Tag: Elbrus Race 2012

Elbrus 2012 Summit Day

It was a cold night without heat in the Barrel Hut #4 where I slept at the 12,300′ level on Elbrus in Russia, and I slept fitfully.

At 5:30 I stepped out to check conditions and though it was very cold and windy, the sky was clear, so I prepared to go. It was slowly dawning with a lightening sky, so I could see a bit without my headlamp as I prepared. First was breakfast, a half shake and the rest of a Clif Z-bar I’d started in the night. — Elbrus, My Waterloo – publishing October 2012

It was slow going getting prepared, but finally I stepped out onto the glacier and began my upward plodding.

I checked my heart rate frequently with a goal to keep it around 140 for as long as possible for maximum endurance. I was doing okay with that, just very cold and the wind feeling like it was cutting right through me. All of the flowing water from all the previous days was frozen solid in midstream… — Elbrus, My Waterloo – publishing October 2012

Elbrus Summit Day Hypothermia

As I got higher it got colder and windier, and I ended up in all my layers, silently chanting motivational mantras to myself to inspire myself ever upward. A little over halfway to Pastukhova Rocks, I slowed to a halt, feeling the cold deep inside and in my numbing fingers.

I stared up at Pastukhova Rocks, about the halfway point, seemingly inches away, but actually over a mile and 1300′ up and away. I was indecisive. I wanted to finally finish, to get it behind me, but I was so cold. My imagination drifted back to 2009 and Liberty Ridge on Rainier where our team nearly died after a storm blew in after an epic struggle up the steep route. — Elbrus, My Waterloo – publishing October 2012

The niggling remembrance of a guide training course I once took told me I was experiencing mild hypothermia, and that I should descend immediately. As a solo climber, the margin for error is a lot smaller – there isn’t anyone to tell you when you’re experiencing a medical emergency. I turned around in tears.

I finally began to feel a bit warmer as I got below the Diesel Hut, but couldn’t figure out how to remove a layer. I needed to use my poles a lot getting down the steep dry pitch. I began to cough bringing up gunk from deep down in my lungs, and realized that I had used up my one chance for the summit on this trip, and that I would need to eat and drink more to make it down, not worrying about saving for a second attempt. — Elbrus, My Waterloo – publishing October 2012

Returning to the Barrels, I dried my boots, charged my Guide 10 battery pack, repacked my gear, drank and drank and drank, veg’ing in the bunk. Doing the math, I realized that in spite of my best wishes, I truly did not have a chance at the summit on the next day, since I couldn’t guarantee I’d make the last gondola of the day at 3 PM. In fact, it would be a struggle to make the last one today. I packed quickly and took off for the trail to the chairlift after checking that it was still running.

I managed to get lost on the way down to the lift, and made a few wandering wrong turns before I finally got there. It’s only a couple hundred feet down and you can see the whole path most of the way. I was almost angry that I got lost so much. .. The ride was very cold, and I wore the warmest jacket I had with.
At Mir I had a little trouble figuring out how to get on the gondola. Finally the maze of stairs made sense and I managed to get into a car, and make the transition at the mid-station. A little below the station, maybe 9000′ my whole body felt much better and relaxed. — Elbrus, My Waterloo – publishing October 2012

I arrived at the hotel after an amazingly scary taxi ride, settled into my room, and after dinner slept like a rock.

Elbrus Summit Day Photos


Grays Peak Speed Hike

On July 3 I did a speed hike on 14,270′ Grays Peak, a Colorado 14’er along the Front Range. I haven’t been to the summit of Grays since maybe about ten years ago. I had made a few half-hearted attempts, all stopped by snow or weather, or some other little thing, but today the weather was awesome, and just a week ago I’d done Quandary quite fast. The only little annoying details were that I had done a steep ten mile run the day before (July 2) and I ran into a really deep set of ruts in the road that I did not want to risk my car on.

I parked about 1.7 miles down the road from the official signed trailhead, and walked up. I set the Lap marker when I got there, 32:48 minutes. I boogied up the trail, and didn’t really feel anything like tired until the last thousand feet of elevation. I made the top in 1:36 for 3.6 miles.

Here’s a Google Map of the route:

I hung out on top for about 10 minutes, my standard time, to eat and drink, then took off down the trail. I was feeling a little tired and unsteady, but overall not too bad, just sore and tired legs and feet from yesterday I think. I made the trailhead in 1:26 for 3.57 miles (I accidentally cut a switchback). The last 1.7 miles to the car really hurt, but I did it in 33:50. Overall not too bad for a relatively unfamiliar trail a day after a ten mile run at altitude.

Grays Peak Elevation Profile
Grays Peak Speed Hike First Run - Elevation Profile

3900′ in 2:09 (time from car to top) is about 1800’/hr – or 30’/minute. That’s “okay” but I’ll have to do a bit better for Elbrus. This had a bit more horizontal though and rougher terrain – Elbrus will be almost all ice and snow.

Grays Peak Colorado 14er Summit Shot
Summit of Grays Peak

I have more info, including the Google Earth embedded viewer on my other Blog HERE

Quandary Speed Check and Training Run

On June 25 I did a run up and down 14,265′ Quandary, just South of Breckenridge Colorado, to test my current level of fitness as I get myself psyched about Elbrus Race 2012. When I did the 2010 Race I also ran Quandary a handful of times, and wanted to check my progress to see what my current level of fitness is.

Here’s a Google Map of the run I did:

I also have a Google Earth embedded in my other blog HERE along with some other description. I did 1:33 up and 1:26 down. Up was a PR, but down was not. I did have a lot surer footing on the way down than I have in previous mountain speed runs, but I guess it’s a bit slow compared to the one I did at 1:10, during which I fell twice and ended up having to halt training for a week to recover.

Quandary Summit Shot June 25
Quandary PR 1:33 Summit Shot

My previous PR was the last Quandary attempt I did in 2010 just a month before the Elbrus Race that year, so I am about 2 months ahead in fitness this year. I need to work my down times a bit, since there is a cutoff for the descent, but it is reasonable.

This is looking back in time a bit, and since I’ve done more training that I’ll report later.

Keystone Gulch Training Run

After deciding to more seriously pursue Elbrus Race 2012, I needed to adjust my training from long slogs of 18 miles or so on the relative flats (former marathon training) to include some vertical. I did a test run on Quandary last week, and did 1:33 up, which is actually my PR for that. I should assume then that I’m about 2 months ahead in my training from Elbrus Race 2010.

This training run is a steep climb on a dirt road that is used by maintenance workers for Keystone Resort. I like this road because the grade is relatively gentle and it’s mostly along a really pretty creek.

Here’s the Google Maps of this 10 mile run from July 2nd:

and if you want the Google Earth for it, look on my old blog HERE, since Google and WordPress won’t play nice together for Embedded Earth.

Keystone Gulch Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile for Keystone Gulch Training Run July 2

1600′ give or take ascent and descent over ten miles, in 2:13 averaging a 13:19 pace is pretty good, and I made decent enough time, though I was pretty beat the last two miles. I’ll give a few more stats about Elbrus Race in another post.

A Keystone maintenance truck went up a set of steep switchbacks starting at my turnaround point, so I might drive up a bit to shorten the overall distance and try going up those, since the map implies they top out at 12,000′. That would be cool.

Horseshoe Basin Training Hike

I am currently in training for my Aconcagua trip in December, part of which will be via fast hiking on rough terrain at altitude. I selected Horseshoe Basin, a fork of the Peru Creek Road between Keystone and Montezuma Colorado. The entire 15 mile semi-loop I hiked ascends from 10,100′ to over 13,000′ and returns by mostly the same route. I managed to hike the entire 15 miles in less than six hours, with about 2 miles in the middle (7 to 9 mile points) being on rugged technical terrain, which wasn’t great in the running shoes I was wearing, and went very slow – like 1 mph.

I was trying to run with poles, which I’ve done before, but never for this prolonged a time. The trail ends at Gray’s Lake, below Gray’s Peak, a Colorado 14’er (14,270′). I did the off-trail rocky traverse to an ill-defined ridgeline trail, and turned around at 3:09, approximately my turnaround target time. Descending on the stacked boulders/talus was fairly sketchy in my Hoka One One Stinson Evo, though they are really a lot more stable than the Bondi.

Once down to the road I picked up speed again, though I was fairly beat by the rocky section and couldn’t get my speed back up for very long. I finished my water (about 3.6 liters) and my gu packs about a half hour from the car, so perfect timing on that. Hikes like this are a great way to figure out your own needs in a relatively safe environment.

I have a Google Earth Embedded in my old blog – See it Here

It was a great day out in beautiful scenery, including rocky slopes, ice-covered ponds, snow-melt fed lakes, and a few rabbits. Excellent training for any mountaineering adventure.


Late Update: I’m including this in my Elbrus Race 2012 training group.

Half Dome Ascent via Cables Route

A friend (and fellow Goal Zero athlete) Steve Schrag had some permits to do the Cables Route of Half Dome on June 9 2012, and had asked if anyone wanted to go up with him. I happened to have that day off from other scheduled things, and was in a recovery week from my Steamboat Springs Half Marathon run, with some “miles” available, so I asked to go with.

I flew into Fresno and met him and his family at the curb, and we drove to Curry Village where we stayed in a tent cabin Friday night. Early Saturday we hit the trail and walked from the tents to the trailhead, about a mile. We selected the Mist Trail option, since that was shorter and maybe a bit more scenic. We stopped to filter water and top off our bottles, then proceeded to the cables.

The cables were steep, but especially with the boards every 5 feet or so, quite manageable, and we hit the top in a respectable time of 4:15. I have my Google Maps off my Polar RS800CX above, and since Google has basically banned non-blogger blogs from showing the Earth Plugin, I have the Google Earth version on my old blog at blogger.

We hung out at the top for about a half hour, then went down the cables and reversed the route, including the now extremely scenic, though congested, Mist Trail. We managed to get down to the bus stop in 3:15 in spite of the crowds, with a little bit of running in the last mile, and rode the shuttle to the Village Store, where we hooked up with Steve’s family. They had spent a relaxing day as tourists. We detoured to the Glacier Point overlook, for some great views overlooking most of the route we’d hiked just hours before.

They dropped me off at my airport hotel, and I checked in for a soak in a hot tub, and good, though short, night sleep. I flew out the next day for Denver, so I could spend a couple days recovering in Summit County. I loved the trip to Half Dome, and the exquisite beauty of Yosemite, and wonder what I could do with a year of training and preparation and maybe the assistance of one of my rope-gun friends?

Late Update: I’m including this in Elbrus Race 2012 since my performance here was instrumental in my decision to pursue working up the logistics and training for that goal.