Thursday, July 16, 2015

Linking Climbs Via Bike

I have a habit and a history of taking the great, motivational achievements of the world's top climbers and dumbing them down to my level. This thinking was the inspiration for the Poor Man's Linkup, where my buddy John Black and I invented our own way of linking El Cap to Half Dome. We climbed the East Buttress on El Cap (13 pitches, 10b) and then did Snake Dike (5.7). I freed them both as well - before Dean Potter freed them both! :-)

Jonny Copp and Kelly Cordes did the awesome Triple Lindy in RMNP and I, with my buddy Tom Karpeichik, countered with the Crescent Arete on Pagoda to the North Ridge of Spearhead to the North Ridge of Chiefshead to the Hourglass Ridge (it was supposed to be the East Face, but I had to dumb it down even further due to lots of verglas on our climbs) of Mt. Alice.

Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright (no relation, obviously) did two incredible suffer-fests where they biked and climbed California 14ers and then did desert towers in Utah. I like biking. Charlie and I are planning to bike to Longs Peak next week and climb Kiener's Route as month seven of the Longs Peak Project, so I need to start riding a bit. Two days ago I rode 15 miles. I didn't want to overtrain or anything, but I figured I needed another ride.

This isn't even the first time I've done this link-up of climbs. Tom and I did this one last year. But we stopped for a burrito in town before I rode home, so the roundtrip was a lot greater. This time I wanted to do it a bit more continuously. The idea was to link up climbs in Eldorado Canyon, the Flatirons, Flagstaff Mountain, and Boulder Canyon, by bike if Alex and Cedar did this, they'd have chosen the Naked Edge, Death and Transfiguration, some V10 on Flagstaff, and Country Club Crack. But this is me, remember. It's all about getting down to my level...

I rode from my house out to Eldo and rode right across the bridge to the base of the Wind Tower. I had two bottles on my bike, a couple of Honey Stinger Chew packets, my climbing shoes in my jersey pockets, and my scrambling shoes bungy-ed on underneath my seat. I also had a lock wrapped around my seat post.
The Wind Tower. The Wind Ridge is the left skyline
I switched directly into my climbing shoes since the approach is so short and all on rock and hiked up to the start of the Wind Tower. Two guys were gearing up there, but they were cool with letting me through. I did my usual start, which goes directly to the ridge, to the right of the 5.8 direct start. This feels very solid to me. I cruised up all three pitches to the top and who do I find coiling his rope on top? Fellow minion Jason Antin with a couple of chicks. I assume he was guiding them. With my sunglasses and biking helmet (why not?) Jason didn't recognize me right away. He probably wondered what the heck some old dude was doing up there in a biking kit. Cool, I am not. I said hi, told him my plan, and moved on. He was quite enthusiastic about it, but he's enthusiastic about everything. Jason is the human equivalent of a Labrador Retriever.

Selfie on top of the First Flatiron
I downclimbed back to the trail and when I went by the start of the route the other party was just starting to lead the first pitch. I descended back to my bike, hopped on. I rode to the Gregory Canyon Trailhead and switched into my scrambling shoes. I hiked up to the base of the East Face, taking about 16 minutes for that. I wanted to get this one done in an hour, roundtrip, but I didn't want to suffer too much. I paced it right, because I did it in 56 minutes. Almost exactly the time it would Stefan to do it twice. Perfect.

I passed a party of two on the third pitch. They were carrying sizable packs. Of course they looked way cooler than I did, for I was stuck in my nifty lycra outfit for this outing. They let me cruise on by. I found three older dudes talking about corporate intrigue or some such topic at the Route Junction Knob. It's a nice place to relax, but all I could think about was how much hotter the upper face was getting. I passed another team of two just as I hit the North Ridge.
Looking down on Chautauqua Park and Boulder from the summit of the First.
I was back on the ground forty minutes after starting and trotted gingerly (the only way I seem to come down these days) back to my bike. Back in my shoes, I toiled up the Flagstaff Road to the hardest climbing of the day - the Monkey Traverse. This problem is rated V4, which supposedly translates to a 12a, but there is not move remotely that hard and if you use both of the rests (I did, liberally), it's much easier. I have it wired, as well. Still, I hadn't been doing any hard climbing for months and wondered if I had the finger strength.

I switched to my climbing shoes and this route is why climbing shoes are necessary for this link-up, at least for me, though I wore them on the Wind Ridge and appreciated them there as well. I was hot, very sweaty, and tired. Thankfully the Monkey was completely in the shade still. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have stood a chance.
My favorite boulder problem: the Monkey Traverse. Mainly because is is the only one I can do.
I drank some water and tried to get my heart rate down. I walked down to the start, relaxed for a few moments, and pulled onto it. The Monkey is broken into three distinct sections with two good rests. The first part is the most overhanging (all sections overhang somewhat) but also has the best holds. I dorked up the sequence a bit and got a lot more tired than usual here, but made it cleanly to the rest and took a minute or two there. The middle section is the technical and endurance crux and I had my doubts. Everything felt harder than normal, clearly because I was out of shape. I struggled a bit and barely made the match up and left on the small rail. I hung on, though, and got into the knee-lock that provides the second rest.

Halfway up the East Slab on the Dome
With this knee-lock you can get a no-hands rest, but I also alternate my hands in a jam here as well to take some weight off my quad jammed into the rock. I rested here for at least two minutes because the final section is a bit of a high-ball, with an unpleasant landing. Most people use pads here and if you're going to come off, that's highly recommended. Of course carrying a pad on my bike was out of the question...even if I owned one. Anyway, I bore down hard and hung on to finish it off. This was a great relief because it was the one section of climbing I wasn't sure about. I had to be sure about the other sections since falling off on them would mean death. Hence, the easier ratings. This is supposed to be fun.

Back on the bike, I descended clear down to the Boulder Creek bike path and took that west up Boulder Canyon to the Dome. This one is cruiser and I did it in my approach shoes. It took me five minutes to hike up there. Five minutes to climb the route. And five minutes to descend back to my bike.
Doesn't this look like the Salathe Headwall? This is the crack splitting the East Slab on the Dome
Now I just needed to ride all the way home. I was now out of water and fading a bit, but kept turning the pedals until I pulled into my driveway. It took me 4.5 hours to cover the 43 total miles (biking and hiking) and 5000 vertical feet. I might try to get this under four hours, but there wasn't a lot of lollygagging on this effort, though I'm not too swift on the bike right now. Fun, goofy stuff - my specialty!


Justin Europe said...

Love it! The first time I ever did a Flatiron slab climb (Freeway!), I rode there on my bike from Denver. It was a, "hey, cycling to a run to a climb is a pretty fun idea!"

Good luck on Kieners!

SteelMonkey said...

Looks like the perfect amount of silly fun!!!