Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Weekly Quotes

"Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence — the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes — all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose by the seriousness of the task at hand." — Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pikes Peak Climb via The Crags

I met up with Dave yesterday morning for a long and cold day on Pikes Peak. It was to be my first summit climb over 14,000 feet. In the past I have attempted many 14ers, but have always come up short of success. The weather was suppose to be marginal at best. 40% chance of snow, winds 20 to 25mph gusting over 30mph, and highs in the mid 10's. It looked like the snow would end early and the wind would pick up and persist throughout the day. The snowfall from friday night made the road to the trail head icy and treacherous. We reached the Crags trail head around 8am and were en route by 830am. The snow was not deep enough for our snowshoes, so we elected to leave them in the truck. As we began hiking through the forest, the clouds began lowering and the snow started falling steadily. It continued on throughout the entire climb up.

Along the way we were passed by a group of 2 men and a soloist. Both groups had summit ambitions. I have always looked up at Pikes Peak and visualized myself hiking up her broad shoulders and summiting quite easily, even in winter conditions. I never imagined that I would not be in the physical capacity to make it to the top. It was during our march slowly upward into the blizzard, that I realized that I needed to make a more consist ant effort to get myself into shape and strength. The altitude was causing my lungs to gasp for air, and the steady uphill slog, eventually made my legs into rubber. The start of the trail is at roughly 10,000 feet and the summit is 14,100; making a 4,000 vertical climb over 5 miles long. The further up we climbed the worst the weather became. When we reached treeline, the wind was howling, mixing with the snow, causing the visibility to become very limited. At times, I would lose site of Dave, which was at most 50 feet in front of me. Somewhere between treeline and the ridge, we ran into the group of 2 men descending down. They were covered in ice and looked a bit on the cold side. It would be a rough guess, but I would say the wind chill was somewhere around Zero degrees F, or lower. Nobody would summit Pikes Peak from the Crags on that day! The conditions were just too bad.

We never saw a glimpse of the summit block. As the clouds, snow, and wind kept her out of sight all day. After a long haul to the ridge, encountering gale force winds, blinding snow, and near exhaustion, we decided the best action would be to head down and call it a day. We made it back down to the truck at 3pm, making a 7 hour trek into the winter among Pikes Peak. We will be back for another attempt and she will be waiting for us, always looking down, as a queen atop her throne. As we descended the frozen tundra, the clouds began lifting to the west. Although they never broke above the ridge, looking west we could see as far ad the San De Christo Mountains, the Collegiate Peaks, and the continental divide. Below, South Park, Lake George, and Divide were clearly visible. It would only take a turn of ones head to see the shoulders of Pikes Peak, and at that point realize that each person is only a small part of a much larger thing.

I did not take many pictures, as the cold kept my hands in my gloves. Dave took quite a few pictures, and I will add them to this post as I receive them.

Let it Snow

10% chance of snow overnight! Yeah Right! It has been snowing all night and it continues on as of press time. The forecast has changed to 50% rain and snow mix. I haven't seen any rain, but the snow is starting to add up. It is the 1st major snow for Colorado Springs this year. The long term models are suggesting more unstable weather for the next 2 weeks with on and off snow. After looking around the states ski resorts, we need more snow! Let it SNOW!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Winter Storm

Winter weather is due in to arrive here wednesday night, bringing with it a chance of snow mixed with rain in town, and heavier snowfall in the higher elevations. There is not any estimates for accumulations in town nor on Pikes Peak, but the forecasted temperatures are looking to be on the cold side. High temps above 11,000 feet on saturday are suppose to be around 10degF with winds 20 to 30 mph, driving the wind chill well below Zero F. To add to the drama, a 20% chance of snow and mostly cloudy conditons are forecasted to accompany the sub-zero wind chills. It looks to be a great winter day out.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pikes Peak on Thanksgiving Weekend Plans

I have been making plans to do an overnight early winter climb over the long thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately,
I will not be able to do a overnight venture. Friday is looking like time with the kiddos, so it leaves saturday as the only day available to climb. Pikes Peak is an obvious objective, mainly due to it's proximity to my house. I met someone on 14ers.com forum that shares my enthusiasm for mountaineering in Colorado. If the weather is not too terribly bad, then it may be all systems go. We are expecting a major storm system to move into the area on thanksgiving day and last until saturday.

While chatting with Geof, it appears that a line up one of the many snow routes in the Glen Cove area of Pikes Peak might be a good choice. There should not be much snow up there now, so the avalanche danger will be at a minimal level. Great News!! After the initial snow and rock gully climb, it will be a nice, long stroll to the true summit of Pikes, another 2 miles away. Pikes Peak has a lot of acreage that is above treeline. Once gaining the ridge proper, the summit appears to be off in another time zone! It should take us the better part of saturday to make this climb, but it will be worth it. National Weather Service is calling for a 10% to 20% chance of snow and a high of 10 degrees F above treeline with winds becoming stronger as the day progresses.

The picture above contains 2 of the options that we might go up to begin our climb from Glen Cove. I have added a link to the Pikes Peak Telemark Club website containing a guide for the Glen Cove area. http://pikespeaktelemark.org/devils_playground.html I will submit a more detailed report of my climb after I return on saturday night. The only down side thus so far with starting in Glen Cove, is the toll required to enter the Pikes Peak Highway en route to the visitor center at Glen Cove. It will cut off several miles and add a little more climbing to the route. The original route I had planned on was starting out at The Crags campground on the west side of Pikes and then hiking up to Devil's Playgound, gaining the long main northwest ridge to the summit. Starting at Glen Cove, we will top out at Devil's Playgound and then follow the Crags route along the ridge to the summit. It looks to be a fun and exciting day out.

Training Links Added

After reviewing my last post, I have realized that the links in my post will not work. I have added a new side tab entitled "Training Links". Within those links you will find the same links that are listed in my original post.

I have also found the correct way to input links to my text, so the purple links within the text will lead you to the links.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Training for Mountaineering

I have found some information on the web that will be very beneficial to anyone wanting to make a dramatic change in their physical and mental self. It will help you to get into the best shape of your life! There is a lot of information out there to inform people of fitness matters, but I have found something that will help a couch potato, like me, to become a person great physical and mental strength. Training for mountaineering involves a huge commitment of time and energy. It will develop persistence and focus. I have modeled my own training after other mountaineers. If Denali or Everest, or even the Mexican volcanoes, are on ones mind as a future goal, then a long term training regimen might work best. I hope that after a few weeks to a month, then I will begin to notice major changes in myself.

Here is a link to Lou Whittakers web site concerning with training and conditioning. There is quite a bit of information on his site. http://www.whittakermountaineering.com/pg/training_conditioning

And another great link to Alpine Ascents International site on training for McKinley. The adobe files, Denali Training Chart and Program, are a carbon copy of my personal training schedule.

Lastly, I have included a link to a pdf file from the American Alpine Institute of the demands and physical conditioning required to climb a big mountain, such as Denali.

I would hope that these links will inspire and provide someone with the basis to improve his or her self.