I spent 2 days with Horton & JB, climbing Pikes Peak and a route on Longs. They drove straight through overnight from VA to Manitou Springs, CO, where a friend & I met them at the Barr Trailhead for the ascent of Pikes via the ultra-classic Barr Trail (the route of the PP marathon). Conditions were excellent up to a ways above treeline, but the last 2 miles or so of the trail was disappeared under lots & lots of snow, so we just pushed our way up, post-holing a lot. Donuts & fries at the snack bar on the summit (14,110') before a fun slide & run back down. I think David & JB were a little woozy up there, but maybe that was as much due to lack of sleep as the altitude.
After getting some sleep at my place in Boulder, we zipped up to the
Longs Peak trailhead. Our plan was casual, and at Chasm View we
could see that the Loft Route looked like a terrific snow climb, and
since neither of them had been that way we gave it a go. We climbed
ever-steepening snow to the Loft, at 13,400 feet between Longs (14,254')and Mt Meeker (13,911'). I don't know that David had been on anything quite that steep before, but conditions were excellent, & he & JB were both fine. Very cold & windy on the Loft, with worsening weather. We made the short descent on snow-covered rocks off the Loft on Clark's Arrow (not Zealand!) to the base of the final ascent on the back side of Longs. But at this point we could see that climbing would be slow on a mix of snow, ice and rock, and you just can not bail out back in a hurry back there if the weather goes sour, which is what was happening, so we pulled out. The initial descent was a bit sketchy and slow due to the snow conditions, but once we got down to a safe location we had a blast glissading down a
couple 1000 feet of snow.
We have had storms almost every day since mid-May, and there
is still a ton of snow in the Front Range. I think other parts of
the state are a bit drier, but it has generally been a cool, wet
David is looking fit and very focused for the CT attempt, and in
JB he has the best support possible. I hope to catch up with
them again as the start of their CT attempt approaches.