This morning Shelley and I started our climbing training in preparation for Denali this June. We (okay, maybe I) had taken the holidays off to load up on junk and candy for Christmas so I hadn’t really worked out much between Mexico and the week after New Years. Today was our first time since Mexico we carried packs.
I picked up some scrap tires from Big O Tires last week (for free) and drilled a hole in the tread. I ran some rope through the hole and tied it off with some wood and a knot to keep it from pulling back through the hole. I then ran the other end to a bight with a carabiner on it which hooks to a strap that is attached to our packs. That tire will represent our sled for the next four months of climbing training. Today we just dragged the tire with no weight on it to see how the rigging system works and to simply get back into the swing of carrying a pack again. We had 49 – 52 pounds in our packs and the sled weighed 23 pounds. The goal is to increase those weights till we have about 120 pounds between the sled and the pack.
For today’s climb we went up the 8th Street extension. It was a bit muddy, but hardpacked where the cars have been driving on it. The sled pulled easily. I don’t really mind the slight resistance of pulling a tire over dirt since that will just add to our training. The goal had been to climb for 2 hours, with a 10 minute break after the first hour, then turn around and come back down. Just a short hike to get ourselves back into the grove of carrying weight again. The problem arose when we came to the closed gate after about 70 minutes. I knew the county closed 8th Street to cars during the winter but thought it was up higher. Everything beyond the gate was an absolute mud pit. People can run, walk or bike up the road, but it hasn’t been graded since September. We almost needed crampons to walk through it with all the weight and sled we were pulling. We tried for another 10 minutes but it was crazy and we turned back down. It was disappointing that we only got 80 minutes of climbing instead of 2 hours.
Our total training climb lasted 2 hours 20 minutes. We gained 888 feet and walked 4.8 miles (round trip). There really isn’t anywhere around here where we are going to be able to get a lot of elevation gain until Bogus Basin closes. The nearly 5 miles was good though. A somewhat disappointing day in that we couldn’t climb as far as we wanted to, but we did get a good feel for the rigging system and our packs. Next week we’ll try the regular trail system in order to get a longer hike in.
We hope to get out every Sunday between now and June for these climbs. I know we’ll miss one Sunday know and then, but once a week is our goal. Next week I’m going to bring the sleds up to 35 pounds, but leave the packs where they are and see how that feels.