Ashley and I just got back from hiking La Plata Peak with 2 of her friends from work and their boyfriends. The Ellingwood Ridge on La Plata is a route I've been wanting to do for a while, and somehow I convinced everyone to hike the same mountain. Unable to get any of the others to join me, I started hiking shortly after 3:00 am since I knew my chosen route would take longer than the route they would be taking. The plan was to meet at the summit at 10:00 am, or as close to it as possible. I gained the 2-mile long class 3 ridge just in time to look over the other side and observe an amazing sunrise! The rest of the ridge involved a repetitive procedure of dropping below cliffs, hiking back up to the ridge, and traversing the ridge. What makes this route particularly special is that it can be made as difficult as desired. If one chose to stay on the ridge crest the entire way up, the hike quickly turns into a 2-day ordeal involving 5th class climbing and rappelling. The Ellingwood Ridge route description is for the class 3 version, and I followed this description as closely as possible, spending a bit of time playing around near the ridge crest for some added excitement. I reached the summit just before 9:00, waited for a while, got cold, and descended the route that Ashley, et.al. were ascending. I found them about 1000 feet below the summit. The entire party of 6 summited successfully, 3 or which had never climbed a 14,000 foot peak before!
I made it back to Boulder on Saturday night. I finished up all that I needed to do in Sudbury, so they sent me home early. Canada is great, but I won't miss every conversation revolving around Hockey. They speak too much French up there too.
I did get to see the largest coin in the world though. At 30' tall and 2' thick, this 1951 Canadian Nickel is Sudbury's claim to fame. Coincidentally, the reason Sudbury exists is becuase of mining - you guessed it - nickel.
After cracking on the final climb yesterday, Floyd Landis was 8:08 behind the leader in the Tour de France, apparently out of contention for the tour win. Today he dropped the peleton at the beginning of the first climb and finished the day almost 6 minutes ahead of the second place rider, bringing himself into 3rd place, only 30 seconds off the lead. If you get a chance to watch today's stage, do it! With only a few days of racing left and the mountain stages over, the remaining time trial is the most likely place for riders to gain or lose time. This 30 second deficit is one that Landis is very well capable of overcoming as he is known to be a better time trialist than the two riders ahead of him, Oscar Periero and Carlos Sastre. What a crazy tour!
Well, I made it to Sudbury. The airport here is the smallest I've ever seen. The rental car place had 6 cars. I like Canada. As expected, my phone does not get reception here, so email will be the best way to contact me while I'm here. I've got a sweet top-story corner hotel room, but it doesn't come with OLN, so I can't watch the tour. It's a rest day tomorrow, so that'll be my project - either find a bar to visit nightly or convince the hotel to get OLN.
Since I'll be missing the Mt. Evans race while I'm in Canada, Ashley and I went up there today. Ashley's training for a half marathon, so she didn't want to ruin herself by overdoing it on the ride. She rode up the hill for a little over an hour and turned around to go get the car. She passed me in the car about 10 minutes before I reached the top.
The ride itself begins in Idaho Springs at 7,555 feet and finishes 28 miles later at the Mt. Evans summit parking lot at 14,135 feet. I was hoping to complete the ride in less than 3 hours and ended up at 3:15. It's essentially one big hill with only a few minor descents on the way to the summit. Now I don't feel so bad about missing the race next weekend. It felt like about 80 degrees on the summit when we got there at 11:00. It's 104 in Boulder right now, so we're getting some of that heat that Oregon has had recently.
I've just been informed that I'm leaving for Sudbury, Ontario on Sunday. I'll be staying up there for 1 to 2 weeks. The reason for the trip is to learn a 3-D geotechnical modeling program that nobody in our office has ever used. We're trying to model the Uranium mine tailings disposal facility in Moab, UT so we can determine how best to move it 30 miles to the north. I'll be working with several of the Sudbury staff to develop this model as I learn the program. Should be fun, but this unfortunately means that I'll miss the Mt. Evans Hill Climb ride that I've been training for. I should have full access to e-mail and my cell phone while I'm away. Speaking of riding, Floyd Landis is in Yellow after the second day in the Pyrenees!
Ashley's parents arrived in Boulder on July 4th and are staying with us until the 12th. I've been working most of the time they've been here, but we did go on a nice road trip to Ouray, CO over the weekend. We spent Friday night in Glenwood Springs, so Ashley and I rode up Glenwood Canyon on the bike path on Saturday morning before traveling to Ouray. It rained most of the time we were there, which was both good and bad - bad because we couldn't see all the peaks around the town, and good because the rain made the waterfalls more spectacular. In Ouray we went on a mine tour of the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine where we rode a small rail car 1 km into the side of the mountain, hiked up to a few different waterfalls, and ate a fantastic steak dinner.
Due to all the rain, we've resorted to Oregon strategy - stay inside and play cards. There have been some intense battles over the past few days, and I'm sure there will be a few more before Al and Karen leave.
Last Thursday I drove to the airport to pick up Dad. He'd never been to Colorado before, so it was fun to tour him around for a few days. We did some of the standard things like the Coors Brewery Tour (Coors Tourey), Rocky Mountain National Park, and hiking in Chataqua Park. We also drove to Longmont to do some beer tasting at the Left Hand Brewery. Dad found this particularly exciting because he is left handed. Turns out the brewery is named after Chief Niwot, a local indian chief back in the day who happened to be left handed.
Argueably the best part of his visit was when the two of us hiked in to the base of Mt. of the Holy Cross in the Holy Cross Wilderness a few miles south of Vail. We hiked a few miles into camp on Friday. The plan had been for me to take off early on Saturday morning and attempt the Holy Cross Couloir route on the east side of the mountain. Meanwhile, Dad would attempt the standard Northridge route which is a vicious steep hike. All went as planned. I started at 4:20 am from 10,700 feet and navigated my way to the base of the coulour at 12,800 by 6:45. When I entered the couloir, the snow was a bit soft, but bad enough to warrent turning around. After exiting the top of the coulour at 8:30, I took about 10 steps to the summit at 14,005 feet. The Holy Cross Coulour is part of a somewhat famous formation as snow fills the coulour as well as a horizontal bench 2/3 of the way up the coulour, forming an obvious cross. There's a hut on a nearby mountain where people would pilgramage to veiw the cross that God had put there for them.
I returned to the tent at 10:40 to find Dad already back and resting. He had made it up to around 12,500 feet where he got some spectacular views before turning around. I think the Mt. of the Holy Cross is my new favorite 14er in Colorado. It is composed of more solid granite than all of it's nearby relatives, giving it a much more rugged look. Even when there's no snow, it doesn't look like a dirt pile.