Sunday, September 8, 2013
Nolan’s 14… Well Nolan’s 12 - After Action Report
Friday morning, 5:03 AM, August 30th, 2013,Nolan’s 14). Why south to north, especially if there has been more success for people going north to south? Well, after having spent parts of the last 2 summers trying to figure the course out, it seems to me like there are more steep climbs from north to south, and it’s a shorter distance to the 1st summit going from south to north. For example, going north to south it’s something like 8 miles to the summit of Mt. Massive as compared to the 4.85 miles up to Mt. Shavano. From north to south, the really nasty uphill climbs are the west face of Mt. Elbert, the north face of Mt. Harvard, the avalanche gully on Mt. Yale, Maxwell Gulch on Mt.Princeton, and up to Tabagauche Peak from Brown’s Creek (5 pretty stout, steep, and loose climbs, except for Mt. Harvard, which is mostly on grassy slopes). From south to north, the really nasty uphill climbs are Mt. Princeton from Grouse Canyon, up to the Oxford/Belford Saddle from Pine Creek, the east face of Huron Peak from Clohesy Lake, and the southwest ridge of Mt. Elbert (4 as opposed to 5 going from north to south). Of course there are other steep climbs I have not mentioned, but the climbs above are the ones which are mainly off-trail and sometimes over extremely technical and loose terrain. So, that is what influenced my choice of direction. Perhaps someone will try to convince me otherwise or I may try north to south myself, but that is why I did what I did, when everyone else this summer tried north to south. OK; after leaving Lisa at the Shavano/Tabagauche trail head, everything went really well over the 1st 3 peaks (Shavano, Tabaguache, and Antero). Coming down the gully from Tabagauche to Brown’s Creek, it seems like there has been quite a bit of erosion since I was through there last year. I wonder if staying a little to the west of the gully would not be a little easier in the future. Last year I made a terrible choice in descending Mt. Antero directly north in an attempt to reach Grouse Canyon, only to encounter extremely loose terrain that funneled itself into a gully that ended in a waterfall going over a cliff, which I had to down-climb in a rainstorm. This year I took the use trail from the saddle between Mt. Antero and Point 13,800. It was a pretty direct, steep descent with which I was able to bisect most of the switchbacks on the Baldwin Gulch jeep road too, which got me back down to tree line rather quickly and with little fuss. I combined running and walking down to the town of Alpine and the Grouse Canyon trail head to meet Lisa at 1:45 PM, almost 1 ½ hours ahead of my schedule. At Grouse Canyon trail head I met Lisa and my 1st pacer, Shelby Berg. I immediately lost almost all of the time I had gained coming down from Antero while waiting out a thunderstorm at the trailhead, but it was nice to see Lisa and get some grub and rest too.