Sunday, June 30, 2013

Running in BCC sure is Draining

This week's challenge was to see how many drainages in BCC I could tackle with emphasis on ones I hadn't done before. There are quite a few.

Fun BCC trail

Monday: ~8 miles, 3000'
 Up Days Fork to Flagstaff Peak then down Cardiff Fork via Cardiff Pass in rainy, windy, and overall miserable freezing cold conditions. Unlikely start to a scorcher of a week.

Tuesday: Soloed Crescent Crack and Bong Bong Firecracker(best route name ever) up LCC, both 5.7. On steep bushwack descent walk off the Sail I somehow impaled myself with a tree branch and had to hobble back to the car with decent amounts of blood flow from the calf injury.  Now I know why people rap off the Sail.

Thursday:  10 miles, 4000'
Up Mineral Fork to summit of Peak 10820, then down Lake Blanche. Mineral Fork is awesome but super rocky and steep. Quite a few mountain goats up there. No one on Lake Blanche trail. Trick is to go at 930 pm in the dark.

Saturday: Ski Resort Quadfecta. 15 miles, 7000'
 Didn't plan on doing the quadfecta but it came as a natural consequence of my plan for the day. After performing trail work at the Silver Lake center doing plant restoration for my Wasatch requirement, I headed up for what I hoped would be a difficult linkup. My day started off poorly as I drove up the wrong dirt road to access Silver Fork and somehow got the Hyundai front centered on a dirt burm of sorts with my front wheels not touching the ground(which is bad in a front wheel drive car). I spent 20 minutes digging and with the help of some logs and a random pipe I found, was able to excavate the Hyundai. Despite its performance last week on Notch Peak, the Hyundai is not a ATV.

Up Silver Fork(different from Silver Lake), down Grizzly Gulch to Snowbird, up trails to Alta and Catherine Pass, then down Lake Mary trail to Brighton, over to Twin Lakes trail and a pass of the same name, then up the Honeycomb Peaks of Solitude then down Honeycomb Fork to the car.

Finishing at 8 pm or so, I found myself in another predicament. To access Silver Fork you must enter the Solitude resort parking area, and when I tried to leave I found the gate with a sign that said "gate closes at 7 pm", which I had promptly ignored, locked. I was now trapped inside. My options were jump the fence and ditch the Hyundai and hitchhike, use the Hyundai as a battering ram, off road the Hyundai through the river gorge, wait for someone to come and open it(likely next morning) or find someone to open it for me. Luckily there was a nice local staying at their cabin a mile back who I asked to let me out and did so. DON'T PARK IN THE SOLITUDE PARKING LOT!
Silver Fork Meadow. To connect drainages you gotta just hump it over the trailess ridges

Grizzly Gulch

Sunset Peak and Lake Catherine

Twin Lakes and Wolverine Cirque

"trail" down Honeycomb Fork

Trapped. I should have parked out there with those 2 guys

Total drainages: 7. Missed Broads/Stairs/Mill B/Mill D/ Beartrap but I did all those already this year. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Should I Pull on That?

The last week in June is my favorite time as they are the longest days of the year. Get out!

Notch Peak

Tues: Finally discovered the illusive Beartrap Fork Trail up BCC. As a young, immature mountain teenager I had looked for this supposed alternate route up to Desolation Lake but was too stupid or blind to find it. Finally, with my crack navigation skills, I won the battle. Did a nice loop up Mill D and down Beartrap Fork. The trailhead isn't marked by any kind of sign, so you have to have decent beta in order to find it.
Great new loop
Wed: Enjoyed getting worked on another classic LCC 11d testpiece, pudgy gumbies. Tips liebacking for quite awhile with small figidity nuts for gear. But then a miraculous hand crack appears and its just fun 5.11a to the chains. Annie led the ultraclassic 5.9+ Sasquatch and did much better than I did on my first onsight attempt oh so long ago.

Thurs: Cardiac Ridge with the Bryce Team
Cardiac Ridge from near Kessler

Still new to this whole backcountry skiing business, I was unaware that the ridge connecting Kessler to Superior was indeed the infamous Cardiac Ridge, home to many a tasty ski descent. Nor did I realize the Donut Falls area was the entrance to Cardiff Fork. Amazing how has improved my knowledge. Anyway, Steve, Annie and I set out to tackle this ridge after work with the maximum daylight exposure. Its a long ridge, so I knew it was ambitious, but that's what life is about. Planning for things likely you will fail at. Basically we climbed Kessler via the North Route, then traversed for about 2 hours over some fantastic terrain, including some sketchy 5th class downclimbs. We had a great time, but only managed to get to the base of Peak 10820 before having to descend due to darkness. We ran out Cardiff Fork for a solid 10 mile, 4000' day.

Annie enjoying some quality traversing

Required downclimbing

 Saturday: Notch Peak, Western Hardman 5.10d, 12 Pitches, 1200'.
The wall

Notch Peak resides in a place in Utah not many venture to:1 hour west of Delta. Where the freak is Delta? Like an hour west of Santaquin. Ely, home of 30 people and some cows is the nearest town. Notch Peak itself holds the claim of being the 2nd tallest cliff in the continental US, only El Cap is taller. The peak has a massive 2000' limestone cliff on its  north side, and unlike El Cap contains some of the most chossy nacho quality rock you'll ever consider worthy of climbing. The "must do" route out there is a route called "Book of Saturdays", a 12 pitch 5.11a R route up the direct north face. It is definitely on my tick list, but after talking to many people and reading up on it, it really is R. 5 or more pitches have only 3 bolts in 150'. The 2 hour approach mixed with the complete remoteness of the area makes the entire peak a very adventurous and solitary exploit for climbers should anything bad happen. Seeing that I usually cry and tremble like an epileptic 6 year old girl when I get 5 feet above a bomber cam, I thought better of making this my first Notch Peak route. I decided to do a more introductory piece called Western Hardman. It still contains the choss factor, some creative gear placements, and 12 full value pitches but isn't R, has a shorter approach, and can be rappelled with one rope, a super bonus for me. I convinced Annie to join me.

Somehow we turned up the wrong dirt road at 12:30 am Saturday morning and ended up doing some hardcore rallying in the Hyundai that likely should have torn out our undercarriage. This was not sedan terrain.  Lost and confused, we sacked out in the cheat grass and waited till morning. When we woke up, we discovered our mistake, and found the right road. We hiked up the long wash to the base of the route, which climbs the subsummit wall of Notch Peak. It is comparable to climbing the East Buttress of El Cap in that you are climbing on the wall, but don't actually summit the peak. Annie led pitch 1, promptly got scared, and I took over from there. The pitches are short(100' or less) so I tried to link 2 pitches everytime. Abraham would have been proud of all of the linkin we did.

 Highlights were:
1. Godsend pitch. A striking splitter(in limestone?) that went from fingers to OW with great gear. Linking this with the previous pitch was the best section of the route.
2. Pitch 10 had some fun sporty well protected climbing on it followed by a great hand crack
3. Despite asking myself constantly, "should I pull on that?" nothing huge ever broke and we didn't use our helmets.
4. I got my Elijah on and mantled over 20 times through some pretty loose kitty litter without getting too beat up.

Annie hiking up the long wash with Notch in the background

a good look at pitch 4,  rated 5.dirt/bush6

the best limestone crack I've climbed(i've climbed 2)
Godsend crack. Its not Serenity or incredible HC, but its good

This pitch had weird blocky striated rock. I placed cams but I decided not to fall

Annie mantling into rubble

See how this rock looks like someone Elmers Glued  some corn flakes to the wall? This is a sign not to use that rock to support body weight.
On top. The classic BOS climbs behind us to the summit

 We rappelled in safety and our overall experience with chossy Notch Peak was a success.

Other fun things to do on Notch Peak

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Rainbow Fairy Run


It seems all national parks have their own particular "traverse" run of sorts, where you essentially run the length of the park or do some loop that requires extravagant mileage to complete, intended I assume for backpacking purposes but abused by the ultra-running community. Examples are the zion traverse, the R2R2R of the grand canyon, or the Teton circumnavigation. Utah is blessed with many national parks, so naturally a few are more popular than others. Bryce Canyon is I believe one of the "under-appreciated" national parks. Why? With attractions like Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands all attracting the Asian tourist hoards, Bryce is off in uncharted waters it seems. The nearest "town" is Panguitch. It has an Arby's that sometimes lacks curly fries. Unforgivable. The Bryce rock is extra chossy, kind of like how McDonalds is extra disgusting, so rock climbers don't flock to Bryce to climb. There isn't a river to swim in. The list could go on. The trail running however is just as good as any other national park run I've done.

The Under-the-Rim trail starts near the middle of the park and runs from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point, a distance of 23 miles. That wasn't quite long enough for a decent challenge so we decided to add on the Fairyland loop trail and link into the Under the Rim trail with the Rim trail(got that? one is under the rim, one is on the rim), for a solid 32 mile effort. Plus it serves as a complete North to South traverse of the park. Steve, Annie, and I had been wanting to add the trail to our hit list of NPS trail runs, so with Izzy and little Anna as shuttlers and the usual other idiots we invite along out of commission or the country, we drove down Friday night for a quick trip.

The Under the Rim team

Friday night was horrible as we made a poor choice to camp in a dirt field next to a cow pasture with the obnoxious cows mooing all night. It was also pretty cold and I failed to bring my warm sleeping bag. However, it was still cheaper than a $40 stay at the freaking ripoff Ruby's Inn campground. As soon as dawn hit, we were all up and ready to go. We set off at 7 am, slightly perturbed at the lack of accessible water and bathrooms at the trailhead.

The first 9 miles were fantastic running through the namesake hoodoos that patrons come to see. We were mostly alone on the Fairyland loop trail, and didn't have too many Japanese tourists to dodge on the Rim trail(un-NPS like). We met up with Izzy for a water refill, then dashed down into the canyon proper where the Under-the Rim starts. The run itself was awesome. We stopped often, going as fast as we pleased, walking the uphills and cranking the downs. The canyon feels very remote and wild which was great. The water is available and adequate, but very minimal. Only very small 1 inch trickles of water can be found periodically in small stream beds. We filled up whenever we could and prayed the unpurified water was clean.(steve and I failed to bring purification methods, much to Annie's displeasure). The NPS descriptions of where we could find water were mostly correct, although we found others and couldn't find one. Iron spring is definitely not a water source you want to have to use. It looked and tasted horrible.

The standard but quality photo from Inspiration Point

There weren't many highlights or lowlights, just ridiculously fun trail running in a majestic setting. We pulled into Rainbow Point after about 8 or so hours, depending on whose watch you checked. Steve's GPS watch stopped near the 28 mile mark, so elevation gain accuracy is subjective. Its minimal compared to the other serious NPS trail runs, likely only 6k or so. It is all runnable terrain if you want it to be, and there are no profanity inducing hill climbs (south kaibab) or dark times where you utter the words, "I wouldn't have minded if we had finished 3 hours ago(gannett peak). I would highly recommend this trail run to anyone looking for an adventure trail run, especially as a precursor to any of the other runs listed above, as this one seems much less difficult, but just as quality.

NPS signs should rarely be obeyed as they will detract from adventure

The fairies running in Fairyland

After 5 minutes of running, Steve wished he hadn't brought his sleeves

Annie picked the same color shirt as the rock

Under the rim(the rim is above)

Tasty water. Annie trying to convince herself she won't need Giardia treatment

Cool burn running. (aesthetic, not cool that is got burned)

The finish. Rainbow pt is upper left.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Triple Double

Great week of training and adventure.
Monday: Lake Blanche. 5.6 miles, 2720'. 90 min casual pace
Tues: Golf with the 3 stooges. Steve's first time golfing ever, Court barely able to walk due to his bunnion, and Pete hauling his 6 left handed clubs around sans bag and almost killing an old man with his brutally shanked shot off the tee on hole 1. Great times.
Wed: Ran an obscure part of the Wasatch 100 that I was unfamiliar with that links Bald Mountain to Parleys. Funky route there. Not a big fan honestly. Would make more sense to run standard GWT over to Alex Creek, but whatever. 10 miles, 2 hours, 1500'
Thurs: Got smoked on the .11d "stump the stars" up LCC. Hard, Hard .75 ringlocks through a overhang. I was stumped.
Great finger to ringlock crack of Stump

Fri: South Ridge of Superior with Annie. 2500' vert, 3 hours. Had a great time linking all the snow patches down the face for fun glissading.
Fun exposed 5th class ridge

Annie on South Ridge

Snowy ridge to summit
Annie mailing her safe glissading application to the snow gods

Getting ready to slide

Saturday: The triple double. (not a Mcdonalds sandwich) ~11,000', 15 miles

In basketball, a triple double is when a player achieves double figures in 3 of 4 possible separate areas in one game, ie 10 assists, 10 rebounds, 10 steals, or 10 points. In peak bagging, I am applying it to summiting the same 3 peaks two times each. The triple traverse is likely the most classic 3 peak traverse in the Wasatch, and while its no teton Cathedral Traverse, it certainly takes a solid aerobic effort along with some 5th class scrambling skill. It consists of summiting Broads Fork Twin Peaks, Sunrise, and Dromedary Peak, all which lie on the ridgeline separating LCC and BCC. I have summited each of the peaks a number of times alone, and done the triple twice, (once on a bailed WURL attempt, and another last year with Court). So naturally, the next step up is to do the traverse twice in one day. But the purity of the Triple Double is not merely summiting all 3 peaks, then reversing the ridge, but to actually descend back down to the road and then doing it all again. Yes, it is a stupid idea.

Annie and I set out up Broads Fork(a standard way to approach Triple Traverse) at 7 am. Our shoes were still wet from Friday's adventure, but that wouldn't matter since my shoes were wet all day anyway. Annie was feeling horrible, so she decided to bail on her attempt at one triple traverse just above the pond, leaving me to achieve my masochistic goal of two traverses alone. I took the Robinson couloir up to avoid repeating the East Twin ridge more than twice, and summited at the 2:30 mark. One down, 5 to go. My first traverse went well as I felt great, moving quickly over the often loose, sometimes solid, rarely unexposed terrain, eating crumb donuts as needed. I bagged Sunrise 31 min later, and Dromedary 24 min after that. Then I dropped down into LCC via Tanners Gulch where I found excellent glissading. I was on the road, done with traverse one at just over 4 hours. Not bad. My goal was 8 hours for two traverses since codename Pellucid Wombat on claims one traverse should take 8-10 hours, and I think that's kinda weaksauce.

I ran downcanyon to the Lisa Falls trailhead, a mile or so jaunt, and started back up to the ridge. I had never been up this drainage, so I was nervous about getting stuck or lost, but I had beloved Pullucid's instructions in my pocket should I need them. The drainage was gorgeous as waterfalls pounded over granite cliffs, all with easy slabs alongside allowing passage. The new terrain and cool air invigorated me to hit my goal time. Then I hit a big aerobic wall about halfway up Lisa Falls and had to sit down and eat some donuts and apple pie fritter to recharge. It was quite the slog up this trail less drainage, and I would go through phases of hiking snow, then loose talus, then granite slab mantling over and over again. Finally I hit the ridge 2:15 after leaving the road(though it felt like days). I bagged the twins again and found myself struggling with balance and stomach issues. I mentally committed to finishing, bagged the last two peaks, albiet much slower than round 1, and began the long descent into the Lake Blanche drainage. I got cliffed out a few times, and had to downclimb some scary slabs, but managed to reach great glissading terrain, then the Lake Blanche trail, where I pounded it down through the streets of Toyko that is the very popular Lake Blanche trail back the car, for a total time of 9:47. Almost two hours slower the second traverse, but that's ok. Good training for how painful Wasatch will be.

In hindsight, one traverse is plenty.

7 Peaks in one weekend. The waterpark would be proud. 

Great map of all the routes surrounding the Triple

The view from East twin, Sunrise it big one in middle and Dromedary hard left

Looking back at Twins from Sunrise

View back from Dromedary

Tanners is the shiz. Direct and gorgeous.

Lisa Falls drainage

Dead on East Twin, round 2. i may have taken a nap. can't remember

The descent off Dromedary to Lake Blanche to finish it out

I butt glissaded off that cornice. I got air.

Boring stats(approximate):
Broads Fork, 3.8 miles, 5,040'
Triple Traverse, 1.28 miles, 990'
Tanners Gulch, 1.5 miles, 4000' descent
Road down to Lisa Falls, 1 mile, 200' descent
Lisa Falls 2 miles, 4880'
Triple Traverse, 1.28 miles, 990'
Lake Blanche, 4 miles, 4000' descent

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Immigration to Emigration

Great running in the Aspens
 Having completely slacked off with my running while in Greece(with many accusing remarks from James and Nate) I decided to pick it up this last half of the week. A friend in my old ward who grew up here and experienced what he called the "golden age" in the wasatch where he could go anywhere he wanted and not see a soul, currently calls the mountains Wasangeles due to what he feels is an absurd amount of people using "his" mountains. He's a great guy, but a little jaded for sure. However, I totally disagree with him. He does have a point that it is literally impossible to do pentapitch without 40 other people waiting, or to hike to lake blanche on a Saturday without cars lining the road down to Storm Mountain, but I did 3 runs up Emigration Canyon this week, and did not see anyone on Wednesday/friday and only a few others saturday, minus the 25 person Indian family reunion caravan at the Big mountain summit.

My point: the wasatch can still be solitary if you climb harder than 5.7, don't mind not skiing at Alta, and run a bit furthur.

I mananged to log 42 miles in 3 days since being back, doing some great loops up Emigration on the Mormon Pioneer trails, Killyons, Little Mountain, and GWT. Eight of those miles were run in baggy cargo shorts as I forgot my mojo's and refused to run in only my compression shorts despite the unpopularity of the trail I was going to run.

In honor of my new favorite Taylor Swift song, "22", and her overpriced saturday night concert tickets, I set out saturday to run a long one of 22 miles, but failed and ran 24. I hope she'll understand.

 One of my favorite loops in the wasatch is the 24 miler starting at Mtn Dell Golf Course, running up the MP to Big Mountain, across the GWT to  Parleys summit, down to Jeremy ranch, and back up and over down Alexander Creek to the car. Annie joined me for a 16 mile variation while I did the full 24. It was a spectacular day to be outside, and the singletrack of the GWT is as good as it gets near Bald Mountain. We saw a moose and a toad. The current building/construction near Jeremy Ranch requires some trespassing on supposed private property to do the loop proper, but no one was arrested.

View from Big Mountain

Super cool meadow of random sticky plants

Annie running off Bald Mountain

These signs are like horror movies: just meant to scare you

Fun grass running down Alexander

Moose Butt

 My time for the 24 miles was 4:45.