Viewing entries tagged

Colorado Training


Colorado Training

Life is finally starting to slow down now that I'm back in California after two and a half weeks raging in the mountains. It is nice to let life slow down every once and awhile. I am currently going through all of my data and photos and notes and getting ready for my next trip back to Colorado. While I do that I finally have the time to upload a video I made during my down time in Colorado. When you live in a van deep in the mountains you tend to have a lot of down time and when that time is not spent eating, napping, or strategizing you can get creative.

It has been a really long time since I tried my hand at this video making stuff so please be kind but I do encourage any feedback! Enjoy.


Missouri Missouri Belford... Lessons Learned


Missouri Missouri Belford... Lessons Learned

It is finally dark and the van is parked deep in the woods below Mt. Elbert. This is true darkness. Lopi is curled up in the bed beside me breathing heavy, legs twitching. I am sitting in the bed three pillows propped behind my head with the glow of the laptop on my face.
Words. I am struggling to find the words to articulate the emotional day I had today. So I'll start from the beginning.

The alarm rang and I sat up alert in my bed. It couldn't be 4:30am already!? I heard voices outside the van. I wasn't the only person planning on an alpine start this morning. I pulled the covers off slightly but the cool alpine air made me pull them back on quickly. It was dark. I was tired. I could afford a little snooze I was sure I'd be moving faster than the people outside my van.
Woof woof woof! I awoke again. This time to the sound of barking and it wasn't Lopi's either. A quick glance at the clock What!? It's already 5:30am. I tried again to pull the covers from my body only to snuggle deeper into the bed with Lopi. He wasn't helping the problem nosing closer to keep warm. I through the privacy current open hoping the dim morning light would wake me. Instead I snoozed for another half hour before prying my body from the warm bed placing one article of clothing on at a time before getting back under the blanket to warm them.

It was 6:30am... hard to call it an alpine start. I ate a few miniature bagels and a gel and was on the trail finally. The night before I had come up with the plan to run Missouri to Elkhead Pass to Oxford to Belford. A loop I measured to be close to 20 miles with a serious amount of elevation gain. With the map etched in my head and mileage to trail junctions and peaks occupying my thoughts I knew I had to move quickly my slow morning wasn't helping anything. And my daily weather update from a friend in Truckee had me worried I'd be stuck in another thunderstorm.

One by one I picked people off the trail. When I pass people I often want to ask what time they started but never do. The morning dew on the bushes soak my pants as I run by and my feet feel refreshed running through the raging rivers.

All was going to plan it was 9am now and Lopi and I were on the summit of Missouri. This left plenty of time for a summit of Oxford and Belford and I was confident we would be off the summit before the storms hit. They hadn't even started building! 
I had no plans of stopping on the summit but I decided to chat with the only other people up there, a group of four with two dogs. They were headed across the ridge that connects Missouri to Elkhead Pass with plans to summit Belford. I was immediately intrigued I had researched the ridge and thought it would make the trip faster. However the night before I had made the decision to not take it because of the 3rd/4th class nature and Lopi. I quickly responded "Really!? You guys think the dogs can do that? I hear it's pretty steep and exposed 3rd class." To which they laughed "Oh yeah it'll be fine if we have to pick them up we will." Against my better judgement I followed them off the summit. Which quickly turned into Lopi and I leading across the ridge. They seemed very surprised to hear I was traveling alone but I assured them I was not alone because I had Lopi!

Lopi is a strong dog and after 4 years adventuring with him. I know what he can and cannot do. And this was doable. We made quick work taking the path of least resistance until we were suddenly cliffed out. Our destination was less than a quarter mile away. To the right I could see a faint trail far below. We traversed back up the ridge and the group finally caught up. I explained the situation and we all headed down the right side. The terrain was extremely steep with serious exposure. Rocks crumbled in my hands and slipped underneath my feet. The consequences for a misstep were death. I had a bad feeling in my stomach as Lopi clung tight to my legs almost tripping me at moments. I knew if I had been alone on the summit I would have never got Lopi and I into this situation. But it was too late now. We made it even closer to Elkhead Pass but cliffed out again. This time I was done. Lopi and I were headed back to the summit of Missouri and going to finish our run the way we had planned it. The rest of the group tried a couple more times to find a way across the ridge with no luck.

Lopi took the lead sending rocks down on me as he quickly headed for the ridge. He was tired, I could tell, we had already run 7 miles and traversed across a technical ridge. Back on the ridge we headed for the summit of Missouri. Lopi's scrambling became dynamic and his movements sloppy. But he's a strong dog and we were headed to the safety of 2nd class trails. I thought the worst was behind us.
Only one more section of technical terrain. I was hugging tight to Lopi's heels because he wasn't moving very fast. He put his front paws up on the top of the ridge and jumped with his back legs. His back legs didn't make it and he came falling down the steep face right at me. I was precariously perched on the ridge with a sheer cliff behind me. Lopi means the world to me but being knocked backwards off a cliff from a falling dog was not how I imagined I'd go. Adrenaline kicked in and I braced myself. Lopi isn't a small dog actually the opposite at 115 pounds. Instinct made me use a bouldering technique. Arms out straight I tried to catch him but maybe just broke his fall gently. My heart pounding everyone was okay! I lowered Lopi back to the ground and he quickly took an easier route to the top of the ridge. I, still shaking, followed. When I got to the summit I found Lopi laying in some snow. The summit was now crowded in 30 plus people and I was ready to get off it. In the distance I could see the storms building I glanced at the clock. 11am. Damn it! I had wasted two hours and only summitted the same mountain twice. In two hours I could have already been on the summit of Oxford.

There was no time to think should've could've would've so we bolted. Knowing in the matter of a few hours that storm would be on top of us. But I was still determined to finish the loop. Running behind Lopi in the snow a million things on my mind I caught a glimpse of his print. Was that blood? I stopped and took a closer look. It was blood. I immediately jumped to conclusions. My trip in Colorado was over. I bought him booties and I didn't even use them. How could I be such a terrible dog mom? I was sure he had reinjured the paw he delaminated weeks earlier on a run in Truckee. It looked like a lot of blood it must be bad. I sprinted to catch up with Lopi shouting for him to stop. We sat in the middle of the trail I picked up his two front paws and saw nothing. The two back paws nothing. Wait. I looked again. One of his back paws nails had gotten torn up. I assumed it was from the fall he had taken a few hours earlier. It didn't seem to bother him so I put my glove over his paw and used a hair tie to secure. Hoping this would keep it clean.

We were already over half way to Elkhead Pass and it would actually be a shorter distance to just run up over Mt. Belford then to turn around. So we pressed onward. I kept glancing over my shoulder at the approaching storm. I didn't hear sounds of thunder or see lightning so I assumed we would be fine. Just a rain storm. Right? Less then a mile from the summit of Belford we watched the storm engulf Missouri. As I passed the only other people on the mountain they were headed down. We exchanged few words. They used words like cold, miserable, suffer and I just nodded in agreement.

A few steps from the summit what I thought would be rain hit us. Blowing horizontal the snow pelted my open face and collected on my pants. I pulled my rain jacket tight against my head and continued to walk up over the summit. The snow soon engulfed us full force.

Lopi laid close to the ground and I hunkered over my legs. Gloveless with only a thin fleece jacket and leggings I was not prepared for this weather. However I felt no panic. I didn't know if the storm would last days or minutes or if I would go hypothermic before I ever found out. I was calm. I was well above 14'000 feet in pure whiteness. Everywhere I looked all I could see was white. And the sound. There was no sound. The world was silent. I was silent. I was alone. The most alone I've ever been. All of those moments when I stressed about Lopi or the weather or my hydrating or fueling. In this moment nothing mattered. Nothing was real. Was I really on the top of Mt. Belford. It didn't matter. I didn't know what time it was I never looked. Time didn't matter. I've never felt anything like it. It's hard to articulate the peace and emptiness I felt. I couldn't tell you if I was dead or alive. 
But having awoke from the whiteness the storm passed. It could have lasted an hour I wouldn't know. The surrounding mountains came back into focus and the sky shown blue for a moment. A few rays of sun warmed my frozen cheeks and I felt life again. I could hear the sound of the mountains. A deep rawr of thunder in the distance and the scattering of marmots.

I picked up my things, brushed the snow off of Lopi and headed down the steep face of Belford. This time it was different. I wanted to walk and no I didn't want to walk fast I wanted to walk slow. I had nothing to prove to myself. I know I'm a fast descender. I know I could make it down this mountain in a quarter of the time. But what did it matter. I was training. The storm had passed. I wanted to walk. So I did.

I slowly walked over the slippery wet rocks enjoying the beautiful yellow and purple flowers. It wasn't long though before my desire to move quickly kicked back in and I bounced swiftly down the mountain and back to the van.

Lopi crawled wet and muddy into my bed for the third day in a row and I laid naked feet propped up trying to figure out what happened today. I guess if everything in life always went the way you planned it life wouldn't be interesting.


Yale Ya'll!


Yale Ya'll!

I had full intentions on getting an alpine start this morning. After struggling to find the trailhead and almost killing a dear I settled into what I thought was the trailhead for the night.  My alarm was set for 5:30 am and with the relatively short distance to the summit of Yale I knew I'd be more than fine getting up and down well before 1 pm when the weather was to role in. Instead I slept through my alarm and didn't get to the trailhead (which I wasn't sleeping at) until 8am. I wasn't worried because I knew I would still be back down in plenty of time.


Lopi and I made quick progress on the assent and passed nearly everyone who was out hiking Yale today. We made it to the summit in a little over 2 and a half hours. We had the whole summit to ourselves so we enjoyed every minute of it. The sky looked threatening but I was sure it would hold off for a while. We blasted off the summit for a fast and quick descent. In no time we were below the treeline and I felt safer about a storm approaching. You could hear the thunder rumbling but no rain had started to fall.

Less than a mile from the van the sky opened up. This time it didn't drizzle before the down pour it just began full force. Hail and rain mixed together soaking and stinging my skin. I opened up my stride and ran as fast as I could by the time I reached a big tree I quickly pulled my rain jacket out through it on and made fast work towards the van. It didn't matter that I was only in the rain/hail for less than 10 minutes I was still soaked to the bone and the wet dog beside me was now asleep in my bed. I checked the clock showing only 11. I was thankful I had been so close to the van but bummed the weather rolled in so early. The storm continued to rage for another few hours as Lopi and I hid in the van. Tomorrow we have big plans to do multiple peaks... Hopefully the weather is a little better tomorrow. Fingers crossed!


Antero Antero Antero


Antero Antero Antero

Today was a slow moving day. I spent the past few days catching up with old friends and climbing at one of my favorite crags turkey rocks. Not to mention running around playing with my favorite baby too. It was good for morale.

But today it was time to start planning plotting and navigating the big mountains of Colorado. I planned my schedule to have a shorter day the first and last day of my trip and to go really big on the third day. So this morning was just a mellow 11 mile run up Antero.

The plan was to get an alpine start from Golden and be at the trailhead by 6 or 7 that way I was off the summit before the storms rolled in... Instead I got an alpine start drove to the trail junction got in the back of my van and slept till eleven. When I woke up the weather looked threatening but I decided to push anyways. The sound of thunder in the distance made me nervous but the real storm held off till I was back asleep in my car. It rained the entire time but nothing like the torrential downpour that ensued after I was safe in the van.

The run itself was an adventure mainly on 4wd roads until you ascend a gully up a steep loose slope and then across an exposed ridge to the summit. Type 2 fun coming down slipping on the wet rocks and sliding a few hundred feet over loose rocks. As I sit down now to look at my route I fear I may not have been exactly on route... Time for a hopefully simple Yale run in the am with an actual alpine start.


How to be a Crack Addict with a Crack Machine in 5hrs


How to be a Crack Addict with a Crack Machine in 5hrs

You may be addicted to crack if you try to stick your body parts in parallel sided objects and then hang from them, day dream about Indian Creek, have noticeable scars on the back of your hands and ankles, are reading this article... A side effect of being addicted to crack is wanting to climb crack all the time. So you've searched the internet looking for someone to just lay out a crack machine, plain and simple, so all you have to do is build it or pay someone to build it. Well I think I'm a pretty competent Googler and I came up dry. Everything I saw was mounted to a wall or a garage or outside. I mean it must be nice to live somewhere you can do that but I move every year and live in a tiny apartment. I can't just go mounting shit on the walls.

So you're in this dilemma... You're a tiny but strong independent woman with essentially no nearby friends, no access to a climbing gym, and addicted to crack. The only solution is clearly to design and build everything you've ever wanted in a crack machine by yourself.

Here are my step by step instructions to success!

Step one

: get stuck in the LAX airport for 7 hrs. It'll give you plenty of time to brainstorm ideas and use those years in engineering school to sketch up mocks.

Step two

: second guess your abilities to build something from scratch with your lack of power tool knowledge and all around knowledge of building anything. (Other than software of course)

Step three

: tell someone [like a man] about your idea so they can tell you your dumb and it'll never work. This will give you the fire and motivation to prove them wrong.

Step four

: take off work. The weekends are precious and must be saved for real outdoor climbing.

Step five

: take your designs and go to home depot. If your expect any one at home depot to help you your expectations are too high.

Step six

: make cuts, buy all the supplies, carry around, and load into car all by yourself because I did ask for help and not a single worker was around. Remember its good training your going to have to unload it from the car by yourself at home anyways. Optimism.

Step seven

: unload car. Make sure to carry all the loads up at least two flights of stairs. Again by yourself. Took me 12 trips to the car.

Step eight

: your probably pretty hungry so eat a snack and high five yourself for being independent. While your at it call your dad or dad like figure because he's probably pretty awesome and will give you words of encouragement.

Step nine

: start measuring make sure to be accurate and pick crack sizes your willing to stuff body parts into. I chose a 5.5inch 2inch and 4inch cracks.

Step ten

: pre drill all of this holes all 52 of those holes. Preferably outside so you don't have wood chips all over your house.

Step eleven

: stare at the boards and think of how nice it would be to have someone to do all this work for you.

Step twelve

: time to assemble. Transport all those boards to the room they will live in because once assembled no way you'll be able to move it by yourself.

Step thirteen

: stick everything together upside down by matching up those holes you just drilled and jamming lag bolts into them this actually goes really fast and you finally get to see your hard work pay off

Step fourteen

: THE HARDEST STEP flip it over onto its legs... You'll probably be able to get it onto its side by yourself but all the way onto its legs... It weighs like 250lbs. Sooo rig some rope and lift with your legs, or call your climbing partner... Climbing is a partner sport so you have to have at least one friend.

Congratulations you are now



The last step is to reinforce the boards because there totally going to bow if you don't.

Drill through all the boards and reinforce with a threaded pipe and nuts. I did about every two feet. The closer the better.

Tada! Buy some climbing holds and mount them on the outside now you have a full body workout and can satisfy your crack addiction day or night!

Anyways for a more serious talk about my crack machine feel free to comment or send me an email I'd love to talk your ear off about the details! Measurements, bolt sizes, lumber, etc...