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Ice Climbing Stairway to Heaven – Cold

January 6th, 2013 | Posted by Charles Miske in North America | Training | Trip Report - (Comments Off)

I am going to be ice climbing at the Ouray Ice Fest 2013 next week, so I’m trying to get my groove back on by ice climbing as much as I can in between work and family activities. I climbed solo on Thursday Because of the weird wet dripping ice coating the rope I experienced gear failure in my self-belay system so bailed after only one lap.

hiking to the ice climbing routes on Stairway to Heaven

On the Provo Canyon Trail toward Stairway to Heaven

I had decided to climb every other day if I can until I leave Thursday. Today (Saturday January 5) I was going to go up to climb solo again. My usual ice climbing partner Ryan had other plans that day. My wife suddenly decided she wanted to go again. It’s been a while since I’ve been out with her, because of her figure skating competition training and injuries. It was great to hear she was going to go ice climbing with me.

ascending to the ice climbing routes near Provo Utah

The ascent gully to Stairway to Heaven

We had a new babysitter to tend the kids, so we were free to both go ice climbing for about 6 hours. We took off for the Nunn’s Park parking area, put on our boots, harnesses, and packs, and walked to the gate on the trail. It’s a wide access road for Provo City Utilities, but unmaintained so it’s snow covered. We put our crampons on, and I handed her one of my trekking poles to ease the stress on her knees and back. I set a very mild pace up the steep access gully. There were plenty of other groups ice climbing today, but there is plenty of terrain. We’ll be fine.

preparing for ice climbing

What next? Ice Climbing in Provo Canyon

Ice Climbing in Provo Canyon

I raced up the ramp to the shelf and set up a toprope anchor on the same chains I used on Thursday. This time I used a sling to extend the rope away from the chains and hopefully divert some of the water runoff. I also brought a super-duper-dry rope (in climbing terms a dry rope is one that’s treated to repel or shed water – if you do a lot of ice climbing you’ll need one). I found the black ink mark for the center of the rope, clipped it into the lockers, passed it into my belay device, and tossed the rope down. A lot of rope. Oh. That was the “Twenty Feet Left” mark. I grabbed the end of the rope where it lay by my feet and tied in to my harness and undid one side from my belay device. Instead of rappelling I’ll just lower myself [note this is a technical rope application and unless someone has shown you how to do it and approved your technique you should never try this at home folks].

ice climbing on a crowded wall

My wife ice climbing amid the crowd at Provo Canyon

I let my wife try her hand at ice climbing first, since she’s been off the ice for a couple of years. It’s fun watching and belaying her. A great family togetherness thing. During the summer I take the kids out rock climbing, and now one is about old enough to try ice climbing, but I’d like to wait for it to warm up a little bit first. A funny note. While belaying, I heard the yell “HELMET” and looked to see a white helmet plummeting from a few shelves up and land on the ice uphill and skittering between the belayers toward me. We all made a grab for it, hopefully with full attention on our climbers. I managed to kick it into my rope pile. It was a white construction helmet. We talked about it off and on for the next couple hours. No one claimed it. You wouldn’t want to be ice climbing in it. For sure.

Ice Climbing Photos

We each did some laps. It was a ton of fun. I got to experiment with different footwork and tool placements and sticks. Ice climbing is really a mental game sometimes. It’s good to know a lot of different pieces to the puzzle. I climbed out the top on my last lap and tossed the rope down. It stayed pretty dry overall. The slings I used for the anchor were stiff and coated. I had to chip ice off the lockers to get then to unscrew. I had to dig out my back-up ice screw. But the rope stayed dry.

done ice climbing for the day

Packing up the ropes and gear

While climbing our water bottles had frozen shut at the lid and required work to open. They were full of slush. Some of the people ice climbing near us also had issues with their bottles too. It is cold! We packed up, said our goodbyes, and hiked down the steep gully. There’s a pretty good trail right now for access to the ice climbing. A few weeks ago it was still dirt and rocks and a bit tougher going. We hiked down the road to the Nunn’s Park parking area. A car was stuck in deep snow and revving the engine to get out. Be careful parking here. While the different pull-off areas and wide spots are flat enough they don’t always plow them out well. Also there are signs in front of the gates for no parking and the city trucks do use the road now and then.

hiking out after a day ice climbing

Hiking out after a day ice climbing

We took off our crampons and walked out onto the pavement. It’s always a weird feeling to make that transition. We walked down the road to the car, unlocked it, and set our gear into it. I drank a protein shake. I’m in “training to suffer” mode at the moment. Very limited food and drink on these adventures. On the way past I noticed the car was gone so they obviously made it out. I would have stopped to push otherwise. It was a great day ice climbing. I’m looking forward to more.

ice climbing couple

Happy after a great day ice climbing

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Mount Olympus Speed Run

August 17th, 2012 | Posted by Charles Miske in Gear | Training - (Comments Off)

I have a few days off work so I needed to get some more outdoor training in for Elbrus. You might notice that I haven’t posted any outdoor training in a while because I had to cover for someone on vacation at work, and had a few business meetings I needed to be around for.

This morning I had just enough time to squeeze in a run up Olympus, one of the most familiar peaks on the East side of Salt Lake. Today I was going to commit to the Flexline Hydration tube system for my running. I’d already used it on the treadmill, stairmaster, and Jacob’s Ladder. Today would be the first trip outside. I connected it to a 1.8 liter Platypus bladder with one Camelback Electrolyte tab in it.

I got to the trailhead at about 5:45 AM, switched on the GPS and took off. I moved pretty quickly up in the dark with my little tiny headlamp, with the glowing city lights behind me.

Olympus Summit Cone

Top of Olympus. East Saddle to right, right red line is Class 4/5 route to top

I arrived at the saddle towards Raymond in 1:32, had a Hammer Gel, texted Angie, and took off up the Class 3 scramble to the top. I managed to make a wrong turn and ended up at the East Saddle so rather than retrace my steps I just went up toward the summit from there. It was mostly Class 4 with a few small cruxy sections of 5.3 climbing. Maybe about 80′ total. I managed to kick a rock loose and it fell, bounced for a few seconds. Seemed like 1000′ straight down toward the Northeast.

I topped out in 1:58. I got a shot with the mailbox summit register (though it’s just barely visible behind my right hip). I hung out for four minutes, drinking my auxiliary Camelback Podium bottle with Accelerade Hydro for the sugar/protein energy to get me down. I managed to slip between the staggered blocks at the top and bruised my shin. I scrambled down further to the West than what I ascended, but still ended up with about one hundred feet of Class 4. I saw the right way as I passed it on the way, but not sure if I’ll remember it later.

When I got to the saddle I began to really take off, as there’s not much time saving until then, since the scrambling is tough going. I started passing people about halfway down, and most were respectful of my running. I did manage to pass a couple guys who pulled over to the side. One yelled to the other “I told you people run on this mountain”. Far out.

I got to the car, texted Angie and then took off for home after turning off all my electronics. The Flexline Hose system worked fine. I especially appreciated it for the scramble, where I was able to drink at will. In most of the pics it looks pretty well down on my left side. It’s actually a few inches out from my chest while down to the left. This is out of my line of vision, and all I have to do is duck my head and I can feel for it with my lips and tongue to center it and bite the valve. I’m eager to try it in the cold now.

My stats are on my Google Blog if you want to see technical details.
name lookup timed out

Note: in video I’m running at 11:15 pace according to my Polar, and it’s a compilation of a few clips, I’m not drinking every 10 seconds.

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Grays Peak Speed Hike

July 4th, 2012 | Posted by Charles Miske in Training - (Comments Off)

On July 3 I did a speed hike on 14,270′ Grays Peak, a Colorado 14′er along the Front Range. I haven’t been to the summit of Grays since maybe about ten years ago. I had made a few half-hearted attempts, all stopped by snow or weather, or some other little thing, but today the weather was awesome, and just a week ago I’d done Quandary quite fast. The only little annoying details were that I had done a steep ten mile run the day before (July 2) and I ran into a really deep set of ruts in the road that I did not want to risk my car on.

I parked about 1.7 miles down the road from the official signed trailhead, and walked up. I set the Lap marker when I got there, 32:48 minutes. I boogied up the trail, and didn’t really feel anything like tired until the last thousand feet of elevation. I made the top in 1:36 for 3.6 miles.

Here’s a Google Map of the route:

I hung out on top for about 10 minutes, my standard time, to eat and drink, then took off down the trail. I was feeling a little tired and unsteady, but overall not too bad, just sore and tired legs and feet from yesterday I think. I made the trailhead in 1:26 for 3.57 miles (I accidentally cut a switchback). The last 1.7 miles to the car really hurt, but I did it in 33:50. Overall not too bad for a relatively unfamiliar trail a day after a ten mile run at altitude.

Grays Peak Elevation Profile

Grays Peak Speed Hike First Run - Elevation Profile

3900′ in 2:09 (time from car to top) is about 1800′/hr – or 30′/minute. That’s “okay” but I’ll have to do a bit better for Elbrus. This had a bit more horizontal though and rougher terrain – Elbrus will be almost all ice and snow.

Grays Peak Colorado 14er Summit Shot

Summit of Grays Peak

I have more info, including the Google Earth embedded viewer on my other Blog HERE

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Quandary Speed Check and Training Run

July 4th, 2012 | Posted by Charles Miske in Training - (Comments Off)

On June 25 I did a run up and down 14,265′ Quandary, just South of Breckenridge Colorado, to test my current level of fitness as I get myself psyched about Elbrus Race 2012. When I did the 2010 Race I also ran Quandary a handful of times, and wanted to check my progress to see what my current level of fitness is.

Here’s a Google Map of the run I did:

I also have a Google Earth embedded in my other blog HERE along with some other description. I did 1:33 up and 1:26 down. Up was a PR, but down was not. I did have a lot surer footing on the way down than I have in previous mountain speed runs, but I guess it’s a bit slow compared to the one I did at 1:10, during which I fell twice and ended up having to halt training for a week to recover.

Quandary Summit Shot June 25

Quandary PR 1:33 Summit Shot

My previous PR was the last Quandary attempt I did in 2010 just a month before the Elbrus Race that year, so I am about 2 months ahead in fitness this year. I need to work my down times a bit, since there is a cutoff for the descent, but it is reasonable.

This is looking back in time a bit, and since I’ve done more training that I’ll report later.

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Keystone Gulch Training Run

July 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Charles Miske in Training - (Comments Off)

After deciding to more seriously pursue Elbrus Race 2012, I needed to adjust my training from long slogs of 18 miles or so on the relative flats (former marathon training) to include some vertical. I did a test run on Quandary last week, and did 1:33 up, which is actually my PR for that. I should assume then that I’m about 2 months ahead in my training from Elbrus Race 2010.

This training run is a steep climb on a dirt road that is used by maintenance workers for Keystone Resort. I like this road because the grade is relatively gentle and it’s mostly along a really pretty creek.

Here’s the Google Maps of this 10 mile run from July 2nd:

and if you want the Google Earth for it, look on my old blog HERE, since Google and WordPress won’t play nice together for Embedded Earth.

Keystone Gulch Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile for Keystone Gulch Training Run July 2

1600′ give or take ascent and descent over ten miles, in 2:13 averaging a 13:19 pace is pretty good, and I made decent enough time, though I was pretty beat the last two miles. I’ll give a few more stats about Elbrus Race in another post.

A Keystone maintenance truck went up a set of steep switchbacks starting at my turnaround point, so I might drive up a bit to shorten the overall distance and try going up those, since the map implies they top out at 12,000′. That would be cool.

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