Skiing The Hardrock 100 — Day 3


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 13, 2016      
Selfie.

Morning of day 3. My girlfriend asked how I felt. I sent her this selfie.

If you want to read this story from the beginning: Day 1 and Day 2.

Day 3:
Even though I slept in a big nice soft bed, the rest was restless. The plan was to depart at 8 a.m. I rolled out of bed around 7, and to my surprise the swelling in my feet had gone down and my legs felt pretty good. My toes were still tender and my shoulders were sore. I was texting with my woman. She asked how I was. I sent her this photo.

In this state I’d be able to put trail shoes on and walk a ways out of town to get some photos at least. Then, if need be, I could just walk back down to Ouray and catch a ride around to Telluride.

I walked down to the room where the others were in the middle of a serious discussion, drinking coffee. I wasn’t the only one contemplating leaving. Paul was calling it quits.

Morning of Day 3, Paul was thinking about quitting too.

Morning of day 3, Paul thinking about quiting.

Day 2 had been rough on Paul. He had large blisters on his heels and worse, had a mysterious rash all over his feet. As an ultra-runner with a big summer of huge races ahead, Paul was concerned about the long term damage he might be doing to his feet and body. How deep was the hole he was putting himself in? How long would it take to climb back out? Was it worth it?

Jason laid down the facts that today was much less mileage, it had way less vertical, we would be walking in shoes—not ski boots—for 8 miles up the road, and most importantly there was a hot tub waiting for us at our hotel in Telluride.

Paul agreed to continue, but adopted the same exit strategy I was planning, that we’d go up the road and make the decision to press on, or turn back later.

Jason with regained vigor and much appreciation to the folks at the Weisbaden for hooking us up for the night!

Jason with regained vigor and much appreciation to the folks at the Wiesbaden for hooking us up for the night.

I taped up my feet and stuffed them into my shoes. It didn’t feel good, but better than being in ski boots. Hannah and Maggie made us some hearty lunches that we packed away. We had been at the lowest physical, mental and geographical point of the entire course, but we were slowly climbing ourselves out from of all of it.

Walking out of Ouray.

Walking out of Ouray.

Walking the Camp Bird Mine Road for 8 or 9 miles out of town was a godsend. I don’t think I could have put ski boots back on to start the day. We kept jokingly calling this our “rest day,” if you can call 9 miles of hiking a rest. But it really was an easy start for us and if things went well, we might bounce back a little instead of clawing deeper into the pain cave.

The mood was light and we strolled and talked through this stunningly rugged canyon lined with ice cliffs and rock cliffs.

The mood was light as we strolled and talked through this stunningly rugged canyon lined with ice cliffs and rock cliffs.

There was still one huge question mark for the day though. Our climb would take us up through the 13,000 ft. Virginius Pass, home of the legendary Hardrock 100 Krogers Canteen aid station. With certain wind and snow conditions this pass can develop a cornice that might be difficult to tunnel through, or it could be impassable. If this were the case, we would have to backtrack and make a major detour. Our short rest day would turn into another doozie of nearly 30 miles instead of 17.

Camp Bird Mine Road

Camp Bird Mine Road.

I forced myself to eat and drink often. I had packed a ton of food and was committed to not letting myself get behind on calories like I had the day before. It was my goal to eat my way to Telluride.

Hannah walked with us for almost the entire portion of the road, then she doubled back with plans to drive around and meet us in Telluride. This was our last chance to bail. We didn’t. We only had another 2,500 feet to climb and plenty of daylight to do it in.

Neither Paul nor I felt good, but that wasn’t the point. Could we keep moving? The answer was yes. Our pace was casual and it just wasn’t quitting time.

A few miles further we finally hit snow and transitioned to skiing. The snow was deep and powdery and the guys broke trail while I tried to keep up. Actually, it was Scott that broke trail which he did about 90% of the time on this trip. I couldn’t believe how often he’d pull out front. If someone else was in the lead when the snow became deep, Scott would pass them and start putting in the trail. Pretty incredible to watch.

A few miles further we finally hit snow

A few miles further we finally hit snow.

We all shared tricks of the trade along the journey. Turns out that instead of stopping to get out your own sunscreen, you can just steal some from your partners overly lubricated face. I hadn’t seen this time saving measure ever before, but I guess it makes sense when you’re in that much of a hurry. Not sure I’ll implement it in the future, but it’s good to know.

We all shared tricks of the trade along the journey. Turns out that instead of stopping to get out your own sunscreen, you can just steal some from your partner’s overly lubricated face. I hadn’t seen this time saving measure ever before, but it makes sense when you’re in a hurry. Not sure I’ll implement it in the future, but it’s good to know.

The navigation was straightforward and the views were impressively Colorado as we entered the alpine.

The navigation was straightforward and the views were impressively Colorado as we entered the alpine.

I’m not sure if our pace was slower on day 3, but I never felt like I was digging deep. This is more of how I had pictured and hoped the Ski Hardrock would be.

Nearing Krogers.

Nearing Krogers.

With 5K under our feet we popped over one of the final rises and got our first view of Virginius Pass. Scott celebrates that there was no cornice.

Our last climb of the day was only a few hundred feet away. It seemed almost too easy, but maybe we had earned it; we definitely needed it.

With 5K under our feet we popped over one of the final rises and got our first view of Virginius Pass. Scott celebrates that there was no cornice.

With 5K under our feet we popped over one of the final rises and got our first view of Virginius Pass. Scott celebrates that there was no cornice.

Runners who compete in the Hardrock 100 are usually greeted at this aid station with volunteers giving out tequila shots. When we arrived there was nothing but wind, sunshine and endless mountain views . Maybe we should have brought a little flask of tequila. We settled for a few photographic shots.

Krogers Pass.

Krogers Pass.

After a few turns up high we cut hard right and traversed for a long ways to make another pass.

After a few turns up high we cut hard right and traversed for a long ways to make another pass.

Getting near to Telluride.

Getting near to Telluride.

We side stepped up to another pass that put us into the right canyon to empty us into Telluride. We could see the large runs going into the trees from across the valley. Could it really be this easy? I still held my doubts, but I wanted to believe.

We side stepped up to another pass that put us into the right canyon to empty us into Telluride. We could see the large runs going into the trees from across the valley. Could it really be this easy? I still held my doubts, but I wanted to believe.

By cutting far over to the shady side of the drainage we were able to find some sheltered powder. Jason finding the goods.

By cutting far over to the shady side of the drainage we were able to find some sheltered powder. Jason finding the goods.

his descent was one of the best of the trip. Not to say that it was good, but there were good parts and fewer really shitty parts.

This descent was one of the best of the trip. Not to say that it was excellent, but there were good parts and fewer really shitty parts.

Looking over Telluride.

Looking over Telluride.

We were able to ski almost all the way into town and it was still light out. We changed into our shoes again and walked the final mile or two into the box canyon town of Telluride.

Just happy to be here!

Strolling into Telluride, happy to be here.

Our hotel, The Camel’s Garden, was located right near the base of the ski area. It was super nice and you should stay there if you go. We fit right in with the skiers who were fresh off the hamster wheel and were now sporting fur lined boots. We laughed at them on the inside and I know they laughed at us.

We pranced inside the hotel just in time to make the complimentary apres. I’m not kidding, free wine and cheese! Things were going our way even off the mountain now. There wasn’t anybody pouring the wine so we applied ourselves to the task. Turns out the attendant had just stepped away for a minute and he was NOT pleased when he returned to see four men in tights helping themselves. He threw down some holier–than–thou attitude that seems to often accumulate in many of these exclusive mountain towns of high altitude. He asked what room we were in. He was surprised that we were actually staying there, for free in fact. The other guests were intrigued and we spent time explaining our route, our skinny skis and how we climbed uphill with carpets glued to the bottoms. Future skimo converts I’m sure.

Good soak.

Dinner reservations were made and then we went for a hot tub. There aren’t many, if any areas in North America where you can link-up a haute route style tour like this from town to town. It’s a pretty cool thing in theory. There was actually time to relax. The reality of what we were doing and how close we were to finishing it was soaking in.

The Mexican restaurant offered a 3 entree platter. We all opted for it and had no problem finishing. We were in our overstuffed beds with overstuffed bellies by 9 p.m. The plan was to wake up at 5 a.m. and be moving by 6 a.m.

For the first time in the three days I felt hope. I still felt anxious as well, but all we had left was one day. How bad could one day be?! I figured I could push through even if it was going to be one of longest and the biggest of the entire route. Tomorrow would come and we’d tackle it then, but today was a good day. I’d even go so far as to say that Day 3 was fun.

Continue to Day 4 trip report Hardrock 100 Ski

(WildSnow guest blogger Noah Howell was born and inbred at the foot of the Wasatch mountains. His skiing addiction is full blown and he’ll take snow and adventure in whatever form it takes. The past 16 years have been spent dedicated to exploring new ranges, steep skiing, and filming for Powderwhore Productions. Visit Noah’s website for more story telling and photos.)



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Comments

9 Responses to “Skiing The Hardrock 100 — Day 3”

  1. Truax April 13th, 2016 11:12 am

    Love this series, Noah. Looking forward to the grand finale!

  2. Sather April 13th, 2016 1:33 pm

    You were right Lou….this is great! Noah gets it.

    An antidote to the dude bro Japan powder stories….no offense to Japan or powder.

  3. Tabke April 13th, 2016 6:44 pm

    This dude-bro-hamster-wheel skier likes this series a lot. One question though. How does it compare to skiing with Dav?

  4. b. fredlund April 13th, 2016 6:54 pm

    Noah, great writing amigo. That part about when Jason asked if you were going to give up and bail, early in the trip (on day 2 I think), and it pissed you off and lit a fire. I’ve thought about that a good dozen times since first reading it. Cheers! You know good writing when it sticks with you.

  5. Kt Miller April 14th, 2016 12:54 am

    Best read for the flight home from Norway. 🙂 Seems like a transformational experience. Super inspiring. Looking forward to TR for day 4!

  6. noah howell April 14th, 2016 9:07 am

    Thanks again everybody!

    I hope Sather and Tabke can still be friends.

    Spoiler alert for day four- we skinned up and skied down mountains.

  7. Matt Kinney April 14th, 2016 9:21 am

    I like the sunscreen trick!

  8. aemono April 15th, 2016 4:43 pm

    Strangely riveting..strange to read a trip report, find it riveting..and think i’d rather be riveted – with large-size ship rivets – than do that!

    Mr Tabke, full disclosure: do you wear fur lined après boots?

  9. Chris April 17th, 2016 3:35 pm

    Again, I cannot wait to read day 4. Truly inspiring effort in the mountains. Would love a future post on how you all dealt with the foot discomfort (blisters, etc.) day after day.

    -Chris





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