I had gone back and forth on what gear to bring for some time, and ultimately decided I'd be glad to have a layer at some point, and that I could make the journey, which I estimated to be between 5-7 hours, with two water bottles (1 liter) and a handful of gels. So after stripping down and suiting up James, Jeremy, and myself were itching to go.
|Hoping to beat the weather with a 4:15am start|
We ran by headlamp for the first hour or so up and up and up (~3,500 ft in 4 miles) en route to the summit of Peak One.
Arriving at the summit after over an hour of moving was quite gratifying, it was also nice to know that we wouldn't have any climb so large as that for the rest of the traverse. In fact, we wouldn't be dropping much below 12,500 feet for the remainder of the day!
We were well aware that there would be technical terrain to navigate on the route, and were almost giddy with the prospect of getting into the heart of it beyond Peak Two!
|The sun showing its color in between clouds over Frisco|
|Me, James, and Jeremy on Peak One|
|Tenmile Peak a.k.a Peak Two as seen from Peak One|
|A rocky traverse.|
|Heading up Peak Two's ridgeline.|
The temperatures were perfect and the morning light heightened the astounding beauty of the ridge.
The traverse from 2 to 3 was everything we'd hoped it would be. It was a consistent scramble with a "choose your own adventure" kind of feel about it. As we were feeling giddy and energetic, we decided to do our best mountain goat impressions, making a few class five moves here and there, and pursing the ridge's crest as often as possible/practical.
|Peak 3 in the center and Peak 4 beyond it to the right as seen from Tenmile Peak.|
|I've heard this is called the Dragon's Tail, which I think is awesome considering I wear one of those...|
Summiting Peak 3
|Peak 4 and its awesome ridge in the distance.|
|Riding the ridge to Peak 4|
Summiting Peak 4
Veering to the west of the ridge up Peak 4 was a blast, a lot of scrambling, of course, but we felt strong and were super stoked to gain the grassy ridge that ensues on the way to Peaks 5, 6, and 7.
|Copper Mtn Ski resort from Peak 5|
Arriving at the summit of Peak 6 was slightly demoralizing, there is a stout descent to the saddle before climbing up Peak 7, and Peak 8 loomed higher still in the distance. Not having a trail up the ridge incredibly steep ridge made for quite the push! I felt really strong standing beside Breckenridge Ski Resorts Peak 8 chairlift having maintained a really strong pace up the climb.
|Early on Peak 8's burly ascent|
I continued down slowly, grateful that the other two J's were waiting for me before starting the climb up Peak 9. I stopped and sat down frequently to try to quell my stomach, but to no avail. On the climb up Peak 9 I was contemplating my predicament and realized that during the Run Rabbit Run 100 in September it would be almost inevitable that I would feel as bad if not worse than this at some point throughout the day and this was a golden opportunity to exercise my will to overcome. That being said, the steep ascent of Peak 10's talus slope (~900 vertical feet at around a 75 degree angle) was awesome. I adhered to goat-like movements using all fours to scurry up the loose rocks and over the boulders on my way to the American Flag flapping freely in the wind atop the highest peak of the day (13,633 feet).
|Peak 10 dead ahead|
Jeremy summiting Peak 10
|At 13,633 feet|
|Some of the traverse in the background|
We made the traverse in about 6 hours and 15 minutes. The day was a huge success by every measure. It was certainly one of the most sensational routes I've had the pleasure of navigating so far this summer, and something I'll certainly do again before the summer's end and would recommend to anyone else (I'd love to join you!). It was great to spend time with James and Jeremy, who both kicked butt out there. I'm glad I was hindered by the stomach issue late in the outing and hope that I learn how to avoid that in the future to ensure that I can run and race stronger and more comfortably in the future. All in all, the route was about 14 miles with 8,500 feet of vertical gain.