Archive for September, 2009

Middle Palisade

September 28, 2009
Finger Lake

Finger Lake

The Northeast Face of Middle Palisade is a classic scramble of a California Fourteener within the rugged Palisades subgroup of peaks in the High sierra. The route takes you past stunning Finger Lake, with its turquoise glacial water and towering granite slabs. The route then ascends slabs and lots of loose talus on the glacier moraine. The climb itself is a fun third class scramble with superb views of the surrounding area.  The whole thing entails about 7,000 feet of vertical gain and 16 miles roundtrip. I completed the route in 7:46 roundtrip, starting at 5:45 am and finishing just after 1:30 pm. There is no FKT information for this mountain, although Hans Florine did it in 8:36 roundtrip as part of his climb of all the fourteeners in 1998. I imagine somebody has done it faster and without the  fatigue from the Stanford Loop the day before and knowledge of the route, I think a time somewhere near 6 hours flat would be possible.

Dozens of photos and more details here.

Splits and annotated photo of the route after the jump!


Kilian on the TRT

September 28, 2009

UPDATE – 8:05 PDT (from Salomon) –

DONE!  38 hrs 32 mins.  Respect Kilian 6 hrs 20 mins less than the previous record hold by T2 (Tim Twietmeyer), which already was an outstanding performance!

UPDATE – 9/29 – (from Salomon) –

Dicks pass 11.30am PDT – Kilian  is 30 hrs and 30 mins after he left Tahoe. He still has 60 km to go, with 208km (129 mi) behind him. He definitely has step up the pace, since he’s 30 mins behind his 40 hour timing – including one hour lost during the night and two hours of sleep.

My comments – Record is in the bag (sub 45 hrs); sub 40 schedule is on the edge.  I find it interesting that he slept for 2 hours – its a different style – running harder with more rest.  What I really find surprising is taking a wrong turn and losing 8 km and one hour … I would think that what his pacer is supposed to be taking care of.

Euro style sponsored adventure running comes to the States!

Kilian Jornet started the Tahoe Rim Trail this morning.  He will be paced the entire distance, with full support including media.  You can follow it live on the Salomon site.  Adam Chase is writing the updates now that the team is Stateside, so we can tell what is actually taking place, rather than the breathless but contentless hyperbole that was coming out of France.

The goal is sub 40 hours; should be no problem if he adjusts to the dry air and stays hydrated.

A little different style than Brett’s recent JMT record.  All good.

The Stanford Loop

September 27, 2009
The Great Western Divide from Upper Kern Basin

The Great Western Divide from Upper Kern Basin

I designed a single large loop that entails nearly 40 miles and 14,000 feet of elevation gain with spectacular views into the heart of the Southern High Sierra. I call the route the “Stanford Loop” because it encircles 13,963 ft Mount Stanford, which is known as the “shyest” major peak in the Sierra because its position makes it only prominent from a small area. The loop includes four passes, two over the Sierra Crest (University Pass and Kearsarge Pass), and two over the Kings-Kern Divide (Forester Pass and Milly’s Foot Pass).

There is extensive off trail travel, first in the climb up and over University Pass, and second in the traverse of Upper Kern Basin to Milly’s Foot Pass and down to Lake Reflection. The travel in the second off-trail portion is particularly arduous and cumbersome with extremely loose (kitty litter) class 3 downclimbing from Milly’s Foot Pass and several thousand feet of loose talus fields to negotiate in the descent to Lake Reflection. In all, the loop took me 13 hours and 45 minutes. Despite the substantial and grueling effort that is required to complete this loop, I think it is the greatest single day tour of the Southern Sierras. Obviously, my travels in the Sierra are not thorough, but this one will be tough to beat. The route is a highlight reel and I was treated to constantly changing views, including Center Basin, Upper Kern Basin, the Kings-Kern Divide, the Great Western Divide, Lake Reflection, Kearsarge Pinnacles, the list goes on. The remote and infrequently visited Upper Kern Basin is especially memorable with close views of the Great Western Divide. This area is typically only reached after a multi-day backpack and I did not see anybody from the JMT all the way to East Lake. This route is a gem!

Complete Trip Report with dozens of photos here.

Aerial Map and splits after the jump!


John Muir Trail Record!

September 24, 2009

A totally unheralded Brett Maune crushed the John Muir Trail record this September 3-6. Peter Bakwin’s site describes it best:

Brett Maune has destroyed both the unsupported and overall records for this classic trail. Maune travelled unsupported from Whitney Portal to Yosemite in 3d 14h 13m (3d 9h 58m from Whitney Summit), beating the Sue Johnston’s overall (supported) record by 5h 47m, and beating Michael Popov’s unsupported record by over 19 hours! Prior to this trip Maune was a virtual unknown in the ultra and fastpacking scenes.

The JMT is possibly the finest “long trail” in the world. During it’s 223 mile length, not only is the route all single track, but it doesn’t even cross a road, while starting from the highest mountain in the lower 49, and finishing in the fabled Yosemite Valley.

It doesn’t get any better than this. Or any harder. The JMT is not obscure; many top endurance athletes have given it a go.

“We had over 8 hours to hike the last 12.7 miles with a net downhill run of 5,300′. I was feeling great and believed the record was mine. Then the wheels fell off…”

– Flyin’ Brian Robinson, on his 2003 record attempt that came up short after 210 miles.



Kilian Jornet – Tahoe Rim Trail

September 23, 2009

Earlier I reported that Kilian Jornet was planning to go for the fabled John Muir Trail record. He is one of the best mountain runners in the world, so that was big news. I suggested that he had the talent to crush the existing record, but his planning was questionable.


The latter turned out to be the case … his team discovered that in the US, access to public land is not guaranteed, and athletic achievement is not encouraged as it is in Europe. You can’t say, “Hey, I’ve trained for this for months, I going to see how fast I can run this, now can I please have a permit?” Not only will this not work, but it will probably backfire.

In short, they couldn’t get a permit to run the John Muir Trail. So they’re going to try the Tahoe Rim Trail instead.

Kilian3The website describing this effort is so over-the-top and filled with hype, that it’s impossible to figure out what he’s actually doing. However, sources say he’s going to start early this Monday morning. As in all his runs, he will have massive support from his sponsor Solomon, including pacers, and probably a video crew. The current record is 45 hrs 45 mins set by Tim Twietmeyer in 2005; he should be able take a minimum of 5 full hours off that. Hopefully, this will be practice for a JMT run next year.

Stay tuned.


Long Trail Record

September 9, 2009


Jonathan Basham on the trail now! He is over halfway done and on pace for a new record. Reports below are coming in from JB’s crew (check back for updates as they come in) – – –

Progress Reports Verbatim

10:54 am, 9/6

JB and crew heading up to North Jay for the night. Will begin the hike at 5am. I will send you texts to keep you updated.

6:38 am, 9/7

JB and Travis just completed the first 12 miles in 3.5 hours. JB feeling great! Weather is spectacular.

3:53 pm, 9/7

JB is looking strong on day one. He is five miles from ending his 53.6 mile day. Plans to start day two at 4 am.

5:43 am, 9/8

JB started out at 4am. Completed the first 10.9 mile section at 645 and headed out for 18.4 section with two HUGE climbs over Mansfield and camels hump. He looks and feels strong!

5:06 pm, 9/8

Waiting for JB to end day two. Should be here in two hours. Looking real strong. Will complete 56.2 for day.

? am, 9/9

JB started at 3:30am at Appalachian gap after putting in 55.2 miles yesterday. He will finish at green road today. Its a short day because he added a 2.6 section to the end of yesterday. His right knee was hurting a little in the downhills this morning but still looking good!

* 5:17 am, 9/10

Hello from the trail! JB started out at 2:30 this morning. He is starting to get some hot spots on his soles which slowed him down a little. He picked it back up and is still on record pace. He is unsure if he will be able to sleep tonight or not but he did get a solid 4 hours last night. I will keep you posted.

** 12:36 pm MDT, 9/11

13 to go.  Looking solid for the record.

*** 6:33 pm, 9/11

NEW RECORD: 4 days, 12 hours, 46 minutes, & 4 seconds (4:12:46:04)