Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
- Rachel Carson
The weather has been crazy; no snow for weeks, sunshine for days. I fear for summer wildfires, the Front Range draining the remainder of our lakes, and all that but, man, I do love running in the mountains.
Fortunately for me, so do Mike and Luna. We went up Elbert last Saturday, settling for a 2:00 start and excited to be racing the sun. As expected, it was snowy beneath the pines. Once we got above treeline, we were able to move a lot more efficiently. Being so late in the day, the southeast ridge cast shadows over our route and left us cold for about 40 minutes before welcoming the sun once again on the ridge. We reached the summit in a minute or two over 2 hours, and made it back to the car a minute or two before 3 hours. We ran really fast on the way down the ridge, it was sick.
|Ridge to the summit|
|S. Elbert and La Plata in the background|
|Tried to fly and got denied|
The picture above leads me into my next outing. The mountain on the right there is French Mountain (13,960 ft), the ridge runs west then south cresting Frasco(just barely in the light), and Casco(prominent in left of frame), as well. I see these peaks from my window every morning, as they shoot out of the valley between Elbert and Massive.
Anyways, the route, we'll call it the Frenasco, made for quite the fiasco. My starting point was at the Mt. Massive TH. I began by skiing about 2 miles up the road to the junction with FR 110.J, continued skiing up this road until it because unreasonably steep, which was about another mile. It was my belief that the choice to ski would greatly enhance the fun-factor, in reality though, the snow sucked for the first couple of miles and was so deep and so steep in the next mile it was never all that great. In fact, I quickly realized that it would be far more beneficial to have snowshoes.
I carried on up the road towards Iron Mike Mine. The snow was just below my knees for the entire slog. It was slow moving...
|The basin begins opening up|
I contemplated the ideal route to French's summit, but acted rashly instead of seizing it. Ideally, I would have continued up the gulch to Iron Mike Mine, which was probably about a mile away, but really the going was so slow that every extra mile up the basin was one more I'd have to walk down. So I had hoped to summit via French's east slopes, and return down the ridge to my skis.
|Elbert's slopes looked far more appealing than my route|
I was able to run a little bit through the powder on the way down, reached the skis and began to ski. The route was about 12 miles total and took me about 4 hours. I've got to get out here again, and look forward to completing this line and extending it over Elbert's summit.