Monday, September 3, 2012

Whizzing Week

After last weekend's Taos Up and Over 10k run I was feeling a bit sore in my quads and my right heel so I took Monday off from running. Tuesday rolled around like any other Tuesday and I got to work around 7am. After getting through the morning's email I checked in on my friend Homie's progress on his 14er speed record attempt that he had started the previous Thursday. Homie was carrying a Spot GPS tracking device and watching him make great progress, via my computer, on his endeavor was extremely inspiring. On Tuesday morning he was working up Mount Antero. I had hoped to meet up with him sometime during his attempt to give him some company and moral support but didn't have the vacation time. However, as I sat there at my desk watching his progress and reading all the positive, energetic posts on the thread about his adventure I just couldn't stand it anymore. I had to get up to Colorado ASAP to help out in any way I could. So I went home "sick", called Bill Wright (a member of his support crew), packed up my gear and headed north that afternoon.

By 5:30pm at was at 11,000' on Mount Princeton parking near the "trailhead" just beyond the radio towers. Homie's two-member support crew, Gerry and Jennifer Roach, were there readying food and clothes for Homie expecting him to return from 14er #33 of his attempt. I chatted with them and got more and more excited as I heard stories of the past few days. Homie was kicking some ass and everyone was excited about his prospects. He showed up back at the trailhead around 7:30pm and we drove down the road to meet up with another hiking companion, Andy Wellman, en route to the Blank Cabin trailhead for Mount Shavano and Tabeguache. I hadn't met Andy before and he turned out to be a great guy with a super positive attitude and great sense of humor--perfect for this crew we had assembled. (Andy wrote up a report of his experience that's very much worth reading to get a better feel for the experience than my crappy blogging right here.)
After a short nap and some food intake, Homie and Andy left the trailhead around midnight while Gerry, Jennifer and I all slept for about six hours. Homie and Andy returned to the trailhead at 6am and Homie was pumped! His enthusiasm was contagious and we cruised into BV for some coffee and a short breakfast before driving up to the Cloyses Lake TH.

At 9am on Wednesday, Homie and I left the CloysesLake TH to traverse a major chunk of the Sawatch 14ers--Missouri, Belford, Oxford, Harvard and Columbia. I'd linked these up, along with Yale, many years ago from south to north so I knew we were in for a big day. Homie was looking strong, though, and I was confident we'd make good time. I hadn't really spent any time on the trail with Homie since August 2009 when I crewed for him, Bill and Tom in their first Nolan's 14 attempt and even longer since our February 2006 winter Crestones Traverse. Thus, we had plenty to talk about as we climbed over the peaks and headed south. We only encountered a couple of light rain showers during the day and minimal lightning. It was a great day as we summited Mount Columbia as the sun was setting. At the summit we were greeted by John Kedrowski who would hike with us down to the North Cottonwood TH to meet the crew.

From 2012-08-28 Homie's 14er Speed Record Attempt
Cruising from the summit of Belford over to Oxford

From 2012-08-28 Homie's 14er Speed Record Attempt
Descending Oxford in the rain. Harvard looms in front of us

Homie and I on the summit of Mount Harvard, 17:15, Aug. 29, 2012

From 2012-08-28 Homie's 14er Speed Record Attempt
Ascending the final bit of Columbia as the sun was setting

From 2012-08-28 Homie's 14er Speed Record Attempt
Sunset over Horn Fork Basin

However, I had called in sick again to accompany Homie on this big day but had to be back in Los Alamos for work on Thursday. It was getting late and I still had a 4.5 hour drive home. I bid Homie goodbye around 8pm and then hammered down the super heinous south slopes route of Mt. Columbia and then ran the trail down to the trailhead getting to the awaiting crew (Gerry, Jennifer and Andy) around 9pm. I explained that Homie was still trucking along but his quads and shins were killing him on the descents so it would be another couple of hours before he would reach the trailhead. For me it had been an ~18 mile, 12 hour and 10,000' ascended and then descended day. I was a bit beat. With that, I loaded up and started the long drive home. I made good time and crawled into bed in Los Alamos around 2am Thursday morning. I was back at work at 7:15am Thursday morning after just a few hours sleep. Coffee was brillant on Thursday.

Spending the day with Homie on Wednesday was very inspiring and fun. His demeanor, company and crazy-strong ability to keep on going made me really appreciate the opportunity I was partaking in. Sure, it seemed silly to drive 4.5 hours up to Colorado on whim to joining and I questioned my decision to drive up there a couple of times on Tuesday afternoon as I sped north. But once I got there and met up with Homie and his crew, there was no doubt in my mind I did the "right" thing. This was living and one never knows what tomorrow will bring so we'd better live right now. I've posted some photos from my day with Homie if you're interested.

Thursday evening we left on our planned Labor Day weekend trip to Shelf Road, CO for 3.5 days of climbing. The six hour drive to Shelf made for a long Thursday to cap off a long, whirlwind weekend. I was very happy to crawl into my sleeping bag at Shelf Road and sleep for a solid 7 hours and then enjoy a relaxing and fun weekend of sport climbing on Shelf's fine limestone walls. I climbed well and onsighted a number of new-to-me 5.11s and, on the last route of the trip, sent a new-to-me 5.12a route called Helter Skelter. So the weekend ended on a fine note and capped a really cool, inspiring and rewarding week. Life is good. No, make that great.

Keith giving the finger to The Gym Arete Direct (5.12c) at Shelf Road.

Nat getting it done on "Pi" (5.12a)

Keith getting his early morning workout on "Tits Up" (5.12b)

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