Glacier Gorge Traverse

July 1, 2012 –

The Glacier Gorge Traverse, in Rocky Mountain National Park, is one of Colorado’s “hard man” classics.  It’s really difficult – 19 miles with over 10,000’ of elevation gain, most of which is above 12,000’, and all of which is gnarly and technical.  I had been wanting to do it for years, but was never able to wrap my head around the technical crux of the route – the west ridge of Pagoda.  This reputedly goes at 5.6-5.7, or some rappelling.  It is so remote and difficult it is impractical to scout – you just have to go do it.  This is probably why the Traverse might only get done once a year.

So when local legend Bill Briggs suggested we tackle the traverse together, I jumped at the chance.  Bill might be the only person who has done this burly traverse more than once, having completed it several times since 1982, with a mind-boggling PR of 7:17.  When someone like Bill asks you do join him for a rare gem like this, you are very well advised to agree!

Glacier Gorge Route

 

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Knowing When to Quit – Part Two

After my 2010 attempt people asked me if I was going to give it another go. I always said, “Nope. Too hard. I don’t see how I can do it better.” So, why one year later, was I sitting alone on top of Gemini Peak in a total friggin’ whiteout at midnight?

Navigating this terrain at night is really hard – it’s all above timberline, and of course, there is no trail of any kind. But navigating in 20’ visibility by looking at a tiny arrow on your GPS which supposedly is pointing to the next summit SUCKS. Fortunately, before I reached Dyer Mountain the fog had largely lifted and I was back on track.

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Knowing When To Quit

(Editors Note:  Peter Bakwin conceives and attempts the Mosquito Tenmile Traverse – the longest and highest ridge in the lower states – 38 miles continuously above timberline).

My head was spinning as I sat on the summit of Fletcher Mountain just after noon on July 24, 2010. Was it the 13,951’ elevation? Or, was it the fact that I’d just gone straight through the night, spending the last 16.5 hours traversing some of the roughest terrain imaginable, without ever dipping below 13,000’, summiting 21 high peaks in the process? Either way, though not quite 2/3 through my attempt to traverse the longest, highest ridge in the conterminous USA, I was simply whupped.

And stunned. Frankly, after years of doing 100 mile ultras, 200 mile adventure runs, and big peaks all over the world, I didn’t think this was going to be all that hard. Heck, it’s just 38 miles from Weston Pass (near Fairplay, Colorado) to Frisco. Sure, the 27 miles from Weston Peak to Peak 10 is entirely above 13K, and yeah, sure, there are a total of 34 named peaks (two 14ers, 24 13ers, and eight 12ers) along the way. But, anyway, how hard can 38 miles be?

Pretty frickin’ hard, it turns out.

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Peter Bakwin Bio

About Peter Bakwin: Physics minded and fit Peter is all about product testing, advocacy and adventures, with over 75 marathons and ultramarathon races on road, track and trail under his belt he’s no stranger to endurance. Also an avid statistician, Peter created the Fastest Known Times website that was featured in Running Times Magazine. It tracks speed records for trails and routes around the world.

Peter is not one to brag but looking at his track record he has been there, done that. In his own words  “I don’t care about running.  I just love to do it.”Peter Bawkin

  • Winner of the Tuscarora Trail 6-day, 250-mile race (2003)
  • First person to run the 223 mile John Muir trail in less than 4 days, 94h04m (2003)
  • Current speed record holder for the 141 mile Kokopelli Trail, 32h47m (2004)
  • Cascades Trifecta:  Rainier, Hood & Adams in 28 hours (2005)
  • Double Hardrock Hundred, 200 miles with 68,000 feet of climbing, in 90h50m (2006)
  • Current record holder on the 100 mile White Rim Trail, 18h43m (2006)
  • Current record holder on Gannett Peak, the highest summit in Wyoming (2009)
  • Mosquito-Tenmile Traverse:  The longest ridge traverse entirely above 13,000 feet (28 miles) in the contiguous USA (2011)