FKT: Michael Minson - LA Freeway (CO) - 2020-08-09

Gender category
Route variation
Standard route
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 3h 12m 17s

I started at 4:45am on Saturday morning from LongsPeak TH. I carried 3.5 liters of water with me and started out slow. I had attempted the route twice prior this season, and I believe that one of my biggest mistakes was starting out too fast. Carrying 20lbs of supplies in food and water and trying to maintain my normal pace was not a good idea. So this time I began much more slowly, keeping an eye on my heartrate and making sure I wasn't doing anything that would cause it to start racing. I summited Longs via the cables route in 2:16. Pagoda and Chief's head went more smoothly this time around as well. I held back my pace until after summiting Alice, hoping to make up time on the downhill and flat sections that I could actually run. I jogged to Tanima and then to the Cleaver. At the notch on the north ridge of Isolation, I took a nice 60 ft 5.5 section of climbing that traverses back left into the upper headwall ledges which quickly gain the main ridgeline. I was starting to run low on water. My next fill up point was a small glacial spring on the shoulder of Ouzel.

It was going pretty well until some time after Isolation. I started getting fatigued on the uphills to the point where I was having to stop every few steps just to breathe. I brought trekking poles to help me maintain a decent pace on the gradual uphills that these long sections have. but the fatigue continued to build. Despite filling up 3 liters at Ouzel I think I was still pretty dried out and this really contributed to the breathing issue/fatigue. It got pretty bad after Ogalala and I started slowing down a lot. The Algonquin traverse took me a lot longer than wanted and I got a little lost, by taking the east side of the ridge a little bit too early while in search of the sneak that Kyle Richardson mentions. I did find Kyles sneak and eventually made it up Paiute, barely able to move uphill. I crawled over to Toll and summited without issue. After getting water from a standing pool on the west saddle between Toll and Pawnee l managed to turn things around somewhat. The water and and some caffeine helped me to make it through the majority of the Kasparov traverse before getting the sun set and was benighted.

I knew that my I knew my headlamp had plenty of battery so I decided to push on. At this point I had no more illusions of being able to finish in a reasonable time, and with the darkness I turned my focus from moving with purpose to moving with safety and caution. I accidentally summited the King's pawn instead of the King. Heinous downclimbing and route finding ensued and eventually after a few false turns was able to make it to the summit of the King and then Apache. I made my way over to Navajo and opted for the easy chimney on the west side, and then had trouble finding the descent so I took a 30 min nap. Everything after this point was new to me as I had never scouted the ridge line all the way to Arapahoe from Navajo before. I was lucky that at this point the moon rose and was fairly bright. I got water from the glacial lake before Arickaree and then headed over to it and started up toward what looked like a good notch. As the headwall steepened I found myself making commiting moves on what looked like a short section of headwall that would then lessen. What looked like decent holds from below were actually slopey ripples covered in lichen. Alarms started going off and I got more and more uncomfortable, so I reversed the moves and headed back down and further toward the right in search of the north ridge ledges. I finally made it to the summit and headed down toward the ridgeline toward peak 12887. The route finding in through here was fairly straight forward.

The ridge toward Deshawa was a lot more involved and required a bit of scrambling that felt quite like the section from Algonquin to Paiute. I managed to get cliffed out before a notch that leads to the main section of Deshawa and was very loathe to backtrack and descend so far to skirt the gendarmes in order to get around it, poking my head over several ledges I managed to find a crack and a series of holds that looked promising. I locked a handjam at a constriction that also provided a finger lock before sending my body over the edge. A few moves later I was on the ground and on my way. I got to the summit of Deshawa and I couldn't imagine continuing on to climb what might be a very difficult route finding section in my current level of fatigue so I sat down in a nice alcove that shielded my from the wind and I fell asleep, hoping that when I woke up the sun would be rising and I could do the next section in the daylight. A half hour later I woke up, chilled and stiff. I knew the only way to get warm was to move so I started down the ridgeline toward North Arapahoe and focused on getting my limbs to be coordinated again. I read the description for the route several times, because I was unable to keep the details straight in my head. Ascending the first 4th class slabs, then finding the step across moves, I got off route buy continuing up in a corner that was "right" but more up than right. It had a superb handcrack and by headlamp I could concieve that it was low angle enough to potentially give way to easier climbing above. I made a commiting stand up move and realized as the rock quality worsened that I was no longer climbing 4th class and I was two body lengths into what was shaping up to be 5.9-5.10. Alarm bells going off in my head, I kept calm and reversed the difficult move and bade it back to the step across ledge. I did find where the slabs continued around the corner and continued upwards. I was very relieved to finally be on the 3rd class ledges above. I Made it to the summit of North Arapahoe by sunrise. Going from North to South Arapahoe is not sweet. I was very happy to be on my way down at this point and allowed my mind to start relaxing.