Sunday, September 29, 2013

Depressurized Soda

It was Annie's bday on Saturday and she wanted to climb some sandstone cracks as she is a desert aficionado and hadn't climbed much. We settled on attempting Shunes Buttress in Zion, but unfortunately timed it wrong as its a north facing route and this cold weather week created a freezing 45-50 degree shade temperature Saturday morning at 9 am. Remembering our miserable experience on the Warrior last year in the shade, we opted out of this classic in hopes of returning when it was warmer.

I had climbed "Coke Explosion" a few years back and remembered enjoying it as it is south facing, a reasonable 5.10, and only 3 pitches, so we decided to do that instead. We promptly lost the climbers trail after leaving the Angel's Landing conga line and schwaked through some pretty heinous stuff to the base. After a tricky short mantle onto a slab we arrived at the climb.
The route follows the sun shade line on the right

Annie led the first 5.9 pitch, which is a fun corner past a tree, mostly fingers and hands through a short roof with good feet. I led pitch 2, the crux being a #6 camalot size corner in a lower angle lieback for 15 feet.  Not having a #6 camalot made this section spicy. More fingers in a corner ended the pitch.  Pitch 3 was mostly chimney, and Annie did pretty well on it despite moving slowly.
Jungle pitch 1

Annie following up corner of Pitch 2

Annie chimneying up pitch 3

We got a rope stuck on rappel and I had to reclimb some of pitch 2 to retrieve it. We got back down to the ground and were hoping to go check out Lady Mountain, but my poor internet information memory skills did not allow us to find the start. Maybe next time. Cafe Rio and a new iphone rounded out Annie's bday. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Its not often I think sport climbing deserves a designated blog post, but I recently went down to AF and sent the, as some put it, "sandbag 12b",  Helix in the Black Magic Cave. It is definitely one of my new favorite sport routes. This unique climb is a wild ride. It starts out with a testy slab on super pebbly stone to a decent rest under the roof. Then it climbs a steep juggy flake before you lunge both arms into a hole in the apex of the cave. A ab crunching 180 flip around and a fat jug pocket lands you on the opposite side of the cave, then it underclings its way back into the cave before a double toe hook bat hang from another hole allows clipping the chains. The name is perfect as the route literally spirals up the cave like a DNA molecule. It packs a pumpy punch in the 10 or so bolts.

Black Magic Cave

I managed to redpoint it on my 4th go with Jake taking some pics on a fixed rope and Court countering his lack of motivation by providing Kettle Chips and PB M&Ms. Most of Jake's pics didn't turn out great due to poor lighting, but a few good ones emerged. Despite him almost killing us with stray bowling balls while finding a rap anchor we were appreciative of his photo effort.
Court moving off the flake to the hole

Testy slab done, heading off into the roof

Steep and Juggy! Focused on the next clip

Court lowering off midway despite my heckling to continue

Get on this one, its stellar!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Unlikely Cause of Pneumothorax

West Ridge Grandeur Peak

Running any significant distance requires pacing oneself so as to be able to finish. The longer the distance, the more attention needs to be paid to the pace. Running the Wasatch 100 last week I was well aware of the slow, methodical walk/jog/slog pace required to run 100 miles, and had prepared well for that pace in my training runs. I was very happy with the outcome.

Now that the race has come and gone, I felt the urge to just basically go all out with no real need to "back off" and pace myself. Having never time trialed the West Ridge of Grandeur Peak, I was curious to see where I fit in the mix, as there are some sick fast times on that thing. 2.2 miles and 3200' vert, right out the backdoor. There is very little "running" here as the trail is about as steep as the quantum mechanic learning curve. Unlike the Wasatch, this thing comes down to SECONDS not HOURS between times.

My goal was sub 1 hour which seemed pretty conservative, then my real goal was sub 50 minutes, and my "suck it Dorais bros" goal was sub 45 minutes.

 So after work, I parked, stretched, deshirted, then basically stairmastered the heck out of the ridge, power hiking my lungs to the point of collapsing(pneumothorax) and hoping my quads didn't explode. There were some severe winds up there and my visor blew off my head 3 times(precious seconds wasted) till I stashed it under a rock. I met up with one other power hiker dude near the top who I would later learn was a 100 mile veteran with 15 Wasatch finishes and a slew of others. He cranked it out in 1:22, and despite my desperation, heartfelt prayer, EPO blood tranfusions, and flinging myself onto the summit, I only managed 50:42. Bummer. Good enough for 12th place on the Strava list(though I don't own a GPS device). Not where I'd like to be but the list is quite a "whos who" of Wasatch running. Guess I'll have to work on my VO2 max.

Don't worry Mr Burke, I won't be Swindling your ridiculous record of :40 anytime soon. Not like he's quaking in his boots. I don't enjoy doing this stuff all the time, but as Court likes to put it, "redlining for an hour has got to be good for you". 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Race Suggestion: Wasatch 75 Endurance Run

Thank you Wasatch Gods. I'm done

Its over. On Saturday morning around 6:30 am, I suffered through my first 100 mile run by running from Kaysville Utah to Solider Hollow, finishing in 25:37 for 20th place at the Wasatch 100 Mile Endurance Run.

What an ordeal.

At 5 am we set off from Kaysville as a herd of cows slowly climbing our way up to Francis Peak. I found this section to be very frustrating as I didn't feel like it was fun running in a massive pack and I was forced to hike at the pace of the herd, despite that probably being for the best. As soon as the pack thinned out a bit more and I could actually run, I found the singletrack above to be some really quality trail. Steve and I hung together till about mile 20 around Bountiful B, and he would be shortly behind me for most of the day till his unfortunate DNF at Brighton.

The first 50 miles went extremely well, minus an incident where I accidently poured Rocktane mix all over my body to cool down instead of water, causing my entire body to become a giant sticky mess. This was just the tip of the iceberg of what stickiness was to ensue.

I pulled into Lambs Canyon at the 12 hour mark after grossly underestimating my split time to my family and pacers from the turnoff down Alexander Creek, but they were patient and realized I was not in mathematical coherency. I was happy to see Annie, Court, Nick, Izzy, my parents and Caroline, and my aunt Nancy and cousin Will. I was in great spirits and had felt solid up till then with no stomach or pain issues thus far, a true blessing.

Rolling into Lambs. Feeling good

The crew at Lambs. I think I was asking for a motorcyle with this gesture

Nick and I pulled out of Lambs and trekked up to Millcreek. I had a mild bathroom incident on the Millcreek road where I was forced to defecate right off the road and two poor women driving by looked quite horrified. Nick just laughed as he is no stranger to emergency pit stops. Unfortunately for Nick, but I guess good for me, was that I was feeling really strong at Desolation Lake and had to ditch him as I thought I may be able to get sub 24. I felt bad, but I had to be selfish.

I rolled into Brighton, mile 75,  at 18 hours, giving me 6 hours to do the last marathon. Annie and the parents hadn't showed up yet so I downed hash browns, chocolate milk, and broth. Annie showed up a few minutes later and we set off, me still feeling mildly chipper in hopes of a sub 24. From Catherine Pass 3 miles later, all hell broke loose. The trails down to Ant Knolls, then Poll Line, and finally the notorious Dive and Plunge down to Pot Bottom, are the worst trails in the Wasatch. Period. I am now going to devote an entire paragraph to the Dive and Plunge ordeal.

The only people that should have to run the Dive and Plunge are murderers, rapists, and Race Directors. This section of trail is horrible not only because its at mile 80, but because the trails are a roller coaster of up and down 50 degree loose gravel filled troughs where the origins of pain, sorrow, and swearing originated. There is no childish laughter here. In the ten mile stretch from Pole Line to Pot Bottom,  I developed blisters, jammed my foot causing two toenails to die, developed massive chaffage of my genitals and natal cleft due to my lack of wiping and poor aim, a 4 gu explosion on impact of one fall causing my shirt to stick to my stomach in goey mess, got a sore throat from excessive fruit and gu acid, and my headlamp started to die. Never before have I despised a trail as I had that day.

Annie was a great sport and put up with my whining and quickly deteriorating mood. We pushed but when we finally reached Pot Bottom(I was convinced it never would appear) I couldn't run at all anymore. The final 10 miles were akin to being beaten with lead pipes while being forced fed vinegar laden horse dung, and two people passed me in the final mile, but I didn't care too much. I finished, and was happy to be done.
Brighton crew. Thanks for coming out at 11 pm!. 

I think I was asking Annie to leave me in a trench somewhere to die. 

The aftereffects. Lost toenails and the inability to walk

The rewards

So in retrospect, I'd like to propose to the Wasatch 100 committee to do away with the final 25 miles. The trails are horrible, everyone is miserable at that point, so lets just finish at Brighton, eat bacon and hash browns, and enjoy the fantastic journey up through 75 miles. It would be much more pleasant, and isn't that what running is all about?