Loc: San Carlos, CA
Trip: Ptarmigan Traverse FKT -
Trip Report: Uli Steidl and I completed the Ptarmigan Traverse in 12:17, a new FKT (fastest known time). It has been three years since I last enjoyed the Ptarmigan Traverse so it was time to come back to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the Cascades and refresh the prior FKT, which was set by Colin Abercrombie and me on July 28, 2009 (14:36) . This time I was joined by distance running legend Uli Steidl who has innumerable running victories and accolades to his name from road marathons to mountain running to ultras. Conditions were very similar to 2009 with nearly identical weather (hottest days of the summer). Prior to this run I figured somewhere in the 12 hour range was possible and we were able to hit that target finishing the traverse in 12:17. We started at the Cascade Pass trailhead at 4:49 am and finished at Downey Creek Bridge at 5:06 pm.
Overall, the 2 hr, 19 min improvement from the 2009 time was due to a consistently faster effort throughout the traverse (see comparison below). I attribute this to more route experience and dialing in on nutrition and hydration, which helped keep energy levels high especially in the second half of the traverse. Bachlor Creek was as lovely (brushy) as ever although we avoided making any time consuming errors in the brush and the Downey Creek Trail felt as long as I had remembered. The 8.5 mile jog along the Suiattle River Road seemed especially needless because there were five forest service vehicles parked at the Downey Creek Bridge. In fact, the closed portion of the road is in better shape than the open part! It seemed like they were prepping the road, perhaps for opening?
This ski is "known", but (1) skiing is not compared to travel on foot and (2) the ski route is substantially different in sections (i.e. direct to Cascade Pass, cut across from Spire Col to Bachelor Creek).
Good job, Leor! Forget all the haters out there. Great accomplishment and stunning pics as usual. I think that some folks get worked up because you're in essence running a climbing route that many may aspire to, and to boot you're crushing the route in 1/6th to 1/8th the average time. Again, kudos.
Thanks, Leor, for a great set of images and doing a classic in style. BTW, old-school running shorts are the way to go for this, never mind the dumb fashion of "shorts" to the knees....running isn't basketball or beach or pool. Leor is an amazing athlete, as is Uli, and I think the detractors are only envious that they aren't as fit. These two or prboably several others would CRUSH my FKT for Glacier Peak (7 hrs. 54 minutes) if the White Chuck River trail was runnable.
Edited by Brushbuffalo (08/19/1206:18 PM) Edit Reason: typo
I don't know Leor, but I once did Mt. Daniel with Uli when we were both students at the UW. After summiting, we ran a few miles back to the car, and there were brief periods when the guy actually seemed to lose contact with the surface of the earth and sort of float a few inches above the ground--very impressive.
Always be sincere--even if you don't mean it. --Benny Hill
Loc: San Carlos, CA
John, Uli mentioned you and that climb of Mt. Daniel. His list of running accomplishments speaks for itself. His versatility is astounding and it was an honor to do the traverse with him.
I have enjoyed many summits in the North Cascades, but in my opinion, summiting something is not always a prerequisite to having a fulfilling climbing experience in the mountains. The Ptarmigan is one such example.
Nater, Uli rolls with shorties so we had to match! That said, they allow for unencumbered strides... my preferred running garment.
Rob, here is what I carried:
Ultimate Direction Wasp Pack
Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus Hand Hold Water Bottle
FYI: Many people have run the Copper Mtn/ Chilliwack R. loop. The first of five times I've done it was in early October of 1987, and it took just under six hours total. That time could be shattered by the likes of Leor and Uli, assuming the lower Chilliwack R. trail had been brushed out.
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
This clearly wallops my time with Dylan Johnson in 2005 (18 hours Cascade Pass to Downey Creek bridge)! Fabulous work, and glad to see it posted here! I know it's not climbing, but it is a route very much of interest to climbers (more so than most trail runs), and contains good information useful to climbers in terms of approach conditions and endurance action style. In no way do I see this as diluting the content of this forum.
Uli rented an apartment from us when he was in grad school at the UW, glad to see he's still out there getting after it!