Hold the Chicken & Beware of Bears!

Summer 2014 Mountain Madness

Summer has wound down, and it was a hot one for FKT action in the mountains. Some people REALLY like climbing mountains … LOTS of mountains! Let’s take a look …

Andrew Hamilton on Capital Peak - photo Stefan Griebel

Andrew Hamilton on Capital Peak – photo Stefan Griebel

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Wind River High Route

The Wind River High Route is possibly one of the best backpacking routes in the world. It runs along the spine of the Wind River Range in northern Wyoming, probably the most wild and remote range in the Lower 48, is modeled after the famed Sierra High Route, and thus is mostly off-trail and above timberline.  I put together the great team of Andrew Skurka and Peter Bakwin, and July 29-Aug 3 we gave it a go. It still has never been done … Alpine Pass

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Tenmile Range Traverse

June 21, 2014 – - -

The “Tenmile Traverse” is a classic long mountaineering route near Breckenridge, Colorado, which links ten summits uncreatively named Peaks 1 through 10. But, the route covers only half of the Tenmile Range, and the lower, easier half at that. The true Tenmile Range Traverse” (TRT) is simply the entire range, which adds six high 13ers and some really gnarly terrain to boot. Buzz and I were looking for a long training day, he won’t do anything that isn’t both classic and interesting, and I happen to be probably the world’s foremost expert on traverses of the Tenmile Range (for what that’s worth :-)… so let’s get on it!

TRT Ridge

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The Royal Arch Loop – Grand Canyon

It’s 5am on April 17, when a Ford F250 pulls into the dark parking lot. Peter Bakwin and I say hello to Elaine, who fills us in on local lore while driving an hour and half out to Pasture Wash, where we are dropped off by an abandoned cabin. We shoulder our packs and navigate straight west across the flat and featureless plateau until the abrupt vertical cliffs. Vertical indeed – it’s 6,000 feet down to the Colorado River – it’s not called the Grand Canyon for nothing. We’re looking for a very interesting way down thru the Toroweap sandstone, called the Point Huitzil route, a hidden route that we turned up while researching on the Internet. This connects with the Royal Arch Loop, way out on the west end of the Park, which I’ve been wanting to do for decades. Then we’re going to walk the Tonto Rim back to Hermits Rest. Total distance: about 70 miles. 2.5 days. We just have to make it the next few hundred meters.

“We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.”

- John Wesley Powell, 1869

Rim

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Dark Needles Loop

Spring is in the air. This can mean many things, but for Peter Bakwin and I, spring means, “go to the desert!”

This year we were going for full value: a 3 1/2 day, 110 mile backpacking route starting from the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, thru the very remote country of Beef Basin and Fable Valley, and down into the bottom of Dark Canyon. Then back again (can’t forget that part). Backpacking allows us to get into the really remote places, to watch the sun come up and watch it go down again, to see the stars, and to experience the desert environment up close and personal.

“Lawrence, only two kinds of creatures get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.”

“No, it’s going to be fun.”

- Lawrence of Arabia

11Peekaboo

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Zioneering – the Temple Throne Traverse (not quite)

March 14, 6 AM, Canyon Overlook Trailhead

Jared Campbell and I are in Zion National Park. It’s a cool starry morning, and we immediately are enjoying scrambling up the white and red sandstone in the total darkness, our headlamps illuminating tiny circles in the smooth rock. Hey wait, it isn’t supposed to be dark … we timed our 6 AM departure based on when “Civil Twilight” was supposed to start.  Hmm… we keep climbing up the bare rock … then both realize that it’s not going to get light for another hour because I forgot to adjust for Daylight Savings Time. There are a few more things we should not have forgotten as it turns out… JaredMorning

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Top Ten FKT’s of 2013

“Let your instincts guide your steps … he’ll take you where you most love.” – Kilian Jornet

For several years I have maintained a simple website dedicated to recording and documenting Fastest Known Time (FKT) efforts on various trails, routes and mountains. “Fastest Known Time” essentially means the same thing as “Speed Record”, while acknowledging it is the fastest time that we know about, as some may have been forgotten or not reported. By making this information much easier to share, the Internet (with help from my site), has probably made possible the explosion of FKT-style efforts over the last few years.

2013 was huge for FKT attempts, and may represent the start of new era for this niche activity within the overall sport of mountain, ultra, and trail running. We now are now seeing elite runners make FKT efforts a central focus; they are putting as much effort into an FKT as they would for a race. This has, of course, resulted in some impressive times on some classic routes!

What follows, in no particular order, are my picks for the Top 10 FKTs of 2013. Links are all to pages on my FKT site, which will direct you to further information about these remarkable trips. What are YOUR top picks?

Peter

 

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The 100 Year Flood

My family moved to Boulder in the summer of 1968. On May 5-9, 1969, hard rains produced the biggest flood in decades. As a 7-year-old the 3 feet of water in our (unfinished) basement seemed super cool, sort of like having an indoor swimming pool.

Growing up in Boulder the “100 Year Flood”, was part of the local lexicon, like fallout shelters were for families in the 60′s; one of those legendary things that can’t really happen. We know about these things and plan for them, right? Every summer at 10 a.m. on the first Monday of each month, Boulder tests its emergency warning system – deafeningly loud sirens and a booming voice over the loudspeakers chillingly announcing, “THIS IS A WARNING SYSTEM TEST.”

But on September 12-15, 2013, when the proverbial “100 Year Flood” actually happened, it was a shocker. For one thing, no one ever thought a big flood would happen in September, when summer monsoon storms typically taper off and thunderstorm producing convection is weak. This year the monsoon was stubborn, and a confluence of static weather systems and particularly abundant monsoon moisture produced a cataclysm that the typically subdued National Weather Service forecasters termed “biblical”.

Fourmile1

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Leadville

Last weekend’s Leadville marked the return of Scott Jurek. Scott, as Anton told me last year, is “The Man” – 7 straight WS100 wins, Spartathlon, Badwater, 24 hours, etc – it is unlikely anyone will do that and hold that stature again. And he’d been out of competition for 1-3 years (depending on how you figure it). Can he come back? Is his time past or does he still have it? People would ask me my opinion, and I didn’t have one – I didn’t know.

This is his interview on Colorado Public Radio.

 

 

 

 

 

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Zironman

 May 25-26, Zion National Park, Jared Campbell, Ryan McDermott, Buzz Burrell

Jared conceived of Zironman two years ago while studying Google Earth during one of his typical four-hours-of-sleep nights; it was an ingenious route, going from the west boundary of Zion National Park to past the east boundary via the most “interesting” terrain. “Zironman” was a fun way of saying the route involved climbing, running, and canyoneering, and it consisted of some iconic technical canyons as well as virgin country where apparently no one had been before. Now that the Trans Zion route seems crowded every weekend in May, these are the types of projects one dreams up.

We geared up for it on a hot day in back in June of 2011, but after spending 8 annoying hours shuttling a car in 100 degree temperatures, we wisely scaled our initial attempt back to 3/4 of the distance. That Zironman “fun run” went really well – we figured out that “No Man’s Land” had a viable route through it, we did all the hard parts, and were really keen to come back the next year and knock it off.

The following year I was injured, but Jared and his best friend Ryan very graciously offered to wait until I recovered, a relative term though that may be, so we were quite keen this year. But mere hours before we were to start, the project was in jeopardy.

Our plan was to start at 5:30 in the afternoon, knock off Icebox, the first technical canyon while it was still light, then do the entire middle section which is normally exposed to the blazing sun during the night, arriving at the start of Imlay, the most technical canyon in the park when the sun came up. An excellent plan. Except 5:30 wouldn’t come for another 4 hours. We were sitting around with nothing to do.

Could Jared handle doing nothing? I had seen him accomplish incredible projects, but never this. This might be the crux of the whole route.

How the pro’s hang out

Ryan ironing his running shirt – being totally prepared is key

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only photo in existence of Jared Campbell not moving

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