Monday, December 31, 2012

Mount Blackmore for time

2015  Edit:  John Curry skied the circuit in a self reported 1.52 on 2/27/15. 

4/1/2013  Edit:  Nick Vandenbos kindofsortof recently re-claimed the Blackmore FKT.  His time was 2 hr, 1 min, mine was 2 hr, 1 min, 18 sec.  I think that qualifies as a tie, but it probably doesn't matter because I'm sure it will go faster soon.  Strong work, Nick!

During Christmas break, I was able to sneak away to Mount Blackmore for a speedy couple of hours.  I put in a similar effort last year, but got lost in the dark.  This year, I set off well before sunrise at a brisk pace from the correct trailhead, gunning for the top.  Conditions were fast, and I made it to the summit in good time despite getting off the skin track several times near the base of the peak.  I summited before sunrise, fully enjoying the alpenglow and the twinkling lights of town far below in the valley.  The peak skied well, and I had a blast flying down the steep windy trail all the way back to the comforts of a warm car.  The round trip time was 2 hr 2 min.  I didn't have my racing gear on hand, and I'm confident it could go in under 2 hours with good conditions and lighter gear.  There are plenty of fast folks in Bozeman who should give 'er a go and report back when they beat the 2 hour mark on this iconic Bozeman ski outing!

A little frosty on top of Mount Blackmore.

Splits:  Blackmore Lake - 23 min; arrive at upper meadows ~45 min; base of the peak - 1 hr 13 min; summit 1 hr 31 min; running up the trail below Blackmore lake - 1 hr 48 min; Car 2 hr 1 min 18 sec.

My brother and I were also able to sneak a way for a cold and blustery day to climb the classic California Ice.  The rest of Christmas was spent enjoying some very quality family time.
Leading the final pitch of California Ice.
Ready to do battle with some Hyalite Ice!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The proper Gash tour

 John, Blake and I ventured out into the storm on Sunday with plans to head to Gash point proper and "see what happens".  We ended up doing what I call the proper Gash tour which is: up to Gash point proper, down the North facing avalanche path until the skiing peters out, back up to the east shoulder of Gash proper, down to upper Gash creek, then up the North ridge to Gash knob, down the North bowl or ridge, back up to the knob, and out the South bowl to the car.  The wind, low visibility, and sensitive shallow wind slabs added some spice to an otherwise safe and straight forward tour.  The skiing was excellent with 6 to 10 inches of light powder over a firm, stable base.  The exit is still quite rocky, and even John took his skis off twice on the exit.  We took a vote back at the car and the results were:  Brian:  best tour of the year.  John: best tour of the year.  Blake:  claimed it was his best tour ever, but I don't believe him.  8,700 v.f. and done in a little under 8 hours car to car.

As a side note, I finally got the basic Gash route descriptions up on the Bitterroot Route descriptions page.

Rimed trees on the climb to Gash knob.  Photo by John Leherman
John and Blake rallying back up Gash point properbafter skiing the North face.
Climbing to Gash knob.
John diving into the South Bowl at Gash Point.
I also skied at Heart lake with Leah and Blake on Saturday.  We parked about 3 miles from the Heart Lake trailhead and toured back to Heart, Pearl, then Dalton Lake.  We ended up getting a snowmobile tow from two locals - thanks guys!  New wind slabs and a weird deep sandwiched ice crust layer kept us from skiing the Dalton chutes, but we had a great time bowl bouncing around Heart and Dalton lakes.
The Dalton chutes are quite filled in.
Bird's eye view of Leah ripping through the powder above Hear Lake.
I'm the little dot skiing down to Heart lake, visible on the left edge of the photo.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bozeman ice and snow

I spent the weekend in Bozeman, flirting around the edges of the ice festival.  On Saturday, I went out with Hilary, Ben and Leah in search of ice, which is scarce this year.  We ended up climbing the classic Champagne Sherbet (WI 4) in the Flanders sub-drainage of Hyalite.  Fortunately we got an early start, because over the course of the day 14 people showed up hoping to climb the route.  Hilary and Leah climbed first and left their ice screws in, so I was able to lead it as a sport climb, which was great fun.  After re-grouping at the base, we succumbed to the cold and lack of ice and decided to call it a day.  It was snowing all day, and try as I might, I couldn't help wishing I was out on skis busting powder.
Hilary styling Champagne Sherbet
Ben low on Champagne Sherbet.

On Sunday, Leah and I went powder skiing in the southern Bridgers.  We were only out for a couple of hours, but it was enough time to sample the 20" of new snow.  Unfortunately, the characteristic mid-slope winds raked the slopes all day, and fresh wind slabs relegated us to meadow skipping.  Nevertheless, it was another successful re-introduction to the world of skiing.
As some would say, "in case you want to go there".
Winter is slowly materializing in Montana, but I'm still itching for an exciting day in the mountains.  I'm sure it will happen soon, so stay posted!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fall running, 2012

I know, I know, it's time to start writing about snow, and I've been out a few times on skis, but up until last weekend, ski conditions around Missoula were decidedly thin.  In any case, it took 5 years of living near Missoula to discover the amazing network of running trails on the edge of town.  Inspired, I spent a fair bit of time in running shoes this fall, without a care in the world that conditions were often too wet for biking.  In addition to many perfect evenings and memorable moments, the running volume should provide a good base for randonee racing, and ski season in general.

Here's a brief summary:

Overlook trail:  This 900 vertical foot trail run at the edge of town in Superior is my go-to short run.  I have probably run the overlook over 10 times since the fall equinox.  I have done all sorts of crazy variations to keep things interesting, including repeats, intervals, and running with a pack, and the all-time favorite, repeats with a pack in the dark.  My fastest time will fall every month or so.  It wouldn't take a very strong runner to shave a bunch of time off, but Superior residents tend to eat frozen pizza and watch TV for recreation, so I'm claiming a FKT.  Recent progress is:  12.52, set in July;  12.47, set November 29th; 12.45, set March 12th by starting slower and hammering for the last 4 minutes.

10/1  3,000ish v.f., 1.52.  Run the Heart/Pearl loop in celebration of fall.  A beautiful voyage into a relatively wild corner of Montana, and possible to squeeze in after work.  Take a day next summer to do it on foot or on a bike.

10/8  About 18 miles of flat running on pavement in Chicago put the serious hurt on me.

10/16  3,000 v.f. 1.36.  Run up the Hellgate Canyon trail to the radio towers, where I was greeted by an extremely brisk wind.  Run down to the Sentinel saddle, then up and over Sentinel and down to town via the ridge trail.  The smile was immediately swept from my face by Obama's no-show in the first presidential debate.

10/19 3,000+ v.f., 1.28.  Back to Sentinel.  Run up to Sentinel via the M trail, then the ridge trail in 26.30.  Continue over the top and on to the radio towers.  Descend via the Hellgate Canyon trail and the river trail back to town.  I think this is my favorite run around Missoula.

10/27 2,000 v.f., 1.28.  Run up Hellgate Canyon to Sentinel in the snow with Leah.  Descend via the normal trail to the M, then down the M trail to town.  Weave in and out of football fans walking home during the run back to the car.

11/1 about 18 miles, 4.40.  Run a long loop in the Needles district of Canyonlands on a rest day.  I ended up doing a grand tour, visiting Chessler park, the Joint trail, Druid Arch, and Elephant, Squaw, and Lost canyons.  Slot canyons, open slickrock shelfs, open parks, arches, wild red rock, and no water.  I love the desert.

11/7 2,000 v.f., 1.15.  Run up and down the Boyd Mountain trail near St. Regis on the way back from work.  Not a terribly inspired run.  Ended in the dark - still pretty grumpy about the loss of daylight saving time.

11/10 4,000 v.f and a bunch of miles, 2.45.  Run up Jumbo via the L trail, down to Jumbo saddle, then down to Marshall canyon.  Run down canyon through East Missoula and back to town, then up Sentinel in a dismal 35 minutes via the M trail and down and out to the car.  Kind of long, but an interesting round-about tour.

11/12 3,500 v.f., 2.49.  Ran the Blue Mountain 30K course with Leah.  I had to stop many times to check directions.  The folks at the Runner's Edge picked a good route, and by eliminating a few contrived additions, the result would be a superb ~25K course.

11/14 2,500 v.f., 1.25.  Run the last portion of the Blue Mountain 30K course, heading straight to Hayes point from the parking lot, then continuing with the course.  I ended at dark, and the headlamp went on for the first time to put on warm clothes at the car.  Perfect timing on a perfect fall run.

11/15 1,800 v.f., 1 hour.  I made a hard push up Sentinel for time.  I brought ski poles and ascended via the M trail, then the ridge trail.  I topped out in 24.14, which is by far my best time.  Scuttle back down to town in the dark.

11/18 2,500 v.f, 2 hours.  Run from the house to the L trail, up Jumbo, down to Jumbo saddle, then down Lincoln Hills to the house.  I ran hard to the summit in about 26.5, then doubled back to rendezvous with Leah before proceeding with the rest of the run.  I stashed a bottle of GU on the Jumbo summit, which was stolen in the 10 minutes I left it unattended.  Hopefully the someone had a super turbo-charged descent.  We timed the run perfectly, watching the sun slowly slip behind the bitterroot as we jogged back into town.

11/20 ~400 v.f. 35 minutes.  Run the standard waterworks/Duncan loop backwards before hopping on a plane headed to New York for Thanksgiving.

11/24 3,000 v.f., 2 hours.  Recover from a long plane voyage by running the loop from Jumbo saddle to the Jumbo summit, down the trail above the highway, then back over Jumbo via the L trail with Leah.  Went skiing for the first time at Gash the following day.  Coverage was ok, and the snow quality was good.