Matt Mahoney's 2005 Colorado Vacation

June 25, flew from Florida (17 ft) to Colorado Springs (6600 ft) and immediately drove to Leadville (10,200 ft) to begin 13 days of altitude acclimation for the Hardrock 100 mile run. I stayed at the Leadville Hostel.

June 26, climbed 13,933 ft. Mt. Hope. This was during the Leadville 100 training weekend, so I followed the race route starting at Twin Lakes at 9200 ft. at 6:50 AM, a little earlier than the runners, who were going to Winfield and back over Hope Pass at 12,600 ft. But instead of going over the pass I continued up the east ridge. During the climb a loose 100 lb. rock rolled out from under my foot and gashed my shin 2 inches long and 1/4 inch deep. I was a long way from medical help and a short way from the summit so I continued up and summitted at 10:30 AM and returned at 2:20 PM (about 13 miles round trip). I should have had the gash stiched up but I didn't and it oozed pus and swelled up around my ankle for the rest of my 2 week trip.

On the way up, the Twin Lakes river crossing was 100 ft. wide, 4 ft. deep, flowing 5 MPH, and very cold (30's). I crossed it and almost got swept away. I returned to Parry Pk. campground 2 miles west over a bridge, which is the way the other runners actually went for safety reasons. I am sure if they had gone the actual race route that a few people would have drowned and the rest would have refused to cross.

June 27, climbed Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest mountain at 14,440 ft with Michelle who was staying at the hostel. She was happy to climb her first fourteener, even though she had attempted the seven summits, had climbed Vinson Massif in Antarctica and Kilimanjaro, and had been as high as 27,000 ft. on Everest. We started at 8:00 AM, summitted at 10:51, and returned to the Halfmoon trailhead at 10,000 ft. at 12:36 PM. The route is 9 miles round trip on easy trail.

June 28, climbed Mt. Massive solo, Colorado's second highest mountain at 14,421 ft. from Halfmoon. Started at 9:00 AM, summitted at 12:17 PM, and returned at 2:52 PM over 13 miles of easy trail round trip.

June 29, drove to Silverton to meet Patrick Lilly to attempt to repeat a climb of Eolus, Sunlight, and Windom that I did in 2003 in 22 hours from the Purgatory trailhead on US550. We started at 9:20 PM and hiked 16 miles (one way) all night with flashlights, light hip packs and no sleep to the base of the mountains. We reached the base of Mt. Eolus, 14,083 ft, at sunrise June 30.

Unfortunately there was a lot more snow and ice than in 2003 and we did not have ice axes or crampons.

So we turned around a couple hundred feet below the summit.

From the frozen Twin Lakes at 12,500 ft, we could see that conditions were no better on Sunlight (below, left of sun) and Windom (right of sun), so we did not attempt them.

We returned to Chicago Basin (below) and back to the car at 2:42 PM. Patrick also wrote a trip report on Summitpost.

July 1, after 14 hours sleep I drove 5 hours back to Leadville and registered for the marathon.

July 2, the marathon started at 10,200 ft and had 6600 ft of climb, out and back on dirt roads and trails turning around at Mosquito Pass at 13,185 ft. I reached the half way point in 3:20 (my normal marathon time) and finished in 5:58, 88'th place out of 217 finishers. The winning times were 3:45 for men and 4:31 for women. I was disappointed to finish slower than last year's time of 5:24.

July 3, climbed Elbert again. Started at 9:51 AM, summitted at 12:07 and returned at 1:52 PM. I was surprised that I was 30 minutes faster than last week and my legs were not at all sore.

July 4, rest day, watched fireworks.

July 5, attempted to climb 13,951 ft. Ice Mountain, the middle (and highest) peak of the Three Apostles (below). I did not know anything about these mountains other than having seen them from Mt. Huron and they looked steep. I started from Winfield at 10:00 AM.

The trail ends at treeline and involves a lot of bushwacking through dense willows, then traversing grassy ledges, to get to the basin between Ice Mt. and N. Apostle (below), which looked like the easiest route. From there I planned to climb to the saddle and right along the ridge, which I could see had some significant obstacles. However I only got a couple hundred feet below the saddle and turned around because I didn't like climbing the loose, steep boulders below the saddle and possibly getting caught in a rockslide. As I climbed the basin I heard rocks tumbling down the steep cliffs to the right several times.

I turned at 1:30 PM and finished about 11 miles of hiking at 4:40 PM.

July 6, drove to Silverton (9300 ft), attended Hardrock long course briefing where I saw lots of scary pictures taken from previous years. They reminded us that there is a lot more snow and water on the course this year.

July 7, another rest day. At the pre-race medical check my resting pulse is 94. Maybe I am nervous.

The Hardrock got a new coat of paint. You are supposed to kiss it when you finish, something I've done 4 times, but not this year.

July 8, the race starts at 6:00 AM. The first big climb is to Dives-Little Giant at 13,000 ft (below).

The top of the pass traverses above cliffs. John Cappis (below) joked that he curses the guy who designed the course (himself).

The descent into Cunningham Gulch descends about 3000 ft in a couple of miles (below). The trail switchbacks down to the right of the waterfall to an aid station at mile 9. It took me a little over 3 hours to get this far.

The next big climb is over Stony Pass at 13,000 ft, but not the normal way you would go over a pass. We crossed the road at the top, traversing the two mountains on either side.

I was actually moving pretty well here, passing lots of people in this section, and in the easy Pole Creek basin (below) at 12,000 ft.

My problems started on the climb out of Sherman (30 miles, 9000 ft) to Handies Peak at 14,053 ft. I had a little bit of high altitude pulmonary edema (water in the lungs) causing me to breathe harder and climb slower. It took me 3 hours to summit from the trailhead at 10,000 ft, instead of the expected 2 hours. By then it was sunset and I had to descend the muddy and snow covered trails to Grouse Gulch (42 miles, 11,600 ft) in the dark, slowing me further. I got there at 11:30 PM and stayed until midnight.

July 9. It took me 3 hours to climb the 6 miles of easy jeep road to Engineer Pass at 13,000 ft in the dark, staggering back and forth. The next 10 miles to Ouray descended 5000 ft on trail and I walked every step because my legs and feet hurt too much to run. One good thing about this is I could enjoy the spectacular views from the Bear Creek trail (below) in morning daylight instead of at night. The trail is cut into canyon walls about 4 feet wide with sheer drops of hundreds of feet.

I reached Ouray (58 mi) at 8:38 AM, 8 minutes over the cutoff, not that I cared.

More Hardrock photos by Steve Pero showing the four monster climbs I missed out on.
Photos by Ulli Kamm.

July 10, after the awards breakfast I drove to Boulder (6000 ft) to stay with David and Cyndie.

July 11, my legs are fine, other than the gash which is still oozing pus and has caused my left foot to swell. My resting pulse is 53. In the afternoon I decided to go for a little walk from their apartment near Table Mesa Rd and CO 93, head for the Flatirons with no real destination in mind, and after finding a vacant lot to access the open field around NCAR (on Wildwood Rd) I end up climbing 8461 ft Bear Peak by the west ridge and returning by Fern Canyon. The route is on good trail with about 100 ft of class 3 near the summit. I was surprised at how fast I could climb at such a low altitude. I covered the 10 miles in about 3 hours, carrying just one water bottle which I refilled from a trickling stream on a hot, sunny day. I ran the last couple of miles, and it felt wonderful.

July 12, flew back to Florida.

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