Friday, October 31, 2008

Switch Telemark Video: Early Season A-Basin Footage

We have been riding (telemarking) A-Basin so far this year. They have two runs open, plus the park. Not much, but for October you really can't complain. The snow has been pretty good - hard in the mornings and then soft in the afternoons.

It's been a great time practicing new tricks, getting the legs back in shape, and messing around. Once the rest of the mountains open up - and especially the backcountry - I have a feeling that this is going to be a great season.

Here is some early video footage of us telemarking at A-Basin.

Any other crew going up there? I'm always there in the line for first chair.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Green Mountain Bouldering: Working On a New Highball

Highball boulder problems are kinda a thing into themselves. Sure, they are just a really tall boulder problem (or a really short route), but the head games are all different.

First, unless you set up a toprope, there is no way to suss out the top moves. Every time you have to start from the ground up, working your way as you go (I believe this was/is John Gill's moto as well). Similarly, because you are not roped in, but easily getting off the deck, the mental component of the route really comes into play.
Green Mountain Highball Boulder Problem
Yesterday Tara and I went to try out a really nice highball problem that I had noted last fall. Located on the backside of Green Mountain in the Boulder Flatirons, this problem is really a classic.

Start on the arete, pull up with your right hand to a good hold, then reach out with your left to a good sidepull. From here, get a high right heelhook, reach across to a nice three finger hold, and then pop up to a small left hand gaston. From here you are well off the deck and teetering on the final couple crux moves. The top out is 20+ feet off the deck, and the problem does not let up.

It didn't go, but I got pretty close. I'll need to come in with a couple more pads - I only had one Metolius with me and after taking about 10 falls 10 feet off the ground, I had enough. The hike is about 30 minutes, so it is not that bad but long enough to make you think twice.

Lots of other good lines waiting to be done right in the same area. We need some of the strong kids to get inspired by the vast potential still waiting in the Flatirons (some are in the forthcoming Rocky Mountain Highball movie). There are still tons of undone, very hard boulder problems waiting to be had.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Winter Training Run: Trail Running Out in Eldorado

Well, fall has finally hit here in B-Town. This fall we have been blessed with cool nights, warm days, and a ton of perfect weather. It has been a great fall for trail running and climbing - from up high on the Peak-to-Peak and in Rocky Mountain National Park to down lower in the Flatirons and along the I-70 corridor. Now, however, the seasons are a changing. We've had a small snow in the mountains, and most trails above 10,000 feet are shut down for the season. Besides, the telemark skiing season is just warming up and the winter climbing season is fast approaching. So now is the time to set the winter training run.
Boulder Colorado Winter Trail Running Route
Every fall I try and establish a good trail run that I train on during the winter. By setting, I mean that I run it a couple times during the fall to establish what my normal training pace is on it at that time. Coming off another successful season in the mountains, with over 47 peaks run or climbed this season, it is a good way to measure my status over the winter and to see where I am at come spring.

This winter I'm running out in the Eldorado area. Starting at the South Boulder Creek Trail, run that up to the Mesa Trail. Continue up the Mesa Trail west past the turn-off to the Big Bluestem all the way into Shadow Canyon. At the top of Shadow Canyon, cross the little stream and start heading back east. This trail winds around and then drops you back onto the Mesa Trail. Hang a right, head back south along the Mesa Trail, and retrace your run back to the Big Bluestem turn-off. From here, follow the Big Bluestem out into the grasslands again and back to your car.

Total time for training purposes: 1 hour, 10 minutes. Miles: ~7.6 Elevation: A good amount.
Trail Running Sunset
This is not a super fast time, nor is it a slow time. It's about how fast I do it with 65% effort - just perfect for training over the winter.

So that is the Winter Training Route. Not only is it a beautiful run - today I saw rabbits, a hawk, a herd of mule deer, a family of ducks - but it has a good climb in it.

On the way out this is the view I was blessed with after.

Anyone else got winter training runs in the area?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Don't Touch The Glass: Flagstaff Boulder Problem Goes

Flagstaff is the local bouldering gym for many a Boulder climber. With over 600 different boulder problems, the place can keep any hardman busy for some time. Traverses, link-ups, elimination problems, sit starts, and the like, Flagstaff has something for everyone. Well, almost everyone...

Although Flagstaff is great, it often gets overrun by CU students, drunk highschool kids, and noobs by early afternoon. Morning is the time to go. Quite, cold, and empty are the qualities of Flag on a good day.
Don't Touch the Glass Boulder Problem Flagstaff
The other morning I finally sent a really good project called "Don't Touch the Glass." Called V8, it is really hard to judge in terms of grades simply because it involves three moves. The first is pulling off the ground. The second is throwing for the lip. The third is sticking the lip, matching, and then pulling over. Simple right? Not so. As far as I know, it's been done 3 or 4 times: Will Lemare, Peter Beal, and Peter Jones.

Located on the backside of Nook's Rock, it is right next to Window Shopper, a V11. The Nook's area has one of the higher concentration of hard problems on Flag: Don't Touch the Glass (V8), Window Shopper (V11), Butt Slammer (V?), Valhalla (V7), Nooks Traverse (V8/9), Battaglia's Bottom (V7/8), Cryptic Magician (V7), and others.

The fall and winter months are great for climbing in the Flatirons: dry, cold, and not many people. Next up, some cool routes I found deep in Eldorado...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A-Basin Opening Day: Telemark Switch

A-Basin Opening Day

October 15, 2008

It was pretty crowded on opening day, but what would you expect? Only one run open (the infamous White Strip of Death), and lots of people out there getting their winter legs. Nonetheless, it was well worth it. The season has started... and it looks to be good.

About Me

Who is the Rocky Mountain Raider? Good question. I'm a native of Colorado, and have been running, climbing, and telemark skiing in the Rocky Mountains and beyond for my entire life.

I grew up cross country skiing on the trails around Brainard Lake outside of Ward, Colorado. Now I'm a serious telemark skier who loves to haul big fat skis into the backcountry.

I've been climbing and bouldering for over 16 years - I prefer undone, obscure, no-name places and routes. The more remote, the better.

Oh ya, I'm also a big mountain trail runner. Back in 1995 I held the record for the fastest person to run all of Colorado's Fourteeners (14ners), completing the marathon run in 16 days, 13 hours, and 43 minutes. Of course, I didn't have a support crew, nor did I have multiple cars, drivers, and the like. I think it is still one of the fastest times for a solo, unsupported attempt at all of the 14ers.

I wrote a book called "Colorado Front Range Alpine Trail Running Guide" back in 2003. It is now out of print, but a few coveted copies can still be found in used bookstores.

Currently, I live in Golden with my wife, who also likes to come on mountain adventures. That is the quick and dirty. Maybe later I'll add more, but right now the mountains are calling!

You can email me at: or snail mail me:

PO Box 17712
Golden, CO 80402