Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kiener's Route on Longs Peak - Solo

Paul and Tony's impressive efforts up Kiener's of late inspired me to give it a try as well. Scrambling the First Flatiron on Thursday morning I told Buzz I was going out Sunday to break Tony's record of 2h28m for the roundtrip on Kiener's. Buzz's head spun around like he was possessed, his eyes bugged out at me with shock and confusion. It was just the reaction I aimed to induce. No, I wasn't going for Tony's time. That would be like me going for Ashton Eaton's decathlon total (he set the world record yesterday at the trials. Look up his numbers for each event and you'll know why he's the "World's Greatest Athlete"). I'm no Tony or Ashton, but these guys inspire me to see what I can do. My goals for the day were to break 3 hours on the ascent and 4.5 hours for the roundtrip. As it turned out, those were modest goals. 

I went pretty light, going for time. Despite that I felt sluggish and slow for most of the way up. I used the usual shortcuts on the way up. I kept a steady pace, though. I used Kahtoola Microspikes and a couple of sharp rocks to get across Lambs Slide. On Broadway, which I reached in 1h40m, I passed of 3-man team of heavily clothed, geared, and packed guys roping up and belaying the small talus field at the start of Broadway. I did the traverse wrong and went too low, then was too stubborn to come back. Did some very exposed but solid climbing to go down a bit further and then back up. I had no troubles scrambling up Kieners and then plodded super slowly up the steep 3rd class terrain to the summit. I arrived there after 2h18m, considerably faster than my original goal of 3 hours. I was on top for probably less than 90 seconds. I asked if anyone knew the conditions of the Cables route and the guy signing the register said it was wet and that he was going to go down the Keyhole route because of it. This turned out to be Scott, a guy I'd been talking to via email. I knew he'd be up here soloing the Cables Route and trying to break 3 hours, as well. He also succeeded climbing Longs in 2h50m. Way to go, Scott! He told me there was no ice on the Cables descent and that the fixed line was gone. I decided to head down to the Cables, as I'm pretty comfortable downclimbing it when it is wet. 
I got down to the top of the cables in 2h28m and thought, "Tony was back at the trailhead by now." I took the downclimbing very carefully and 2m30s later, at 2h30m and change, I was scrambling down the slabs and talus. I knew I had a shot of breaking 3:30 and that was my new goal. It would require about a 1h10m descent. My best is 1h01m but I wasn't feeling very agile and didn't want to trip and fall. I know Tony has done the descent in 45 minutes, but I'm not even a runner at all compared to Tony. Compared to him, I'm a stumbler. I took things careful and trotted and hiked and ran once I got to the Jim's Grove trail. I tried to follow my ascent route and did for a bit and then got into some bushwhacking. I shouldn't have done that. Just above the Longs Peak trail is some serious deadfall that I negotiate well on the way up, but bushwhacked around a bit on the way down. Once on the trail I pressed a bit, watching the time. I took the shortcut passed the Goblin Forest and just before I took the lower shortcut, who do I see walking right at me up the trail? Two rangers. One was young looking and probably the speed record holder. I was moving fast and just pointed to the shortcut and looked at them for 2 seconds to see if they'd shake their heads "no." They didn't and I turned and blasted down it, right in front of them, not breaking stride. I pressed pretty hard on this last bit and finished in 3:28:29.
I left the house a little past 5 a.m. and started up the trail at 6:17 a.m. I was back home at 11 a.m. I used a prototype adventure back that Buzz loaned me from Ultimate Directions. I also used La Sportiva Explorers, the replacement for the Exum Ridge. So far, I think these shoes aren't as good. They considerably narrower and a bit lower volume, so my foot fell asleep a bit. I got a blister on top of one of my toes, too. But they climbed and ran pretty well. They also kicked some decent steps at the bottom of Lambs Slide before I got on the rock rib to the east. 
I carried two bottles with about 20 ounces of GU2O and Gatorade in each of them. I used 3 or 4 gels. I carried a super light wind shell but never used it, as the weather was nearly perfect. It was a bit windy below Chasm Cut-off but not too bad. I went in a short-sleeve shirt and Tony-style running shorts. I thought about going shirtless, hoping that by emulating Tony's wardrobe I would somehow be faster, but since my skin isn't Tarzan-bronzed like Tony's, I decided against it.
My splits vs. Tony:

Split                     Tony             Bill
Goblin                 12:30           16:09
Chasm Cut-off    37:50           49:31
Broadway           1:17:??       1:40:??
Summit                1:41:37       2:18:26
Top of Cables     1:48:??      2:28:??
Crossing Trail     2:05:40      2:56:??
Goblin                  2:22:25      3:20:00
Trailhead             2:28:31     3:28:29

Just barely under an hour slower than Tony! And I didn't know his seconds when running this, though I did know and was thinking about his 2:28… :-)

So, no, I'll never be close to Tony, but few will. I'm okay with that.


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