Saturday, August 22, 2009

King's Peak Run

On Friday, August 21st, 2009 I attempted a run of King's Peak, Utah's tallest mountain at a height of 13,528 ft. A 25+ mile endeavor with over 8200 fett of elevation gain and loss.

I woke up at 2:30am and had Eric Peterson and Davy Crockett in my car by 3:10am. We were off to King's Peak. We got to the trailhead and were ready to go by 6am, but we decided to wait another 15 minutes before leaving so that it would be light enough for us to leave our lights in the car. We set a good pace right off the bat as I led out towards Elkhorn Crossing. We made it to Elkhorn Crossing (mile 5.3) in 58 minutes. Eric was still getting used to his trail legs. He is a fantastic road marathoner, but needed to find his legs on the rocky terrain.

Davey reaching Elkhorn Crossing at exactly 1 hour. Eric arriving about 5 minutes later.

After Elkhorn Davy led out and really pushed the pace past Dollar Lake, all the way to the Henry's Lake trail turn-off. We were to this point in 1:35ish, almost 30 minutes faster than Davy's previous best time.

Eric and Davy with King's behind them.

I hopped out in front again and led to Gunsight Pass. We were well ahead of expected times at this point. The trail hadn't been difficult for this first 10 miles of the trip, but now we had to make our way through the cut-off from Gunsight Pass to Anderson Plateau, a tricky 3rd class scramble up about 500 vertical feet. Once on the plateau we spread out a bit and I began to pull farther ahead.

Me at Gunsight Pass

At Anderson Pass, mile 11.5 and 12,700 ft elevation I decided to push to the summit and let the old-timers catch up. I reached the summit in 3:11:19, 20+ minutes ahead of Crockett and almost 30 minutes (or more, I can't remember) of Eric who was really feeling the elevation. That last mile is a technical scramble over very large, loose scree; some the size of cars. Once on top we took photos, ate some food, and relaxed for a few minutes before heading down. We had the clocks turned off during this time. I stopped my clock each time I stopped to wait or refill water. Actual travel time for the whole trip, including stops, for me, was just over 7 hours.

We headed back down. Super technical downhill, such as down-climbing and scrambling are my specialty. I think it comes from years of rock climbing because my eye - foot coordination is quite good, allowing me to make precise foot placements quickly and move on. By the time we were back down to Anderson Pass I had opened up a considerable lead, which grew as we went down the final technical section back to Gunsight Pass. I wouldn't see either of them again until 40 minutes after finishing.
With 10 miles to go I felt 'ok'. With 8 miles to go I was tired. And when I crossed Elkhorn Crossing with 5.3 miles to go I was fairly wasted and planned to walk anything that resembled an uphill and run the flats and downhill. My running pace was around a 9 min mile, but with the added walking in between it turned out to average around 11, still not bad. With 4 miles left I kept telling myself it would be ok that Davy and Eric would pass me. They are far seasoned veterans and much stronger at this distance. But I never heard footsteps and I never saw them 'on my six'. Even with a quarter mile left I was certain they would catch me. With the end in sight I turned on the speed and finished around an 8 min/mile pace for the last 100m. I had done it. I had acheived a goal I set for myself since last year. I was exhausted, wasted, elated, dehydrated, nausious, and glad it was over. I slowly drank water till I felt better, then ate an apple and waited. After 20 minutes I got worried someone was hurt, but as it turned out, Davy just got dehydrated and had to refill in a stream and Eric was just tired from the altitude and elevation gain and loss. Eric and I finished the day with a nice sit in the river and then we drove home. I then spent the next three hours at our company BBQ, serving food and managing a bean bag toss. I'm worked.
Me on top

This is the elevation chart from Garmin Connect. You can see the overall gain and loss and how much there was. It was a big day. I hope to do it every year.

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