Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…

Couloir above Lake Isabelle

Hey Ma, get off the dang roof! ~ Cletus

Good end of last week/start of this week, activity-wise. Saturday saw gorgeous conditions in the high-country so I headed up higher to do 13 miles on Rollins Pass. I started above the tunnel and made my way up the old railroad grade. There were still several large sections socked in with drifts so car traffic was virtually non-existent.

View east from Rollins Pass

Unfortunately, I felt like hammered crap and my abs were really, really angry with me all day so I didn’t turn over the miles as quickly or painlessly as I had hoped given the past week’s progress. It was good to be out, however, and I have learned that there is no such thing as a bad run so though I felt a little discouraged by the set-back, I took it in stride.

Sunday I stuck close to home as one of our foster bunnies was at the end of his journey. Rach does an amazing job giving these special guys a loving home but it is still very hard to see them go. Louis was not an old bunny but had a terminal condition that required additional care and attention so he and his friend, Bruscetta, came to live with us. Rach paired them with two other great bunnies, Sidney and Peanut, then Homer was added to the group for a really cool fivesome. Louis will be missed but Bruscetta can now stay with her new friends, which makes it easier on her for sure.

On Monday Luke, Ben and I headed up to the Brainard Lake area to do some skiing. We got a fairly early start but an inversion made it incredibly warm up high and we were met with breakable crust conditions on the hike in and sloppy, punchy snow on the bootpack up towards Isabelle Glacier. It was a gorgeous day (albeit warm) but the going was much slower than we expected. We decided to ski a protected coulior but I bailed about halfway up to get home to get some work done. I actually felt great. I was a little slow but was being really cautious as every time my right leg postholed in the weird conditions, my right knee would become very grumpy.

I apologized for calling him “Snotter”.

On the way back out, I was treated by a river otter playing in the freshly thawed far-eastern edge of Long Lake. He was playing in the shallow water near the tip of the lake and even posed for me a bit while I took photos. River otters were recently declassified as endangered and are now listed as a threatened species so getting to see the little fella (actually, not that little) was really cool.

Tuesday I ran up near my house. Just kept a steady, relatively slow pace and ran a fun figure eight in the woods. I hit up some of my favorites: Tupperware, Funky Boss, Diver Down and power hiked the steeper sections. Felt okay, actually. I didn’t push the pace really at all and was able to just stay relaxed and comfortable.

Today I doubled down and did a quick run in the woods on some pirate trails (actually got a little off track due to early-season conditions) and then did a fun exploratory moto ride with Luke. We jammed up Rollins Pass to see how much snow had melted in the past three days of seriously intense heat (for May, at least) then went up Mammoth Gulch (which is still pretty socked in) and then checked out the Fourth of July road, which is open and clear all the way to the trailhead. Luke then stole my motorcycle. He has a knack for swiping people’s bikes. (Hey Pete, if you are reading this, your moto is in my garage.) It won’t be long until Luke is kicking my ass in yet another activity but for now, I’ll relish not having to chase him around.

I head to Gunnison on Friday to race the Sage Burner Saturday morning. Since my abs are still being jerks, I am just going to do the 25K event with explicit instructions to take it easy. I’ll let you know how that goes.

She’s just a bean.

And here is a shot of Molly for your viewing pleasure.


The wind, it blows…

This speech is my recital. I think it’s very vital. To rock a rhyme that’s right on time, It’s tricky is the title. Here we go. ~ Run. D.M.C.

If you close your eyes, take a deeeeep breath and relax, you can practically see all the awesome shots I have taken over the past few days of skiing and running. Just picture the most amazing photo and video ever produced, then up that by 23% and you’ll be in the ballpark. Unfortunately, this is the best I can do for you at this point, since I donated my camera to the Brainard Lake wilderness on Sunday afternoon.

Yes, I have been busy training. Even did a 15-miler on Friday in the Boulder drizzle. Luke and I went out Sunday afternoon in gale-force winds to hit up the north-facing chutes on Niwot Ridge. Did I mention the gale-force winds? Yeah. We dropped down D2 (funky snow but fun) then jammed back to the RockShot pitch in the Rabbit Cages. Really funky snow in there. Wet slab conditions prevailed. At some point between the bottom of D2 and the parking lot I lost my faithful camera. The shots on it are award-winning.*

*Proclaimations of awesomeness are contingent upon the discovery of said camera at which point the author can not be held responsible for any lack of photographic awesomeness. But until the camera is found, the author is sticking to his story that the author composed and captured the best images ever created in the history of digital (or non-digital) photography.

Tuesday, I ran 8 miles north of Boulder. Seems the theme for the week is huge headwinds that suddenly die once they become tail winds. I put in the time on Foothills Trail then transitioned over to the trail system west of the Res. Didn’t feel great but after Sunday’s 6-hour trudge and a short, recovery run on Monday, that was to be expected. Stus and heat still don’t mix.

Luke and I headed back out this morning to an abandoned attempt to ski one of the couloirs off of Audubon. Today’s wind made Sunday look like a crappy Nichole Kidman/Billy Zane movie. The weather station at D1 said 80mph gusts and I believe it. It took us an hour to get up to Brainard where we decided that we just weren’t into getting blasted off the Audubon ridge and headed back over to the Cages. Dropped RockShot modified (hit the really steep drop in) but conditions were like Cold Medina with a slippery top layer of relatively fresh on top of a weird crust layer with slush underneath. Tricky.

As I said, it is good to be out there regardless of the munkiness of the skiing and bead-blaster conditions. Figuring out the rest of the week but I suspect it will be more of the same. Good times.


The Big Five-Oh…

Is that your blood? ~ Richard Chesler

Day 50 – pretty good for a working stiff, huh?

Today started early. Very early. The alarm rousted me at 4:15 and Luke and I were on the bikes by 5:45 for a fast and furious ascent of Pawnee Ridge. Luke had to be back in Boulder by 9:30 so we jammed up the Mitchell Lake trailhead and were at the top of the couloir in less than two hours.

The conditions were a little punchy on the trail up – several hip-deep postholes were masterfully created and decorated by Luke’s bloody knees – but the tough going on the way up was rewarded with amazing snow for the ski down. Really fun Spring conditions. Check out the shots.

Tomorrow Rage and I head to the Colorado House Rabbit Society to clean bunny cages. Right now, our bunnies are tearing ass around our living room and totally trenching our living room. We should shave some bitchin’ fire or racing stripes or something into their fur. I’ll see if I can talk Rage into that. Photo documentation will occur, I assure you.

See you out there.


Edit: I have very little tolerance for bad film at this point. My schedule is way too tight to spend 2+ hours watching a crummy excuse for a movie. I got through roughly 20 minutes of Blood Diamond before deeming it too poorly written to warrant my attention. Perhaps I missed out on really solid 2nd and 3rd acts but I’ll never know. Good luck with that one.

The front side of fifty…

We chased our pleasures here, dug our treasures there. ~ The Doors

Days 48 and 49 were spectacular. Yesterday Luke and I started early and we were riding in to the trailhead by 6:15. It was a bit cooler with hellacious winds buffeting us from the west. We made quick time to the trail and quickly found ourselves bushwhacking through the forest. The Audubon Trail is heavily traveled in the Summer but gets less frequent activity in the early Spring. Once we made treeline, however, we were able to move more quickly across the tundra.

The wind howled all around us, coming in bursts that threatened to topple us with virtually every step. We got some respite while trudging through a patch of high-altitude willows and managed to make it through this somewhat soggy terrain relatively unscathed. If we were a few minutes later, I am sure things would have been different as the islands of tundra were still a bit firm. Which was nice.

Our goal was to ski this skinny box canyon but once we reached the top, we determined this was not the best option as we would have had to downclimb into the pitch and the run-out was grim. The consequences of a fall would have been pretty high so we opted to ski an exposed snowfield from which we could traverse over into another very cool coulior. We booted out of the bottom of this to the top of the second pitch we skied yesterday for a sweet link-up. Then we dropped back to the bikes for a quick spin back to the cars for a total of about 4:45 hours. A great day of Spring skiing.

Today was more of the same: Up at 4:45, on the bikes by 6:15, hiking by 6:45 and skiing by 9ish. We didn’t get a hard freeze last night so we spend a good portion of the approach postholing. If you have never experienced this phenomenon, I recommend avoiding it. Not a ton of fun. It is amazing how quickly conditions can change in the high-country.

On the way up we came across two ptarmigans foraging for food way above treeline. (See if you can find them in the image to the right.) The male was molting, shedding his winter white for his summer camouflage. He stayed very close to his special lady who was already sporting plumage and was difficult to spot, even when you knew where to look. They softly cooed at one another as they picked around the tundra for seeds and other goodies.

We skied a very spicey line on the North side of Pawnee Ridge that was a real challenge. Very tight entry to some fairly scrappy, tight and steep terrain. It opened up at the bottom where I was finally able to make some decent turns. Luke and Pete were great company once again and we met up with Ben and Dan for some tasty post-ski food at Nederland’s Kathmandu Restaurant. Dan raced the Bolder Boulder this morning and has been helping me with Leadville strategy with his brother Ben. Both have run (and completed) the event and are a lot faster than I ever hope to be. It was good to get some much-needed advice for the race and training.

Tomorrow, I actually plan to take the day off. My ankle is still bugging me a bit and so I will probably take it easy for a few days to give it some much-needed rest.

Check out Luke’s photos of Audobon and Pawnee Ridge.


Edit: And here are some more shots from Pawnee Ridge.

Day 47…

The important thing is not to live but to live well. ~Socrates

Day 47 was a helluva day. Though I seem to recall saying the same thing about days 45, 44, 43, 42… not 46 though. That day was jacked.

Luke, Pete and I jumped on the bikes shortly after 6 this morning and rode in to the Mitchell Lake Trailhead west of Brainard. The Brainard Lake road was relatively clear with only a few major drifts to negotiate. There were quite a few people at the trailhead with a similar plan to our own but we seemed to be the only ones heading up toward Mitchell. After about 30 minutes made it to the Mitchell Lake trailheadh and hit the trail (which is currently not much of a trail, being that it is still covered with several feet of snow) and fairly quickly found ourselves at the base of Audubon on a glorious Spring day in the Rockies.

We started to “sneaker pack” up the main bowl and, after several minutes extolling the virtues of The Big Lebowski opted for the more secure and skier-preferred “boot pack” technique. Seems running shoes don’t a) kick steps very well and b) aren’t super stable in steep snowfields. Go figure. We selected a couple of nice couloirs to tackle and headed up the southern-most first as it was the most sun-exposed. After following Luke up his killer staircase (thanks for kicking steps all day, Luke!) for who knows how long, we made it to the top of the pitch, put on our gear and started the fun part of today’s adventure. The top was still in the shade, so pretty scrappy but conditions quickly opened up to hero conditions and great turns.

We repeated the effort on the more northerly pitch and were treated to more of the same with a gorgeous “summit”. There were some fox or coyote tracks at the top and the marmot and pika were out in full-force. We dropped back down and headed back out to the bikes for a quick cruise back to the cars in a total of just over 6 hours round trip.

A beautiful day with more of the same planned for tomorrow.

In keeping with my promise to share the movies I have been watching, here is my list for last night:

  • Delicatessen: I have seen this one before and was a bit distracted last night preparing for today’s adventure so I’ll have to watch it in full later this weekend. This is a very dark film by the makers of Amelie.
  • Jesus Camp: Scary as hell. Makes The Exorcist look like The Apple Dumpling Gang.

Thanks to Luke for the shots. Check out the full gallery. Hope you are having an awesome weekend.

See you out there.