Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Elbert, Massive, etc

I guess summer is in full swing, today being the 13th weekday since school ended and all.  To date, though, I've only had one true "day off".  I just got back from Cheyenne Mountain's annual high altitude training camp.  I definitely made the most of it, getting on top of South Almagre last night at sunset.  This morning, some of the kids and I made it to the higher of the Almagre summits at 12, 367'.  The views of both Pikes to the NW and the city below are awesome.

11-ish miles.  Low point of 10,300' or so, plenty of runnable miles through some spectacular meadows on the south side of Pikes.
I was able to squeeze in a big mountain day on Monday with my new partner in crime, Jake.  He's up for most anything as long as it's tough.  I asked him if he wanted to take a look at some possible variations on the Nolan's run and he of course obliged.  My question was this:  seems many folks choose to descend Massive's SW slopes and ascend Elbert via the quiet W face route.  I figured we could do a loop to see to compare the two western routes to the standard eastern ones.

Started at North Halfmoon Creek (nine o clock-ish in this picture) and went counterclockwise, summitting Elbert via the its west face, descended down the northeast ridge (mostly), joined the CT, up Massive via the standard east face route, back to camp via the SW slopes.

The view of Elbert from the west.  We shot straight up the gulley in the middle and then joined the rightmost ridge.  Steep, but good footing.

Massive in the background

Top of Elbert, looking south.  La Plata is the cool bowl-looking one just left of center.

Mountain running!

Taking a break on our way up Massive.  I love this trail.

Massive's summit, noonish.

Jake standing proud next to his makeshift shelter.

Going down and up the east sides of these two mountains is a few miles longer than taking the western route.  I get why people would want to take as many shortcuts as possible.  We found the descent off of Massive's southwest slopes to be awful.  Rocky, steep, and jarring.  A few of those downhill miles averaged 30 minutes per mile...a pace we could do more quickly on most uphills.  Elbert's west face is a nifty little route, but besides the first mile and a half, isn't runnable at all.  I think that even though it's a bit longer, I'd prefer to take the "standard" routes and save the wear and tear on my legs that the western routes would cause.

There's a lot on my plate over the next couple of weeks.  I'm excited for it all.  The Nolan's run-through is coming up on the July 4th weekend.  I feel confident in almost the entire route.  The whole up-and-down Princeton part is probably the most problematic remaining, but I think we'll be able to figure that one out on the fly.  I'll be running flat miles for the next few days due to a conference I'm attending in Denver, and then my old high school team comes into town for their annual Colorado 14er trip.  When they leave on Wednesday, I'll stay in Lake City, climb a few peaks on Thursday, and get ready for a 50 mile fun run there on Saturday!


  1. Nice photos! What mountain are we climbing??

    P. Hoard

  2. Sean - On your ascent of the West Ridge of Elbert it looks like you stayed in the gulley way too long. I'm basically never actually in the gulley; you want to gain the ridge to the right of the gulley ASAP, at first there's even a little trail there to kind of lead you in the right direction.

    Did you take the (new-ish) trail down the SW slopes of Massive? Because it's super cush and should def not be necessitating 30min miles. Def the preferred descent there.

    Joe is planning a Nolan's assault tomorrow and Saturday. Hopefully the first 9 peaks tomorrow (massive to columbia), sleep, and then try to finish it off on Saturday. We'll see...I haven't scouted anything south of Columbia yet...