From: "Ginny La Forme"
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 10:25:31 -0600 
Subject: RE: [nolans14] GINNY ? 

Ok, you guys,

I'm not much of a run reporter unless I think I have something valuable
to share. Basically Eric already described any new input we might have
on the Nolan's Route. But you asked for it!

Eric, Chris and I did start together at 4 am from very near the Fish
Hatchery. Our route was not significantly longer than the traditional
Massive was the same route as the last two years, East ridge from the
ponds on the Highline Trail and down the scree just N of the summit.

Eric and I both ascended the ridge to the left of the big gully on
Elbert, which leads directly to the summit. We approached this on the
little trail Hans and I had found in training, which involves no
scrambling at the bottom. I think this ridge is probably the fastest

It seems that the contour under Bull hill is always a pain, wherever you
end up crossing, but we were probably just a tad high, pushed up by a
small snow field maybe. The Golden Fleece descent went perfect for me,
cutting just the right number of switchbacks. I tried to walk fast and
run a little up the pavement to the La Plata trailhead because my
Hardrocked feet were already acting up and I hoped to fix them a bit. I
did that but it didn't help too much.

La Plata was the usual. There was a thunderstorm on the peak during the
ascent but I figured it might be gone by the time we got high, and it
was (moved north to Elbert).We picked a good line down the "Rubble Heap"
to the flat ridge. Eric ran beautifully down the ball bearing section of
the trail where I spent more time on my butt than feet. I thought he'd
be gone from Winfield but he was still there as he hadn't run down the
jeep road.

Ascending Huron in the evening I felt the first onset of grogginess and
took a caffeine pill. Whoa! I was super charged and felt as though I was
flying up the peak. Unfortunately I think Eric was not feeling so well
at the time.
We had re-scouted the back side of Huron just days before, but I managed
to screw up anyway and found myself on the higher grassy ramp to the
north of the cairned route. This is actually decent until the bottom
where I had to traverse to the right through very unpleasant fir shrubs.
At the cairned route I encountered Eric who, of course, was doing it
correctly. We had no problems with the rest of the descent.

During training we had scouted routes up the head of the basin below the
Missouri/Iowa saddle. These were on scree and talus, direct and do-able,
but seemed too strenuous to me, especially in the dark. So I went up the
usual grassy ridge to Missouri ridge. Everything there seemed strange to
me in the dark, especially the very long low-slung animal I saw crossing
just above me. It seemed too dark colored for a mountain lion. A
low-rider elk?

After the summit I went nicely down the scree chute to the southeast,
described by Eric and started the traverse east to find Rollin's Slick
Trail. Unfortunately I could not recognize any of the landmarks and
continued at least several 100 yards past the point below a red buttress
where you have to pick up the trail. I must have crossed the White Band,
but I didn't recognize it. After a lot of scary scrambling and sliding
on loose rock and cement scree and a considerable amount of sitting
around procrastinating. I could see Eric's light as he found the correct
buttress. I decided not to go back to the Raven Buttress but went
straight up hoping I could get onto the ridge where I was. Luckily this
worked and I was just above Elkhead Pass where John and Jennifer had a
marvelous tent set up. From there it's just a skip up to Belford. I was
throwing up at that point, but it didn't really bother me too much and I
got to the Belford Summit just in time for a spectacular dawn.

Crossing over to Oxford was almost magical in the rosy light. I
descended pretty much the way I came up last year, just west of the
summit a kind of system of grassy ramps and small drainages leads down
to the eastern edge of the basin between Ox and Bel, where you run
easily through some willows to pick up Matt's elk trail. I don't know
what gets into me, but instead of following the trail over to the
avalanche chute I decided to cut down through the trees to Bedrock
falls. I know plenty of folks have done this and cliffed out, but I
could see the trail and creek so close!
Well, I stayed west of the cliffs but it was very steep and hairy in
spots (needle sliding out of control). It was pretty quick though and I
made the descent in 1 hour from the Oxford summit.
At the "aid station" I heard John on the radio. He and Jennifer were
running like elk down from the pass. They had underestimated the length
of the trail and overestimated my arrival time. John was flying down
there carrying a huge frame pack just to meet me, so I figured I ought
to wait for him and get some water and food. His estimated 10 min turned
out to be 45 as the trail took an un-anticipated loop instead of heading
straight down the creek. It was Ok with me; I had a little nap there. I
was so grateful that our super crew would come all the way in to Pine
Creek for us!
I did pretty much the same ascent of Harvard that Eric described,
although I angled over to the avalanche chute more steeply. I had come
down that way last year, on scree but there is nice grass to the right
of the scree, so it's excellent in both directions. I made a mistake at
Pine Creek that cost me the rest of the run. I got both feet wet at the
"one foot crossing". It felt good at the time, but by the time I reached
the summit blocks my feet were in agony again, worse than Hardrock.
Descending the usually friendly ridge off Columbia to N Cottonwood was
some kind of penance for all the miss-deeds of my life, I guess. I also
had not listened to my faithful and wise crew, Jennifer, when she tried
to get me to use sunscreen and take my shades up Harvard. I was getting
When I finally limped and crawled into N Cottonwood I had had it. Eric
came through about 30 min later and barely paused on his way to tackle
Yale, even though his feet were getting bad too. Yes, I was a big wuss!
So that was it, 9 peaks for me, but I feel good about it. I had a great
time with good friends, resolved some nighttime sickness issues, climbed
and descended strongly the whole way and was on schedule to finish. Time
well spent.
Now that you see how long-winded I can be you may not ask again!
It was entertaining to hear the radio reports and conversations from all
of you during the un-run. I hope we can all meet up again next year and
on into the future for new adventures.