Friday, September 11, 2009

Sunset

Pretty awesome sunset today, and I was fortunate enough to see it.







As viewed from our neighborhood, the sun set right over Eldorado Canyon so it was perfectly framed by Eldorado Mtn. to the south and S. Boulder Peak/Bear Peak to the north. Also, as usual, the clouds are what really made the sunset spectacular. Without the massive cloud layer (which formed just before sunset and extended from the divide east over the plains) there just wouldn't have been much to see. It's kind of a metaphor for life I guess, the bad is what allows you to see what's really good.

In other news, i finally submitted my research article. It went off to Chaos journal on Tuesday and it's titled "A ridge tracking algorithm and error estimate for efficient computation of Lagrangian coherent structures". I'm pretty happy with how it came together in the end and I'm fairly confident it will be accepted without major changes. Also, since I'm now allowed to have a life again, I plan to get outside to enjoy the above pictured mountains. More to come then...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Research assistant = no free time

Sorry for the complete lack of updates recently. I've honestly just been too busy to do much that's interesting. My adviser was invited to submit an article for an upcoming issue of Chaos magazine and that task falls to me. We got a slight extension to the submission deadline, but it has to be in on Tuesday so I've been working super hard all month to try and get some good results and bang out a journal quality article.

For those of you who have research experience, you probably know that good results don't come on a fixed schedule so that means my schedule has just had to adjust to make enough time to get everything done. I've been working up to 15 hours a day for the past couple weeks so this has meant I've had no time for climbing, hiking or anything else I usually like to do. The most I've managed is a quick work out every couple days and I've come to realize that running inside on a treadmill is horrible. The only thing worse is being completely sedentary.

On the bright side, I have gotten some pretty decent results over the past month and the article we're submitting is just about done. The 3800 lines of code I wrote is (mostly) working and there's not much left to do. I feel pretty good about it, but as always, an extra week or so to finalize some things wouldn't hurt either. Hopefully once this is done with I'll be back to a normal work schedule and have some time to enjoy the cooling weather.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting back in the game

This past weekend I decided my IT band had rested long enough and it was time to test it out a bit. The truth is I've been too busy to do much anyway, but moving in to a 3rd floor apartment has probably been a decent workout by itself.

Anyway, I decided to get on the treadmill in the workout room at our apartment complex. I figured this would be a good way to feel things out while allowing the option of stopping at any time without a long walk back to a trailhead.

I ended up doing about 2 miles of mostly easy running/jogging plus one hard mile in the middle. I had basically no pain, just a couple minor twinges. Things felt good enough that I did a similar routine tonight. I'm not having any pain, but it does feel a bit tight/stiff so I'm keeping up with the ice and stretching, but I'm cautiously optimistic for now. I think it's going to be a while before I'm back up to 10+ mile trail runs, but 2-3 miles on the treadmill is a good first step.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I'm still in pretty decent shape despite my 2 or 3 weeks without much running/hiking. On Saturday I did a 6 minute mile and today I did a 5:30 mile, but I think that was wind aided since the AC vent was behind me. I'm not sure how the treadmill stacks up against running on a track as far as difficulty, but for now I'm pleased with that. Despite the monotony of running while staring at a wall, it's kind of cool to be able to exactly control your pace and effort and see an immediate measure of your fitness. I haven't really done this since I ran track and cross country in high school.

For now my plan is to ease back into things and up the mileage very slowly. Hopefully over the next several weeks I'll keep feeling better and be back to normal sometime in September.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Flagstaff bouldering

Well, I'm back from Vail, but as I expected, I had no time to get out for a hike. However, I did get up to Flagstaff to go bouldering yesterday morning. Over the past month or so, my climbing has pretty much been cut to zero. Between moving, work and trying to study for a prelim. exam later this month I just haven't had much time. The previous time I climbed was about 2 weeks ago and I was unable to do First Overhang (V5), a problem I flashed.

Brock and I got up to Flagstaff yesterday morning before 9 and headed to Upper Y wall. We warmed up a bit and hopped on the Upper Y traverse. This is one of three excellent moderate traverses on the mountain, Three of a Kind Traverse and the Monkey Traverse being the other two. They're all about V4 in my opinion and all require some figuring out to suss out all the beta.

Anyway, I surprised myself by falling off the last move of the traverse on my first attempt, completing the second half on my second and sending the full traverse on my third. Despite feeling like I've lost a lot of finger strength, apparently my endurance is still decent.

If you're wanting to work on endurance, all three of these traverses are pretty close to one another so try running laps on them. I've done all three in a session, and in the future I'd like to see how many times I can do them all in a single session. As usual, I forgot my camera, so no pictures. However, I'll leave you with this awesome guide to Flagstaff bouldering which includes most of the problems on Flagstaff. Also, here are links to pages which describe these three traverses (Upper Y, Three of a Kind, and Monkey).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cat

Well, I'm pretty much moved in to my new apartment so updates should pick up soon. In the mean time, here's a very brief update.

The wife and I got a kitten the other day. Her name is Sammie, she's just over 2 months old and she's extremely cute. She's been pretty well behaved for a kitten, even going straight to the litter box. Here are a few pictures:







Tomorrow I'm off to Vail to present a paper at a conference. I'll only be there for 2 days so I won't have much free time, but I'd love to get in a hike if I can. I'll post up pictures if I get outside at all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Moving

I'm moving to a new apartment this week (today actually) so real updates will resume once I have more than 10 minutes to sit down at a computer.

I haven't had anytime to get outside during the past four or five days except for a (very) short run on Sunday. My knee is starting to feel better, but still not great. Hopefully it will keep improving.

For now, you might want to check out ClimbingNarc and B3bouldering for some good updates. Narc is in Tuolumne right now and Jamie Emerson is just back from an extended trip to Rocklands in South Africa.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Movement Climbing+Fitness

I went to check out the new gym today, Movement Climbing+Fitness, and I'm pretty impressed with the facility. The lead wall looks great and there's a lot more (and better) space for spectators. The stadium seating idea seems to have worked out great and I think it will make watching comps here a lot better than most gyms. The bouldering area is just average, there's one good sized overhang, but that's definitely not the focus of the gym, go to The Spot if you want to boulder inside.

The main gym area


Seating area and balcony


Also, Boulder's strongest were out in force. I saw Jason Kehl, Carlo Traversi, Alex Puccio, Alex Johnson and others.

Alex Puccio and Carlo Traversi


Jason Kehl


Speaking of Jason Kehl, I also saw him and his van up on Flagstaff about a week and a half ago and it reminded me of this classic video:

Jason's Crib

Mammut Bouldering Championships in SLC

I saw this on the live broadcast and now believe that this comp was not in SLC, it was in fact on the moon. Daniel Woods does a one arm pull up to get the flash and win the comp. He is a straight up Manimal, that's all I can say.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Movement Climbing+Fitness

Movement Climbing+Fitness is open to members today and is open for free to the public tomorrow and Sunday. This is a new addition to Boulder's climbing gym scene and it seems like they've got a pretty cool facility. They've built the walls to meet IFSC standards for international climbing competitions and included stadium seating for better spectating. This is the first gym in Boulder with tall enough walls for IFSC standards and they had to dig down to do so because of the city's building height restrictions.

The gym is about a block from my apartment so I'll definitely go check it out over the weekend and try to take some pictures. It seems like they have a broad focus on general fitness as well as the climbing aspect (hence the name), so they may attract a different clientèle than the other gyms in Boulder. However, this is the 5th indoor climbing gym in Boulder (The Spot, BRC, CATS, and the CU Rec. Center are the others) and their memberships are $70/mo. There's definitely competition, so hopefully there's enough demand to support all these places.

Personally, I'll stick with climbing outside and my $35/yr. membership to the wall at the CU Rec. Center, but I'm also a poor grad student. I'm excited to see their walls this weekend though and maybe get a better idea of the feel of the gym. More to come...

Boulder Skyline Traverse

This is another old trip I wanted to post.

My friend Dave and I planned a long hike last fall across the peaks adjacent to Boulder. We decided to wait for a cool day (no 90 deg. temps) on a weekend, get an early start and hike from the South Mesa Trailhead, over South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain and Mt. Sanitas.

Dave drove down from Fort Collins on Friday, 9/5/08 and stayed at my apartment. The plan was to get up super early and hit the trail by 5am so we'd be done before any afternoon storms. We dropped off a car at the Mt. Sanitas trail head, drove down to the South Mesa trail head, and got on the trail just after 5am.

Between being tired, still warming up, and the steepness, the hike up Shadow Canyon in the dark turned out to be the hardest part of the trip, but we made good time and were on the summit of South Boulder Peak by 6:30, just after sunrise, but the sun was still below the clouds.


By the time we made it back across the saddle to Bear peak at 7am the sun was up.


We headed down the west ridge of Bear Peak then up the Green-Bear trail to our next goal, Green Mountain. This is probably my favorite stretch of trail anywhere in Boulder's mountain parks. There's varied terrain, from open grassy meadows to steep scambles, most of it is runnable, and it's far from any trail heads so it's never crowded.

We hit the summit of Green Mountain at 8:10am and quickly headed back down to the take the Ranger Trail over to Flagstaff. This next leg of the trip was mostly uneventful and mostly downhill until a gradual slope up to the summit of Flagstaff. We hit the highpoint in the Ute Trail at about 9:10am and decided not to make the short trip off trail to the true summit.

From here, we had to descend all the way down to Boulder Creek before making our way over to Mt. Sanitas. Giving up all that altitude was unfortunate, but that's the way it goes. Sanitas wasn't too bad since we could almost taste the end of the route and we made the summit by 10:55am and were back down to the trail head and the end of our route before 11:30.

We kept up a pretty good pace and the whole hike took us about 6.5 hours. We probably ran for about a mile of the entire route and both had enough food, water, and energy that we thought we could have gone faster. Now that I've been doing more trail running this year, and once my IT band heals, I'd like to try this again in the fall and actually try for a fast time. I'm pretty sure I could do it in under 5 hours, but that's a goal for the future.

There's a well established history of people doing ridiculously long, fast runs in the Boulder area and Bill Wright has a fairly detailed list up on his website. Read the trip report for the Longs Peak from Boulder run. Most of the times for the routes I've done seem to be at least 25% faster than I've ever done them! That's like the difference between an decent high school runner and a world record miler.

I mapped out this hike on mapmyrun.com, but I don't think their elevation calculations are even close to accurate. It said about 15 miles and 3862' of elevation gain, but I know just the ascent of S. Boulder peak is about 2900' of gain and Mt. Sanitas is about 1200' so that's already 4100'. There would be a couple hundred more from hitting Bear Peak and Green Mtn. probably adds about 1000' so my estimate was about 15.8 miles and between 5500' and 6000' of elevation gain. Has anyone else used this tool? It's pretty cool and intuitive. The distance seems ok, especially if I would have been more careful entering the route, but the elevation gain is WAY off.



It is good for making cool (if inaccurate) elevation profiles though. You can see all five peaks we hit here:



Finally, here is the route we took, including approximate distances:

South Mesa Trailhead (near Eldorado Springs)
Homestead Trail - 0.0 miles
Shadow Canyon Trail - 1.5 miles
X - South Boulder Peak summit - 3.4 miles
X - Bear Peak summit - 4.1 miles
Bear Peak West Ridge Trail - 4.1 miles
Green Bear Trail - 5.9 miles
X - Green Mountain summit - 6.9 miles
Ranger Trail - 7.1 miles
X - Ute Trail (including Flagstaff summit) - 8.5 miles
Flagstaff Trail - 9.3 miles
View Point Trail - 10.5 miles
Red Rocks Trail (to Mt. Sanitas trailhead) - 11.7 miles
Mt. Sanitas Trail - 12.5 miles
X - Mt. Sanitas summit - 13.9 miles
East Ridge Trail - 13.9 miles
Sanitas Valley Trail - 14.8 miles
Mt. Sanitas trailhead, Done! - 15.8 miles

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Flatiron

I thought I should get a climbing post up here before people start to think all I do is hike/run, which I can't even do until my IT band calms down. So, I went to my photo library and ... the photo evidence shows that I don't actually climb. Ever.

I think a lot of other climbers have this problem too. When I'm climbing, I'm either on the rock, spotting, or belaying about 90% of the time, so I usually don't even bother to bring a camera. The only photos I have on my computer from a semi-recent climbing trip are from the Direct East Face (5.6) of the First Flatiron here in Boulder so that's what you're getting.

3rd, 2nd and 1st Flatirons in winter


Now, just because these are the only photos I have doesn't mean this it's not worth sharing them. This is one of THE classic routes in the Flatirons. It's 7-10 pitches of perfect stone, most of them about 5.4, accompanied by spectacular views of Boulder.

The view of Boulder


There are even a couple pitches which traverse up the north ridge and give views of the snow capped peaks to the west.

The continental divide to the west


The only real draw back is the shear number of people on the route, but on a weekday evening things are usually pretty good. In fact, I did this climb on Sunday, May 3rd and didn't run into anyone else on the route. Not bad for the weekend. If you live in or visit Boulder, you should try to do this climb. Some people think it's boring, but I think it's one of the best.

View to the north


3rd Flatiron to the south

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ITBS

So I went to see a physical therapist today and as I thought, I have ITBS (Iliotibial band syndrome). This basically means no hiking or running for a while. I need to cut out any activity that's causing me pain right now and then slowly ease back into things.

In a few days, if I don't have any pain, I'm supposed to try walking forwards and backwards on a slightly inclined treadmill, gradually increasing speed and distance. I've also got stretches to do and a foam roller to help stretch out and massage the IT band. I've been icing at least twice a day and that seems to have helped quite a bit so far.

I tried out the foam roller last night, and as I've heard, it's pretty damn painful. It kind of feels like I've just been punched in the thigh really hard, but the pain just keeps coming as long as you're on the roller.

Hopefully things will go well and I can start doing some lighter running/hiking in a couple weeks, but I'd love to hear suggestions from other people who might have had this problem in the past. Also, I've found that these sites have a lot more information:
itbs.info
sportsinjurybulletin.com

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Climbing injuries study

Via Climbing Narc, there's a new study on climbing injuries out.

Not to be overly critical, but calling this a study seems like a stretch. It's really just a presentation of (mostly obvious) data. There's not really an attempt made to gather/present related data and not even basic statistical comparisons are made based on numbers/proportions of participants.

Keeping in mind that this study apparently only includes climbing injuries which resulted in a trip to the emergency room, let's summarize...

1) Like any other sport, fractures, sprains and strains are the most common injuries (you don't go to the emergency room for tendinitis or a scraped knee)

2) In the cases that might send you to the emergency room, major shoulder injuries and injuries from falls seem most likely

3) Ankle injuries seem the most likely in a fall

4) Falling from higher than 20 ft. is usually bad for you.

This statement is a real gem too, "The severity of fall-related injuries correlated with the height of the fall." Let me translate that: The farther you fall, the more it will hurt.

If this is a study, what did they study? Why not just say "We randomly decided it's time to announce the following facts..." There's no information on the relative number of male vs. female climbers so we can't say who gets hurt more often. There's also no information on the type of climbing being done (sport, trad, bouldering) which would be interesting too. Finally, since the first paragraph says "Study findings revealed a 63 percent increase in the number of patients that were treated in U.S. emergency departments for rock climbing-related injuries between 1990 and 2007", I'd at least expect an estimate of the increase in participants during the same period.

I'm not sure why, but this type of thing drives me crazy. Maybe it's just the thought that my tax dollars probably paid for it.

UPDATE: Brian sent me a link to the whole article which he has uploaded on his site. I read through it and although most of the results are still pretty intuitive, there's a lot more information, including confidence intervals and statistical analysis. A few interesting things in the whole article which weren't in the press release:

Over 1/2 of patients who fell >20 ft. were hospitalized and over 70% of hospitalized patients were injured by falling >20 ft.

Also, here is the conclusion of the article:

Conclusion

This report confirms much of the existing research on medically-attended rock climbing–related injuries, which indicates that lower-extremity injuries and fractures, sprains, and strains are most common. However, this is the first study to examine rock climbing–related injuries using a nationally representative sample. More research is needed on the role of personal safety equipment and environmental protection (e.g., padded floors in climbing gyms) and their impact on injury prevention among rock climbers. As the demographic characteristics of recreational climbers shift to include those who are younger and more inexperienced, with the increasing availability and popularity of climbing, the injury patterns of the sport may change as well. Given the disproportionate focus on elite climbers in the literature, the epidemiology of rock climbing–related injuries among recreational climbers should be studied specifically so that injury prevention strategies and awareness can be appropriately targeted.


I'm still not overly impressed, but at least the authors realize most of this isn't too surprising and the most interesting questions haven't been answered yet.

Glacier Gorge Snowshoeing

Since I'm just getting this blog started, I figured I might upload some things from a few major trips I did within the last year. Here's the first:

On Jan. 17 of this year, my friend Brock and I headed up to Glacier Gorge in RMNP to do some snowshoeing. We got there around 10am and headed up the trail toward Mills Lake.

It was a gorgeous day with temperatures just above freezing and not a cloud in the sky. Eventually we gave up trying to follow the trail and just stuck to the frozen stream.

Mills lake was gorgeous and was completely frozen over except for the inlet. We also had spectacular views of the west side of Longs Peak and Keyboard of the Winds. The following photo show Mills Lake in front of a backdrop of peaks. Visible are Storm Peak, Longs, Pagoda, and Chief's Head (left to right). It's remarkable how little snow is on the peaks since we didn't get any big snows until late in the season this year.


From there, we headed up past Jewel Lake and all the way up to Black Lake. Temperatures were much cooler here since Black Lake is at about 10,600 ft., just below tree line. We had a quick snack, took some pictures and headed back down the trail.

This is one of the best days I've spent in the mountains. The weather was absolutely perfect and the sky even seemed extra blue. There's practically no avalanche risk along the route and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to do some snowshoeing this winter.

In all, we hiked almost 11 miles in 6 hours with about 2,100 ft of elevation gain. The National Park has a completely different, more serene feel without all the crowds the summer brings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Longs Peak run

On Saturday (7/18) I went up to the Longs Peak area to get in a good run/hike at altitude. I couldn't have asked for better weather or scenery.

I left Boulder around 1:30p and hit the trail at the Longs Peak ranger station at 2:35p. The trail up to tree line passed quickly and it was warm enough that I soon had my shirt off. The one major downfall of this trail (at least up to the turn off for Chasm Lake) is the amount of horse poop. Maybe I'm missing something, but it's definitely not ok to leave your dog's mess on a trail, so how is it ok to leave massive piles of horse poop in the middle of this trail?

Once I got above treeline it was much cooler and the views of Longs and the surrounding peaks were spectacular. I made it up to the Chasm Lake junction at 3:45p. After a short break to eat some Gu and put my shirt back on I headed off towards Granite Pass. As usual it was super windy at the pass so I kept moving toward my destination at the start of the boulder field, arriving at 4:29. About 5.5 miles and just under 2 hours into my hike. I took a break for 15 or 20 minutes to enjoy the perfect weather and incredible views.

I ate another Gu and headed back down the trail. At this point I still felt great, but I had 5.5 miles to go. I started running back down the trail and hit the Chasm Lake split off at 4:59. I still had plenty of water and food and felt pretty good, but my left knee was starting to bother me a bit. By the time I was about a mile from the trail head, I had to stop running and walked most of the way back due to some pretty sharp pain on the outside of my left knee. I reached the car at 5:39p, 3 hrs and 4 min after starting.

I'm pretty sure I really irritated my IT band on the way down. I'm not completely sure what did it though. I've been upping the mileage in my hikes/runs to about the 10 mile distance over the past couple weeks so it could be too much too soon? Anyway, two days later, my left knee is still bothering me and I'm pretty sure I strained my left hamstring as well since I must have changed my stride once the pain started. The symptoms are pretty well in line with ITBS since the pain is on the outside of the knee where the IT band runs, it hurts most when bent at a 30 deg. angle, and it hurts worse going down hills/stairs than up. I've got an appointment to get it looked at tomorrow and I've been doing ice and ibuprofen for now, but I think the hiking is going to have to take a break for now. More time to boulder I guess.

Here are the stats for the hike/run.
Starting Elevation: 9,400 ft.
Finish Elevation: 12,400 ft.
Net Elevation Gain: ~3,020 ft.
Distance: 11 miles
Time: 3 hours 4 minutes (about 2 hours up, 1 hour down)

For another Boulderite who's been doing some trail running on Longs see Peter Beal's blog.

Starting up.

I'm starting this blog to keep track of my various outdoor activities and share them with others who might be interested as well. I'm based in Boulder, CO so there's no shortage of things to do outside. For the immediate future, expect posts on trail running/hiking and rock climbing, primarily bouldering. I may also upload some pictures and descriptions from trips I've taken earlier this year.

I'll try to make my posts useful for those who might want to undertake similar activities and hopefully I'll upload enough pictures to keep things interesting. I'd love to hear peoples comments and suggestions for improving my blog as well as thoughts on new adventures. Let the posting begin!

Cheers,
Doug