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Speed Records in Eldo
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By Scott Bennett
Dec 4, 2010
photo by Forest Woodward

I’m interested in Speed Climbing in Eldorado Canyon, and around Boulder generally. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen a few posts here about record times, for Eldo these are usually measured “bridge-to-bridge” (b2b, roundtrip from the footbridge at the start of the trail).

For Ruper, the classic six pitch 5.8 up the middle of Redgarden Wall, Mic Fairchild posted a b2b time of 44m.

For the Naked Edge, one of the proudest lines in the canyon, Bob Rotert and Dave Vaughn reported 1:22.

I’ve gone out and tried, and had a ton of fun running around the canyon and seeing how fast the routes can go. (32m on Ruper, 1:13 with Blake Herrington on the Edge).

So I wondered, is anyone in the area actively keeping track of times? I’ve seen Bill Wright’s site, it’s not being updated, and many of the links are broken. It might be fun to get a site going and keep it updated.
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I’m sure everyone has their own opinion of speed climbing, and many climbers reflexively shy away from something so inherently competitive. So here’s a short, preemptive “Defense of Speed Climbing”:

Climbing fast has always been emphasized in places like Yosemite, where success or failure depends on completing long routes in a day. Or hauling. The routes in Eldo are much shorter, but I think the canyon has a certain “alpine” quality, with it’s sometimes involved scrambling approaches, huge towers and ridges, and always involved descents. So, while speed climbing might not be necessary to complete the routes, it can be invaluable training for when you're out in the mountains, the weather’s closing in, the sun's getting lower, and you just remembered the batteries in you headlamp are dead. Or maybe you just want to shorten the time between you and that post-climb beer!

I think most climbers would agree that the ability to cover terrain quickly is an asset, and it’s key to safety and success on long and remote routes. Plus, climbing fast often means climbing more. And who wouldn’t want to climb more?!

Of course there’s a difference between having the ability to climb quickly, and consciously racing the clock. But really, time is just the quantifiable way to see how quickly you’ve climbed a route, just as grades are measures of a route’s difficulty. If both climbing fast and climbing hard are valuable disciplines, why should they not both be quantified?
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So, back to speed records around the Front Range, what other climbs do you think would be fun to attempt quickly? How about the Yellow Spur? I found a base to summit time (12m40s, SicMic), and someone on Supertopo mentioned a 45m bridge-to-bridge time. How about harder routes? The “Astroman” linkup is one of the longer 5.12 routes in the canyon, anyone have a time to beat?

The Flatirons naturally lend themselves to big aerobic challenges, I’ve seen roundtrip times from the First, the Third, and for the mega “Top Ten Flatirons” linkup. I’m sure there are many more!

So anyways, if you think speed climbing is lame, that’s fine; I respect your opinion. There’s a ton of sports that I think are pointless, but I still respect the motivation and skill of the athletes. But if the weird idea of running around Eldo or the Flatirons appeals to you, and you’re psyched on trying to break some records, then let’s hear it. What are you interested in, and how fast can you do it?

-Scott


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Dec 4, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Hey Scott!
I was wondering how you and Blakes run on The edge went.
NICE!!!

Speed climbing is extremely fun. It's also essential to be able to move fast in the mountains.
I'd love to see a site that keeps track of stuff in this area.


cheers,

josh


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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Dec 4, 2010
OMG, I winz!!!

I like speed times, if only for my own fun. Westminster to Westminster up the 2nd flatiron in 2:45. It should go under 2:30 one of these days now that I'm riding more again. If only my ankle would get strong enough for really fast downhill running...

We did the quinfecta in 7:15 a month or so ago. Far off the record of just over 2 hours but we didn't run at all on that either.


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By Scott Bennett
Dec 4, 2010
photo by Forest Woodward

Thanks Josh! And Chris, I love the idea of the "human-powered" times, riding your bike to the crag!
One of the most amazing feats I've ever heard of is Roger Briggs' human-powered ascent of Long's Peak. He rode from Boulder to the trailhead, hiked up to the Diamond, and soloed the Casual Route. 5:45 from Boulder to the summit!

-Scott


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Dec 4, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

The human powered thing is really awesome and fun.

I've done a fair bit of that in Red rocks....the loop road really leds itself to that kind of thing.
Super fun.

josh


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By prod.
From Boulder, Co
Dec 4, 2010

Hey Scott,

Are you saying you beat Dave Vaughan's time?

Prod.


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By Brett Brotherton
From Arvada, CO
Dec 4, 2010
Me and my dog hiking in Eldo.

Not sure how up to date this is but I stumbled upon it a while ago and it sure is impressive!

www.compendiumtherapy.com/climbing/Speed%20Records%20in%20el>>>


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By Scott Bennett
Dec 4, 2010
photo by Forest Woodward

Prod-

Yes, our bridge-to-bridge time was 1h13m. We beat Dave and Bob's time by 9 minutes. I posted more about the style on the Naked Edge page.

While I certainly think that a motivated soloist could beat this time, I've never seen a time posted. Anyone know a faster bridge-to-bride time?

-Scott


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By blakeherrington
Dec 5, 2010

Derek probably soloed the Edge and drank a sheaf stout or two in the time it took Scott and I to finish half the pitches. I think in general even a slow soloist would be much faster than a speedy belayed team.

But very few folks would solo that route at all, let alone with speed as the priority. I wasn't even willing to solo the 'Cave'.

On the Naked Edge itself, I didn't feel that climbing quickly really made things any less safe. We belayed all the climbing and placed the same amount of gear as on previous, more leisurely ascents. I was more scared about downclimbing the east slabs quickly, and took a few wrong turns, went slowly, etc. Rather than the route's pitches, it's the unroped 4th-class (with bad fall consequences) that would make me nervous about doing it again. I think a competent party, gung-ho on the downclimbing, could manage the round trip in less than an hour.

Around Colorado, I wonder about a road-to-road time on stuff in the Black Canyon or RMNP. The two most impressive things I'm aware of are Black Canyon trifecta, and the Pennings/Donahue linkup of seemingly the entire range of peaks from Longs to Hallet.

Another good challenge would be Good Evans (or any route on the Black Wall) round trip from I-70 on a bike. Roger Briggs + bike time of 5:45 from somewhere in Boulder to the summit of Longs via the Diamond is astounding considering that most parties probably average about that long just to climb from Broadway to Table Ledge.


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By Dustin B
From Steamboat
Dec 5, 2010
It's always a party.

Rolando could probably do that stuff, but looks like he's been busy climbing rad shit, chopping lame bolts and creating www.PATAclimb.com (the coolest website i've seen in a long time, the photo topos are UNREAL!)

I know in the black derek climbed SC, Journey home and Leisure climb in a half day or something like that. Earl climbed the 2nd ascent of scenic cruise in his boots in a couple of hours and the H-wall has seen some very fast times. And in my opnion the king of speed records in colorado, wharton and friday did the trifecta in 20H45m....holy simulclimb batman!


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By Scott Bennett
Dec 5, 2010
photo by Forest Woodward

Agreed the Rolo's patagonia site looks awesome. We're headed down to Bariloche and Chalten this winter, and that site's been a great resource for planning (and eye-candy).

I love hearing about the Black Canyon times! The emphasis on speed climbing there is totally natural; you'd better climb fast if you're gonna get back to the rim before dark!

-Scott


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By Scott Bennett
Dec 5, 2010
photo by Forest Woodward

JLP said:
"Seems the time could just be posted to the route page, as you already appear to have done - maybe more formally in the route description? Lots of guidebooks have estimated times, maybe FKT could be added in brackets or somesuch."

Yeah, this is a good way to do it with the existing site. I guess I was more just wondering if people would be interested in a page devoted to speed climbing on the Front Range (or maybe all of Colorado). It could have times, but also articles, TRs, etc.

From looking at Bill Wright and Mic Fairchild's sites, though, it seems like there might not be a critical mass of interest to really sustain such a site. I'm my opinion, Mountain Project works because individuals come and go, but there's always a new group of people that are psyched to add new areas, update descriptions, etc. With those two speed climbing sites, though, once the main person lost interest, the updating stopped. And a page about speed records just isn't relevant if it's not updated.

I guess "speed climbing" is sort of a fringe within a fringe, and even many people that love climbing fast are resistant to the idea of posting times.

-Scott


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By Mic Fairchild
From Boulder
Dec 5, 2010
kickin' on Broadway

Scott- If you went b2b on Ruper in 32m, then you should be pleased. Your aerobics must be solid. It seemed my biggest lags were on the approach and descent- I was sweaty to get to 44m. I'd agree with others that a lot of solo climbs were done for fun and not for time. It was just a matter of coincidence that I would punch a stopwatch on some of my climbs as my Suunto tracks time and vertical as part of matching programs. A lot of days I did climbs as the mood struck, and might pay attention to time taken on the climb, but not the approach. Neither did it usually seem important to run back to the bridge to feel the timing was 'complete'. My interest was often tracking vertical, with time being an aside. Somewhere in there the stopwatch became amusing when I got into loops of UP this, DOWN that. Lately, if I can crank out 1000'-1500' before going to the pool I'm happy. Time is less of an issue. That being said, it's certainly possible that Bastille Crack goes under 5 minutes, and Yellow Spur under 10m. (It'd be easy to beat my downclimb time on BC, but that ugly splash on the road would be nasty) I'm also surprised that no one has gotten onto the car-2-car exercise that is 15 Summits of Eldo. A good runner should take 30 minutes off my 3 hour time.


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By Scott Bennett
Dec 5, 2010
photo by Forest Woodward

Yo Mick! Glad you posted, I was hoping to hear from ya. The Ruper b2b time was on my mind for a while, and when I finally gave it real effort a couple weeks back, I was really surprised to do it so quickly. The only split I checked was on top of the route, which was 20m. I got a bit lost on the descent, and it took me 12m to get back to the bridge.

Your 15 summits idea is intriguing, a logistical challenge for sure! Did you climb 5th class routes on all of the formations? I would assume not if you did it that quickly, but you are fast...

As for BC and YS, definitely interested. I'd want to try YS bridge-to-bridge, has anyone seen a record for it?

-Scott


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By Stefan Griebel
Dec 6, 2010
Stefan heading up the Casual Route in a bike helmet during his first Longs Peak Triathlon.  Biking/hiking/climbing Longs Peak from Boulder

So cool to see a thread with genuine interest, respect, and humility on speed climbing efforts. I am certainly one of those motivated by seeing a fast time and wondering how I fast I could do the same route / course.

Bill does still keep track of these things, though perhaps he is not as interested as he once was. I think his webpage turned into too much work so he let it slide. Peter Bakwin started an FKT board for running (fastestknowntime.proboards.com/), and this would probably work great for climbing as well. I also get the sense that there are only a few people really interested in this fringe of fringe sport at one time, but as the years keeping going by, new talent gets interested and psyched which makes it a grand idea to keep records in one place.

And there are still "races" up the Flatirons too, though they are pretty underground these days.


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By Brad White
Dec 6, 2010

I went on that trip with Derek when he did the Black Canyon "triple crown". I photographed him soloing the Scenic Cruise, from the south rim of the canyon. I don't remember Derek ever being very oriented toward speed, although a free-soloist is naturally going to climb faster than a roped party. I do remember driving insanely fast to get back to the north rim with the Big Mac I had bought for Derek in Montrose. That Big Mac is what fueled him for the third part of his triple crown.


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By Callie Rennison
From Boulder, Colorado
Dec 6, 2010

Congrats on the new time!!

Not that it matters much - the time would have still been broken - but Bob and Dave had a car-to-car time. And to put any speculation to rest, Dave Vaughan is currently 50, and about 160 lbs. Bob is even older!! ;)

My hope is the new record was accomplished while having a lot of fun. In the end, that is what matters most.


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Dec 6, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Callie Rennison wrote:
Congrats on the new time!! Not that it matters much - the time would have still been broken - but Bob and Dave had a car-to-car time.


Not that it really matters.....but CTC times can very dramatically on where you parked!

In Eldo the Bridge has seemed to be the best starting and stopping point. It (hopefully) won't be moving!

Bob and Daves time was pretty damn sick!

cheers,

josh


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By Scott Bennett
Dec 6, 2010
photo by Forest Woodward

Bob R atop the Naked Edge
Bob R atop the Naked Edge

Bob R atop the Naked Edge.

Yeah, Bob and Dave's time is really impressive. Bob and I made a sub-2 hour run on the Edge a few weeks back, and I was working hard to soak up some of his wisdom.

JLP said: "Seems for rock, the official course is currently the Nose. Most everything else, IMO, is a PR."

Agreed that the Nose seems to be the only speed time that gets any press. It makes sense: it's the proudest line up the biggest cliff in the country, and it's easily accessible for climbing and photographers alike. Also, relevant to this discussion, it probably can't be soloed faster than it can be climbed by a roped team of two. I think (?) the best solo time would be Alex H's ~6hr time, as the 2nd half of his solo big-link-up(!).

I think that almost any of the long routes in Eldo or the Flatirons could be soloed faster than they could be climbed by a roped team. So the fastest runners and the boldest soloists will hold most records. I don't think that there's anything good or bad about that, it's just the nature of the rock.

-Scott


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By J. Thompson
From denver, co
Dec 7, 2010
Trundling a death block. Photo by Dan Gambino.

Scott Bennett wrote:
So the fastest runners and the boldest soloists will hold most records. I don't think that there's anything good or bad about that, it's just the nature of the rock.



Agreed.

There are some folks in the frontrange that are like a big lung attached to powerful arms and legs. They blow my mind with some of their times!

josh


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By Mic Fairchild
From Boulder
Dec 7, 2010
kickin' on Broadway

It's nice to think that every speed record we can make up will probably be eclipsed. Most of them won't be of any interest to most climbers, but they're nice to have. Except for the Nose and Wright's buddies on the Flatirons not too many people are interested. But for the few of us that keep track, it's certainly fun to watch as the times shrink. It's always a kick to time a variety of scrambles, but a finer line when the rating gets above 5.10. If I'm soloing something difficult it's rare that a stopwatch holds any consideration. It goes without saying that a few minutes here and there aren't worth risking days in the hospital or eternity underground, so be careful out there.

The 15 Summits began as a Celebrate Eldo prize category and developed from there. It was a made-up thing since it hadn't been tried (when I asked Pat Ament if he'd ever done anything like 15 Summits, he replied "I didn't know there WERE 15 Summits"). While there was a lot of fifth class climbing involved, I decided this would be a matter of touching all the summits any which-way.


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By Stefan Griebel
Dec 8, 2010
Stefan heading up the Casual Route in a bike helmet during his first Longs Peak Triathlon.  Biking/hiking/climbing Longs Peak from Boulder

Scott Bennett wrote:
So the fastest runners and the boldest soloists will hold most records.


Ahh yes, but most fast runners are not bold soloists, and vice versa! So anyone who can run decently and is comfortable soloing can certainly work their way up to record times. And for these CTC (or bridge-to-bridge) times, a huge chunk of time can be made up in routefinding, which as nothing to do with running or boldness! I'd wager that just dialing in the East Slabs decent would shave 5+ minutes off a Naked Edge speed record.

Finding psyched (and able) partners is perhaps the crux of roped, safe speed-climbing efforts.


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By TK421
From longmont, co
Dec 8, 2010

(when I asked Pat Ament if he'd ever done anything like 15 Summits, he replied "I didn't know there WERE 15 Summits"). While there was a lot of fifth class climbing involved, I decided this would be a matter of touching all the summits any which-way.


I agree with Pat, which are the 15 summits? seems like a pretty good thing to do in a day. Although I will probably be recording my speed with a calander instead of a stop watch, it would be a cool thing to try.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 8, 2010
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

if i remember correctly, johnL was thinking about chasing briggs' bike to the diamond time. to me, this is probably the most impressive boulder-area feat. curious to see how he did, seems like he might have a decent chance at it.


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By Mic Fairchild
From Boulder
Dec 8, 2010
kickin' on Broadway

15 Summits: Rotwand, Bastille, Hawk Eagle Ridge, Whale's Tail, Wind Tower, Tower One, Tower Two, Lumpe Tower, Supremacy, lower Peanuts (because of raptor closure), Cadillac Crag, Rincon, Shirt Tail Peak, Potato Chip, Long John Tower. This was the designate from the Celebrate Eldo event and the task taken to hand in 2hours 59m car2car. Logistics are a big part of this adventure. I took a couple dry runs working out different sections.


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By prod.
From Boulder, Co
Dec 9, 2010

I heard that Dave was actually parked at the Eldo Mini Mart, making his car to car quite a feat!

Prod.


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