Monday, September 29, 2008

East Boulder Trail

Pics from our sunset hike on the East Boulder Trail on Monday:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another amphitheater day

We climbed at the amphitheater again today. First climb was the South Face of the Second Pinnacle, which we were thunder-boomed off of last weekend. This time we made it to the top in two pitches -- some tricky route finding involved. We rapped off the back and walked back around inside the amphitheater to climb The Inset (5.6). The weather wasn't making up its mind so this shorter climb was a good choice. By the time we both completed the climb the clouds had mostly moved on, so we chanced another climb, this one up the Third Pinnacle. We didn't have the guide book with us, so we just headed up a crack leading to a nasty overhanging roof. Luckily we made it around the roof. At the top of the climb we realized there was an easy walk-off on the backside, so we took that back to the trail and called it a day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


(click pic to see more)

Today we got up early to hike Gray's Peak. It's a 14er. We planned on taking a 6.5 mile (round-trip) trail, but the road to the trailhead required a higher-clearance vehicle than our Echo. So our hike started 3 miles from the trailhead. Somehow by the end of the day we had hiked 14 miles -- new meaning to "14er".

The way up started easy, but once we got to some snow it became pretty slick and slowed us down. There were clouds overhead but nothing too scary, so we kept going. Closer to the summit we heard some thunder but it was coming from the east, so we kept going. By the time we summited Gray's Peak there were thunderclouds on both sides of the mountain, although at quite a distance and moving slowly. It was surprising that at 14,270 feet there wasn't the slightest breeze. We stayed up there for about 10 minutes and headed back down -- decided to skip summiting Torrey's Peak due to the weather.

The return trip was a blast -- lots of glissading made for a quick descent. It was actually slower and more difficult where there wasn't snow on the trail. At one point there were graupel flurries but nothing substantial.

The weather turned for the better so we decided to recon the start of another hike/climb we had read about. It climbs the Kelso ridge for 1800 vertical feet, starting at a saddle between Torrey's and Kelso Peaks. The guidebook suggested a rope and some rock hardware (and an ice axe if there is snow), so we forwent the expedition for today, but it looks like it's going to be a great way to summit Torrey's Peak next summer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My morning bike ride

Click here. And yes, I did come back down. I just didn't feel like double clicking down Flagstaff Mountain. There are a lot of switchbacks!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fern Canyon, Nebel Horn, Bear Peak

After recovering a bit from the race, we headed out for a "short" hike in Fern Canyon. I think it's named that because there is exactly one fern on the trail. This steep trail goes up to the summit of Bear Peak. Along the way we scoped out a little cave/tunnel formed by some gigantic boulders.

Further up the trail we scrambled up to the Nebel Horn -- the rock ridge/summit that Adam and I gave up on Thursday. (I found a class 3 approach to the summit but it wouldn't have been good to do on Thursday, so in hindsight, even though the trail was very close, it was good that we turned back.)

The Nebel Horn is really neat! There's a giant hueco on top the size of a 10-person jacuzzi. From the top I could see some climbers on a nearby rock. And if you look closely in the picture above, you'll find Laurel hanging out at the base of the Nebel Horn (zoom in).

From the Nebel Horn up to the Bear Peak summit the trail got even steeper and wilder. It felt like one of the 14ers we've done. We were both winded by the time we reached the summit. I think this is one of the best hikes we've done around Boulder -- excellent views, scrambling, and hiking.

We ate some granola bars at the summit and started the hike back down -- the way up took around 3 hours and we had about 2 hours of daylight to get back down. By the time we got back to NCAR it was just starting to get dark. (BTW, the pink building dead-center in this photo is NCAR, where we started!)

(all pics from this hike)

Boulder Half Marathon

Start of the 2008 Boulder Half Marathon; Laurel crosses the starting line about two and a half minutes into the video:

And this is what Laurel looks like after running a half marathon:

She finished in approx. 2:18, 11 minutes faster than her training times! Here's her official results. Click pic for more.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gregory Canyon climbing

We're working our way through Roach's guidebook... did a few more climbs Saturday in the Amphitheater. We've climbed 13 of the 25 climbs (not counting variations) in the main Amphitheater area. The last climb we attempted was a 2 or 3 pitch route up the Second Pinnacle. I was at the top of the first pitch setting up an anchor when we heard horrible thunder coming from all directions. Scary and unexpected. I was almost a full rope-length out, so lowering was not possible and rappelling was not a good option. Instead, I downclimbed the pitch, removing pro as I went. Good thing it was only a 5.2! As we hiked out it was just starting to sprinkle.

Some pics from the week

Click pic for more...

Other Adventures with Adam

Well, after Bierstadt Adam was still ready for more Colorado adventure despite his mantra of the week, "You're trying to kill me, aren't you?"

On Thursday Adam and Dan headed out to Bear Canyon in hopes of seeing some bears (crazy, huh)? Our alligator hunter wanted to see if he could take a bear down with the same knife with which he took down an eleven and a half foot, 500lb gator. Fortunately for the bears (and my brother and husband!) none crossed their path. However, they did spend the entire day hiking and scrambling around Nebel Horn and other areas OFF the main trail. Because of all the scrambling they did, Adam got very interested in rock climbing. More on that in a bit...

Thursday night we got ready for CU's Blackout Game. After dressing in the darkest clothes we had, we hopped on our bikes for Folsom Field. With 53,000 fans (many of them drunk college students) we cheered the Buffs on to victory. We FINALLY got to see Ralphie, the CU buffalo!

On Friday Adam and I checked out Lucile's for breakfast. It was excellent Cajun cooking recommended by a friend of our father's. I then took Adam on a mini-tour up to Gold Hill to see what a small mountain town looks like. As I headed to work for a professional development afternoon meeting, Adam hit Boulder Creek and caught a few small fish. In the later afternoon we all met at the Amphitheater for some climbing.

Adam toproped a 5.2 60-foot climb on the West Bench--his first outdoor climb ever! After a second successful attempt, I suggested we try something a little more exciting. So, Dan led a fourth class rather exposed climb up to the top of the East Bench. With some encouragement, Adam summited and waited patiently for me to clean. He then was the first to rappel back down into the Amphitheater. We managed to get back to the car with our headlamps safely.

After a quick shower, we all headed to the Red Lion for dinner. This restaurant specializes in "Wild Game and Continental Specialties." Needless to say, I got the vegetarian entree while Adam and Dan ordered elk and quail. Everyone's meal was delicious!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mount Bierstadt

On Monday night my brother, Adam (a.k.a. the alligator hunter), arrive in Colorado. Since Dan and I both had to work, Adam went off on his own exploring. With fishing pole in hand, he ended up catching some small trout in a mountain lake in the shadows of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker...4 miles off the road an hour from Boulder. He made it up to 11,500ft on this first day here!

Today he and I decided to tackle an even bigger project. We drove an hour and a half southwest of Boulder to attempt a 14er. Despite construction on the approach road, we hit the trail at 9:30. After 3.5 hours of strenuous hiking Adam summited his first Colorado peak. The skies began to look scary so we quickly started our decent. The way down was cold, a bit windy, and snowy--it actually hailed for a little bit.

The good news is I got Adam back to Boulder in one piece and that he survived to tell about his mountaineering experience!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gregory Canyon weekend

Yesterday we climbed at the Gregory Canyon Amphitheater. Gorgeous weather all day. First we summited T-Zero a few times -- a smaller rock (50') hiding behind the big pine tree in this first photo. Good climbs, and since there were no fixed anchors at the top we lead-downclimbed a 4th class route each time to get off -- a little too exposed to do unroped. Laurel led two routes up to the summit and I did two as well.

After tackling the easier routes on T-Zero, we headed up for the 1st Pinnacle summit, but this time we climbed the right route (vs. last time)! Amazing what a good guidebook can do for you... This next pic is the start of the East Face Dihedral, which we took to get to the top of the East Bench, then from there it's a step across the top of the chimney onto the east face of the 1st Pinnacle. You can see the bottom of the chimney at the top of the photo.

Now yesterday's weather was great, but today it was overcast and foggy. Didn't stop us from going back for more -- the rock was the only thing around that was dry, lucky us! These pics are all from today, so no blue skies to show. See the low clouds? So it was a bit chilly but we managed to do a couple of routes, Laurel led the first one and I led the next two. We've ticked off a few of the routes marked "Classic" in Roach's guidebook already... our plan is to hit them all (100s), starting at the beginning.

This afternoon I'm tuning up the bikes while Laurel goes on an interview. As I'm working I see this creepy spider checking me out. It's a jumping spider.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Friday Evening Bike Ride

Included a stop to pick up Chinese for dinner!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Latest New Career

Wired Berries

Click on the Fitness tab.


Bike, hike, boulder, hike, bike was our progression this morning. After playing on the rocks at Sanitas Laurel took me up into Sunshine Canyon and then across to Fourmile Canyon. Steep! Fun going down too :) 14.5 miles on the bike, 1200' elevation gain.

Monday, September 8, 2008

evening bike ride

It was cold and hazy tonight, but we went for a ride anyway. And that's it.

Big F'n gator!

That's my brother!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Matt, Laurel, and I backpacked in the Lost Creek Wilderness this weekend. We started at the Twin Eagles trailhead near Jefferson, CO and headed north for 7 miles towards McCurdy Park Tower. After some 2,500 ft elevation gain we set up camp by the creek.

The three of us brought our rock shoes in case there were any bouldering opportunities. Once camp was set up Saturday afternoon we decided to hit the McCurdy Park Tower. On the hike in we hadn't seen any trail going to the tower and nothing was marked on our topo, so we just started walking up the hill through the woods towards the giant.

This rock isn't climbed very often due to the 6-mile approach -- not your typical roadside crag with cleaned rock and nice landings. The bouldering seemed a bit sketch so we instead decided to scramble up the scree to the left of the tower. It was steep and some of the rocks were loose so it took some time. The views from above were fantastic. Once in the shade the rock was very cold -- and so were we -- so we turned around to get back to camp before sunset.

Back at camp we put on another layer and started dinner. We sat by the fire for a while before turning in. The night was very cold and I don't think any of us slept very well. In the morning we discovered ice and frost on the tents (and everything else of course). [Mental note: camping at nearly 11,000 ft in September is cold. Don't repeat.]

We had breakfast, packed up camp, and hit the trail a little after 8am. The hike back had a fast pace to keep us warm; by 11am we were back on the bridge by the trailhead. Very successful first backpacking trip for us -- many thanks to Ryan for suggesting this area!

Summary: 0 bears, 0 people (except a few by the trailhead), 0 oC, 1 small snake, 2 blue grouse, 1 million grasshoppers, lots of horse poo, and 2 wolverine poos (maybe). See all pics. See route on Google Maps.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day 3 of the long weekend

Dan started the day with an early-morning bike ride. Matt came up from Colo. Springs around 9am for a day of climbing. We tried going to the Boulderado (again) but ended up at Coney Island instead. Found a sport route that looked like it would go and each had a few turns climbing it. Later we found out the route was called Runaway. A website graded it 5.8 but we only did the lower part which was probably 5.7. It didn't look like there'd be any other routes for us on this rock, so we set out to find the real Boulderado. It's a popular crag but there was one route open for us, and it was a good one (Idle Hands, 5.6). We each got a few runs up it before the clouds turned sour. It may not have rained but the sky sure didn't look good! Overall a good day of climbing. (More pics)

There was a neat caterpillar at Coney Island. In the spring it will become a silkworm moth.