship report cards at the crag than she got a D-. Everytime we put her down she would immediately scream bloody murder. Made all the climbs at least a letter grade harder due to lack of confidence in what your belayer was doing to calm the child vs watching you climb. We managed 3 good ones, which is a win in my book though this would definitely count as a failure if it were a dudes trip.
This picture does not represent what Timbre was doing 99% of the day. Norwegian chick on Annanuki 5.11 


Today we hiked up to Way Rambo but the wind was atrocious. Annie's list of least favorite things are as follows:
-cold
-sand
-wind
-Timbre crying
-cold wind blowing sand in Timbre's eyes, making her cry.

Needless to say we hiked down without climbing. Failure? Its the way it is with kids. I'm hoping things will improve, though I'm not sure how. Benadryl?

A great trip, hopefully more fun coming soon.