Early wakeup call at 04:00 for a 05:00 departure to Nevado San Fransisco. Much easier drive than anything else as the trail is right off the paved road, so no issue getting here and set up. Weirdly cloudy on arrival, just some fog at the pass really, and it was breezy and very cold as we all got kitted up.
The plan for was Scott and Rachel to tag the summit together and for me to do a double-out/back. If we followed the Rachel's time = 2x Tyler's time, we should end up with about the same total time out there.
I'd set an FKT last year of 3h16 w/ 2h06 up and I had that mark in mind, as I knew it was a bit soft (it was the first of the 3x 6000m day), but mostly I just wanted to feel good and ideally have the first up/down be pretty controlled and be able to negative split and run the second one faster.
The route starts out along a rough jeep track and then cuts across a nasty field of medium sized rocks and up a steep hill. From there, it actually goes down into a small valley before beginning the true climb up the mountain. I stopped briefly at the top of this first hill and ditched my big puffy, as the sun was coming up and the wind had died down, and then split my watch at the 5200m mark at the bottom of the little valley, i.e. the start of the real climb.
This first climb felt great. I kept the effort moderate and made great time up the steep sandy trail up to the traverse at 5650m. From there, it was just a few switch backs up onto the summit ridge, and then a nice gentle trail across the ~1km to the base of the true summit.
Last time I'd been here, there'd been a good bit of snow here and crampons were helpful, but this time there were only a few small and easily avoidable snow-fields on the slope leading up to the true summit. I easily followed a band of rock to the right and quickly found myself on the summit ridge, popping out on a false summit about 100 flat meters away from the true summit. I jogged these last few meters and was pleased to see I was well under last year's ascent time (1h54) -- and also that the Gary sticker I'd left on the summit cross was still there.
I spent a few minutes up there, took some pictures, and then jogged down. I think I left right around 2h00 and figured if I felt good I'd hit right around 3h00 back at the car. Even being stopped once by some random chileans and stopping for a few minutes to talk w/ Scott and Rachel (who were on the way up), I found myself back at the car at 2h54. Really pleased.
I did a quick reloading of fuel/bottles and then headed up for Lap 2. This time I allowed myself to squeeze a bit more on the climb and felt really good, tons of energy left. I could see my splits were quicker than the previous climb, and it was great to pass Rachel and Scott again (as they were coming down just below the summit) on one of the few sections I could actually “run” up high. I hit the summit in 1h45, a big chunk off of last year’s time, and after 1’50 up top, I made it down in just under 50’, for a 2h36 round trip FKT.
This was one of the bigger vert and distance days of the block so far and couldn’t have gone much better. I feel like I’m really getting a hang of dialing in the effort for these big days up high, and today I felt like I not only did that, but in the process, kicked the 2022-ghost-Tyler’s ass, which is always a great feeling.