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[TR] Ptarmigan Traverse FKT - 8/16/2012


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Trip: Ptarmigan Traverse FKT -


Date: 8/16/2012


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?






Comparison: 2012 vs. 2009 vs. 2008 (difference 2012 to 2009)

Cascade Pass TH (3,600 ft) : 0 / 0 / 0

Cascade Pass (5,392 ft) : 43 / 48 / 55 (- 5)

Cache Col (6,920 ft) : 1:39 / 1:50 / 2:13 (- 11)

Spider-Formidable Col (7,320 ft+) : 3:26 / 3:40 / 5:00 (- 14)

Yang Yang Lakes (5,830 ft) : 4:10 / 4:26 / 6:20 (- 16)

White Rock Lakes (6,194 ft) : 6:25 / 7:11 / 9:51 (- 46)

Spire Col (7,760 ft+) : 7:52 / 8:54 / 11:55 (- 1:02)

Cub Pass (6,000 ft+) : 8:55 / 10:16 / 13:42 (- 1:21)

Bottom of Bachelor Creek (2,440 ft) : 10:51 / 12:48 / 16:30 (- 1:57)

Downey Creek TH (1,415 ft) : 12:17 / 14:36 / 18:10 (- 2:19)


Location (Elevation): Time Elapsed / Split / Real Time

Cascade Pass TH (3,600 ft) : 0 / 0 / 04:49

Cascade Pass (5,392 ft) : 43:10 / 43:10 / 05:32

Cache Col (6,920 ft) : 1:38:34 / 55:24 / 06:27

Spider-Formidable Col (7,320 ft+) : 3:25:37 / 1:47:02 / 08:14

Yang Yang Lakes (5,830 ft) : 4:10:17 / 44:40 / 08:59

White Rock Lakes (6,194 ft) : 6:24:54 / 2:14:36 / 11:14

Spire Col (7,760 ft+) : 7:52:01 / 1:27:07 / 12:41

Cub Pass (6,000 ft+) : 8:54:49 / 1:02:47 / 13:44

Bottom of Bachelor Creek (2,440 ft) : 10:51:23 / 1:56:34 / 15:40

Downey Creek TH (1,415 ft) : 12:17:15 / 1:25:51 / 17:06




























































Gear Notes:

Axe and crampons

Footwear: La Sportiva

Nutrition: First Endurance EFS and Ultragen, energy bars


Approach Notes:

Typical Bachelor Creek brush

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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.

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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. :cool:

Edited by Brushbuffalo
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I can't help it, I'm a child of the 90's who followed a dumb fashion and did all athletics in basketball shorts. At this point I might blind someone if I showed too much pasty white quad.


Anyone ever heard of people running the full Copper Ridge loop from Hannegan Pass? Not a climbing route but seems like it would be an ass-kicker.

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So if you didn't reach the summit, you can't write a TR? Or, you have to at least try and reach a summit before you can write a TR? Whatever happened to keeping the TR's spray free?


Sheesh, leave the guy alone. Many of us may not be into the mountain running thing, but it certainly isn't inappropriate for cc.com given a lot of the garbage that gets posted here.


Strong work Leor!

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WOWZA! Unreal. That must be so very cool to sit back with a cold one after a day like that and think about the ground you covered.


Haters gonna hate, but wtf have they done lately?


Klenke: your post (before you cowardly deleted it), was proabaly the lamest post i've ever seen on this board. Get a life.

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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.

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Thanks all!


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
  • Petzl Snow Racer Ice Axe
  • Black Diamond Neve Crampons
  • Injinji performance socks
  • First Endurance EFS Drink Mix and Liquid Shot
  • Assortment of bars and gels
  • Camera
  • Rudy Project Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen/Chapstick


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Injinji performance socks


ha, I'm glad I'm not the only guy wearing these things.


So do you bring *any* kind of first aid? I'd think even some gauze and a foil blanket or something...you guys are really hanging it out there, I like it

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WOW. Impressive work guys!


I can't believe that people would post negatively about such a rad accomplishment..

But let the haters hate while we are out doing our own thing.


Its too bad they will never know the true fulfillment of pursuing ones dreams with the positive energy.


Pushing the limit is what the mountains are all about. We all express it in a slightly different way, so who decides which one is cooler or more appropriate for CC?



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ha, I'm glad I'm not the only guy wearing these things.


So do you bring *any* kind of first aid? I'd think even some gauze and a foil blanket or something...you guys are really hanging it out there, I like it


Rob, I do bring some first aid provisions... scrapes and cuts happen.


The Injinji toesocks take some getting used to, but once you do they are fantastic - dry, cool, comfortable, and most importantly, prevent hot spots around the toes.


Thanks Verticolorful!

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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!



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