Leadville Trail 100 High Altitude Training
Preparing for the Leadville Trail 100 Run; Climbing North Massive Peak at 14,340’
In preparation for the Leadville Trail 100 trail run I took off with my buddy Simon and I spent my third weekend at altitude. But this time instead of my training revolving around running; I switched gears and climbed North Massive Peak. The two areas that I want to work on before the Leadville Trail 100 race are my hiking/climbing abilities, and acclimatizing to the high elevation of Leadville, Colorado. Having a full backpack stuffed with gear and trail blazing to the top of North Massive Peak accomplished what I was looking for . . . a long day of getting my butt kicked!
Trail Blazing from Windsor Lake
A really good method of acclimatizing is to actually spend time at elevation. You don’t need to be exercising to realize any gains (although I like to) ,rather just being at elevation helps you acclimate. That is the reason we camped overnight at the Windsor Lake Trailhead (10,900’) the night before our summit. It is just some extra time at elevation.
The next morning I left with Simon and started off on the trail to Windsor Lake. The trail goes about 1.25 miles to the lake and gets the heart pumping hard just a short distance up the trail. It is a steep short climb to Lake Windsor. Once reaching the lake the trail ends and the introduction to the summit of North Massive Peak is over. From this point there is not trail to the summit. Looking to the west the Continental Divide is a massive wall that will need to be climbed. It seems that there are two perspectives that I get when mountaineering: 1) the rock face that looks imposing actually become climbable the closer I get to it; and 2) the rock face that looks climbable becomes a wall that can’t be climbed without performing class 5 moves.
At this point I could not see a way up so I wanted to keep my options open and just started trail blazing closer to the Divide hoping my route would become apparent. There did not seem to be many options available but I kept climbing forward climbing to the highest point in front of me. From there I was able to spot a rock colure that looked like it might be climbable. The sad part was that all the work I just put in to gaining elevation and climbing up to my vantage point would have to be lost to reach the colure. Once at the base of the colure it looked a lot better than from far away, so Simon and I started our assent up the colure to the top of the Divide.
After a scramble through the colure I was sadly disappointed to look up and see that we were not even close to gaining the Divide; a false summit. At least this climb was not as steep as climbing the colure and after reaching the top we were actually on the Continental Divide. From there we hiked south toward North Massive Peak looming about 4.5 miles away. The round trip took us just about 8 hours to complete.
Training – How Hiking Transfers to the Leadville Trail 100
This is excellent training for the Leadville Trail 100 since there is a lot of power hiking at altitude to be done during the race. Plus, being on my feet for 8 hours carrying a full backpack simulates about how I feel when I am trudging back up over Hope Pass. I know this might sound strange, but it was a great feeling to be sucking wind and not moving fast. It really did remind me of some of my low points during last year’s Leadville Trail 100: Hope Pass both directions, and the Power Lines. These three sections tore me apart last year and I am not going to let them get me again this year.
Simon’s 8th Birthday
July 4, 2010 was Simon’s 8th Birthday. Each year on his birthday he has been on top of a 14er! This was Simon’s 46th summit of a Colorado 14er.
For those of you who pooh-pooh our summit claim I challenge you to climb North Massive Peak from the Windsor Lake Trailhead and not “visit” the peak via Mount Massive. So there!