Monday, May 13, 2013

The art of butt glissading and black fly swatting

The view from the summit of Frary Peak

West slab season is upon us! For those unfamiliar with the west slabs, it is the 2000' west face of Mt. Olympus in SLC which appear vertical from afar, but are actually quite low angle and can be climbed at a very easy 5.4. The west slabs are spectacular because not many other places anywhere contain such a long sustained scramble on great rock, and only moments from the local Barbacoa for post race meals. (the Flatirons of Boulder obviously come to mind as a glorious exception)  I thought it appropriate to send Olympus as fast as possible from its two major routes(standard trail last week) before venturing to Greece later this week where the real Mt Olympus lies. (we will be nowhere near it unfortunately)
Mt Olympus, the slc version

The best way to do the west slabs of Olympus loop is broken into 5 sections:
1. Take good singletrack starting from top of Thousand Oaks drive on railroad ties up to Zeus Couloir.
2. Ascend Zeus to base of slabs.
3. Climb Slabs
4. Descend Apollo Couloir via out of control butt glissading
5. Swim/schwak/wade/thrash/fall down river then back over to Zeus and back to car via same singletrack.
While this itinerary does not gain the true north summit(which some claim is bad style) the whole purpose of this route is the slabs themselves, not the summit.

Jared Campbell(one of my heroes) claims to have the FKT on this linkup at 1:01. Blazing. My previous best time was 1:20 last year. The key to a fast CTC time on this one is to get the slabs as soon as snow clears them in the spring, usually mid May, and to maximize the snow in the couloirs for fast descent times.

I went up Friday to check it out, and managed a 1:17 CTC time. I thought I could do better. Without cheating too much(ie stashing a sled at the top of Apollo) I set out with Microspikes for the way up and ski gloves for the way down. Pete, Court, and Stevo joined me for my 2nd time trial, hoping for sub 1:10.

I just barely missed it at 1:10:05 despite pounding it as hard as I could the last bit. Pretty happy with that time. Steve and Court managed 1:21 and 1:23 and Pete missed the turnoff to Zeus so he pulled in at 1:49, all respectable considering none of them had previously done the route.

Here is a great video of said hero doing the route. I failed to get any pictures due to the fact I couldn't breath and needed my hands to prevent slamming in to rocks on the way down. 

Killian Jornet setting FKT on the Real Mt Olympus

 On another note, Annie and I headed out to Antelope Island to hopefully log some miles on the trails out there. We ran up Frary Peak, the high point of the island(running on flat trails is boring), but got eaten by horrible black gnat beasts, i.e. the stuff Moses cursed Pharoah with. It was nasty. In our eyes, ears, hair, neck, other places.. We bailed after 10 miles due to heat stroke and bug bites. Don't go to Antelope Island in May.

Great run/hike. Highly recommended

Annie hoofing it up the trail

Our destination in the distance

I like flowers

Where's a frog when you need it? Mosquitos got nothin on these guys.

"Take the freaking picture so we can get away from the bugs!" Summit pic

Hard to see, but two random girls in Too Too's were up getting a photo shoot. Random.

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