While kids were dreaming of what the Easter bunny was going to bring them, I was hitting the trail. As I do not have any family here I opted to spend my time in the mountains during Easter. I was able to get another guy to go on a rather large adventure. Ever since I moved here three years ago, I have eyed the West Ridge of Mt. Timpanogos. The entire ridge has been coined ‘Everest Ridge’ from the 80’s when some Utah locals used the route to help prepare them for their Everest trip.
In order to prepare for the trip I had to finally break down and purchase some gear I have long needed, an ice ax and crampons. Those would prove to be crucial while trying to climb the steep, icy face. Since I have tendencies to forget gear, I wanted to lay my gear out and pack it the night before. This was smart as it would be a long day on Sunday.
My alarm went off at 3 AM. Of course I was having an awesome dream and I was just about to cross the finish line of my first Ironman. Well I guess I won’t get to know how that feels until it happens. After a quick shower and brewing some coffee, Joey met me at my house. We had to drive down to Pleasant Grove to where the trail head is. Generally for Timpanogos, one can drive the back side of the mountain and gain an addition 3,000 vertical feet to help with the climb. This route however starts at the bottom.
Under headlamp and a ¾ moon, the peak was glistening with snow. It was a long way up of 6,600 vertical feet from where we started. The route started on a dirt trail. Since it hasn’t snowed a lot this year, it would be a little while before we got to snow. Whenever going to a new route I always remember why I hate navigating in the dark. We came to a split in the trail and got lucky.
The walk was pretty easy and our spirits were high. This always helps when having to climb so much vertical to get to the summit. Once we finally got to enough snow to walk on, we changed our shoes and I threw my skins on and started climbing. Joey opted for crampons now which I later regreted.
The first obstacle we got to while on the snow was a 20-25’ waterfall with avy debris all around it. This wasn’t too bad to navigate as it involved climbing up a steep icy hill. Using crampons made it much easier than kicking in steps. As this was my first time using crampons, I felt like a total beginner in everything. I was starting to get frustrated as I didn’t trust the bite into the ice. After several times of having to stop and regain my composure on the steep face, I finally got to the top of this small face. I knew as fall there wouldn’t be deadly, but it sure would sure as I would have slid right into ice hard avalanche debris.
Once we got to the top, we tried to adjust my crampons as mine popped off twice. I know learned it was from a lack a tightening them. I thought they were tight originally, but they obviously were not. Having my equipment on securely was rather nice and we were able to make pretty good timing up the icy snowfield. Being able to look at the summit though and realize you are still 3,000 vertical feet away is rather sad.
There were two separate cruxes that had to be navigated. The bottom one gave way to the upper bowl of the west face. Looking up the roughly 2,000 vertical feet was pretty daunting because it seemed the summit never became closer. I ended up doing the counting steps thing. I would walk 50 steps before I would let myself look up. At this point I was hurting. Having not shed my jacket on mellower terrain, I was paying the price dearly. The sun was finally on us and boy was it hot.
I could not find a place I felt comfortable to take my pack off and remove my jacket. Eventually though I had to. My crampon started to rip the sole of my boot off. This in turn caused my crampon to fall off. I had to anchor myself down via my ice ax while I removed my pack. This was a slow process, but I finally got the pack off as well as my jacket. I then removed my crampon that was falling off. There was an old boot pack as I kind of used that.
Towards the top though was scree rock and snow mixed. It would go from no snow to 2’ of snow within inches of each spot. This made booting very slow. When we finally reached the ridge though, all of the struggles were totally worth it. We then headed over to the summit shack to take in the views and let the snow soften up before riding down.
Here are some photos from the top.
The ride down was incredible. It was some nice soft corn that I completely forgot how much fun corn is. There were a few slide paths that had to be navigated around. Even the majority of that was fairly soft. It was my first time riding down with an ax in my hand and I didn’t poke myself with it. Win!
After riding around 4K vertical feet or so we had to take our boards and boots off and switch to shoes again. The riding put us in an avalanche gulley that we appropriately named, ‘The Trail of Goat Tears’. There were several dead goats in there that were swept away by avalanches. Better them than me.
I am so glad to bag this line. Every time I head south in I-15 I look at it. She is such a gnarly face and now when I go back to get my August and September turns, I can remember riding the face from the summit. After such a long day, 11 hours car to car I am beat. I know I will be sore, but it will be a good kind of sore.
Here is the view of the line we rode from the valley. This is pretty close from where we parked. Long walk….
It looks like it is finally race season here in Utah. We had a nice storm that dumped 30” or so of light and fluffy up high, but now it looks like spring is starting to move in. This weekend is the first tri of the year for many people, not including myself. There is a sprint triathlon south of Salt Lake this Saturday. I am not racing in it, but it has me looking ahead to my current race schedule.
April 27: North Ogden Limits Half Marathon – Trail Run
I currently do not know much about this race. Actually I know nothing about it except I was able to get a free entry for it through my Tri Team, https://www.facebook.com/TeamBlondeRunnerTriathlon?fref=ts All I know is I will run 13.1 miles on trail. There is not a map for vert or anything like that. This is my kind of race though. One I am going in to completely blind.
May 4: Ironman St. George 70.3
First tri of the season will be a Half-Ironman. Logical, right? Looking at this race right now, I feel pretty good physically about it. I do not know if I will beat my 5:55 PR I set last year at the Utah Half. The run and bike course has hills compared to the Utah Half. I think I am a smart athlete though. I am not sure of my time just yet though. I want to set goals down closer to race time.
May 18: Ogden Marathon
As of right now, this is my only true marathon I am running this season. I feel pretty good about it right now, and I should feel even better about it come race day. This is what they say a good fast race. I would love to PR it, but we will see once the time gets closer.
June 23: Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Well my first Ironman. This is what the whole season is about, the A Race. I feel great for the swim, the bike I need more saddle time, and I could suffer through the run right now. After last year’s debacle as the Utah Half, I learned so much about my body in long course racing. I feel that will help so much. Honestly, the only thing I am currently nervous about is the mass start. I don’t really want to be pounced on in the water. Can you replicate getting the living crap beaten out of you by other swimmers for 2.4 miles?
July 28: Vineman:
Barely a month after my first Ironman, I will be attempting a second one. I have a lot of hope for this race as well. Technically it will not be my A race, but it will be considered a B race. I have heard nothing but good things about this race and I am eager to toe the line in wine country. I also plan on doing some site seeing while I am out there. Biggest decision I face is do I drive for 11 each way or pay 600 bucks to fly and have my bike delivered. Oh decisions…..
August 31: 50 Mile Trail Run around the Grand Teton:
This will be fun right? Never ran an ultra before so I might as well a month after a second Ironman. I am sure my body will hate me at this point. It will be a sufferfest with plenty of vert. The views will be worth it I am telling myself that right now.
As of right now this is my race schedule. There are not any short distance races. That might change if I am bored one weekend and sign up for a race. You never know. I am really eager for my season to start though. Prove to myself I can do all of the challenges I have laid out in front of me.
Internal struggles suck. I can’t seem to decide on what to do. I moved here for the snow and this week it has snowed a little bit compared to the little bit of snow we have received this year. So I want to head up into the mountains. The other part of me wants to take it easy to an extent this weekend and train. I will be honest I am scared to death for Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Some training days are good while some are bad. I know this happens but the bad ones frustrate me so much.
First off I will start with snowboarding splitboarding. I love it. It is probably the best feeling I ever get in terms of a natural high and good for the soul. There is nothing that beats walking along a ridge line and choosing any line you want to. Something about it is so liberating and I honestly can not tell you what it is. Then floating down a run and snow continues to just plaster your face is the best feeling, period. How could one not enjoy these views?
Knowing that this would be an opportune weekend to play in the snow it makes me long to be in the mountains. I know if I do go in the mountains I will still have to train. This weekend is a pretty heavy training load for me. Looks like 5 hours on the bike and a 2 hour run off of the bike. That is 7 hours which is what some people spend at work a day.
I knew when signing up for my first Ironman it would not be easy and at times just not fun. I don’t mean that to say I am not having fun. It is probably 90% of the time I am having a blast while training. I have had several issues though. While I have avoided any injuries, knock on wood, I seem to get sick or just symptoms of being sick fairly frequently. Am I the only one this happens to? What can I do different?
I know I am taxing the body a good bit and this doesn’t help the immune system. It does get frustrating waking up to a stuffy nose or a sore throat. I am blaming the winter. Then I realize I love winter so it is hard for me to be mad at winter. The whole training thing has hurt doing things with friends though. Training 20+ hours a week really takes any type of social life I had out the window. Going to bed at 8-9 PM every night and waking up early, except this week as I haven’t felt well.
Another thing keeping me from going up to the mountains this weekend is the fact that my regular touring partners are either out of town or broke off. That means I will probably roll solo. I enjoy rolling solo as I can go at my pace and really clear my mind. It just makes it difficult to hit any big lines solo as if you kick off a slide and get buried you will die. I don’t really want to die just yet so I will keep it fairly mellow rolling solo.
I never thought I would say this, but I am ready for spring. We have had a few nice warmer days and I loved running in short and t-shirt, I do all winter, but the warmth on the skin feels so nice. I am mostly looking forward to riding the bike outdoors. These 4+ hour trainer rides are for the birds. Tomorrow will be an early 5 am wake up to try and fit all of my exercises in by noon. Who knows though, if I finish early enough I might take a hot lap or two to find some powder.
I want to leave you with this quote that I love.
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
― Sylvia Plath
Ever stood on a ledge trying to kick steps in to snow but you are not having any luck due to the snow being thin over rocks. You know that if you fall you might not be able to stop on the steep icy slope and you will be in a world of hurt if you don’t die. That pretty much sums up my weekend.
This past week I knew I wanted a nice sufferfest on the splitboard. I knew my touring buddy James would be up for one as well. All week we talked about different lines we wanted to hit, but the main thing we both wanted was a lot of vertical and just to be completely drained at the end of the day. In order to make sure I could fit a full day of touring in, I did my Ironman training a day early. Instead of resting Friday night and going to a concert, I opted to stay home and ride the trainer for a couple of hours. This was luckily a rest week so I was able to take it pretty easy on the hours I put in.
Saturday was another long day and I wanted to smoke my legs to make sure I would have a blast on Sunday. I went for a run with my tri team which was so stinking fun. I have only been running I believe for just a few weeks under 3 years and I know I am not fast. I did post my fastest mile ever at 6:33 Saturday. I am still happy about that. Once our run ended, I did what I thought was logical; I went splitboarding. I was torn on what line to hit and I decided to hit a line that was a pretty big line especially rolling solo.
I went up God’s Lawnmower on Kessler Peak. I figured it would be a junk show out there like a lot of times it is after it snows. Low and behold though, right when I got to the split off to head up the ridge to Kessler, there was not a skin track in place. Who doesn’t enjoy the nice peace and quiet of being alone out in the mountains?
Looking back on my skin track
Could it be? Will I get first tracks down God’s Lawnmower? Well after 2 hours and 20 minutes of skinning, I finally reached the top of God’s Lawnmower. At this point my legs were pretty tired as I did some speed work just a few hours before. Looking down right before I dropped into my line.
Here are a few more photos I took on Saturday.
Looking into God’s Lawnmower
Single Track down the Chute
Top of God’s Lawnmower in the clouds
Well we finally figured out our plan for Sunday. We would boot up th3 3,200 vertical feet of a 42 degree couloir and then maybe head over to another couloir called Hyperdermic Needle which is a mellow 50 degrees. Well with ambitious hopes we headed out at first light to the parking area for the Y Couloir.
The Y Couloir is in between the two peaks on the left side of the photo. It snakes its way down in the shape of a Y
Hearing that it has slid the previous day, we opted to scope the line and not fully commit to hitting it. Well it looked like just the apron had a heat release a few days before the new snow so in our mind it was game on. Looking across the canyon at the alpine glow on Twin Peaks
Well we were lucky enough to put the boot pack in. I will tell you first hand putting in a 3,200’ boot pack is very tiring. At around the 2,500’ mark a group of guys came up behind us. I start frantically kicking in steps and then quit paying attention to my route I wanted to go as there was a crux coming up. Since this is the Wasatch people enjoy snaking lines even if you do the majority of the work. I wanted to go on the right side of the crux as there were exposed rocks all inside of it. Well I ended up going right up the middle as the guy was right on my tail. Low and behold I pretty much get stuck.
It pretty much took all of my energy to hold on so I didn’t fall. I can’t kick in steps as there is unsupportable snow on some sheer rocks. Great what do I do? Well eventually I just relax and slowly work my way out of the situation. It seemed like I was hanging there forever. Why do I get myself in these situations?
Of course in this mess the guy just blows by my and hey my legs would be a lore more fresh too if I didn’t have to put the boot pack in. The guys go maybe another 500 vertical feet before breaking trail gets too difficult for them. So James mentions to them that we put the boot pack in and it was our first time in this couloir if they would let us drop first. Of course they didn’t. Instead they took the primo line.
Well at the spot they passed me at, they were nice enough to let us hit the rest of the chute. We ended up letting them pass us just so we wouldn’t have to worry about them being behind us. There is a term called survival skiing. This is exactly what the lower 2,000’ vertical feet was. There was wet slide debris in the entire chute on the way down. Lots of side slipping with rubber legs is not ideal. The entire time if you edged out you would just start to slide and hope you would come to a stop.
The bottom of the couloir had a nice choke that was on my mind the entire time down. I knew that a 5’ drop would be nothing but wasn’t really looking forward to airing out of the choke onto rock hard avalanche debris. Luckily there was a thin area we could skirt through the choke without having to drop the small cliff at the entrance.
I have never been this puckered before on a tour. The entire time I knew if I fell on the way up I probably would not be able to stop myself in a timely manner. Lots of rocks were around and I would definitely have messed my pretty face up had I fallen. When we finally got to the bottom James and I were so relieved we just had to chill at the car. We both said we never really want to hit the Y again, but sitting here thinking about it, it was a freaking blast. I might give her ago in better conditions. I learned a lot about conditions and how crucial they are.
Here are a few more photos that were taken:
Booting up Avy debris
She is steep
New line I want to ride across the canyon.
So I this week I received a photo of me from a few years ago. I was planning on swimming that night as I had just gotten my underwater mp3 player in the mail. Can you say freaking SWEET! Who would have thought you have listen to music while you swim?!? That makes swimming so much more enjoyable for this triathlete.
While I was swimming though I kept thinking about this photo I received. It was on the front of an invitation for a bachelor party as one of my good friends is getting married. I looked at it and couldn’t make out who the huge guy with the orange shirt on. Then it dawned on me. That as me I was looking at from a few years ago. During my swim I couldn’t believe that I didn’t even recognize myself. I joke that when I go home and I haven’t seen someone for a long time they generally don’t recognize me. How did I not even recognize myself?
Have I really changed that much as I don’t recognize what I looked like just a few short years ago? I guess I have. I know I have come a long ways. Honestly though, when I look in the mirror I still see myself as someone bigger than I am. I guess it is a mental complexion as I have of myself, but hopefully that goes away over time.
I can never seeing myself being unhealthy again, but I just found this photo to be really telling of my journey.
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence”
I have been a bit out of touch lately and that is mainly due to not having any free time what so ever. For the entire month of December I was working more than 80 hours a week. I am super glad to be done with all of the work. Now I am back to my normal schedule.
I am currently fully engrossed in Ironman training. I can’t stop thinking about my two Ironman races. As I have said before, I am currently registered for Ironman Coeur D’Alene and Vineman. They are roughly 5 weeks apart so that will wreak havoc on the body I am sure. What doesn’t kill you only makes you wish you were dead… errr something like that right?
So right before I started really training I decided it would be best to head up to Canuckistan for a splitboard festival and get my snowboarding on. All I have to say is that was a trip of a lifetime which I totally plan on doing again next year. We stayed in Revelstoke, BC for a couple nights and then went to the Asulkan Hut for another couple of nights. Here are a few photos from the trip. If I ever quit being lazy and edit the video, I will put that up as well.
I will say I have partially neglected my training, but I have still be fairly active. I figure climbing up mountains a couple times a week instead of riding the chair lift helps with the cardio. I am not as strong of a climber as I was last year, but I will get there. I am having to rearrange some of my training though. I am using Friday as my universal rest day so I can make it through the long training days that are the weekend.
Since my weekends will consist of touring in the morning, it is why I moved to Utah, and then training in the afternoon. My body will be completely drained come Sunday night. The best part about it though is that I truly do not care. I am so stoked about the weekend since they are a blast. Who doesn’t love training?
On the backcountry snowboarding side of things, I have been able to check off some lines I have really wanted to. It was a good time going out with some friends and having a ball. Here are a few shots from this winter. (Photo credit attached when needed)
Photo: James Roh http://www.jamesroh.com/
Photo: James Roh http://www.jamesroh.com/
Now I am currently sitting at 23 weeks until my first Ironman race. Am I ready? NO! Will I be ready is the better question. The answer to that is absolutely. There is no way as I have come too far to not be ready. I day dream every day about the moment I cross the finish line and can call myself an Ironman.
I know that probably sounds pretty lame, but I have worked pretty hard in the last few years to change who I am inside and out. I will do another post about part of that which will be a little tough to write. So I fully plan to start updating the site much more frequent as it is officially training season. Oh on a side note I registered for the lottery to Kona. How cool would that be? Who wants to come with if I get in?
It has finally started to snow in the Wasatch! This is what I live for getting out in the snow with friends and having a great day. Last weekend it snowed 51” and it was deep. I do not have any photos from those days, but it was good. Today I went out with Ryan and we had a ball.
Starting the day out we were very skeptical as it was raining where we parked out car and it had been extremely hot at the end of the week. I was afraid where we wanted to go would have a nasty crust and be tracked out. Once we got onto the ridge we were pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that bad and the snow was nice and soft. GAME ON!
We skinned up Mill D to hit Reynolds Peak. We rode this line last year, but it was extremely tracked out and not really that fun. We wanted redemption on it for sure. Here is the view skinning in.
I do love the views you see here. Simple picture but I love snow covered trees.
Here is what we wanted to ride though. Reynolds Peak. It is a nice steep but short pitch. I still would love to hit this without a single track and full of powder.
I will not bore this thread up with words since we all love some stoke. At the end though is a short video of the ride.