Here we go again!

This has been a crazy year!  To sum it up, injuries, snow, and early monsoons!  Ugh!  We planned another 14er record attempt early and once people commit to it and take vacation time and schedule flights it becomes very difficult to change the intended start date.

I have been driving my crew crazy this year.  Going back and forth on whether we will start as planned, delay the start, or just cancel all together.  So I just want to apologize to them for all of that.

In the end rather than cancelling the attempt altogether this year I have decided to just go ahead and get started (with a one week delay) and see how it goes…But with a huge DISCLAIMER that because of the conditions I may just decide to call it quits even within the first couple of days.  I fully understand the difficult conditions I will face in the mountains this year.  All of my scouting trips have been epic with miles of deep snow, slush, avalanches, and early morning lightning storms all taking part.

I have mainly been shaking in my boots because of all the late season snow, but lately the early onset of the monsoons has me scared.  One of the reasons I like late June and early July is the likelihood of finishing the record before the nasty lightning storms start to roll through.

Add to all those ominous signs, just two days ago a nasty hailstorm dented all 3 of our cars and caused significant damage to our house, while a tornado actually touched down and caused significant damage about 1/2 mile from my house in Denver.  Chris Tomer (thanks Chris!) has been sending me weather updates and his last one sent an ominous tone for the front range as he warned of a cold front moving in to make the monsoons extra wet.

So anyway here we go! I will be starting on June 29th in Chicago Basin.  I will be bringing snowshoes and lots of rain gear.  I don’t know what is going to happen but I will once again do my best and see if I can put a dent in the 14er record!  Thanks to everyone on the team who has been putting up with my unwillingness to commit to a schedule!

I appreciate all of you who decide to follow along.  We will do our best to update the blog and keep the 14ers.com thread.  I had really intended to be much better organized this year and take up some offers of help from people who followed along last year but with my inability to commit this year I just ran out of time…

Excited to Watch Another Record Attempt

In a couple of days, Brett Maune, an ultrarunner from California, will be attempting to break the 14er record.

I’ve been working hard on the story from my epic fail this year and it is close to being finished.  It is somehow already about 100 pages long, but I still need to finish a couple of days, edit it, and add pictures.  But if you are following along with Brett and need something to do while you are waiting for updates, then by all means you are welcome to read the details about what it was like for me when I tried to break the record.

Edit 2015: sorry I still haven’t gotten my act together to post the last day of last years attempt and to write my story about Nolans last year.  Sorry about the delay to anyone who was interested in reading that.

 

 

I’ve started writing it all down…

Now that I am moving around pretty well I am trying to catch up on well, just about everything!  I have begun to write a pretty comprehensive report about the entire adventure.  I’ll try to get it written as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, It seems like I get very little done every day, especially with the kids to take care of and with Natalie working crazy fellowship hours.  However, I will try to put in a couple of hours every night.  I am almost ready to release the story of the San Juans and will post it as soon as it is ready.

Mt. Rainier

Sorry about the lack of updates for so long!  I didn’t realize when I had to call it quits that my adventures in pain and suffering were just beginning!…I spent several days dealing with swelling.  I had some muscle breakdown that seems to have caused something called rhabdomyolysis.  This shut down my kidneys for a few days, so my whole body was swollen until my kidneys started functioning again.  Once the swelling came down I got back feeling in my lower leg and the wound I obtained while sliding down South Maroon became very painful.  That wound has finally started becoming manageable, but basically in the time between now and when I had to give up on the record I have been totally useless.  I am so happy to be able to walk around again!  Now it is just a matter of my overuse injury healing up, but I think that will be a long process.

The original plan was that once we were finished in California, a big group of teammates and friends would meet up at Mt. Rainier and we would all climb Rainier together as a celebration of successful completion of the 14er trip.  I was afraid the trip to Rainier would be cancelled once I had to call it quits due to my injuries.

However, once Joe confirmed he was still happy to take everyone to the top, the planning continued.  In the end Kim, Andrea, Steve, Calvin, and Axel all flew out together from Colorado to meet up with Joe and Kent (friend of Kim) in Washington.  Natalie and I went back and forth about sending Calvin and Axel, and finally when we agreed, we were horrified when we saw what the cost of the airfare had become.  So then we changed our minds and said they would not go.  However, they both wanted to go so bad that they agreed to pay some of their own money toward the airfare, so in the end we relented and said they could go.

Natalie and I have been following the satellite tracker, and it looks like they all successfully summited this morning! Congrats to the Mt. Rainier team and we wish we could have been there!

rainier

We are on our way!

Well, maybe in an hour or two we will actually be on the road.  I am starting to get very sick of packing.

Here is a picture of our main support vehicles.  If you happen to see us out there, please stop and say hello!

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You can’t miss the bright red Eurovan!

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Blue Nissan Pathfinder with Car-top carrier and motorcycle rack on back. And of course the infamous dirt bike.

I suppose by the end of the trip, the dirt bike will either be known as the Dog-Catcher, or the Andrew Breaker!

Oh, last thing.  My starting weight is 163.3 and body fat is 10.9%.  If I am good and eat like I am supposed to I should not drop below 150 pounds.

Rotten kids!

Well, here I am going nuts trying to get ready to leave tomorrow.  Wow this has come fast!  There is so much to do before we go, it seems almost impossible.  I don’t have anything ready to go for California and Rainier, I guess we will just have to wing it if/when we are finished with Long’s.

As if attempting the record was not daunting enough, my left wrist is still injured from my motorcycle crash on Ophir Pass when I fell down against a snow bank.

In addition, the other night Axel just would not stop hanging on me, and was climbing on me while I was on the couch.  I rolled over to remove him and heard a loud double pop in my shoulder, and it hurt very bad. Now my shoulder is very sore, I can barely lift my arm above my shoulder.  I hope I didn’t briefly dislocate it.  Now I am terrified I will drop the motorcycle and won’t be able to lift it back up since my left arm is fairly useless.

And now, one of the kids found my new GPS and decided to take it apart, so that it does not function anymore!  I just bought the GPS to help with finding the exact 3000 foot boundaries for the 3000 foot rule, and to help with some trailheads and routes in California, and now it seems I will have to figure out a plan B.

Pretty much going as expected so far (as in nothing is going to plan)!

Scouting Trip to San Juans

Andrea, James, and I just came back from a week long scouting trip to the San Juans.  My biggest impression was all of the snow!  Andrea is trying to finish up the 14ers, so we climbed 9 of her remaining 18 14ers, and I was able to scout out some key parts of the San Juans.

June 6: Chicago Basin

Our first trip was to Durango Mountain Resort on June 6.  We didn’t arrive until about 5:00 am, and without any rest we hiked 9 miles in towards Needleton via the Purgatory Flats trail.  Then it is about 6 miles up a nice trail to Chicago Basin.  There was hardly anyone else out on the entire trail, and with the rivers raging and waterfalls all around it was a beautiful time to be there.

We met some trail volunteers who surprised us by saying this was the least amount of snow they could remember seeing in the last 15 years.

We set up camp near the top of the basin around 2:00pm.  Our plan was to continue up and climb the 4 peaks: Windom, Sunlight, Eolus, and North Eolus.  We decided on Eolus and North Eolus, because we wanted to get them done in the daylight.  Starting from Twin Lakes at 12,500 feet, there was continuous snow to the summit.  The snow was soft and we were postholing quite often.  However, it could have been much worse.  It was slow going through all of the snow, but we eventually made it to the saddle between North Eolus and Eolus.

Looking back at Windom and Sunlight while ascending Eolus.

Looking back at Windom and Sunlight while ascending Eolus.

After a quick detour to North Eolus,  Eolus looked treacherous with snow all over the standard route.  James waited for us on the saddle while I took Andrea up Eolus.  We stayed right on the ridge all the way and as luck would have it, we were able to avoid most of the snow.  It was getting late enough however that we decided not to head over to Windom and Sunlight.

Andrea on the Eolus - North Eolus ridge.

Andrea on the Eolus – North Eolus ridge.

We were able to plunge step and glissade down fast enough that we made it back to camp in the light.  I tried my home made glissading sled out and it worked great! Although it does require some modifications.

June 7: Chicago Basin Death March

I planned to wake up at 3:00 am to climb the 4 peaks, so I would have a good idea of how long these peaks would take during the record attempt.  However, in my dreams I heard birds chirping, and next thing Andrea was shaking me awake saying it is already 5:00 am.  I jumped out of my sleeping bad with some choice words and ate and was started by 5:30 am.  Hiking by myself, I made decent time on the firm snow.  I made Windom by 7:00 am, and was on Sunlight at 7:50 am.  It might have been faster but I was too chicken to glissade the bullet proof snow off of Windom.

Coming off of Sunlight, the snow was softening up, so I was able to glissade and save some time.  By 9:30 am I was back up at the North Eolus and Eolus saddle, and at about 10:45 am I was back down at Twin Lakes.  It was perfect timing because Andrea and James were on their way up, so I joined them to climb Windom and Sunlight again.

Andrews IPhone 6-15-2014 378

Andrea with Windom in the background.

It was much more difficult and time consuming now that the snow was soft.  Near the top of the red gulley on Sunlight, I was postholing up to my chest and trying to crawl like a monkey, but failing miserably through the soft snow.

After a brief snowstorm on Sunlight we came down, broke camp, and began the 16 mile Death March back to the car.  It was well after dark by the time we were finished.

June 8: Adventures on the Dirt Bike

Since we were late the previous day, we rescheduled my dirt bike scouting for today.  The main goals today were to scout out Ophir Pass, Cinnamon Pass, and a rough connecting road between Ouray and Cinnamon pass.  The dirt bike is a big part of my strategy this year.  I am very slow in terms of my hiking pace, so I hope to make up some of my lost time by being fast between trailheads.  However, I have very little experience with the dirt bike, and it is still a little intimidating.

I woke up before light, and everything was covered in frost.  I tried to get the dirt bike started but for some reason was having no luck.  I tried the ignition, tried kickstarting it, and tried rolling it down a hill and popping the clutch.  Finally James helped me load it on the pathfinder, and we drove it a mile up the road, then I coasted and was able to finally get it started by popping the clutch while rolling fast.  It seems the dirt bike does not like to start in the cold.

I drove over Ophir pass, which had only just opened.  At the top there is a narrow corridor through deep snow that seems barely wide enough for the Pathfinder.  The pass is for the most part easy for the motorcycle, but on the way back I managed to lose control of my motorcycle in some loose rocks and nearly went flying off the mountainside.  My confidence was gone and a short time later I crashed into the snowbank and injured my wrist.  Fortunately the bike was fine, and I made it back to Andrea and James without any further trouble.

Then we headed to Silverton and up Cinnamon pass.  James and Andrea headed over Cinnamon pass while I continued towards Engineer pass and then turned left towards Ouray.  This road was very hard for me, even on the dirt bike.  It often has a huge dropoff on one side and the road has lots of very technical spots.  I crashed again on a downhill and had a very difficult time picking the bike back up.  Finally I made it down to the highway between Ouray and Silverton.  Then I had to turn around and go back up.  Unfortunately, a lightning storm had begun, and the road was now wet.  I figured it was good practice because during the record I would be on this road in the dark.

I did a little better on the way up, although at one obstacle I went so fast that my legs and butt were launched up off the bike, and I barely held on with my hands.  Once I landed I accidentally swerved right and almost went off the precipice of doom, and then swerved left and crashed into the side of the hill.

My confidence was completely shaken, and I think the prudent call will be to avoid this road during the record!  I continued up to Cinnamon pass which in comparison seemed like a paved road.

I met back up with James and Andrea and we set off for a late hike up Handies.  Starting around 11,400 feet in American Basin, there was snow everywhere, and we immediately started postholing.  We sent James, the heaviest of us, up ahead as the guinea pig.  Earlier this year, Homie told me about a direct route up Handies, so we chose one of many ribs up the West Face of Handies.  It started snowing and before long felt like a blizzard.  The snow was either blowing straight up or sideways.  It would hit for awhile, and then it would break for awhile, before another wave would hit.  We didn’t know it, but the whole state was experiencing bad weather that day.

Making our way up Handies.

Making our way up Handies.

We tried to come down the standard route, and were able to glissade a little, but then it turned into a postholing nightmare on the way out.

We made it back to the vehicles and went to the Silver Creek/Grizzly Creek TH to camp for the night.  I was much faster on the motorcycle and made it to the trailhead just before a massive hailstorm.  I ran for cover in an old cabin, and when the pathfinder finally came by I waived them in.  We stayed in the cabin during the worst of the storm, and tried to get the car organized.  Then I went out and set up the tent.  Somehow, in the cabin during the storm I was able to send a message to Natalie with my satellite tracker, and she let us know that the next day would be sunny!

June 9: Redcloud and Sunshine

We were up early for a climb up Redcloud and Sunshine.  Rather than taking the standard route up Redcloud, we headed for Sunshine.  The snowpatches were deep in the enchanted forest, and it was not uncommon to fall through to your ankles, knees, or waist.  However, since it was early the snow was still relatively hard.  We found a steep snowfield that took us most of the way to the Redcloud Sunshine saddle, and then climbed Sunshine.   There was one nasty false summit on the ridge to Redcloud.

Andrea in her standard 14er/pinnacle pose on Redcloud.

Andrea in her standard 14er/pinnacle pose on Redcloud.

On the summit, we decided to split up.  I wanted to check out a couloir for a quick descent, and James and Andrea went down the standard route.  Thanks to my sled I had a nice descent, and had to wait for James and Andrea lower down on the trail.  They said the standard route on Redcloud was  horrible with lots of postholing, so I think I will try to avoid that during the record attempt.

Then we drove out to Lake City, and up to the Nellie Creek trailhead.  For scouting purposes, I took the bike up the 4 wheel drive road but chickened out at a big stream crossing.  I was afraid I would drop the bike in the water, and render it inoperable.  So I turned around and checked out the Matterhorn Creek 4 wheel drive road, which I was able to do, although I crashed yet again.

June 10 Uncompahgre Wetterhorn

We woke up early and drove the pathfinder up the road, past the dreaded stream crossing, but were stopped by a big snowbank at about 10,400 feet.  We started hiking from there, and saw that if someone was just able to make it through that one snowbank then it would pretty much be smooth sailing all the way up to about 11,200 feet.  Then there were lots of snow patches, although we could see that some dirt bikers had managed to make it all the way to the upper trailhead.

This was a crazy day because of how much snow was still up here.  A short distance from the upper trailhead we were walking on snow that did not let up until the summit.  We were able to follow a very direct route, but I was concerned about the route because during the record attempt I will be up here late in the day when the snow is much softer and it could make for an epic disaster.  I will probably have to bring snowshoes.

The view from the summit of Uncompahgre offered no relief.  It was solid white all the way to Wetterhorn.  After a short nap on the summit, James headed back to run the shuttle, and Andrea and I continued on to Wetterhorn.

Looking back at Andrea and James while ascending Uncompahgre.

Looking back at Andrea and James while ascending Uncompahgre.

Wetterhorn from the summit of Uncompahgre.

Wetterhorn from the summit of Uncompahgre.

 

We decided to ascend the South East face of Wetterhorn, since it was completely snow covered.  This was scary as the bottom is littered with avalanche debris, although the debris seemed old so I didn’t think it was a big concern.  Nevertheless, I was scared for the entire climb.

Looking up the steep snow toward the summit of Wetterhorn.

Looking up the steep snow toward the summit of Wetterhorn.

Looking down at Andrea on her way up Wetterhorn.

Looking down at Andrea on her way up Wetterhorn.

 

Thankfully, despite the snow getting soft, we managed to stay on relatively solid snow.  The snow took us all the way up to the last 100 foot “crux” of the standard route.  Although after the steep snow climb that last hundred feet on dry rock was a welcome relief.  We took the standard route down and suffered some nasty deep postholing once we were down by the trees.

James was waiting for us, and then it was time for what seemed like a neverending drive to Aspen, to take James home.

June 11: Pyramid

I let Andrea rest today while I scouted out a western route on Pyramid.  I didn’t start until around 7:00 am, and saw some skiers coming down the Bell Chord couloir.

A short distance after the turn to the Bell Chord couloir, I bushwhacked across the raging stream and found my way into a steep snow couloir.  I felt terrible and kept thinking I would turn around, but managed to keep on going.  The snow couloir ended right at 13,000 feet, where it joined up with the northwest ridge route on Pyramid. I was literally shocked to see all of the snow that is still up in the Elks.  Snowmass truly lives up to its name and is a solid white mountain.

I continued on a little further until I ran out of energy.  I glissaded the 2500 feet back down the couloir I had climbed up, but took it very slow because of how steep it was.

Looking down the steep couloir.

Looking down the steep couloir.

That was the end of the big scouting trip.  If you hit the snow early in the morning it can allow for very fast travel.  The bad news is that I will also be up in the snow in the afternoon when the snow is soft.  So it seems like it will be a big blow to my chances to set the record.  However, maybe a few glissades will save enough time (and save some downhill wear on my knees) to keep my chances alive.

Thanks James and Andrea for a great trip!

Hello world!

Hi, welcome to the website for my 2014 14er speed record attempt.  This year I will be trying to set the Colorado 14er Speed Record, and then will try to continue on to set a new fastest time for climbing 74 14ers in the Contiguous United States.

My wife will try to keep this blog updated if you are interested in following along