A Reminder

I knew it was a different morning on Longs when I left the parking lot with a bare head and bare hands. Usually I’m pretty chilly at the trailhead, but on this day the sweat was pouring off my eyebrows and nose on the very first steep cut up through the trees, and instead of dreading the breeze at treeline I welcomed it for its cooling properties.

Whenever one has a mishap in the backcountry, the chain of decisions and events that led up to it always seem so obvious in hindsight. But I suppose that’s just the way it works. I was battling a bit of a head cold and was feeling beat down from a previous 10 days of high-volume outings, so on this morning I resolved to just wake up whenever my body wanted, not interrupting my slumber with the typical 5am alarm that I set when I’m planning on an ascent of Longs Peak. As such, I arrived at the trailhead an hour later than usual, and on top of that it was a gloriously warm day—temps in Boulder later in the day would reach the low-70s.

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Schemin’ and Dreamin’

I was fortunate enough to achieve many of my adventure running ambitions in 2012 (including three outings that were so good that I am determined to repeat them in 2013: the Ten Mile Range Traverse, the Glacier Gorge Traverse in Rocky Mt. Nat’l Park, and Gannet Peak IAD (in-a-day) in Wyoming), though I was just beginning to realize the potential for fun that exists when one combines running and moderate technical climbing; in 2013 I am excited to further explore this hybridization of activities and tackle some even bigger and more committing objectives.

Encountering some tech on the Ten Mile Traverse last spring. Photo: Joe Grant.

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Flatiron Double Quinfecta

The other day I was thinking about what it is that compels me to maintain Boulder, CO as my home base (i.e., my winter crash pad and touchstone of all things urban and civilized in the summer season). Aside from the fact that I have friends here and I enjoy the compact layout of the city, more and more my motivation has become the city’s iconic Flatirons.  Not the trails that surround these 50-55 degreed slabs of stone, nor the pair of peaks (Green and Bear) upon which they reside, but rather, the towering chunks of rock themselves and the proximity they have to a thriving city center.  Quite simply, if I lived anywhere else on the Front Range I know that I would spend most of my time dreaming and scheming as to when I could make a trip to Boulder to link together a few thousand feet of scrambling.  Makes a lot more sense to just continue residence and save myself all of that inevitable stressful yearning.

Scampering up the final pitch of the Third. Photo: Joel Wolpert.

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What Were They Thinking???

CAPTION THIS PHOTO!

We received an incredible response to that question on our Facebook Page – over 850(!) of you wrote what you thought they were thinking, over 100 people Shared it on their own FB Page, and over 20,000 people viewed the photograph and your proposed Captions, some of which were hilarious. Good job!

The photo is from the Leadville 100, where Scott Jurek paced Anton Krupicka the last 25 miles. The look on their faces is so striking, Scott asked me where it was from – and even though I (Buzz) took the picture, I had no idea either – none of us could remember this moment – so your Captions are just as good as ours!

The Caption with the most “Likes” will be awarded a Signature Series vest of their choice when they become available late this year.

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The Grand Teton

Grand Teton, South Aspect.

After a hot, mostly flat, nearly 5hr, post-Speedgoat 50K drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson, Frosty and I suffered through the downtown tourist traffic (such novices! take the side streets to skirt the masses!) and headed directly to Teton Mountaineering where, with nary a pause, I dropped $40 on A Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range (3rd Edition), justifying it as a birthday present to myself.  The cashier quipped, “Getting the bible, eh?”  I didn’t need to, but I like books and I like mountains, and this book is an exemplary nexus of the two.

UPDATE 8/23: Andy Anderson just took 59 seconds off Kilian’s time … the Grand FKT stood for 29 years until finally surpassed by Kilian, which only lasted for 12 days!

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Hardrock 2012

THE MEN’S COURSE RECORD …

Kyle Skaggs left his indelible print on the event in 2008, when he blew away the course record by over 2 1/2 hours. Just four years previous, the race was won in 30:39 – Kyle did it more than 7 hours faster, and remains the only person to go under 24 hours.

So how did he do that?

Kyle was extremely dialed that day – he spent way less than a minute at nearly every aid station. I was there. I was supposed to pace him, but about 10 days out from the race I developed an angry neuroma in my foot, so was reduced to crewing, along with Nate and Petra McDowell.

That was the third summer in a row he lived in Silverton and trained on the course. That year he moved to Silverton on April 23rd -I remember the date, because we had been roommates since January and had been trail-bumming in northern Arizona. On that day he got fed up with the Grand Canyon’s heat, booted me from his Toyota Corolla station wagon (the “Deerslayer”) in Flagstaff, and drove off for the high country. Two and a half months of acclimation allowed him to move faster on Hardrock’s alpine course – and allowed him to keep his stomach solid at those altitudes on race day, eating nothing but gels and one PB&J.

But none of this is why Kyle crushed the course with a 23:23:30.

Instead, it was simply that Kyle went in with no preconceptions on what a reasonable pace was. He ran off of effort. And he kept his mind steady.

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La Plata Peak via the Ellingwood Ridge

The Ellingwood Ridge, from La Plata's summit.

While the Sawatch Range in central Colorado is impressively high–it’s home to 15 peaks over 14,000′–it’s not a very technical group of mountains.  Most routes are Class 1 or 2 walk-ups, and the mountains themselves have often been accused of not really being much more than giant talus piles.  (This reputation is not without basis, but I happen to enjoy talus fields.)

One of the notable exceptions to this is the uber-classic Ellingwood Ridge (really the mountain’s northeast ridge) on La Plata Peak (14,336′). This burly sawtooth of a line looks incredible when lit up in soft evening light, but no matter what time of day it is it commands one’s attention, whether viewed from the trailhead parking lot, Independence Pass, or the crest of the NW Ridge on La Plata’s standard hiking route.

Although the guidebooks allow that most major difficulties on the line can be kept to Class 3 with some creative route-finding and some humble descents below the actual ridge, these same guidebooks also warn about just how long the ridge is (2mi), and thus, how much time it takes to summit (a lot).  Sean O’Day’s trip report from almost exactly a year ago–while completed in markedly different snow conditions (Colorado is incredibly dry this year)–cites 9hr just to make the summit!  And Sean is a strong trail/mountain runner and experienced mountaineer.

I didn’t see how that could possibly be the case, though, so only compromised my usual bare-bones approach by bringing 13oz of water and a gel…just in case (I would consume both).

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Product Testing!

Product testing is really important. This is how we make sure we create the absolute best best tools for the self-propelled person. It’s also how we have fun in the mountains with friends.

Last weekend, Peter Bakwin, Anton Krupicka and I went up to do the classic Kieners Route on Longs Peak. This involves a 5 mile trail run starting at 9,382′ and ending at the iconic Chasm Lake, where one scrambles the boulders around the lake then up to the base of Lambs Slide, a nice snow gully tucked into the shadows of the towering East Face of Longs. The juicy part of the route is the traverse across Broadway, an absolutely spectacular narrow ledge slicing across the near-vertical East Face. Kieners proper starts up from there, a 5.4 rated climbing route that culminates on the 14,255′ summit of Longs. We then would descend the Cables route (now actually called the North Face), where we would pick up the trail again.

The perfect outing to test the new Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest!

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Projects in the Works @UD HQ

Being a Boulder based company brings many benefits; besides being able to loose yourself in nature on a lunch run, we are also surrounded by exceptional athletic talent.  Ultimate Direction is lucky enough to have nabbed Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka and Peter Bakwin’s expert advice on hydration gear.

Tony, Scott and Peter have been working hard on a new project we have brewing up! These 3 athletes are getting to work with the design team to create their dream hydration packs. Each bringing a particular specialty to the table.

Stay tuned for more updates from UD headquarters.

Welcome to the UD Blog

Ultimate Direction has partnered with three of the most renowned ultra runners in history to help design new cutting-edge products. We were the first, and we are the future – and we’re going to tell you all about it.

Welcome to our new blog!

Scott Jurek, Anton Krupicka, and Peter Bakwin will be bringing you their latest news and views, posting directly here.  Get the scoop.  It’s gonna be good.

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