It is hard to explain why I am called to the high mountains. I love the beauty, challenge, and overcoming fears, but does it justify cost, risk, and sacrifice needed to climb big mountains? What ever the reasons the call of the mountains is strong. Even while my legs were still aching from my assent of Rainier, I was dreaming of what my next big climb would be. Originally I was planning on heading to Mexico to climb some large volcanoes (Orizaba and Ixtca). Then I found a two week expedition skills seminar in the heart of the Peruvian Andes. So for me, the first two weeks of July will be spent in the the Cordillera Blanca. The Cordillera Blanca (white mountains) are a complex highland with permanently snowcapped peaks, some among the highest of the Andes (e.g., Mount Huascarán, at 22,205 feet).
Tocllarjau is the biggest objective of the trip. It stands a mighty 19790 ft / 6032 m tall.
I will be spending eleven nights camped above 14,435′ a mere 4 feet lower than Colorado’s highest point (Mt Elbert 14,439′) . From basecamp we will be climbing three peaks Urus Este (17,800′), Tocllaraju(19,796′), and Ischinca (18,143′). We will also spend lots of time working on climbing skills.Tocllaraju will certainly be the crux of the trip. The route finishes with a 70 degree ice pitch at 19,000ft, which is sure to be a real challenge. For the last mountain Trip participants will be chosen to lead in place of the guides.
In many states a winter hut trip would involve heading to pizza hut for a mediocre slice of pepperoni pie. In Colorado it consists of treking through snow to a warm and cushy cabin deep in the backcountry.
Last year a group of us made an easy trip back to Continental Divide Cabin. Since everyone had a blast we decided to pick a different hut and repeat the trip. This year the group agreed to up the challenge, and go for a more remote hut. We settled on Polar Star Inn which is a 17 person hut in the 10th Mountain Division Hut system. We also convinced more people to join us getting the group size up to 11.
Blisters are the most common trail injury. They ruin many hikers day, or worse spoil an entire trip. Fortunately a little prevention and early attention to hot spots can usually stop a blister from forming. Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that look like bubbles on the skin. They are caused by friction, a seam in your boot, a wrinkle in your sock, sweaty or wet socks , or an ill fitting boot. Carrying a heavy pack, and hiking up hill increase the friction on the back of your heals, which makes the them the most common place people get blisters.
There is Arapahoe Bay Campground near the trailhead, which a good option for staying the night before hiking. The campground was full so we elected to sleep in the back of the truck at the trailhead. There are a few VERY nice backcountry sites along the trail. There are 2-3 sites just above the waterfalls at 4.5 miles. There are 8 sites 7 miles back at Crater Lake.
I believe all back country camping in this area requires permits. June – Sep
Jeremy, Dayton, and myself have been trying to coordinate schedules ever since our unsuccessful attempt at Juliet Couloir this spring. Jeremy proposed this relatively unknown 12er in the Indian Peaks wilderness. It didn’t take long for Dayton, and I to agree to making Cherokee Peak our objective. Both Gerry Roach and the author of the summit post page, lavish praise on this peak and the Lone Eagle Cirque. This praise is WELL deserved! Continue reading →
For me one of the keys to maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle is picking big goals to motivate me. If the goal is big enough to scare me a little even better. Well the thought of running a marathon scares me more than a little. So I have decided to take the plunge and commit to running my first marathon. After doing research and reading reviews I choose the Colorado Marathon. I like the time of year, as it will allow me to train over the winter / spring when it isn’t too hot outside. It is also supposed to be a beautiful course that runs along the poudre river. When it comes to motivation I will take a beautiful course over screaming fans any day. My only concern about the date is that I will be peaking for the Marathon during couloir climbing season. I really hope I can find a way to fit in at least a couple of climbs.
After a summer focused on mountaineering I am back to running 4 days a week. I am working on getting back to being “run fit” for the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon on Oct 20th. I feel like I came off the summer quite fit, while still being rested and healthy.
In addition to completing the marathon I have some other goals I want to stay focused on during training.
Be healthy! Running a Marathon is very stressful on the human body. I want to be careful to do things in a smart way that allows me to complete this big goal injury free, and more healthy than I started.
Stay balanced: Obviously training for this is going to consume a lot of time and energy. I want to devote the attention that a race like this deserves, while still maintaining other areas of my life that are important to me.
Eat Well! In order to be successful, and be healthy I need to focus on great nutrition.
Find great gear: If you no me you know I am a gear head. I am motivated by quality gear, and have a lot of fun trying out new stuff.
Be minimal: Last year I began transitioning to minimalist foot wear. While it has been a long and hard process, I love running in less shoe. I have also never felt healthier as a runner. I know that putting on this many miles in a truly minimal shoe will be difficult and may not be realistic for me. I intend to incorporate them as much as possible into my training, and run the marathon in the least shoe my body can handle.
Kelso ridge is a dramatic alternative to the very popular route up Torry’s peak near Denver. 14ers.com has a great route description so I am not going to repeat that here.
I have been chased off this route twice by weather. The forecast for Saturday morning was 60% thunderstorms after 11AM. Not a great forecast, but it looked like we had a window of good weather before 9AM. We decided to be on the trail by 5AM. We arrived at the trailhead around 4:45 to find a mostly full parking lot. The first few miles of this route follow the standard trail, so we got an easy warm up. The trail was very easy to follow by headlamp. We reached the turnoff to the ridge around dawn. The sun revealed no sign of approaching weather so we put on our helmets, and started up the ridge. Continue reading →