Posted by: runuphill | August 23, 2015

Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup (WURL)

Mountain Goats on South Thunder

Mountain Goats on South Thunder

The Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup or “WURL” is an incredible ridge route circumnavigating Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.  The route mainly consists of scrambling, boulder hopping, and a few rugged trails.  It is ~36 miles long with ~18kft of elevation gain.  Given the recent increase in interest with the route, I’ve created this page in an effort to provide better information about it as well as document successful efforts, worthy attempts, interesting related information, and Fastest-Known-Times (FKTs).  Please feel free to comment below so I can make this as accurate as possible.

The Start

When I first did it back in 2004 I chose to start with an ascent of Ferguson Canyon.  Ascending Ferguson is fantastic and after a few miles you’re in terrain that is peaceful and rarely traveled.  The quartzite ridge above Stairs Gulch is truly spectacular and one of the finest places in the Wasatch to watch the sunrise.

The Route

There are at least 21 names peaks along the ridge and a handful of unnamed mini-summits.  I recommend that those looking for the full experience summit all the peaks indicated in the map below.  Note that it the route can be easily exported to a .gpx file.

WURL_500px

WURL Overview  – Click image for a CalTopo version of the route

The Finish

I recommend continuing north off the summit of Lone Peak for half a mile to ~10,450′ at the notch formed by the impressive Upper Big Willow Cirque wall.  Once in the notch, descend east down a steep gully into Bells Canyon.  From the bottom of the gully contour over to the reservoir itself or intersect the trail slightly below the reservoir.  Then, it’s cruiser trail out to the Bells Canyon Granite Trailhead.  Note : Some folks have descended other routes such as Jacob’s Ladder or the Draper Ridge.  While legitimate (according to me for what that’s worth), I recommend the Bells Canyon route as it adds to the adventure.

Distance Table

WURL-table2Completions

  • 8/23/2015 – Alex Honnold – 23 hrs – Instagram post
  • 8/9/2015 – Alexis Crellin, Stacey Pearson, Matthew Irving – 26 hrs 25 min
  • 6/28/2015 (1) – Jennilyn Eaton, Matt VanHorn – 38 hrs 52 min
  • 6/20/2015 – Jared Campbell (w/ Ryan McDermott for a portion) – 19 hrs 49 min – pics
  • 9/13/2014 – Spencer Weiler – 27-ish hrs – report
  • 9/13/2014  – Court Pace – 26 hrs 5 min
  • 9/6/2014 (1) – Jason Dorais, Lars Kjerengtroen, Tom Goth – story and incredible photos
  • 9/2013 – Jason Dorais, Noah Howell – 26 hrs 25 min – storystory
  • 9/7/2009 – Nic Berry – 17 hr 48 min – story
  • 6/30/2012 – Jason Davis (w/ Chris Landers for a portion) – 22 hrs 45 min
  • 8/7/2004 – Jared Campbell – 21hrs 30 min – story
  • Early 90s – Dave Madera & others (anybody have more detail on this?)

(1) Exited Jacob’s Ladder

FKTs

Women

  • 26 hrs 25 min – Alexis Crellin & Stacey Pearson – 8/9/2015

Men

  • 17 hrs 48 min – Nic Berry – 9/7/2009

Noteworthy Attempts and Related Stories

Highlight Photos from Various Trips

Ridge section approaching Monte Cristo. Snowbird below.

Ridge section approaching Monte Cristo. Snowbird below.

Devil's Castle

Devil’s Castle

Question Mark Wall as seen from the summit of Lone Peak

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Alexis Crellin & Stacey Pearson navigating the Wasatch Ridge.  Photo Matthew Irving

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Alexis Crellin & Stacey Pearson summit the Pfeifferhorn at sunrise.  Photo Matthew Irving

Question Mark Wall as seen from the summit of Lone Peak

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Alexis Crellin, Stacey Pearson, and Matthew Irving on the summit of Lone Peak.  Photo Matthew Irving

Descent gully into Bells.

Descent gully into Bells.

Posted by: runuphill | August 10, 2015

John Muir Trail

Ty and I on Forester Pass - JMT 2015

Forester Pass – JMT 8/11/2015

Aftermath

Short Version

  • We bailed via the Taboose Pass exit and ultimately made it out okay
  • Medical issues : I contracted a chest cold in the days prior to our departure which I wasn’t too concerned about.  From the beginning, however, all systems were not go.  I figured I’d give it a good 24 hours to see if it would turn around.  Sadly, my condition worsened to a state where pushing further on such a committing route would not have been safe.  Symptom’s : nasty cough w/ lung material coming up, head-ache, and multiple (increasing in temperature) fevers.
  • Ty was having a different set of challenges for the day so both of knew that an exit was the right call.
  • Yes, we’re bummed, but as Ty says, “there’s no such thing as a bad day in the mountains.”
  • We had a pretty awesome “reverse Badwater-esque” exit out to highway 395 from Taboose Canyon.  If my fever weren’t enough, the conditions during our exit sealed the deal for some excellent Badwater training (i.e. marching into a fiery furnace)
  • I’m reminded, yet again, how much I appreciate my great friend Ty Draney
  • I’m also reminded, yet again, of how fortunate I am to be able to explore such beautiful and wild places

Long(er) Version

  • Coming

It’s finally here!  Tomorrow (8/11/2015) morning Ty Draney and I will embark on the John Muir Trail.  Below are several resources to track and gauge our progress:

We’re going south to north and unsupported.  We’ll have the SPOT in “track” mode so it should send an update every ~10 min.
Posted by: runuphill | January 30, 2015

Running Up For Air (RUFA) 2015

Above the Inversion

Above the pollution looking south from the summit of Grandeur Peak.

At 6AM on February 28th, 2015 I intend to begin another 24 hour challenge on the west side of Grandeur Peak.   I encourage anyone to come join me for what is guaranteed to be a memorable day.  Your quads will remind you of it for days (if not weeks)! This is not a race, nor is it an organized event in any fashion.  Come and go as you please.  Obviously come prepared to take care of yourself just as you would on any other day in the mountains. The Route I’ll be following the route as shown on the Salt Lake County map located at the west side trailhead, which can be found here. Shelter Bob Palais has graciously offered to open his doors to those who come to participate.  And, his house could not possibly be in a more ideal location, less than 100 feet from than trail!  We’ll have a large pot of soup and basic hot drinks in his garage.  If you ask nicely, I’m sure he’d let you store a “drop-bag” there filled with whatever clothing, food, and equipment you decide you need.  Food contributions will gladly be set out for other runners/hikers to enjoy.  See the map below (red line) to find Bob’s house. Parking So as to not overwhelm the tiny parking lot at the trail-head, I strongly suggest that you park at Eastwood Elementary and walk the 0.5 miles to the trailhead or Bob’s house to drop off anything.

Trailhead and Parking (suggested)

Trailhead and Parking (suggested)

Pollution buildup over just a 5 hr window.

Pollution buildup over just a 5 hr window.

Posted by: runuphill | January 2, 2015

2014 – ReCap of the Best Year Ever

If being new parents wasn’t enough to make this the most memorable year of our lives, we threw in a handful of superb adventures, races, and trips to easily secure 2014 year the title of BEST YEAR EVER.  Below are some of the highlights:

January

  • Pretty clear focus on learning how to raise a newborn.  Mindy proves, yet again, how broad her amazingness is with her seamless adaptation to the role of mother.  Truly incredible, it’s an honor to be along for the ride.
  • Phoebe summits Grandeur at 4 weeks old.
The Campbell family on Grandeur Peak.

Our Campbell family on Grandeur Peak.

Read More…

Posted by: runuphill | August 22, 2014

Idaho 12ers

Luke and Jared on the summit of Mount Breitenbach.

Luke and Jared on the summit of Mount Breitenbach.

This write-up is meant to be supplemental to the very thorough post by Luke Nelson.

Short version : On August 16th and 17th, 2014, Luke Nelson and I ran, climbed, and crawled our way to the summits of the nine 12,000’+ peaks in Idaho in a time of 28 hrs 18 min.

Long version:

Oftentimes big adventures are more about who you’re with than what you’re actually trying to accomplish.  When Luke asked me to be part of his Idaho 12ers FKT assault I immediately said yes, partly because it sounded like a cool adventure, but more just because I wanted to get to know Luke better.  We were due to tackle something big together.

The objective is obscure, which added to the allure.  Off the radar of most trail runners because of the sketchy terrain and logistics involved, and off the radar of most climbers because of the rotten rock and length of time required. Fortunately, Luke and I have climbing in our roots and have both spent inordinate amounts of time shuffling around the mountains.  Thus, we seemed well-suited for such an adventure.  By the numbers, the record seemed well within reach barring any major errors.  Our daily lives prevented us from getting out for much recon, other than an ascent of Hyndman, which I snuck in the day after my wife ran the Standhope 60km the prior weekend.  This meant that much of our planning would be via maps, Google Earth, beta from several key locals, and scoping the route while we drove up Highway 93….  This lack of more optimal preparation added a fun element of improbability, stacking the odds against us to some extent.

LRR as seen from High 93 on the western side of the range.

Lost River Range as seen from Highway 93 on the western side of the Lost River Range.

binoculars and iPhone scoping...

Scoping the Lost River Range with binoculars and an iPhone camera…  We would refer to these images during the LRR traverse

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Posted by: runuphill | June 23, 2014

LaSal Linkup Loop

As I drove out of Moab the scratchy FM signal began to fade.  It was time to change the station and settle down for the 4hr drive home, back to Salt Lake City after a quick but fulfilling adventure.  An ad on the radio reminded listeners why they should come to this part of Utah.  “Moab’s unique combination of beautiful redrock scenery, two national parks, and the allure of the Colorado River has made it one of the top adventure destinations in the West.”  Interestingly, no mention of the utterly fantastic mountain range less than 15 miles to the east, the La Sal Mountains!

Getting to know the La Sals better has long been a goal of mine.  A linkup of the 12 thousand foot peaks (“12ers”), of which there are 9 with 300′ or more of prominence, seemed like a great excuse.  I had mapped the route out several years ago, but the project had remained on the shelf.  When Jason Dorais and an army of other strong skimo dudes strung together a south-north route on skis in March my mind started scheming.  On Friday (6/20/2014) when Bryon Powell responded to an email telling me that the conditions looked perfect, the decision was made as to what I would be doing on the solstice.

This would be a solo trip, which meant that a shuttle would be tricky.  So, I modified the mostly north-to-south linkup and made it a loop, returning via a series of lower trails on the western side of the range to get back to my car.  Other than operating at about -1.5dB (i.e. a bit sick) due to a week-long illness, the adventure could not have been more perfect.  If you’re into endless talus fields, stunning views, frolicking through aspen trees, and a bit of route finding, I highly recommend this route.  It’s ~36 mile and 15kft of up:

LaSal Linkup Loop - overview map

LaSal Linkup Loop – overview map

For an aerial perspective (via Google Earth), click on the image below:

Google Earth "aerial" view of the route

Google Earth “aerial” view of the route

And, below are some highlight photos from the trip:

Read More…

Posted by: runuphill | May 11, 2014

South Creek Circumnavigation and Tabernacle Dome

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Buzz, Ryan, Jared – Canaan Mountain at sunset.  5/9/2014

“History does repeat itself” explained Buzz, “and it’s not a bad thing!  Take for example organized sports like the NFL, NHL, NCAA, etc. Some people today are fanatical about organized sports and fiercely dedicated to ‘their’ teams.  It’s the ancient tribe mentality on display” declared Buzz, “a pre-programmed DNA trait some people have where they need to belong to something; the need to defend their tribe.  This instinct developed many thousands of years ago, long before our current air-conditioned lifestyles, and manifests itself today in the form of organized sports.  This is history repeating itself.  As for me, I simply don’t have the tribe gene.  I’m genetically different.”

The above is my attempt at capturing a snippet from one of the blurry conversations during the drive home this past Saturday with Ryan and Buzz after another action packed 1.5 day trip to Zion NP.  As Buzz continued with his story about our DNA and historical repetition, the reasons for our many trips to Zion started to gel in my mind.  Why was it that Buzz never flinched at flying to Utah, renting cars, spending hundreds of dollars on gear and logistical details, and cramming as much as possible into weekends only to go home with scratched up legs, blood stained clothes, and holes in nearly every piece of gear?  I estimate he’s done this 3-4 times per year for at least the past 5 years and probably only slightly less frequently for the preceding 35 years.  He is either a tremendously committed friend, possessed, a masochist, or a true lover of the desert.  Could he be all of these things?  Wait, this also sounds like Ryan!

Buzz also explained that we are drawn to people with similar values and motivations…  Apparently it wasn’t just Buzz with this strange genetic condition, Ryan and I had it as well…  Did we all independently have it beforehand or had the mutation worsening after years of adventure?  Why had we all moved things around in our busy lives, yet again, to venture out on another crazy route through the sand, manzanita, cactus, and crumbling sandstone in and around Zion?  Why did the thought of seeing a glowing sunrise on the extreme topology make us all giddy?  Why did hearing an orchestra of singing desert frogs in a hidden pool seem so special?  Why did the hundreds of cuts from prickly desert plants actually make me smile, knowing that I’d feel the trip under the business attire of Monday?  Rather than trying to make sense of it all, I’ll share some photos from the trip and hope that one of my faithful blog readers can help answer these questions.

  • Friday : The South Creek Circumnavigation.  A fantastic route with a bunch of new terrain.  Jenny Ridge, East Fork of the Virgin, Transview Mountain, Second Creek, South Mountain, Squirrel Creek, Water Canyon, Canaan Mountain, Sawmill Springs, Eagle Crags.  21.5 hrs of adventure
  • Saturday : Tabernacle Dome.  Arguably one of the best short scrambles in the Park.

 

Ryan on Jenny ridge in the glorious morning light

Ryan on Jenny Ridge in the glorious morning light

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Posted by: runuphill | April 27, 2014

Zion, with a tiny bit of creativity

Our ritual anniversary trip had finally arrived and Thursday evening we left SLC bound for Zion National Park, our home away from home.  The weather forecast looked incredible: Friday – partly cloudy, ~70s, and breezy; Saturday – rain down low and snow up high; Sunday – sunny and sure to be “alive” after the rain.  After years of building a relationship with the Park you can’t help but be drawn to experience it when mother-nature is in all her different moods.  After-all, Zion is what it IS only because of the mighty power of wind and water.  To visit the park only during clear and sunny conditions would be like only talking to your friends only when they are happy. which would be a fairly shallow relationship.  Meaningful relationships involve a deeper understanding and connection.

Overview:

  • Friday : Mindy/Phoebe/Catherine had a nice hike on the Chinle Trail while I did a super linkup from Springdale to Gifford Canyon via Johnson ridge, the Watchman, No Mans Mountain, Stevens Wash and Hepworth Wash.  Complicated terrain!
  • Saturday : Our family did an awesome hike in the rain up Many Pools canyon.  Mindy then ran from the east entrance to Weeping Rock, and I got in an evening run in the rain/snow up Lady Mountain.
  • Sunday : Family hike up the West Rim Trail, then I snuck in another jaunt up the Lady before the drive home.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking

Slab running terrain on the east face of  Watchman ridge

Slab running terrain on the east face of Watchman ridge

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Posted by: runuphill | April 12, 2014

BoSho 2014

What a beautiful day it was for the classic Bonneville Shoreline Trail Marathon.  Pictures from the event here.  Mindy had a solid run and was all smiles as usual.  I was on daddy duty and did some nice hikin’ and photo shootin’.  Always a treat to get to see the local trail running crew.

Christian Johnson in the early miles of the BoSho 2014

BoSho legend Christian Johnson in the early miles of the 2014 event

The incredible Emily Sullivan, cranking uphill about halfway through the course.

Athlete extraordinaire Emily Sullivan, cranking uphill about halfway through the course.

Our little family at mile 21 of the BoSho

Our little family at mile 21 of the BoSho

Posted by: runuphill | April 11, 2014

Barkley 2014

The handshake with Laz I worked 57 hrs and 50 minutes for

Handshake with Laz, some 57 hrs and 50 minutes after we started

Another soul shaping adventure at the Barkley Marathons.  It’s impossible to capture the true essence of the experience in written form.  Suffice it to say, it was magical!  In the nearly 58 hrs it took me to finish 5 laps we had nearly every type of weather (torrential rain, crazy wind, snow, ice, sunshine, AND heat!) and I experienced the full spectrum of physical and emotional states.  I definitely got my $1.60 worth.  :)

Huge thanks to Laz for creating one of the most unique events on the planet.

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