Sunday, November 26, 2006

update from the shire

i've got a lot of updates to post from my trip home; presidential traverse (yep, krissy and i got 'er done in 75mph winds!), an epic crawford notch/mt isolation/bartlett 26 miler with justin and climbing mt washington via boot spur. i'm just waiting for the opportunity to upload the photos and video. i don't think the blogs are as interesting without them. so i'll wait and give you the full monty when i get back to seattle.

i come home from the shire tues. this trip has been great. got to see my family and friends, and with krissy here for a few days she got to meet them too. i've been thinking it might be the time for me to rest. so i'm taking the rest of this month off (which is just the next 4 days) - which is a good start for me. i plan on starting dec again real easy with low training volume. however the snow is falling in the pacific northwest!!!!! so that might make it harder for me to chill.

what's next? well krissy and i are headed to a hawaii for the hurt 100. you can run the 100 miler (krissy) or the 100k (me). i've never been to hawaii so it's going to be sweet!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

summit of mount washington nov 21, 2006

after a day of mishaps including getting 40 minutes into my 1:15 drive and realizing i the car is out of gas... then realizing that i don't have my wallet to buy gas - i arrived late to pinkham notch, where i would start climbing mount washington. i wanted to climb it again, the long way, by itself, for fun. i headed up the boot spur trail to boot spur mountain at 5,500 feet. the day was clear and beautiful and the summit was probably as windless as it ever gets, just perfect. the gortex paclite arcteryx jacket was wrapped around the pack... today all i needed was my arcteryx softshell. taking pictures along the way i summited in 2:07. i headed down the lion's head trail for a more direct route back to pinkham notch. it was getting dark, but i'm stubborn and it took a fall on the ice (which there was lots of) for me to pull the headlamp out. finished in 3:20 and got some great photos. and this vid.

tomorrow justin angle and i tackle another day in the presidential range - this time with much colder temperatures!

you could say there was ice on the trail!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Presidential Traverse - Nov 17, 2006

tues nov 14th i returned to the shire to spend time with my family for thanksgiving. my arrangement with myself was that i would go home and do some sort of long fun run/hike/skin/snowshoe.. something.

so i decided i hadto do the presidential traverse. it's a 25.5 mile trek with 9,600+ feet of gain. it's the most extensive above tree line area in the east. 13 of the 25.5 miles is above tree line and you are exposed to the harsh conditions of the mount washington area. if you aren't familiar with this area... it's has the "worst weather on the planet", the highest recorded winds on earth, it can snow year round and you should expect the weather to change drastically and unexpectedly (as this sign states - be scared).

for these reasons i had been watching the weather since i arrived. it was clear and warm on thurs nov 16th. it would have been the best day to attempt the traverse. however krissy had just arrived late on wed, and asking her to sleep 2-3hrs and get up for a 26 mile, 10,000 foot trek with iffy weather just wouldn't have been fair. although chances are she would have done it. so i proposed going friday. friday's weather was not as good. high winds at 60-75mph and torrential rains were hitting the presidentials thurs night. the mount washington weather site said the rain and wind would start to clear late morning/noon. we expected the traverse to take us anywhere from 8-12hrs. because of the exposure, your speed on this route completely depends on the conditions, and your ability to climb and more importantly descend rocky terrain. my mother and her husband david helped us do our recon thurs and drop a car at crawford notch for our return drive home from the trek - which would take us over 11 summits one way from pinkham to crawford notch.

let's just say i was a bit worried about the weather. i was awaken the night before by the pounding wind and rain. i started to question whether this was a good idea and i couldn't sleep. i decided that we would at the very least climb the first peak, mt madison, and make a decision from there.

so we got up early and were heading out on the great gulf trail into the hard driving rain just around 6:45am. we started 4 miles north of the amc visitors center at pinkham notch across from camp dodge. the first bridge over the peabody river was massively swollen compared to just 12hrs before when we had looked at it. as we headed up the great gulf trail we crossed many small swollen streams. it was pouring and the warm weather was melting the 78 inches of snow these mountains had gotten a few weeks previous. we found out later the 60 degree temps were a record high for nov 17th. krissy questioned why we had so much gortex on as we stripped our jackets off. i tried to remind her of mount washingtons' notorious weather and it's "highest recorded winds" (see the picture of the sign above!).

from great gulf trail we then headed straight up our 4,100 foot climb to mt madison at 5,367 ft. the osgood trail was basically a river with 3-4 inches of water pouring down on our feet as we tried to keep up our pace. i think my feet were dry for about 3 minutes of this trek. as we started to get closer to the tree line the high winds were frightening and loud. could we spend hours exposed to this kind of wind? i wasn't convinced. the weather said it would die, but weather reporting is not an exact science, so i had my doubts. we stopped to bundled up with winter gloves, hats, and hoods.. then headed up through tree line into the wind.

60-70 mph winds will knock you down. and that is exactly what the gusts did. while hiking we would frequently have to put all fours down to steady ourselves and not fall over. it was a bit crazy and touch and go for a while. the video below of krissy is a good example of how high the winds were. the guidebook estimates said 5hrs to summit mt madison. i figured we'd do it in half the time and we did manage to summit in 2.5hrs. we had agreed we wouldn't decide on whether to continue or not until we hit the saddle between mt madison and mt adams. the presidentials are called the "great rock piles" because that is exactly what they are... granite rock piles. there is no trail to run, cairns guide your way and i could imagine how hard it would be to stay on track with serious winter weather. the skies were basically clear except the clouds surrounding mt washington. we had amazing views of the surrounding terrain. it was spectacular and although we could barely hear each other unless we were inches away with all the wind, we were all smiles as we struggled to hike/walk on the rocks.

after 3hrs we were on our way up mt adams (5,774 ft) the second highest peak, mt washington is the highest at 6,288 ft, in the northeast and the highest peak without road access. we actually had some sun on us for a while. from mt adams we then traveled down the ridge to mt jefferson (5,712ft) and mt clay (5,533ft).

mt clay was in a cloud, and as we headed down the ridge, then up to mt washington, the highest peak in the northeast at 6,288ft, we traveled deeper into the cloud. as we approached i told krissy that we would soon be crossing the cog's train track up the side of mt washington. just as the cloud cleared, we first saw the tracks, then the cloud kept moving and right in front of us was the weather station and tower.. we were soo close!! it was awesome and our moods instantly changed as the sun hit us. the camera came out, the pace quickened and the smiles were ear to ear.
to that point we hadn't seen a single soul. as we approached the summit the weather station workers had come outside and were watching us from the tower climb the large boulders to the summit. although i'd skied tuckerman's ravine, i had never summited mt washington in my life so that was a great feeling and well overdue. this being the highest mountain in the northeast meant the rest of the trek would generally be downhill, although each summit meant climbing to each peak from the trail.

in order we hit:

  1. mt madison (5,367ft)
  2. mt adams (5,774ft - 2nd highest in the northeast)
  3. mt jefferson (5,712ft)
  4. mt clay (5,533ft)
  5. mt washington (6,288ft - highest peak in the northeast) > lakes of the clouds (the coolest amc hut)
  6. mt monroe (5,372ft)
  7. mt franklin (5,001ft)
  8. mt eisenhower (4,780ft)
  9. mt pierce (4,310ft)
  10. mt jackson (4,052ft)
  11. mt webster (3,910ft)
we descended mt jackson to mt webster as it started to get dark. this was fine as the navigation was so easy i hadn't taken my compass out once. at our "leisurely and picture taking pace" we finished in a few minutes over 12 hours. on this trek, as i said before, weather conditions are the limiting factor. we were happy to hit route 302 and run the 1/2 mile to the crawford amc visitors center where we had left our drop car (and the trail mix w/m&m's). it was a great day out.. and i think i'm doing it again on wed and possibly adding 21 miles to it.. we'll see if i can figure it out.

my gear:
shoes: montrail hardrock w/teko ecomerino wool socks & yankz laces
fuel: perpetuem, hammer gel, heed
pack: gregory stimulus w/two nathan handheld
electrolytes: nuun

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ron Herzog 50k Ultra Marathon

50k = 31 miles

today ellen, her boyfriend mike and there friend guss and i woke at 5am (not together) and traveled to granite falls, washington. team adventure racer roger michal is the race director of the Ron Herzog 50k ultra.
ellen who is super fast and just did her first ultra (with some proding from krissy and i) just over a month ago (and did awesome), was keen on racing another. she talked her boyfriend and bad ass mountain guide mike into into giving it a go. previous to today the most he ran at once was 8 miles! i was a bit concerned, but he's an adult and as we found out this guy is super fit, even if he's not a runner... yet. guss has some road experience but this was also his first ultra. me, although i've paced krissy here and there, and am always running ultra distance for adv race training, have not actually done an ultra race since i tore my meniscus two years ago. after the surgery the dr. told me that 15 miles was the most i should run in a week... and never all at once. let's be honest dr.'s don't know everything.

because of the massive amounts of rain we've gotten here in wa we didn't find out until late friday night that the race was still on. roger had to do some recon to see if this particular section called the "tank traps" was in good enough condition to run. it was, however he said it was as wetter than ever last year, and it was even more wet this year. there was talk of a river crossing so high that volunteers would have to assist you across. about 40 hearty pacific northwest ultra runners lined up for the 8am start (a handful of runners did the early start).

i had seen some fast names on the rd's mass email so when he said "go" i was supprised to be in front. then i figured they were just hanging out and would put the hammer on me later. within a mile or so eric clifton and myself found ourselves all alone running the 10 miles of uphill dirt road in the rain. he had bright colored tights on so he was hard to miss. "where had i seen him before?" i wondered. "did i meet you at cle elum?" he asked me. bingo - i had volunteered at the cle elum 50k. krissy had told me this guy was an old school bad ass. course records all over the place. "this was going to be fun" i thought.

i led at first, then eric picked up the pace. i stayed focused on my heart rate as he started to get further away from me. i reeled him in then let my heart rate settle a couple of times. on the flats he was running 6 minute miles! i didn't wanna blow up. i hadn't raced an ultra run in a while and although my heartrate said i could run his pace and i felt like i could.. i dropped it back to about a 6:30 min/mile. around every corner during the climb he slowly got further and further away. before the tank traps we passed some early starters, and steven wort told me he was 2:30 up on me.

i headed into the woods toward the tank traps. now this was my environment!! for those out there that adventure race, i'd call this light bushwhacking. i was flying, and within about 2 miles passed eric. that was the last time i saw anyone. the 6 miles of tank traps was soooo cold. i had mtn biking gloves on because i envisioned pulling myself up by trees and a much knarlier bushwhack that never materialized. it haled and snowed on me.. nasty wet snow. i trouncing through freezing river after freezing river, dunking shoes in the cold water. the trail had a slushy covering to it.

i hit 1/2 way point at mile 16 where the one aid station was located. i knew i didn't have time to spare with a runner like eric behind me. plus i was on track to run close to the course record.... hello, goodbye. i grabbed my bottles and was out. i then spent the next 30 minutes trying to get my gloves back on frozen fingers that wouldn't respond to my minds requests to move. this is when i noticed myself moaning a lot because of the pain in my hands. "you are such a wus" i thought. they still hurt as i type this. down a bit, up a bit, and one trail dump later... i was at mile 28.5 and had done about 5,000 feet of elevation gain when i hit the road. "Ah just 2.5 miles to the finish" i thought. i hate road running, and i'll be honest - it sucked. however i finished 1st in 4:16:02, so i was stoked on that. ellen had a great time of 5:24:16, and mike.. shit, mike was right behind her and ran a 5:24:41!! unreal. guss also had a great time of 5:42:02. an all around great day at the races.

my advice - get out there and run an ultra!! you have to give yourself oportunities to do what you thought was impossible.

my gear:
shoes: montrail highlines w/teko ecomerino wool socks & yankz laces
fuel: heed for the first 16, perpetuem for the second 16 miles
electrolytes: nuun

Thursday, November 9, 2006

coach hart - coaching

with the season pretty much over i now have more time to give to my other passion... coaching. so i've created a new website and i'm ready to rock. check it out - Coaching

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

transeivers, shovels and probes

a friend recently asked me my take on transceivers, shovels and probes.. so i figured i'd post my response.


i have used the ortovox m2 (singal antenna) for the last couple years. i like it, works well, great range, etc. the backcountry access tracker (dual antenna) is known for ease of use. i know a couple dudes (copson namely) who love this tranny. it also has a better harness than the ortovox m2. analog have a greater range but are generally harder to use, and pinpoint locations. digital is less range, easier to use.. go digital - they can interoperate.

the buzz last year was on the ortovox s1 (3 antennas - pictured) - both digital and sensor controlled - so look at that one. it's the top of the line and the future they say... and after being delayed over and over again it's now on the market.


i personally like life-link gear. i have used a couple of their shovels and currently use their polycarbonate shovel. it's light and pretty good although it's harder than most square, non ridged shovels to make a good even snow pit wall. this is because it not square, and it's grooved as i said. that isn't a huge deal, more of an annoyance really. however if you are out there digging snow pits daily then get a different shovel - like the brooks-range (discussed below).


it's nice to have ski poles that converts into a probe. last year i skied with the life-link variant (great tough pole). i just got the carbon pro at the end of last year - this one is the bomb, super light and it converts to a probe. having a probe in a pole makes your poles a bit heavier, so it's a trade-off of course - but life-link has figured it out and the swing weight seems perfect and feels natural. i will sometimes carry a real probe anyway... just in case, depends on the situation. i could loose a pole, etc.

if you are serious about long tours in the backcountry (ie: being exposed for days to avalanches) - get the brooks-range shovel & sled attachment

shovel w/sled attachment:

the option i like and will use this year is the brooks-range backcountry shovel and sled attachment. i took the amga ski guiding course last year in jackson hole. they provided all the students with this setup a few months later. the idea is that with a bit of rope, your skis this shovel you can easily build a rescue sled. we worked with these in the class and they were far superior to any other sled configuration... i liked it a lot (you will also need to drill holes in your ski tips if you don't already have them). it's scary out there in the winter, and people get hurt.

when people like doug combs die it makes you rethink what you carry out there.

*** i'm selling some fritschi freerides on ebay

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

you gotta read this book. read it before the movie comes out. the movie is a drama - this is for real.

"To make matters worse, the animals used to make about one-quarter of the nation's ground beef - worn out dairy cattle - are the animals most likely to be diseased and riddled with antibiotic residues. The stresses of industrial milk production make them even more unhealthy than cattle in a large feedlot."

wait for it...

"the meat would be shoveled into carts, and the man who did the shoveling would not trouble to lift out a rat even when he saw one - there were things that went into the sausage in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit."

there it is.. here is some more..

"At SIS-C slaughterhouses, visible diseased animals - cattle infected with measles and tapeworms, covered with abscesses - were being slaughtered. Poorly trained company inspectors were allowing the shipment of beef contaminated with fecal material, hair, insects, metal shavings, urine and vomit."

"An investigation by NBC News said that the Cattle King Packing Company - at the time, the USDA's largest supplier of ground beef for school lunches and a supplier to Wendy's - routinely processed cattle that were already dead before arriving at its plant, hid diseased cattle from inspectors, and mixed rotten meat that had been returned by customers into packages of hamburger meat. Cattle King's facilities were infested with rats and cockroaches. Rudy "Butch" Stanko, the owner of the company, was later tried and convicted for selling tainted meat to the federal government. He had been convicted just two year’s earlier on similar charges. That earlier felony conviction had not prevented him from supplying one-quarter of the ground beef served in the USDA school lunch program."

need more? this book is filled with it - give it a read and decide for yourself where and what you want to consume.