Archive for January, 2014

Trail Ultramarathons…Or What I Do When Climbing Season Is Over

January 4, 2014

By: Clare Reda

Most Coloradans I know have at least 3 sports they do over the course of the year. This way, they can enjoy an activity no matter what the weather is doing. What is your main sport and what are your backups? Write the compass editor with your story!

When I first moved to Colorado, some 7 years ago, I only had one sport: Climbing.

Clare at Shelf Road
The author, about to rappel the route Don’t Be Messin’ With Ma Moves at Shelf Road.

My first couple of winters were not fun. I actually tried climbing through it; driving 375 miles to Shelf Road for one day of climbing or spending 2 hours to climb one route in Clear Creek because I needed to warm my numb hands at every bolt.

I remember one miserable day in January, climbing at Hawk-Eagle Ridge in Eldorado Canyon. I climbed with about 10 layers of clothing on, looking like that kid in the Christmas Story who couldn’t put his hands down. Using my mittens, I’d clear the crack of snow, stuff the mitten in my jacket, place a piece, put the mitten back on, then aid up the climb. My climbing partner, from New York, kept calling me a whimp-what a meanie! It was tedious to the extreme…and…cold!

At some point it dawned on me; I need another sport (or three)! I branched out to Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, and finally, I discovered Running!

Running in the snow was thrilling in many of the same ways as Cross Country Skiing. I didn’t have to worry about falling, since everything around me was soft and puffy. The activity kept me warm, so I could go out with just one or two layers and be happy. Our snow is dry, unlike Sierra Cement, so I don’t get wet. And, last but not least, it’s easy on the knees. (more…)

North Star Mountain: a great winter climb!

January 4, 2014

For ease of access, sweeping views and just enough exposure to be interesting, it’s hard to beat the East Ridge of North Star Mountain. Suggested by fellow CMC member Kier Hart as a good training climb, I ventured out there in November, for a quick preview: 20131118_143050 That’s me at the start of the ridge, but looking north, probably toward Red Mountain. Easy to find right off of Hoosier Pass above Breckenridge, I said I had to return.

The route is in Dave Cooper’s excellent guidebook, Colorado Snow Climbs, with a round trip distance of 8.4 miles, and 2,700 feet of elevation gain, to a summit at 13,614, which puts in the CMC hiking category around B+/C-.

So it was on December 28, I found myself there again, but this time leading a CMC trip with six others: Ilene Carpenter (co-leader), John Broadbooks, Frank Dong, Don Byington, Tom McClernon and Conrad Brannon. This time we started earlier, at 8am, and colder — a temperature sign we saw in Breckenridge said 9 degrees!

IMG_1652 Fortunately, the first mile or so is pretty mellow, and gave a chance to ease into the hike. But as we started up the east flank of the ridgeline, the angle increased, as did the wind and cold. The barren terrain, well above timbeline now, was fully exposed to the raking western wind as we gained the ridge line; time to put on that extra layer! Ontheridgeline

Between the gusts of wind, the views were quite something to take in: Mount Lincoln to the south, Quandary Peak to the north, both fourteeners, and a slew of smaller summits to the west: Wheeler, McNamee, Traver, and Fletcher, among others. This is an area with a lot to explore, I thought.

By 12:30pm, four hours after starting, we were on the modest summit of North Star, a slightly higher bump along the ridge. IMG_1660 After a quick summit shot in the high winds, we immediately began the return trip. Fortunately, the winds began to abate, and we were able to take some calm breaks to rest up, and admire the views into South Park, towards Alma and Fairplay.

Back to the cars by about 3 pm, it had been a fun and exhilerating hike. It would be entirely possible, depending on your energy level, to continue on past North Star to Wheeler Peak (as a faster group ahead of us had done). Indeed the linking up of smaller summits is quite popular, making for a variety of routes to suit a variety of goals. Maybe I’ll be back next summer!

2014 Spring/Summer Boulder Mountaineering School

January 4, 2014

Boulder Mountaineering Schools (BMS) is a great opportunity, for volunteers and students alike, to fine tune skills, learn something new, and give back to the community. Let the 2014 sessions begin!

Sign up day is Tuesday, February 25th starting at 8am. I encourage prospective students to enroll as close to the time as possible as many classes are full by the end of the day!

To sign up for the courses, login to Click on Class Schedule. Click on Adult Education Members. Click on the course that you would like to sign up for and fill in the required fields. Note that the Authorization Code will be removed on Tuesday, 2/26, at 8am to allow the sign-ups to start. Click on rock lead school application .

    Classes and Dates

Hiking and Survival Essentials
3/4-Lecture 1
3/11-Lecture 2
3/18-Lecture 3
3/20-Lecture 4
3/22 or 3/23-Field Trip

Hiking Navigation
3/25-Lecture 1
4/1-Lecture 2
4/3-Lecture 3
4/5 or 4/6-Field Trip

Hiking Route and Trip Planning
4/12-Field Trip

Basic Rock School
4/15-Lecture 1
4/22-Lecture 2 (Knot Night)
4/26 or 4/27-Field Trip 1
5/3 or 5/4-Field Trip 2
5/10 or 5/11-Field Trip 3

Basic Snow-TBD

Intermediate Snow-TBD

Rock Leading School
6/14-Field Trip 1
6/21-Field Trip 2
6/28-Field Trip 3

Backpacking School
7/11-7/13-Field Trip 1

Top Roping Clinic-TBD

Sport Leading Clinic
8/2-Field Trip

The course schedule may be found online at This site is being updated, so be sure to check the dates with the school director, or refer to the dates in this article.

    Volunteer to Teach: Snow Schools or Top Rope Clinic

The spring/summer session of the Boulder Mountaineering School is looking for instruc­tors to help teach Snow Schools and Top Roping Clinic. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact school directors at or

Instructors and current volunteers, your time and efforts are much appreciated! Are you thinking about volunteering? For more information or to volunteer, contact the school directors directly:
Hiking Schools: Bob Matthias,; Basic Rock School: Rick Casey,; Snow Schools: Jim Leffingwell,; BMS Co-Chair for Rock Leading School,; Chris Klotz for Top Roping Clinic,; Ron Olsen for Sport Leading Clinic,