Routes: The Stevens Gulch Traverse

stevens_gulch_pano
From right to left: Kelso Mt., Torreys Peak, Grays Peak, The Remarkables, Mt Edwards, and a few other bumps along the way.

stevens_gulch_traverse_map

The Front Range 14ers Grays and Torreys make an excellent beginner 14er hike – it was one of the first 14ers I ever did. Being so close to the Front Range Urban Corridor – less than an hour from Denver, it still affords some dramatic changes in environment, not the least because of the sweeping ridgeline going West to East to Northeast from Grays Peak, and ending essentially at I-70. When hiking up (or driving, I guess) up the beginning of Stevens Gulch, you can’t but feel that the world is closing in on you, and you’re now entering a different place altogether.

You may also, like me, have the urge to be on top of this ridge line. Not many obvious entrance points present themselves from the start of the Summer trail head to Grays Peak, to the summit of Grays Peak itself. The ridge is rocky and broken, with much rockfall danger. You could, and people have, find a weakness in the ridge to climb up, but I don’t suggest it. In this route, I outline what is sure to be a classic traverse over the entire Steven’s Gulch; bagging you two 14ers, a Class 3 ridge scramble, and at least 2 13ers – one of which (Mt. Edwards) is a Centennial. If that’s not enough, you’ll also go over a mountain that used to be labeled a 14er, McClellan Mountain – actually height: 13,587′ which faked out turn-of-the-century tourists!; as well as many smaller 12ers, in your hike to close out the loop.

Some stats of the route as I describe it:

  • 14.5 miles
  • 7,000 feet elevation gain/loss
  • mostly off-trail, w/Class 3 scrambling
  • no easy bailout point after Grays Peak
  • crampons/ice axe recommended until late in the summer season

This route is not to be underestimated, and it’s a requirement to get an alpine start, and not be afraid to bail, if weather comes in. Be strong in your logistics game.

Continue reading…


Routes: Boulder to Idaho Springs; Avoiding Black Hawk and Central City

avoidblackhawk

Ah, a good nice long ride in the Colorado Front Range foothills. If you’re like me, you like your rides to be challenging and engaging – as well as avoiding perils, such as traffic. A ride from Boulder to Idaho Springs (and beyond!) should be an easy target to hit. Idaho Springs makes a good resupply point, if you’re hoping to go further into the mountains, as there’s a good bike route from the Springs that you can take up and over Loveland Pass and onto the other side of the Continental Divide.

Unfortunately, between Boulder and Idaho Springs are the old mining townsites of Black Hawk and Central City, which now are home to gambling towns. Black Hawk seems to have quite an aversion to cycling in general, going so far as banning it outright in town. The reason?  Traffic from people coming into town to gamble – one of the only reasons one would come to Black Hawk and stay for any extended period of time. No gambling, no Black Hawk. This ban was overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court, but Black Hawk has made it uncomfortable for cyclists to go through town, as they’ve made an out of the way detour that bicycles need to follow – you can’t use the main street, that goes right to Central City! Thus, cycling is still banned in most of Black Hawk.

I don’t necessarily like going through Black Hawk/Central City. You lose and gain a tremendous amount of elevation to essentially ride through the middle of a high-traffic area (ie:no payoff!)- an area that doesn’t even like you being there. But, if you don’t mind some gravel and a more adventurous route, there are alternatives:

Continue reading…


Transform Your Experience – Boa Technology

I was on a bike ride (of course!) and had just crested my high point for the day, when I received a call about working with Boa Closure System on testing some of their new designs. They needed someone that could abuse their gear and see just what the limits of their designs might be. It’s not much of a secret that my bike/gear and I sometimes go to then ends of the Earth and back in the name of fun and adventure. Naturally, it turned out to be a great fit, and I’ve used shoes w/Boa-equipped dials for my successful Tour Divide on a single speed MTB, as well as my own ultra adventure FKT around Colorado: The Tour 14er. To this day, I have yet to break a Boa dial after thousands upon thousands of miles pedaled – the rest of the shoe literally falling apart around these perfectly functioning dials. They are true engineering masterpieces. I beg to equip all my shoes with Boa dials.

Boa has just released a series of short films, to help tell the extremely varied and poignant stories from some of their most dedicated users. Here’s mine – it gives you a little slice of what it’s like to perhaps go on one of those long rides of mine that starts at sunrise and only pauses when the sun again starts to set; nothing but a great expanse of scenery to breathe in, and nothing needed to do, but ride slowly and consciously through it. If only the rest of life could be so simple. Thank you Boa Closure System for your continued support. It’s a honor to help you out with your testing, experiments and R&D, and it was a privilege to be featured in your Transform Your Experience series. I remain a devote fan of the entire Boa Closure System family.

See the family of short films at transformyourexperience.com


Import a GPX file into your Garmin eTrex 20

Although it took me a little while to warm up to the idea of using a GPS, once I got one, I found them almost indispensable. This walkthrough is my basic workflow on getting a .gpx file into my eTrex 20.

As much as the eTrex is a great piece of hardware, it’s software onboard, as well as on my Mac is a little, well, rough. I won’t shy away from the fact that I was still trying to figure out how to use the darn thing, when I was lining up a few years ago to give the AZTR a go. Since then, I’ve gotten a bit better in making it work for me (rather than against). So enjoy the how-to, and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to give the AZTR another go next year.


11/23/15 – 11/29/15

Mon Nov 23 2015 – Off

Looks like Monday is becoming me default, “off” day – work just needs to get taken care of, which is fine.

Tue Nov 24 2015 – Sunshine Canyon/Gold Hill up! Lefthand/Lee Hill down  (S)

Another wonderful ride up Sunshine Canyon/Gold Hill. I could write an entire love letter to this route. Came down view Lefthand, then bumped up Lee Hill. I would almost say that the start of this workout is Lee Hill, as Gold Hill is so long, you might as well save your matches for later. The turnoff to Lee Hill starts with an immediate, steep climb and then several false flats, until you rocket down the other side.

OSMP_from_gold_hill
OSMP from Gold Hill

I’ve been avoiding this way for a while, as the construction on the downward side made the route a little less than ideal. Thankfully, that’s all been taken care of. For the three routes I’ve taken home after Gold Hill, Lee Hill seems the shortest, Olde Stage is the longest, and Lickskillet is the most difficult. All fantastic road routes.

I had an inkling of desire to go to the gym, afterwards, but that quickly dissipated after eating dinner. Tomorrow!

Wed Nov 25 2015 – Bouldering @ Movement, Sing Bike @ Movement

The bad weather seemed to be moving it, so I hit the gym. Had an OK bouldering sess, although I flailed on almost every V4 I thought I had wired, although made easy work on many of the V5’s I’ve been also working on. The rest of the session was fairly unfocused, until I started sessioning a V5 in the cave. I’m not strong enough to complete a V5 that goes up the middle of the cave proper, but this one quickly leaves the cave roof, the traverse the side of the cave, until pulling out onto the vertical wall on pockets. In that way, it becomes an endurance route more so than a power endurance route. After working it a few times, I was able to do everything in two segments, but couldn’t stitch it all together for a send – just too wasted after working on it for a little while. I’ll be happy to end it and it makes me feel that thee sorts of traverses are probably a great idea for me to do more of.

After bouldering, I did a two hour sess. on the spin bike, having the entire room alone, the lights off, the fan blowing, and some documentaries playing on my phone. It isn’t my ideal, but it’s a fine supplement when I need to do my thing, without too much outside stimuli.

After the spin bike, I attempted to do some campus training – but couldn’t make one move up the board – my upper body was just a bit too trashed. So, I switched to just doing a few sets of pullups and a few planks.

Thur Nov 26 2015 – Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fri Nov 27 2015 – Climbing @ Movement

Mob scene @ Movement. Totally mental breakdown for me (too many people). We left after just a few climbs, to find that we were boxed in on both sides of the car in the parking lot. Insult to injury. We almost never drive to the gym – but you know: it was 20 degrees out with freshly fallen snow, so we thought: what the Hell.


11/09/15 – 11/15/15

Woo boy. The difficulties of writing the things you do down, in order to keep some sort of history of said things.

 

And for what end? I’d like to say it’s so that I can use it to look back, and track progress and all that. I do it – or want to do it to keep myself committed to my goals of progressing. We all love a narrative.  We were there, now we’re here. And we’re much better, now!

 

Sometimes it works that way, other times, not so much. Many things have gotten in my way, mostly laziness; sometimes financial emergencies; or relationship issues; or I get sick for seemingly weeks.

 

Recently? I think I broke my foot! I honestly can’t tell if this is a broken bone, or a really bad sprain/strain. If it’s a broken bone, it’s one of those tiny bones that float around your foot, that you can’t really heal in any systemic way, so nothing to do about it anyways.

 

If it’s a sprain/strain, it’s a kind I’ve never had before. Partly because it’s on my left foot, and not my right. My poor right foot has seen countless sprains in my life, mostly due to skateboarding accidents. I’m used to feeling my right foot sprained, but my left foot, it’s aaaaaaaall new feels. But the pain doesn’t seem to be centralized in one area, which is bewildering to me. No real swelling – def. no discoloration.

 

So, how’d I do it? I fell on my head (mostly), and I guess my foot (a little bit) bouldering indoors. Missed the dyno. So lame! There goes my, “practice indoors because it’s safe” hypothesis.

 

My go-to for any injury is rest the thing that’s injured until said Thing doesn’t hurt as much. If that doesn’t do it in a few days, I usually just start again, because I will go insane just moping around.  I get all philosophical on the injury, too: “It’s either going to get better, or it won’t and I’ll die either way

 

So, I shall try again, to keep a weekly log of my tireless tasks at physical self improvement, starting this week, and ending at when it’s far too nice out to really find this minutiae important enough to make public.

Continue reading…


10/26/15 – 11/1/15

Monday, Oct 26 2015 – Bouldering @ Movement

Good boulder sess. today – very quick warmup of some V0’s and V1’s, which mutated into playing One Less Hold on some V1s until that got boring. Then I moved over to a V5 project I was working on a bit. Managed to send that problem. My issue was a fussy and reachy hold with bad feet. Try as I might, I could never find really great feet, so I just focused on getting the best grip on the key hold. Once I was able to do that, the rest of the problem was easy.

Moved on to the 45 degree overhanging wall to a V4. This wall is not one of my strengths, as I’m pretty heavy, and pretty weak. Good to work on your weaknesses, yeah? The problem starts off with a pretty easy traverse right with plenty of feet, then goes up on crimps. I wasn’t able to finish the problem, but made a lot more headway than I ever had, so that was a win. One of the problems was that I needed to be accurate with where I was initially catching the crimpy small holds, the other issue is that I had to pivot as much as I could, to make the reach as little as possible and have my body as much into the wall as I could. Still felt awkward, but I surprised myself enough, that if I had another fresh go, I could probably finish the last two moves. Sadly, I think the wall is being reset tomorrow. 

After that, tried another V5, this one almost on slab. It uses a corner as a hold for your left hand, then a pinch to your right. Then, you’re just left with pretty small chips for feet and hands, and a traverse to the right to finish it all up. I worked on this one a little but with another, stronger climber, but neither of us could figure it out, although since we were both of similar heights and ape indexes, we were both hoping to steal each other’s beta. Alas. 

I ended the two hours sess. with another bouldering game: This time picking some easy routes on the 45 degree overhanging wall, and purposely cutting my feet on every move. Very tiring, but I was able to fit a few sets in of doing that and left the gym pretty toasted. 


Talk @ Neptune Mountaineering Notes + Thanks

Thanks everyone who made the time to come over to Neptune Mountaineering and participate in my talk! I really appreciate everyone’s interest and support! Thank you Neptune Mountaineering for hosting the event!

GPS tracks of the routes I presented are available on my Strava Routes page:

Some of the routes/races I mentioned:

Continue reading…


The Funny-Named Weird Little Bike Shop That Changed My Life (for the better)

It was many things, to many, many people. Here’s what it meant to me:

salvagetti-bike_drive_thru.jpg

Salvagetti + Happy Coffee: a bike drive thru to by coffee + bike parts, open early in the morning. Another master idea by Scott. I borrowed those beefy tires from one of the mechanics of Salvagetti to try to ride this beast of a machine on some of the more technical parts of the Colorado Trail, in hopes of bagging some 14ers. Long story short: unsuccessful trip in many regards (Trailer?!), but I learned a lot and vowed to try again. September, 2010

I think I was on a date. We had just visited The Denver Art Museum. Practically across the street, there’s a block of row houses converted into businesses. One was a bike shop, with a hand painted sign, illustrated with a bike, and an Italian flag.

 

It read, “Salvagetti“.

Continue reading…