Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bitch of a Pitch

After sleeping in, we decided to try some more climbing since the weather seemed to be holding. There was a 20% chances of thunderstorms, but the skies seemed clear. So, we headed to Chautauqua and followed the Amphitheater trail to the south end of the Gregory Flatironette. We hiked down west of the ridge until we got to the north end of it. If you recall from a Labor Day Weekend post we tried to find this climb before. We're still not sure if we found the "official" route, but we did manage to climb the whole thing.

The first pitch was an absolute bitch. It was covered in lichen and not fun to climb. Dan did a great job leading it -- especially this awful block with very few foot holds (and those that were there were slick due to the lichen). The second pitch didn't have nearly as much lichen, but there was quite a traverse involved. The next two pitches were mostly fourth class scrambling. After the top of the fourth pitch we decided to ditch the rope and just scramble along the ridge. It started to rain a bit but we were able to make it back to the packs and to the car with only a couple of drops. Another long, good day.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Climbing with Sean

We invited Sean to climb with us today. We've never climbed with him before, but he has some experience (mostly indoor), so we planned on some easier, easy-access spots in Boulder Canyon. Unfortunately, there was some sort of meet-up group fundraiser at most of our chosen spots, so we headed back into town and decided on the Spy -- a piece of rock just north of and nearly attached to the First Flatiron.

Dan led it in three pitches and Sean and I followed. There were great views of town and the amphitheater area. It was really fun to have someone to talk to while Dan was leading and setting up anchors. We passed the tri-cam that we left in a crack last fall on the same climb. Sean tried for a good 20 minutes but he couldn't get it out either.

Since the weather was so nice, we decided to climb another route. We hopped on the First Flatiornette again, but a little further south than our climb on Monday. Oh yeah, and this deer was hanging out with us, too. He sat maybe 100 feet from us for most of the climb and then tried to check out our stuff when we were all off the ground. It was a fun two pitches and then we headed down for dinner. Ann came over, too, and we made pizza and then went to Glacier for dessert.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Boulder 360

Friday evening we went for a bike ride. We followed all the markings for the Boulder 360, a 23-mile ride that takes bikers around a good deal of the city.

We had fun riding around town and checking out some new bike paths, underpasses and neighborhoods.

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Flatironette, East Face route

This time of year is awesome -- light out until almost 9pm! We headed out to Chautauqua around 6pm today for a climb on the First Flatironette. Started climbing around 7pm, climbed two pitches, topped-out around 8:40, got back to our packs around 9pm and back home before 10. The climb was a lot of fun -- book said it was in the 5.0 to 5.2 range but there were parts at the beginning that felt a bit tougher, especially on lead.

The weather was great where we were but we could see some neat lightening up north in the pink skies. To the southeast there were rays of light seemingly emanating from Denver -- I can't explain this phenomenon. Any ideas? Click a pic to see more of them.

We hiked back to the car in the dark. There was an incredible amount of cloud-to-cloud lightening and occasional ground strikes, quite a light-show.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Climbing the Fourth Pinnacle

Yay! We finally got to go climbing! Between the abnormally wet weather and our commitments with WTS and Adam's visit, we haven't climbed since February. Though we got a bit of a late start (at the trailhead at 10) we managed to get in a good two-pitch climb in the Amphitheater area. Though most of the area is currently closed due to raptor nesting, the Fourth Pinnacle is open.

After some scrambling and route finding we picked a route called the Halls of Poison Ivy. Apt title. We managed to avoid the first ledge of poison ivy but after climbing about forty feet up we discovered an enormous patch of ivy. Dan did a great job leading and managed to keep us and the equipment out of the patch.

We both got to the top of the climb just as it started raining. It was a really fun climb where we got to employ a number of techniques. A good day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mount Democrat

Our plan today was to climb Mounts Democrat, Lincoln, and Bross -- all 14ers. The weather had other plans.

We decided to hike to the saddle between Democrat and Cameron and decide from there whether to continue. The weather didn't get any better, but since it wasn't much worse either we decided to summit Democrat. The view from the summit was mostly white.

The fog/clouds were thick enough that you couldn't see more than 100' ahead. On the way down it began to snow graupel -- stung a bit when facing into the wind.

It was getting late and the view from Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross would be about the same, so we headed back to the car. Too tired to write any more (up since 4am), check out the pictures.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laurel's Bike Ride

So, I wanted to see how far it would be to bike to my new school. The most direct way is down a highway so driving is easy. However, I did not want to bike down the big highway so I tried a few other ways. The way down was on roads and took a little over an hour. The way back was on trails and took twice as long! I got about 30 miles in this morning. Check it out!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Quandary Peak

The last thing on Adam's list for the week was hiking a fourteener. When he last visited in September we were able to summit Mount Bierstadt, another of our state's 54 peaks over 14,000 feet. So, I picked Quandary for today's outing.

We got up at 4:30 so we could leave by 5:00. The trailhead was past Breckenridge so it took us over two hours to get there. We did manage to start hiking by 7:30. At 9:30 we hit the first of many snowfields. Here we put on our snowshoes and started slowly towards the summit. I should say that Dan and I started slowly towards the summit, Adam cruised to the top. I think it was the awesome MSR snowshoes with lifts that he had. Regardless, we all managed to summit before 11:00 and the bluebird day allowed us quite a bit of time at the top. We could see for miles and enjoyed over half an hour with almost no wind. We then did a sitting glissade down the top half of the peak since it was so steep. Boy, was it fun be it numbed our backsides!

On the way up we saw two small mountain goats over the side of the ridge. On the way down we saw them actually on the trail. They were so cute!!!!

We got back tot he car by 1:30 and drove the long road back to Boulder. We all crashed on the couch and Adam is going home tomorrow. I think we all are going to need a rest after this week!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Other Activities with Adam

After we had a night to recuperate from our backpacking adventures, we shared some other great Boulder activities with Adam. Wednesday morning he and Dan went for a bike ride while I had a job interview (yes, I got the job and's elementary music 20 minutes south of here in a town called Superior). When I returned Adam and I went to the North Boulder Rec Center so he could lift weights and I could do my weekly swim. In the afternoon we went up Boulder Creek so Adam could do some fly fishing.

On Thursday Adam wanted to do "a climb" so we did a hike up Bear Peak here in town. Though this mountain is in our backyard, it is still quite a hike. We started at NCAR and hiked the Mesa Trail to Shadow Canyon (the hard way up). After climbing nearly 3,000 feet through a cloud that shrouded most of the peak, we reached the very wet summit. Our seven mile loop was completed by going down the Fern Canyon Trail.

Adam went fishing again in the afternoon and Dan and I went to Neptune's that night to see a film on a 1968 climb on El Capitan. It was amazing watching these climbers hammer in pitons and use what were then modern techniques which today are incredibly outdated.

Adam desperately wanted to see an elk, so I dragged him up to Rocky Mountain National Park where there are plenty! We followed Trail Ridge Road through the park and at about 11,500 Adam spotted three elk way off in the distance. He took some pictures, but was hoping for a closer view. We saw some marmots and pikas, but it still wasn't enough. Fortunately, as we were heading to Fall River so Adam could do a little fishing, we saw two female elks and a baby. Adam proceeded to catch a small brookie before we headed out.

Then, the best thing happened! We saw two bighorn sheep cross the road! They were so cool and only about 100 feet from us. I've never seen sheep so close! We stopped and took our couple dozen pictures and then traveled towards the exit. Once again, we stopped and were pleasantly surprised. There was a 10-point bull elk on the side of the road. We then noticed there were 7 other elk on the other side of the road and proceeded to watch most of them cross to meet the first one. Just incredible!

To wrap up the day we met up with Ann and Sean at Southern Sun for dinner. It was delicious, even if we had to wait a very long time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Backpacking Day 4

Last night was the coldest night yet. It was miserable. Though we were at 8750 feet, the lowest elevation of the trip aside from the trailhead, the air felt freezing because of all the moisture created from the creeks. There was frost on the ground and hot oatmeal never tasted so good!!!

We were very anxious to get going and get to the car. We left camp again around 7:00 and started heading up to our last big saddle at 9890 feet. The uphill felt good in that it warmed us fairly quickly. As we gained the highpoint we went through dozens of aspen groves that were unbelievably gorgeous in the morning light.

Coming down from the saddle was rough because the trail was so steep. I think we were all glad when we got to the final 2 miles of the trail, not just because the car was not too far away, but because we got to go up a bit and work different muscles! Ironically, my brother has the same bad knees I do (go figure!) so steep downhill is rough.

Well, we made it back to the parking lot at about 1:00 and were very grateful for the change of clean clothes we left in the car. Adam and I both nodded off on the drive home. We all raced for the showers back at the house and thoroughly enjoyed a hot meal, warm beds, and running water!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Backpacking Day 3

Once again we hit the trail early--by 7:15 I believe. Mostly, we wanted to get moving because it was chilly in the morning. Day 3 turned out to be an easier day. We had a lot of downhill trail which was nice after Day 2's long mileage. We left the Colorado Trail and picked up the Payne Brook Trail to get us back to the car. Nearby this trail intersection was also an intersection of many streams. Craig Creek, which we camped by the first night, was even bigger and deeper here because of all the feeder streams. Adam couldn't resist taking out his rod and quickly caught several small brookies. Dan started a small fire and the boys had fish for lunch.

After our nice lunch stop, we decided to go up the trail another mile or so and make camp. It was early in the day, but we were all tired from the first two days and wanted to camp in a flat area by the creeks. After pitching the tent, Dan and I went off exploring to a saddle area he spotted on the topo and Adam tried his hand at fishing. Thunder and a little rain forced us off the ridge for an early supper. But, the skies cleared enough that we were able to have a good, old-fashioned campfire until the sun went down.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Backpacking Day 2

After a chilly night we were eager to get moving early in the morning. By 7:30 we were on the trail and heading for lower elevations---eventually. We first had to hit a 11,700+ saddle before we could begin our descent.

We obtained the highpoint of the trail around 11:00 and Dan wanted to check out Zephyr Peak to the west. It topped out at 12,067 and had awesome views of everything! We could see Pike's Peak, Fairplay, and mountains to the west and north of us.

Later in the afternoon we got off the Brookside trail and started heading east on the Colorado Trail. Despite some intermittent snow we made good progress. In fact, by the time we reached our campsite for the night (which was off the trail in the dense forest) we had gone 10 miles. Not too bad if you ask me.

Night #2 was definitely flatter and a bit warmer than the first night. We tried to find the Beaver Ponds before we hit the sack, but didn't make it before we lost sunlight. It was a fun excursion, though.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Backpacking Day 1

Off into the wilderness....
Despite a chillier than normal forecast, we hit the trail with Adam Saturday morning armed with long johns and down jackets (Adam didn't have a jacket, but we did get him the 0-degree sleeping bag at REI). We weighed our packs before we left and each one of us was over 40 pounds. Dan was the heaviest at 52 pounds, so we knew the hiking would be slow going.

Lost Creek Wilderness greeted us with open arms as we set off to sunny skies and fields of wild flowers. We opted to hike our planned loop counter clockwise which meant we would be hitting some steep uphills on the first day. After nearly eight hours of hiking (and frequent breaks) we managed to go more than 6 miles and gain 3,000 feet in elevation. We set up camp just above a marshy area along Craig Creek. We wanted to make sure we were in the trees to block some of the howling wind that we battled all afternoon. Fortunately, the wind died down considerably, but unfortunately we ended up with a somewhat inclined site. I know I keep sliding down to the foot of the tent all night!

Adam tried his hand at fishing, but it was too cold so they weren't biting. Dan and Adam tried to light a fire, but between the wind, damp grass, and cold temps in the high elevation they failed on that front as well. After a very long day we were all tired and happy to get some rest!