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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