Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Torrey's Peak: Kelso ridge route

My college friend Chris Alonso called me a few days ago, said he is in town for a few days and invited me to climb the Kelso ridge on Torrey's Peak (14,236 ft) today. Kelso is the northeast ridge and it's a class 3 scramble. Chris' friend and climbing buddy, whose name is also Brad, joined us and we hit the road at 4:45 am this morning. On the dirt road approaching the trailhead, we encountered a Chevy Suburan with Texas plates, stopped in the road, its occupants out scratching their heads. "End of the road," they said to us when we rolled down our window, and pointed ahead to a washed out, rutted section of the road. "It's not that bad," Chris said, as he drove forward in his Subaru. Though it took some manuvering, we got past the ruts and up to the trailhead.

This is the first class 3 summit climb I've done, and it was fun. We got off route at one point and chose steep but short class 4 way to get back on track. That got the adrenaline going a bit. The crux of the route is just a few hundred feet below the summit, a knife edge with a fair amount of exposure on either side. Not enough exposure that a slip would mean certain death, but enough to get the adrenaline going again. We reached the summit in less than 3 hours. Not bad.

For the descent, I jogged down the standard route to get some downhill training in. We didn't see the Chevy Suburban in the trailhead lot, so I suspect they never made it. Too bad!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Peak bagging

I bagged my sixteenth Colorado fourteener (14,000+ foot mountain) today with my brother Erik, speed-hiking La Plata peak (14,336 ft). We made it up 4100 vertical feet and about 5 miles in just under 2 hours (1:54 to be precise). We also did a fast hike up Mt. Massive on June 26.

Erik and Brad on La Plata Peak

An arm's length cell phone photo from the summit of Mt. Massive

here's the complete list of 14'ers I've bagged.

  • La Plata
  • Massive
  • Mt. Evans (3 years of the Mt. Evans Ascent race)
  • Pikes Peak (2 years in the Pikes Peak Ascent race)
  • Bierstadt (in December)
  • Longs Peak
  • Torrey's
  • Grey's
  • Sherman
  • Huron
  • Elbert (tallest in Colorado)
  • Quandry
  • Harvard
  • Princeton
  • Sneffels
  • Mt. Holy Cross

The perils of running downhill

You might think running downhill would be the easy part of trail running. You'd be half right. Easier for your heart & lungs, but harder on everything else. And there's always the risk of twisted ankles and trail rash. Two weeks ago I was running downhill on Dakota Ridge, tripped on a rock and instantly hit the ground. My right hand and shoulder bore the brunt of the fall. As painful as the initial scrapes were, scrubbing the dirt out was even worse.