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938Sunlight 50K Results

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  • Matt Mahoney
    Jun 29, 2004
      Sunlight 50K: 1 starter, 0 finishers. The speed record still stands at

      Nobody else showed up at the Purgatory trailhead on Friday evening so I
      went by myself. I climbed Windom under mostly sunny skies, but turned back
      on Sunlight about 50 ft below the summit in a snowstorm. I did not attempt
      Eolus. My splits were:

      12:41 AM, Purgatory TH, 8800 ft.
      2:12 AM, Animas river, 4.6 mi, 7700 ft.
      4:00 AM, Needle Creek TH, 11.3 mi, 8300 ft.
      6:20 AM, Top of Chicago Basin, 15 mi, about 11,000 ft.
      9:14 AM, Windom, 16-17 mi, 14087 ft.
      11:10 AM, below Sunlight, 17-18 mi, about 14,000 ft.
      1:00 PM, Chicago Basin
      2:24 PM, Needle Creek TH
      6:19 PM, return to Purgatory, about 32-34 miles.

      The route is described at http://mattmahoney.net/sunlight/
      It was in the 40's and partly cloudy at the start with no moon. The first
      15 miles of trail was easy, but skirted within inches of some 300 ft.
      cliffs where I could point my flashlight down and see treetops. The nest
      1/2 mile climbed 1000 ft to Twin Lakes at about 12,000 ft. There are many
      side trails that dead end, one of which I took by mistake, so I bushwacked
      up through willows and occasional class 3 slabs to the right of the
      waterfall. The lakes were frozen and the basin was filled with hard packed
      snow. Since I was closest to Windom, I climbed it first. This was a 30
      degree snow climb, which I could walk up without an ice axe in my Walsh
      fell running shoes even though the snow was frozen solid. The final ridge
      to the summit was mostly dry class 3 scrambling over huge boulders with
      occasional patches of ice and exposed snow.

      I descended to the high basin across snow and traversed left up the mostly
      dry face of Sunlight to meet up with a steep class 2+ trail as dark clouds
      gathered. The final 50 ft. was class 4 and it was here that pellet snow
      started falling and I heard distant thunder. I descended by the quickest
      way down, which involved glissading on snow up to 45 deg. where an ice axe
      would have helped. But since I didn't have one, the only way to stop was
      to hit the rocks at the bottom with my feet out. Below 13,000 ft. the snow
      had softened and I was postholing. Below treeline the snow turned to rain
      which continued off and on for the next 4 hours.

      I don't plan to attempt this again this year, so if anyone wants to attempt
      the speed record, let me know and I will post a trip report on my web page.
      If you do go, the campground has been torn down but the trailhead is still
      open. (I just parked my van there and slept for 3 hours before the run).
      I suggest choosing better weather. I plan to stay in the Leadville hostel
      and climb a couple 14ers, run the marathon on Saturday, then go to
      Silverton for the 10K on Sunday and Hardrock next week.

      -- Matt Mahoney, matmahoney@...
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