Spring snows and June skiing aside, the summer running season is here.
Jumping right into things, Christy and I ran the Dirty 30 last Saturday, a 50K course run along the trails of Golden Gate State Park, located northeast of Blackhawk, CO. Now in its 3rd year, the event hosts three races– a 7, 12, and 31 miler (50K)– and in addition to being really scenic, very hilly and just a whole lot of fun, it was a perfect way to log miles early in the season. That is, early, for a couple of people who usually don’t get going until around Memorial Day.
The course elevation profile. Click to enlarge but disregard the heart rate/ pace stuff.
Spearhead. The North Ridge follows near the sun/shadow line in the photo. Click all pics to enlarge.
Feeling as though we had done a good job taking advantage of what the Aspen area has to offer lately, and with plans forming for a climbing trip to Joshua Tree and Red Rocks this fall, we thought we’d change gears and hit the road for a little alpine climbing.
So on Dirk’s recommendation, Christy, he and I made the trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, with the goal of climbing Spearhead, a 12,575 foot peak, high in a glacial cirque surrounded by RMNP namesakes like Chief’s Head, Pagoda and Longs Peak, RMNP’s sentinel 14er. Of the ten or so established routes on Spearhead, we were aiming for the North Ridge, which at 5.6-5.7 and around 6 pitches falls in the alpine “fun” category — that is, fairly easy and very enjoyable, but serious enough to warrant ropes and protection. We haven’t done any multi-pitch trad climbing this summer, so for that reason, and for the purposes of getting us back into gear for our fall trip, it was perfect. read more>>>
Clicked in atop Capitol but not out of the woods yet. Click any pic to enlarge.
So Christy pulled it off, and what a finish it was. And not simply due to the fact that her final peak was Capitol, considered by my many to be the most committing ski descent of all the 14ers, but in the various challenges that presented themselves this past season. It may have appeared as though it all fell right into place, but in reality there were several occasions when it looked like Christy might not wrap it up this year.
During the fall of 2009, with winter right around the corner, Christy and I began to talk about our goals for the next season. Among other things on her extra long list, she was really hoping to wrap up her own “Ski the 14ers” project. She had nine peaks left: Sneffles, San Luis, Holy Cross, Little Bear, Pikes, El Diente, Mt. Wilson, Pyramid and Capitol. A stout list for sure, but also a reasonable number to do in a season. But when we began to consider other things– a two week trip to Greenland planned for spring, another Elk Mountains Grand Traverse in March, Christy’s nordic goals, and both of our work schedules– Christy realized that in order to have the best chances of finishing this season, she should start on her list as soon as was safely possible. At a cost to other activities, (i.e. winter tennis league, sewing projects) she decided to make skiing these peaks a priority, and as her partner through it, I thought I’d share my take on Christy’s Homestretch. read more>>>
On May 16, 2010, with a ski descent of Capitol Peak’s east face, I completed my goal of skiing the 54 Colorado 14,000-foot mountains (aka 14ers). While the root of the project can be traced back 10 years when, as a relative novice with a ready smile, I skied my first 14er, Quandary Peak, it eventually evolved into something bigger than I ever could’ve imagined back then. And so somewhere along the way, it occurred to me: I wanted to ski them all — something no woman had ever done, and something I learned more about during my husband (and best friend and best skiing/climbing partner) Ted’s own Ski the 14ers Project, which he completed in April 2008.
The journey surpassed my expectations. I experienced everything from epic, bluebird powder days to bone chilling winds and less than desirable snow conditions. I trekked around the state to trailheads and mountaintops, and sometimes re-trekked those same routes when the actual “mountain top” eluded me. I switched from tele boards to alpine touring gear and once shoveled snow where there was none on a summit in order to ski it — all the while reaffirming my love for the mountains a thousand times over.
Below are some details of my 14ers project with dates, routes, partners and slideshows for each peak. read more>>>
Christy in the Y Couloir.
Route: Crags CG/summit/Y couloir/summit/Crags CG
Team: Christy, Ted
Christy wanted this one done, and she didn’t want to wait. We had been unlucky in a couple of earlier attempts to get up the Pikes Peak Highway to ski the Y Couloir. The road closes regularly in the fickle spring weather. So as it was looking like she might be able to finish all 54 ski descents after a recent storm blew threw, and we knew the road might not open for a while, we decided to ski the Y Couloir the long way.
We started at the Crags Campground trailhead one morning, and skinned the popular summer route up to where it crosses the road. From there we followed the snow-closed road to the summit and skied down the Y Couloir. After getting down towards the Bottomless Pit, we took off our skis, hiked back up to the summit, and then skied back down to the Crags TH. It was a long effort on what is usually a short day, but I had to give her credit. Before we started skiing the Y I actually told her, or insisted, that to ski back down the road was enough to count the descent as official. But she insisted on better style, which in hindsight, was very respectable. read more>>>
Route: Northeast Face
Team: Ted, Christy
This was the final day of Christy’s super-busy 2009 spring. The day after skiing Wetterhorn Peak, a spring storm moved in and closed the road to the summit of Pike’s Peak. Upon being turned around at the gate on Pikes, we decided to high-tail up to Evans and salvage the day– it was Memorial Day Weekend and the Mount Evans Highway had just opened.
It was a wet storm day, not so brutal as to keep us from pulling it off, but just enough to make the day a challenge. We parked at the Summit Lake parking area and walked the highway to the bottom of the Northeast Face. The skinning was easy from there, and the stormi-ness of the day actually allowed us to ski right from the benchmark above the summit parking area, down the hiking trail, and back to the NE Face. Soaked through, we walked back to the truck on the highway and headed back to Aspen, calling it the end of our 2009 season. read more>>>