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Author Topic: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo  (Read 3884 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« on: 05/31/15, 09:01 PM »



Lightweight skis on the summit ridge of Eldorado Peak


For several years, Eldorado Peak has been a sort of end-of-season swan song for me. I love the area, and the standard route offers late season skiing if you don't mind a bit of hiking. I often find myself going alone, pushing my pace a little and seeking a state of aerobic meditation.

In 2007, a year when I did a lot of ski touring, I hiked and skied up Eldorado in June in just under four hours. Since then, I've been unable to match that time, but I've enjoyed trying to be quick and efficient at whatever fitness level I was at.

After buying skimo race gear a year ago (boots and skis), I started thinking about using it to challenge my Eldorado Peak personal best. On Sunday I gave this a try, and found it a rewarding experience.

I'm sure I've seen it explained elsewhere, but it's remarkable how going a bit lighter can trigger a virtuous cycle. Reducing the weight of a few key items (e.g. skis and boots) means you can go a bit faster--maybe a lot faster--without tiring as quickly. Knowing you'll be faster means you can cut down on other things--clothing, food, maybe technical gear like crampons--because you'll be out for a shorter time and you can predict more accurately the time of day you'll be traveling specific terrain. This means you can be lighter and faster still.

With less gear I was able to put my boots inside my pack, which made it easier to slip through the vegetation on the lower part of the approach. So less aggravation and fatigue.

Based on past experience, I knew where the transition points were and where I could get water. This enabled me to cut down greatly on the amount of water I was carrying (a lot of weight) because I knew where I would fill up and how much I would need. All these things added up.

Leaving the car a little before 8 a.m. I settled into a brisk but maintainable pace. With my lighter pack, it felt like one of my Tiger Mountain conditioning hikes, not the usual grind I'm used to on Eldorado. The ascent was snow-free until I topped the evergreen band around 5400ft. I transitioned from hiking boots to ski gear (too slow, this could be improved). Then I found continuous, skinnable snow to the top of the Eldorado-Roush divide.

I passed a group of descending climbers below the Eldorado Glacier and found firm summer snow, perfect for fast climbing on skins. When I reached the Inspiration Glacier plateau, I knew I'd beat my four-hour target, and I started to think I might beat 3:30. This proved a little too optimistic. When I finally reached the summit my watch read just over 3 hours, 34 minutes.

At this point I turned my chronometer off. I enjoy racing myself up Eldorado from time to time, but I'm never in a hurry to leave this place.

The high clouds that worried me a little in the morning were thinning to blue skies. I relaxed on the summit and pulled out my reward--two slices of pizza. After a rest and a silent conversation with old friends, I packed up and skied back down. The snow was smooth and firm, and even on dinky little skis it was a lot of fun.

I'm already looking forward to next year.



Earn Your Pizza -- the backcountry skier's motto.


Edited to add a note about conditions:

On the final east ridge of Eldorado, there are a lot of cracks developing near the edge of the glacier, more than I remember seeing in recent years. If you're not in a roped party, you need to make sure to climb far enough left that you are off the glacier entirely. There's still snow covering the rocks there now, but it may not be long before this will require walking on the rocks. Be careful.
« Last Edit: 06/01/15, 08:11 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
mikerolfs
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #1 on: 05/31/15, 10:21 PM »

Lowell you are a fast traveler.  Glad to hear you made a personal best.  Pizza on top looks like a nice reward.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #2 on: 06/01/15, 06:49 AM »

Smiley!
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Zap
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #3 on: 06/01/15, 10:01 AM »

2 pieces of pizza is you favorite but I remove the onions before I pack them( saves weight).  Wink
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Bronco
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #4 on: 06/01/15, 02:59 PM »

Nice hustle Lowell!  Did you happen to get any photos of peaks closer to Cascade Pass, like Johannesburg?
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #5 on: 06/01/15, 04:13 PM »

Nice hustle Lowell!  Did you happen to get any photos of peaks closer to Cascade Pass, like Johannesburg?

Just this one:

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Bronco
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #6 on: 06/01/15, 05:41 PM »

Gratzie!
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lrudholm
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #7 on: 06/01/15, 06:06 PM »

Impressive!
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Leyland
jtack
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #8 on: 06/01/15, 06:39 PM »

Lowell that is truly fast travel! That bolder hopping stretch crushes me just thinking about it.  I need a dose of that gung ho attitude, nice going.
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danpeck
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #9 on: 06/02/15, 06:12 PM »

I think I'm going to copy you :-)
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T. Eastman
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #10 on: 06/02/15, 08:52 PM »

Lowell, yer pretty freakin fit!

Nice effort.
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daveb
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Re: 31 May 2015, Eldo-skimo
« Reply #11 on: 06/03/15, 04:09 PM »

Thanks for the inspiration and summary of the beauty that is fast and light.  Since I don't seem to excel at sedentary meditation, I'm happy to latch onto the term aerobic meditation!
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