Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bouncing Back

Sorry, I've been really lazy about updating this lately. As a matter of fact, I've been really lazy altogether. While I've been trying to recover from my IT Band issues (which isn't going well, by the way) I have been doing some more climbing and hiking. I've gotten in a few decent runs, but nothing to rave about.
At the beginning of December I was asked to go hiking with Devin, Jami's brother. He had already been up Olympus and wanted to do another good hike that wouldn't take a lot of time. Considering the amount of snow that had fallen in the mountains I thought something near the city would be better, so I chose to do Grandeur Peak. It is a short hike, 6 miles round trip, with an exposed south facing slope, which means little snow as it sees the sun all day long.
We were off and hiking by 6am; me and Devin, with Tyler in tow. It was cold, but as usual, after we got going things heated up nicely and we were unzipping our coats and taking our gloves off. The trail was in pretty good shape. For about a quarter of a mile after the Church Fork / Pipeline Trail crossing it was really icy, but beyond that it was dry trail to the top. We hit the top in under two hours. The views were very good and there was little wind. It was much colder up there, so we didn't stay long, but I was able to shoot some photos of us on top, including a few peak jumping shots. You can see them below.

In the couple of weeks after that I got in some running, putting in about 20 - 30 miles a week. I've continued to battle my knee problems and I know I just need to take a bunch of time off, but I just hate the thought of losing all the fitness I built up this last year. So, as usual, I'll continue to work through it and retain some level of fitness.
On Friday, Dec. 18th, I met up with Devin again, but this time Scott W. and his friend Jackson came along for an attempt on Olympus. There was even more snow now than when we did Grandeur, so the top beyond the saddle would be even more challenging. We were moving against a short clock on this trip as Devin needed to be to work by 11am. We met at 6am, which means we only had about 4 hours to complete the hike so that Devin could get home in time to shower and eat some breakfast before heading into work. We moved out at a quick pace and after a half mile Devin and I had opened quite a big lead over Scott and Jackson. Devin mentioned that he felt bad leaving them, but if he was going to summit we would have to leave them behind. I didn't argue and we took off at an even faster pace.
The trail was well traveled, with packed snow all the way up past the switchbacks. Beyond that the trail was still in decent shape, but it was certainly far less traveled. As we got almost to the saddle we knew we were running low on time and were coming up to our turn-back time. I mentioned that even if he had to turn around that I would keep going, being so close. He agreed, but then said that he would tag along no matter what and just risk being late. When we got to the saddle he mentioned that the last time he had been up on Olympus this was the highest he had gotten because it was getting dark, so today would be his first time on the actual summit. Beyond the saddle we had to break our own tracks, sometimes in snow as deep as our thighs. Once we were in the gully up to the summit the snow was a little shallower and more solid, which made traveling a little easier, but the rock was icy and slick. Instead of turning right and moving up the last easy gully we decided to head up some 4th class right and then traverse over to the true summit. It was funny, not very scary, and made for dry travel. We only stayed on top for a couple of minutes, snapped a few photos and were off back down to the saddle. About half way down the gully we met up with Scott who was alone. Jackson was just cresting the saddle. They were a good 30 minutes behind us. We shot down the trail as quickly as possible and were down to the cars by 10:15, leaving plenty of time for Devin to get home and showered. It was a great morning. I only wish T could have been there. He still has yet to summit Olympus. Next time for sure.