Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bouldering on Green Mountain: The Views and Problems are Amazing

I'm a little behind in actual chronological order when it comes to posting. I've got to put up photos of all the bouldering problems down in the San Luis Valley and in northern New Mexico that we were at last week, but first, some more on bouldering at Green Mountain. I love bouldering up at Green Mountain - no one is there (ever), the stone is stellar, and the views are well worth the hike.
Colorado Continental Divide from Green Mountain

Two weeks ago Tara and I hiked up to do some of the ridge problems. Green Mountain has a number of "areas" on it - the Ridge, the first draw with the Highlander and other highball classics, and then the stuff way out there past the ridge and the Standard Block. The potential for new problems is huge, although many of the most classic lines have been done.

Here is Tara trying her darnedest to stay on and prevent the barndoor on the very steep wall in the Sunset Outcrops area.
Green Mountain Sunset Outcrops Bouldering

The arete on the far left-hand side of the wall is also quite good. There are a number of ways to "do it" and depending on if you use any of the face or not, you are looking at anything from V4-8.
Bouldering Green Mountain Sunset Outcrops

This area has a number of fun, moderate to mid-hard problems in it. There are also a couple obscure, very hard undone lines on a couple boulders just a few feet away (one of the projects on Green Mountain still to be done exists down in the Blarney Stones...). But the real beauty of bouldering on Green Mountain - and especially up on the ridge - is perhaps the view you get of Boulder and the Flatirons when you top out.
Boulder and Flatirons from Green Mountain

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November Telemark Footage: A Compilation of Early Season Shots

Well, November is almost over, and we have only gotten a couple powder days. Not a good start to the season. However, A-Basin and Keystone have done a great job of keeping the snow coverage on the few runs they have open in pretty good shape. No rocks, little ice, and some really fun stuff on the sides.

I see a lot of telemarkers just cruzing straight down the mountain. I get that for a few warm-up runs, but then I like to try and ride the mountain and see what it has to offer. I guess I draw on my previous pro-snowboard career when I approach telemarking at the resorts. For me, the middle of the run is the most boring part of the slope - unless I've got my race skis on and there is some really nice corduroy. Rather, I tend to weave in and out of the sides of the run, jumping back onto the run and landing switch, popping around the edge of the trees, having as much fun as possible in these early season conditions.

Well, let's all hope it snows and the steeps and powder open soon. Until then, here is some more pre-season footage (other early footage can be found here and here).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Classic Flatiron Bouldering Problems: New Gems on Old Stone

Last week we had hiked up to the Burgundy Boulder to do some old classics and some of the newer problems on its north side. On the way up I spotted some new stuff that looked like it could go. So on Monday Tara and I hiked back up to the base of Fern Canyon to check it out. Turns out, there is some really good bouldering to be done.
V10 Bouldering Flatirons
First, there is an really cool cave/slot problem. Climbing out of the dark cave on some side pulls, you have to match on a slopper, then head right as you move out of the slot. The crux comes as you begin to move right, eventually emerging from the dark and rounding the corner of the boulder. Real cool moves and such a rare problem.
Fern Canyon V10 Bouldering
Below, there is a really nice boulder that has several hard problems on it. There is a low traverse along the bottom, angling up left to right. You can choose to do the whole traverse until the top out at the end, or shoot straight up in a couple places. Either way, nothing is easy on this boulder. The traverse goes around V10ish, and choosing to bail earlier and shoot up to the lip doesn't make the problem any easier.
Fern Canyon Traverse V10 Boulder
All in all, this little conglomeration of boulders has a bunch of real nice test pieces ranging in the V7-V11 range. Fun movements, decent landings, and impeccable stone make these boulders a real gem when one thinks of places along the Front Range. Sorry, I don't know the names, but who cares. They get done so infrequently, each time feels like a FA.
Tara bouldering traverse Flatirons Colorado

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Night Trail Running: Discovering New Abilities, Ways of Knowing, and Experiences

It has been a really dry, warm fall along the Front Range of Colorado. The mountains are hurting for snow, and I'm already beginning to worry about our spring snowpack and water conditions for next summer. Until Ull pays us a visit and the snow falls, I've been busy getting my telemark legs in shape and maintaining my trail running legs. Although I run peaks and mountains mostly during the summer, I usually cut way back during the winter - my legs need the rest and I switch to my winter love - telemarking. But I don't drop trail running all together, still managing to get in some decent mileage.

Last night I went out to run my current winter trail running route - a nice training run that has some good vertical and mileage combined. Since we just had a full moon and the sky was cloudless as is typical during an Indian Summer night, I though I could run without my headlamp. Often during the summer I use a Petzl E47 PS Tikka Plus Four-LED Headlamp, Soft(thanks Wolfgang!) for the early morning mountain approaches or late evening descents. However, thinking that I could run the trail with only using the moonlight, I left it at home.
Petzl Tikka Headlamp
Long story short, the moon doesn't rise above the horizon for about two hours AFTER the sun goes down. That is, there is/was no moonlight to run by. Needless to say, I had to get back.

Trail running is a very special activity, one that I love to do. As any avid mountain or trail runner will tell you, there are times your state of reality changes. Sometimes it takes place in the form of time changing - an hour and a half slip by in a matter of seconds. Other times it is in terms of energy - all of a sudden your feet are light and your steps come effortlessly. On this night, this change in consciousness came in the form of vision.

Without my headlamp I had to shift my awareness to one based not on vision per se, but on a more subtle form of seeing that involved feeling the ground and imaging the terrain I was running over. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking any New Age mumbo-jumbo. Science has started to back the alternate experiences trail and mountain runners have reported having (In fact, I presented a scientific paper on this back in 2004, which was subsequently published in the back of my guide book Front Range Colorado Alpine Trail Running Guide: Just The Basics for Only Those Who Are Hardcore).
Night Sky Trail Running
I've had this experience at other times, often after a long day in the mountains when I'm slogging back to the car in the dark. The ability is the same - a knowing that whatever the trail conditions are, I'll be just fine if I keep up my pace and let my body (not my mind) do the running.

I'm going to have the chance to see if I can't replicate this experience on a regular basis this winter, as my new winter training run (thanks for the memories Settlers-Sanitas loop) has no artificial light on it at all. It is 100% in the open space. As the only time I do my training run in the winter is after work, I'll be doing it numerous times in the dark. As the science seems to indicate, this experience is/was not a fluke, but rather an accessing of sorts to abilities and cognitions already within me. So really running has opened up a part of me that thus far I have been unable to access. Now I just have to be able to access this cognition at will.

Are there other stories of running opening up knew ways of knowing? New understandings? An awareness or ability that you never knew you had before? If so, why not share it in a comment.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bouldering in the Flatirons: The Burgundy Boulder

On Monday Tara and I went up into the Flatirons to do some more obscure bouldering. There are so many boulders that have undone lines on them around here it really is a wonder. I guess they only get climbed on by old-schoolers, people like me who like remote problems, or if they get press and some new hard line gets established (Black Ice anyone...). Perfect day, a little cool, not a soul around, and just a fun time.

The Burgundy Boulder, located in a meadow down at the base of Seal Rock is just such a piece of stone. Horan lists it in his various guides with a couple moderate grade problems on it. Nothing really worth hiking to, right? Wrong. The landing is perfect, the boulder has a bunch of fun moderates to warm up on, plus a couple really cool mid-range hard problems (V5-8). Besides those listed in the guides, there are also two really good problems on the north side of the boulder that are never noted.

Below is Tara on the classic V4/5 problem under the small roof.
Burgundy Boulder Flatirons Climbing
Here is Tara on the V7ish problem on the north side - the left variation.
Burgundy Bouldering Flatirons

Here I am on the same problem, but going right (slightly harder).
bouldering flatirons burgundy boulder

There are a couple of other gems in the same area. This is what makes Boulder such a great place... perfect stone, empty climbing spots, and a beautiful setting.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Early Season Backcountry Telemarking in Basque Spain

As I noted earlier, this season has been off to a slow start. This is especially true for the backcountry. I've been itching to get back up into the alpine after the trail running season came to a close a couple weeks ago, but we just have not had the snow cover. A few places have seen some coverage, but it really has not been worth it to skin in and get some good turns in. Hopefully soon. Instead, most telemarkers in Colorado have been relegated to the famous "White Strips of Death" that show up on A-Basin and Loveland every October. Luckily, that season is over, although it was fun (here is some footage from this year's A-Basin WSOD - telemarking switch keeps it interesting).

It looks like our friends over in the Basque country of Europe have beat us to some good backcountry off-piste telemarking this year. Here are a few photos from the Bask Telemark Klub on a recent outing in the Basque area mountains. Wish we had that kind of coverage here in Colorado. Soon...

Telemarking in Spain

Spain San Lorenzo Telemarking

Telemarking in San Lorenzo Spain

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ultra Runner Marhsall Ulrich Completes Run Across America

Marshall Ulrich ran for 52 days across America, through Death Valley, the mountains of Colorado, the snows of Pennsylvania, the colors of Central Park, the whole majesty of the nation and all its wicked weather.

As word spread Tuesday that he was setting all kinds of records, Manhattanites joined him on his final triumphant miles, down the middle of Broadway to City Hall as dark crept in on Election Day.

"People cheered me on, policemen on horses gave me the thumbs-up," Ulrich, 57, who lives in Idaho Springs, said today.
Ultra Runner Marshall Ulrich
"It was just after dark, about the time the polls closed, but there were so many lights I didn't need my night gear," Ulrich said. "We got to city hall and past security. I finished with my wife. Without her, I couldn't have finished it, or even started it.

"She's been an extraordinary person and wife and friend."

Ulrich, who has run more than 100 races of more than 100 miles, easily smashed the 50-and-older record for running across the nation. For good measure, he also broke the record for 40-year-olds and above.

He thinks it's the third or fourth fastest time ever. The record for the 3,043-mile trek is 48 days set by Frank Giannino in 1980. Giannino was there at the finish to congratulate Ulrich.

Ulrich ran for himself, but also for a United Way campaign to battle obesity in the United States. He's not yet sure how much money he raised, but is sure that he raised some awareness.

He started at San Francisco City Hall in mid-September, weighing in at 162 lbs.

He finished 52 days later, having lost just 4 lbs.

Read more about Ulrich and his amazing run here or check out his blog here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Undone Boulder Problems in Eldorado Canyon State Park

With this never ending Indian Summer we are having along the Front Range, the climbing and bouldering conditions have been amazing (the telemark skiing is not so good but fun - check out A-Basin switch telemark footage). As a result, Tara and I have been exploring some areas that see little to no traffic, but have a ton of potential for new lines, new problems, new routes. Eldorado Canyon Bouldering ProblemGreen Mountain is one spot - boulders are everywhere and lines just seem to pop out. A lot have been done (check out Colorado Boulderingand Colorado Bouldering 2- the new book by Horan is controversial and should be avoided).

Boulder Problem in Eldorado Canyon
Another spot is Eldorado Canyon State Park. Again, the Musicals have been climbed on for a number of years, and so have the Metaphysicals. This is the place where Suspension of Disbelief is (V12ish) and Midnight Frightening (V11) are located. But what about other blocks? We found some amazing looking lines on our adventure. Pictures don't do justice, but here are a couple to get people psyched on the potential.

This block is amazing. Slightly overhanging with a flat landing, who could ask for more. However, the real winner is up the slope further...
Eldorado Bouldering Problem

The cave has several good lines coming out of it. A rare formation for sandstone, this block resembles something you would find in the Park more then Eldo. We worked on several problems on independent lines. There are also several potential link-ups and eliminates, depending on where you start and where you come out. Good climbing, sustained movement, and an unobstructed view of the Continental Divide.
Eldorado Bouldering Problems
And the backside is what really holds the gem. Although this photo does not do it justice, there is a clean line going straight up this slightly overhanging face. Yet to be done. Any takers?

I don't know if these boulders have "official" names. There is no evidence of chalk, the moss is thick, and if anyone has climbed on them, it was done by the ghost of Horan in the 70s.

It is exciting to know that after climbing in the Colorado Rocky Mountains for over 16 years lines like these are still to be had. Anyone care to hike...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Skiing Lanin Volcano in Chile: A Successful Descent

The season is off to a slow start here in the States. Although Colorado has A-Basin and Loveland open (and rumors that Keystone is opening next week), why not enjoy some photos and stories from our friends down south.

Down in Chile, our friend at Wagner Custom Skis and Snowboards just did a very nice descent of the Lanin Volcano.

Here is a preview...
Lanin Volcano Chile
An unsuccessful attempt in 2001, illusive yet again in 2006, and topping the list during the years in between. At 3776 meters Volcan Lanin was consuming my thoughts. This time around, in the beginning of October 2008, I would go for it again. As the chairs stopped spinning in Las Lenas and after spending some quality ski time with my brother, it was time to return to the Patagonia region with only a week remaining during a month long ski adventure. Traveling from Las Lenas through the night to the Argentine resort town of San Martin de los Andes I was inspired again with a glimpse of the volcano from the bus. Arriving in San Martin, only two hours drive from the base of Lanin, the weather waiting game began.
Skiing Lanin Volcano Chile
Staying in the hostel Puma, it was not long before I found some like-minded individuals keen on an attempt of the volcano. Spending only a few rainy, windy days around the region we made the most of it seeking out hot springs, I was happy for the rest after the previous week spent in Lenas. Eventually we were presented with a small yet promising window in the weather. It would happen the day before I absolutely had to catch a bus back to Buenos Aires in order to catch a flight back to the states.

The true adventure began when I loaded up ‘radio flyer’, a small red Suzuki samurai, with Nick Frazee, an acquaintance from Las Lenas, and Drew Friedmann, telemark skier and proud car owner from Chicago. Cramming our gear and ourselves into the rig we began driving toward the volcano. We didn’t make it very far before the sound of metal on metal and smell of burning brakes had us a bit worried. Turns out we had blown a wheel bearing on ‘radio flyer’. Two or Three hours of drinking mate with the mechanic, modifying bearing components and disconnecting the rear breaks, and we were on the road again.

Read the rest here....