Monday, July 20, 2009

Solo fun on Mount Lindsey

Friday after work I drove down to the Lily Lake trailhead with thought of climbing Mount Lindsey first thing Saturday morning. It took me 5 hours to drive from work which is located at the Longmont exit on I-25 to the trailhead, much farther than I was expecting. The main reason that it takes so long is the fact that this trailhead is way back there in the hills. It takes over an hour of dirt and 4x4 roads to reach the trailhead from Gardner Colorado. I arrived about 8pm on Friday and was asleep in the back of my 4runner by 9:30 or so.

Saturday morning about 4am a large group of 5-8 people started talking and making lots of noise at the trailhead waking me up. I laid there looking at the roof of the 4runner willing myself to move. I finally got out of my sleeping bag at around 4:45am to get ready and hit the trail about 5:10am after chugging an energy drink since I did not have any coffee and quickly eating a Clif Bar.

The first 2 miles can be confusing according to trip reports that I have read so I studied the hell out of the map in Roach's book and at the trailhead the night before. It was a good thing that I did because as you get into the thick trees the trail disappears then comes back only to disappear again. Basically after crossing the river (kept to my left to this point) I just angled to my about 50 degrees or so to my left (this is assuming 90 degrees is straight ahead)which is southeast and kept the stream to my right. I ended up picking up the trail again. After a short steep uphill I broke treeline and the rest of the route was laid out in front of me. I move pretty quickly in comparsion to most people so I was expecting to catch or at least be able to see the large group that started in front of me once I hit treeline but they were not in eye sight at this point which I thought was weird, were they that quick?

I pushed up the hill to gain the ridge between the Iron Nipple and Lindsey, what a site! This is a beautiful location. I just followed the standard trail up to the small notch at the top of the 1st gully. From here I got tired of dealing with the loose rock so I turned right and did some class 3/low 4 climbing to gain the ridge and followed the Northwest Ridge the rest of the way to the summit. By the point that I gained the ridge I was past crux wall on this route was able to easily follow the ridge to the summit never going above a class 2/3 climb.

I hit the summit 2 hours and 45 mins after leaving my car this morning. I only spent 15 mins on the top eating, drinking, and snapping pictures. I followed the standard route that I ditched on the way up heading down. This was a loose mess and was happy that I did ditch it going up, by doing that it made for a much more enjoyable climb. I saw the 1st people of the day heading up when I was coming down, I never did see that large group that left before me I have no idea what happened to them. I guess I was the 1st one on top today. On the way down I booked it and came across about 15-20 people total still heading up. Once I got below treeline back into the heavy trees where the trail was disappearing on the way up, I ended up using my GPS watch to follow my tracks back down to pick up the trail again. The trees in this valley are thick enough that I did lose signal a few times on my GPS watch. This valley is easy to get turned around in if you are not careful. It took me 2 hours to get back to my car for a round trip time of 5 hours on the dot car to car. 38 14er mountains down and 20 to go, getting there slowly but surely.

Here is a slide show of the photos that I took:

Friday, July 17, 2009

The real dangers in Colorado backcountry

Came across this article in the Colorado Springs paper and laughed my ass off. Click here for the link. I have also copied the text below for you.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and I will post pictures and trip report of Mount Lindsey when I get back on Monday.

CAMPING: What you should really be afraid of
The Out There ThreatDown ranks dangers lurking in the great outdoors

July 16, 2009 - 2:29 PM

Let’s face it, spending a night out in the woods is kind of … scary.

It’s dark out there. It’s lonely. Big creatures with sharp teeth and no regard for social norms lurk in the shadows.

Who hasn’t felt the hairs on the back of his or her neck stand up at the cold feeling that something out there is watching? But consider this: Statistically, a person is more likely to be killed by mouse droppings or mosquitoes in Colorado than by bears and mountain lions.

It’s not that there is nothing to be afraid of out there. It’s that we are often afraid of the wrong things.

We’ve busted out our own Out There ThreatDown (with apologies to the “Colbert Report”) so when you’re lying awake in your tent, you can be sure you’re scared of the right threat.


This tiny tangle of DNA that separates the men from the women is the most dangerous thing in the backcountry. It makes the hairier gender do really dumb things, such as climb mountains in thunderstorms, ski avalanche-prone slopes, and say things like, “Get a picture of me trying to ride this mountain goat.” Statistically, having the Y chromosome makes men three times more likely than women to be injured in the outdoors, and eight times more likely to be killed, according to a study by the Colorado Department of Public Health. Just to round things out, guys are also five times more likely to be killed biking, seven times more likely to be killed kayaking and 17 times more likely to be killed by an avalanche. The Y chromosome may also be a factor in Threat No. 2.

Best defense: Listen to your lady friend.


In Colorado, about 540 people die every year in traffic crashes. Almost half of them happen in highwaylike driving, where no intersection or stoplight is involved — exactly the type of driving most people do just before they go hiking or camping or biking.

Best defense: Slow down, pay attention and, for Pete’s sake, no texting while driving!


The leading killer of people in the outdoors in Colorado is falling down, usually at a high rate of speed (say, from a mountain bike) or from a high place (say, a mountain), perhaps because of unrealistic assessment of abilities (see Threat No. 1). These fatal falls account for about 30 percent of all outdoor recreational deaths in the state.

Best defense: Accept that you are mortal, know your limits and act accordingly.


These pulpy predators are misleading because they appear not to move. Yet somehow they manage to hit skiers with alarming regularity and disastrous results. Skier-tree collisions are the leading cause of death at ski areas, making up about 7 of the 13 skier deaths in Colorado every year, according to the Colorado health department.

Best defense: See No. 3.


Colorado is one of the top states for lightning-related deaths. We get an average of 16 lightning injuries and 3 deaths annually, according to the National Weather Service. Statistically, people are more than twice as likely to be struck dead on a weekend afternoon in July than at any other time. Men are more than eight times as likely to be killed by a strike (see Threat No. 1).

Best defense: Do not hike or camp above treeline, on ridges or in open areas after noon if there is even the potential of a thunderstorm.


West Nile surfaced in Colorado in 2003. Since then, the disease, spread by mosquito bites, has killed 83 people in the state. Only one in five people bitten by an infected skeeter will develop symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And only one in 150 cases will be severe. But a severe case can mean stupor, convulsions, coma and death. So, you know, best to take precautions.

Best defense: Long sleeves and lots of bug spray.


The seemingly harmless droppings of deer mice can carry hantavirus, a respiratory disease that is fatal in a third of all cases. Since 1993, it has killed 25 people in Colorado, according to the CDC. It mostly affects people in enclosed, droppings-rich buildings, but the CDC says anyone who comes into contact with mouse dropping in any setting can contract it.

Best defense: Look first before unrolling your sleeping bag. Do not hang out in areas that show signs of abundant deer mice, such as mouse droppings.


On average, hunters in Colorado accidentally kill 1.3 people a year and inadvertently wound an additional 12 with guns, arrows and other gear, according to the Division of Wildlife. Almost all incidents are hunter-on-hunter, and their kill rate is higher than that of mountain lions and black bears combined. Yikes.

Best defense: Know the hunting seasons and don’t dress like an elk — or a hunter, for that matter — during those times.


OK, these chubby little alpine rodents have never killed any hikers, but in some areas they have been known to crawl into the wheel wells of cars parked at alpine trailheads and chew things. Sometimes it’s just the coolant hoses (the little buggers are said to like the sweet taste of antifreeze). But sometimes they chew the brake lines. Not such a good thing when heading down Pikes Peak.

Best defense: Always check for marmots — and working brakes — before driving off.


Statistically, people are more likely to die falling into abandoned mines than to be killed by a bear or mountain lion, or any creepy crawlies or creepy people. Most bear attacks involve bears looking for food and accidentally taking a bite out of a sleeping camper. According to the Division of Wildlife, 27 people have been injured by a bear in Colorado and one killed in the past 20 years. Keep food and cooking gear in a separate bag hung in a tree away from your camp. For lions, avoid hiking alone at dawn and dusk. Keep close watch on small children.

Best defense: Make yourself look as large as possible and slowly back away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hardrock with a side of Sneffelupaguses

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."
- Steve Prefontaine

Hardrock 100

I could not think of a better quote to sum up what I saw this past weekend at the Hardrock 100 mile trail run. There was nothing but guts and glory on display at the finish line as I watched people come across the finish line to kiss the rock.

I am going to give a short recap of Hardrock and leave the race report to JT. I will link to his report when it is completed.

JT had me pace him for about 15 miles of the course on Friday night. We left the GG aid station outside of Silverton at about 7pm arriving in Ouray at about 11:30pm. He was able to move pretty quickly through this section which was about 15 miles/3000ft of gain and 5500ft of loss. After dropping off JT with Paul Smith, I had to drive Paul's truck back up to Silverton via the Million Dollar Highway, this is scary when it is late and you are tired from running for over 4 hours. Click on the link to check it out. It is basically a cliff highway with a huge drop off just on the otherside of the white line, no room for error!

Here are some of the pictures that I took:

Here are some of the pictures that JT, Katie (crew) and his other pacer (Paul) took:

After getting about 4 hours of sleep in the back of my 4Runner I headed back down to Ouray to knock out a 14er called Mount Sneffels on Saturday morning.

Mount Sneffels

I arrived at the lower trailhead at about 9am to hit the trail by 9:30am. I choose to start at the lower trailhead instead of 4X4ing up to the upper trailhead so that I could get a few extra miles and vertical feet in. This climb/hike ended up being about 6 miles and 3000ft of gain. It took me 3 hours and 15 mins car to car.

Here is the link to the route description on Mount Sneffels

This climb is really straight forward and easy to follow so I am not going to write up a long trip report. Basically it is a very beautiful part of the state. It is a toss up between Aspen area and the San Juans for the prettiest places that I have seen so far in my quest of the 14ers.

Here are my pictures from the climb:

After the climb I headed back to Silverton to hang out at the finish line and watch people come across. I just love the aura that surrounds a 100 miler.

Hope everyone has a great week! I am planning on doing Mount Lindsey this coming Saturday so I will post pictures/report next week on that.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Swearing Makes You Feel Less Pain

Maybe all those bad words that run through my mind during an ultra or a hard climb are OK and do serve a purpose. You can find the article here, but I copied the text below for you.


Swearing Makes You Feel Less Pain
Monday, July 13, 2009

That muttered curse word that reflexively comes out when you stub your toe could actually make it easier to bear the throbbing pain, a new study suggests.

Swearing is a common response to pain, but no previous research has connected the uttering of an expletive to the actual physical experience of pain.

"Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon," said Richard Stephens of Keele University in England and one of the authors of the new study. "It taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain."

Stephens and his fellow Keele researchers John Atkins and Andrew Kingston sought to test how swearing would affect an individual's tolerance to pain.

Because swearing often has an exaggerating effect that can overstate the severity of pain, the team thought that swearing would lessen a person's tolerance.

As it turned out, the opposite seems to be true.

The researchers enlisted 64 undergraduate volunteers and had them submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice.

The experiment was then repeated with the volunteer repeating a more common word that they would use to describe a table.

Contrary to what the researcher expected, the volunteers kept their hands submerged longer while repeating the swear word.

The researchers think that the increase in pain tolerance occurs because swearing triggers the body's natural "fight-or-flight" response.

Stephens and his colleagues suggest that swearing may increase aggression (seen in accelerated heart rates), which downplays weakness to appear stronger or more macho.

"Our research shows one potential reason why swearing developed and why it persists," Stephens said.

The results of the study are detailed in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal NeuroReport.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fast Times for Jobless Runners

I was looking through The Wall Street Journal on-line looking for the newest and greatest Delphi/GM bankruptcy news when I came across this article here. Interesting read, makes me wonder what kind of time I could post if I had all day to train. I copied the text below so you would not have to follow the link if you don't want to. I am leaving in the morning for Silverton to help JT complete the Hardrock 100 mile run in the San Juans. This is the biggest baddest 100 miler out there. You can track JT's progress here.

Fast Times for Jobless Runners
As Unemployed Amp Up Their Training, Marathon Results and Participation Rise


Longtime runner Ray Gobis posted a 3:09 at the Boston Marathon in April—his personal best. The cause wasn’t a new training technique or the perfect weather. It was because Mr. Gobis got laid off.

“Other people might go into a cocoon or something. Me, I’ve done the opposite,” says the 47-year-old Mr. Gobis, who lost his job in November as director of operations for a printing company. With his new-found leisure time, he has amped up his regimen to 60 miles a week and joined a competitive running group.

Americans might be poorer, but they certainly aren’t slower. With the economy in the doldrums, more people are discovering that without those 12-hour workdays, they’re able to pursue fitness goals like never before. Marathons, triathlons and road races are filling up in record time.

Some evidence suggests that laid-off marathon runners are actually helping push up the level of competition within their age groups. Olympic-level competition could even go up because more elite athletes coming out of college are opting to pursue their athletic goals rather than look for work in a dismal job market.

The effect on races around the country is difficult to quantify. But by one benchmark, marathoners have gotten faster., a Web site that tracks millions of race results, says 2009 has seen marathon times improve in nearly every age category. Using the 2010 Boston Marathon qualifying times as a baseline, the site looked at marathon results to see how many runners would qualify today based on previous races. The conclusion: This year alone, 4.6% of marathoners have run times that would make them eligible for Boston—a 39% increase over 2008.

Curiously, performance times in the past six years peaked in 2006, then slipped in 2007 and 2008. Troy Busot, who runs Athlinks, says that could be because the job market was bad enough in 2007 and 2008 that people had less time to train and were under more stress. “I think quality started to drop when people were like, ‘Uh oh,’ and had a little bit of anxiety,” says Mr. Busot.

Then in late ’08 and into 2009, extensive layoffs gave runners more time to train and, in some cases, less stress. “I guess the ones who don’t have a job will get faster and the ones who are desperately clinging to a job will get slower,” he says.

Adding to the significance of the speedier marathon times is the fact that 2009 has seen a big jump in participation, up 5.1% this year, according to Athlinks. More participation means more beginners, and slower times. Simply speaking, times should be slowing down, not speeding up.

Participation in marathons and triathlons can be costly, too. The New York City Triathlon, which costs $225 to enter, filled up in 22 minutes this year, compared to eight hours last year.

“People need structure in their lives,” says John Korff, director of the race. “They can’t just sit around all day.”

Zach Goldman, a triathlete from San Diego, describes himself as “funemployed.” Mr. Goldman, who was recently laid off from his high-paying commercial real-estate job, says he has enough time to train nearly full time and enough money saved up to travel the world racing and figuring out what he wants to do with his life–which is probably not commercial real estate. “That wasn’t all that fulfilling,” he says. “I’d like to do something more meaningful with my life,” he says—ideally in a career that will allow him to train longer hours. Mr. Goldman is currently in Israel, competing in the Maccabi Games, an international competition for Jewish athletes.

Rob Vermillion, executive director of the Oregon Track Club Elite, which trains Olympic hopefuls, says elite track-and-field athletes coming out of college these days are more likely to pursue their athletic careers because the job market is so slow.

“The economy is so terrible that they might as well run,” he says. As a result, Mr. Vermillion says the team, which caps membership at 20 people, has had to cut world-class runners who would in all other years make the cut with no problem.

To Mr. Vermillion, the economy may be a good problem. Track events in the Oregon area have become much more competitive because of the economy, he says. “I would be willing to go out on a limb and say the overall quality nationwide has improved,” he says, “and naturally, increased competition increases performance.”

When Chris Bennett was training as a runner, living in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1999, he had to make a tough decision: Live the life of a pauper to continue training and have a shot at one day winning a gold medal, or go into business during the IPO craze of the late 1990s. “You were giving up millions in stock options to chase the Olympic dream,” says Mr. Bennett, who eventually gave up his running career for a big paycheck in finance. Nowadays, he says, the decision is a lot easier–young athletes should just go for it, he says. “You’re not giving up as much because the economy is so bad,” he says.

Of course the full effects of the economy on amateur athletics are still a bit murky. And if the hiring outlook improves, the high participation levels could be just a small blip on the radar screen.

But the changing economic landscape could forever alter the way Americans view recreational and competitive athletics, as more people discover the joys of training and competing.

IDEA Health and Fitness, a fitness-industry association, says average gym membership went up 18% this year, to 3,394 from 2,866 last year, at the group’s member clubs.

Even in Michigan, where the economy has been particularly harsh, a new business promoting multisport events is holding its own. Eva Solomon says she thought she was “an idiot” to leave her stable job as a grade-school teacher to start a company, EST Events, during the worst economic crisis in a generation. But she figured things like triathlons were “recession proof.”

The first event she and her business partner put on, the “She Rocks” women’s triathlon, nearly filled up, with more than 400 women participating.

“I was blown away when I got home from the race and within two hours, I was getting letters from people thanking me for asking them to pay $80 to swim, bike and run,” she says. For the company’s next event, Ms. Solomon is considering offering a discount for people who can prove they’ve been laid off in the past six months.

Claudia Becque was distraught when she was laid off in January. Then she ran a 2:44 marathon time, slashing 14 minutes off her previous personal record—and close to Olympic level.

She’s now employed as a clinical research specialist for a medical devices company in Chicago. But her month of rest, relaxation and hard training have gotten her thinking: Maybe she should stay unemployed. She’s considering moving to a part-time job with her company, and all her friends are pushing her to do it. “Claudia, this is a sign. You need to just run.”