Thursday, April 29, 2010

My South Boulder and Bear Peaks adventure..and a few words on Leadville

On Sunday a friend (who shall remain nameless on this blog per his request) and I met in Boulder at the South Mesa Trailhead and, over a period of 3 hours, reached the summits of two spectacularly beautiful, quite difficult and very technical 8,500-foot mountains—South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak.

Looking down from South Boulder Peak.

We reached the summit of South Boulder at about 9:15 a.m., an hour into our adventure. This was a 3,000-foot climb over about 3.5 miles—enough to really feel it. The top of South Boulder Peak was extremely rocky and technical, as were several sections of the trail leading to the summit. There were times I was really working hard and a few rocky sections where all we could do was walk. The views from the summit and the feeling of exhilaration made it all worth it. I made a point to look out and not down, as the drop was very steep. One must proceed carefully to the summit of South Boulder Peak or risk falling to their death. That is not an overstatement.

Sitting atop an 8,500-foot mountain after climbing 3,000 feet in 3.5 miles brings nothing but a smile. I think when I reach the summit of Pikes Peak I'll be smiling even more.

After chilling for a few minutes at the summit of South Boulder Peak, we made our way along a ridgeline to Bear Peak, which is also about 8,500 feet. It was pretty easy getting to Bear Peak, but it was not easy reaching the summit. Again, we were confronted with huge rocks and a very technical final section. But the top of Bear Peak was just as amazing. Again, we had spectacular 360-degree views. We could see not only South Boulder Peak, but also nearby Green Mountain and far-off Denver. We could see for miles and miles.

On the way down from Bear Peak my quads began to ache. They’re still a little sore.

Through it all, I learned a valuable lesson. When summiting rocky peaks, it is best not to carry a handheld water bottle. A hydration backpack would be ideal so that your hands are free for navigating the big rocks and boulders.

I love the mountains, particularly the mountains here. Right now I am obsessed with summiting Pikes Peak, and I will. It is not a question of if; it is a question of when. I’m told I should wait until June or July when the snowpack is more manageable to embark on this 25-26-mile adventure involving 7,400 feet of vertical. The key is reaching the top of Pikes Peak, which is over 14,100 feet, before early afternoon, when thunderstorms can roll in and bring plenty of danger.

So many adventures.


Registering for the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run required a gut check. Did I have the guts to enter a high-altitude race when I’d just moved to Denver from sea level, where I’d lived all my life? As with every 100 I’ve done, I felt pulled to Leadville and finally gave in and registered. But registering is only a small, albeit critical, part of the 100-mile experience. Training for the race and actually completing the distance are the true essence of the experience. Unlike my two previous 100s, I’m not entering Leadville looking for the win. I’ve developed enough respect for thin air to understand that my goals as a first-time Leadville entrant with a pretty good resume ought to be:
  1. Finish
  2. Finish in under 24 hours
  3. Whatever happens, happens
One hundred milers are very unique. Every race of 100 miles or more I’ve done has been unique.
  • 2007 Burning River 100 – a whole new view of the world
  • 2008 Mohican 100 – after losing the lead due to a knee injury and almost DNF'ing because of my knee and horrendous GI issues, I barely hung on to finish and somehow managed a 19:22
  • 2009 Mohican 100 – finally got the win I was after
  • 2009 North Coast 24 – after running in circles for 131 miles, I realized 24-hour races aren’t a lot of fun
I think Leadville will probably be a lot like the 2007 Burning River 100. With elevations of 9,200-12,600 feet, Leadville is going to be a whole new experience and open my eyes to something I’ve never seen before. But enough with the tallk. It's time to get it on with training.

This Saturday I have the Greenland Trail 50K. It has maximum elevations of about 7,300 feet. I have no expectations amd am just going to do my best. This early in the season and after a cross-country move that really disrupted my training, it's hard to say what's going to happen.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck on the Greenland 50k! Leadville will be hard, but you will get it done.