It’s been awhile since Tony and I have climbed anything longer than a couple of pitches outside, so we decided to head down to Eldo to get up the Yellow Spur. It’s a glorious day and we quickly broke a sweat hiking up the Red Garden Wall access trail. For me the Yellow Spur presents two significant difficulties- the first and the 6th pitch. The first pitch consists of an awkward and difficult to protect traverse under a roof. The area is shaded making it chilly and not an ideal warm up. After clipping one of Layton Kor’s original pitons, I moved upward with my left hand in a good crack, brought up my feet, and reached for a somewhat slopy ledge with my right hand. Here lies the scariest part of the entire route for me. I’m not very strong when it comes to pulling roofs and while this one is only 5.9, the exposure is notable in that a fall would most likely result in ground impact. The first time I went up the Yellow Spur Dakota protected this move by placing a .5 cam in the left hand crack. I don’t seem to ever feel comfortable doing this, opting instead for just pulling the move with a no fall option. Today it felt much easier though and I was happy to see that all the time recently spent in the climbing gym has been beneficial. I kept my composure and turned to grin at Tony once I clipped the directional sling above the roof. Once Tony joined me at the first belay, we both commented on how hard the wind was blowing and how uncomfortable this would be further up the route. Tony decided to still give the second pitch a shot, but after waiting several minutes for gusts to pass part way up, he retreated. We both agreed that it wouldn’t be much fun continuing in these conditions. We rappelled down and headed back to the river to climb Touch and Go, an easier one or two pitch route that is better sheltered from the wind. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the climb all motivation was gone. It’s weird how despite the beautiful day and tons of daylight left, we simply couldn’t get into a groove to climb anything. We both felt sheepish leaving the park, having essentially accomplished nothing. I guess it’s a good reminder that being outside can be enough sometimes and that it’s not always about accomplishing goals.
We have a gas leak in our basement. Nothing too serious as it didn’t even trigger the alarm, but the faulty joint is still in need of repair. Our boiler sits in our crawl space, which is a terrible place for it to be as it’s prone to flooding. Our boiler is a pretty antiquated contraption and while I have a good grasp on all the other systems in our house, the rickety, old, copper pipes that stem from the boiler create a sort of web of mystery in my mind. I hope to look into a more efficient system in the future.
I convinced Deanne to try a yoga class at Movement today so that we could climb together afterwards. She liked the space and came out of the Yin class looking very relaxed. Despite not having climbed in about 10 years, she’s elegant and calculated in her movements. It’s a good reminder for me that gracefulness is a good a attribute to work on as a climber.
It’s a cold, foggy morning. It feels like a stay inside type of day, but I’m still happy to get a nice, short run in before heading down to climb again at the gym. I’m trying to taper for White Mountains next week and while I have definitely reduced my running load, I’m still tiring myself out climbing a lot. It’s difficult for me to rest completely and I’m pretty attached to the daily need for movement. Much like with running, scheduled rest is important to climb well and I’m starting to feel strain in my fingers and shoulders. I have this dull ache in my left shoulder that sharpens when I raise my elbow like a wing. The pain seems to be gradually migrating down my bicep and into my forearm. I’m glad I’m leaving for Alaska on Wednesday which will impose a full week of rest for my upper body, although I’ll still tire the legs out a bit.
After a very productive work morning, Deanne and I hiked up Twin Sisters Peak east of Longs. The trail is about 4 miles to the summit and a couple of thousand feet of gain. I’ve never been up there before always opting to go up Longs instead, but it’s a worthy little trail with nice tree cover most of the way up, making it a good alternative to Longs if the wind is blowing hard. After the hike, we got a couple of fish tacos at Ed’s in Estes Park. It’s nice to spend quality time with Deanne and with it being Spring Break she can really relax without having to think about school for the day.
Deanne left for Oklahoma this morning to visit her grandmother for the week. I tried to get some time in at the climbing gym early morning, but my shoulder is still giving me some trouble. With Deanne gone, I felt in a bit of a void all day with no need to get back up the hill to take care of dog. This led to not getting much accomplished, but mentally it was a relaxing day, spent mostly unplugged from the internet. It’s weird not having dog around as every time I leave the house, I expect her to come running to the door ready to head out with me. She has little triggers, like the noise of me closing my laptop that suggests we might be going for a walk or run together. It’s funny how I’ve also developed that a similar association with shutting off my computer and every time I do it, I wait for her to come running.
iRunFar published my piece this morning, The Imaginative Space. All my gear for Alaska is scattered on the floor and I go over different weather scenarios in my head to ensure that I’m giving myself enough options for anything that might come up. Winter racing is highly unpredictable and weather can change quickly up in Alaska going from a pleasant 30F to 60 degrees cooler in no time. I’m bringing options with me to Fairbanks and will make a final kit and clothing layering decision the night before the race based on the forecast. Packing is an interesting process for me. I’m extremely meticulous when packing up my gear and drive myself crazy trying to fit everything in the smallest bag possible. At the same time, I pretty much always wait until the last minute to pack, so crunch time can be pretty frantic. This was true last year when leaving for ITI. I spent so much time thinking about gear and fine tuning everything, but nearly missed my flight to Alaska because I couldn’t fit all of my options in the duffle before leaving. I’m glad everything is packed a day in advance for Whites.
I got a short final run in with all the gear I plan on using for the race as well as food and water. There are aid-stations about every 20 miles and no drop bags so the race is fairly self-supported. Everything carries well and unless temps drop significantly over the next few days, I’m confident in my current set-up.
Here is my White Mountains 100 gear list. I will also be bringing warmer options for all of my clothing, as well as snowshoes and goggles and a larger pack in case the weather forecast for the race changes dramatically over the next few days. As of right now conditions are looking pretty optimal for moving fast and light.
Shoes: inov-8 Oroc 340 or Roclite 286 GTX (ITI boot that I’ll only use if it’s forecasted to be extremely cold the entire race)
Socks: Drymax Snowboard socks or Lite Trail (only in warm conditions). I will carry a back up pair of snowboard socks and a pair of Arc’teryx Dry Socks in case my feet get wet and cold.
Pants: Adan Shorts, Trino tights. Back up Atom LT pant.
Top: Phase SL Zip Neck LS and Konseal Hoody.
Jacket: Squamish Hoody or Gamma SL Hybrid Hoody and back up Cerium LT Hoody.
Gloves: Phase Liner Gloves, Venta SV Glove and back up Alpha SV Mitt.
BUFF: Original BUFF x2
Glasses: Julbo Dust with Zebra Light lenses
Other: Fire starter, duct tape, knife, space blanket, Petzl e-lite, Black Diamond Icon Polar headlamp +spare batteries.
Pack: inov-8 Race Ultra vest (for kit) + inov-8 Race Ultra 1 (for 1L of water using 2 Hydrapak .5L soft flasks) + 1 additional Simple bottle.
Food: Roughly 5,000 calories, all chews (Clif shot blocks or similar and a couple gels), Skratch Labs Hydration mix, S!caps, Tums + additional aid-station food.
*Posted between flights and pints at the Seattle airport so please excuse any sloppiness in content.