Before we go off the deep end with the Spray Valley 10, Arielle and I want to test ourselves on some shorter adventures. Last Saturday we went out to set a new Fastest Known Time on the Glasgow to Banded Peak traverse. Although many parties have completed this route before, we couldn’t find much information on speed attempts. Most hikers will do the route in 12-14hrs, and the fastest time we could find by a trail runner/scrambler was set by our friend Jamie Junker in just over 8hrs. We thought that we could do the route in 7hrs if things went smoothly.
We had a few objectives for this adventure:
- Work out partner logistics. Arielle and I are going to be working together, pushing ourselves HARD for over 30 hrs during the Spray Valley 10. How will we get along? Will we be able to effectively communicate with each other? The Glasgow to Banded traverse was a perfect testing ground for this.
- Pace ourselves effectively. Our goal was to use an eating/hydration strategy which would keep our energy levels steady throughout the day so that we would be able to move at a consistent effort throughout the entire route.
- Test gear. We are using some new-to-us gear for the Spray Valley 10. Would this gear be effective and durable?
The Glasgow to Banded Peak traverse is a loop which starts and finishes at the Harold Chapman Bridge in the Little Elbow Day Use Area. You complete the route by summiting Glasgow, Cornwall, Outlaw and Banded Peak and then returning to the bridge. Depending on the route you take, the traverse will cover up to 35km, with about 2300m of climbing. Most of the terrain is off-trail and there is very little actual running until you reach the last 10km.
Arielle and I decided to take the shortest route possible, which also meant the most technical route. This shortened the route to 32km, added some scrambling, and eliminated some bush-whacking.
We began at 7:17am on the west side of the Harold Chapman Bridge. After crossing the bridge we immediately turned right onto a horse trail. We followed the trail for a couple of kilometres before veering off and angling towards the base of Glasgow. There is a way to do this almost entirely on trail, but I was a little inaccurate with my navigating so we lost 5-10 minutes bush-whacking through the forest.
Once you reach the base of Glasgow the entire route is off-trail until you descend from Banded Peak. We power-hiked up through the brush and within an hour of our start we had gained the ridge on Glasgow.
The next 4 hours were spent above treeline. We power-hiked and scrambled our way up Glasgow. Our friend Andrew met us on the shoulder of the ridge, where he was filming our progress with a drone. Hopefully the footage turns out 🙂
I made a second navigation error near the summit of Glasgow, which resulted in some difficult scrambling and maybe 5 minutes of lost time. Still, the trip was going smoothly and we made it to the top in 2hrs, 20 minutes. It is certainly possible to make it up there in less than 2hrs if you don’t make any mistakes.
We stopped for a few minutes on Glasgow to put on our gators. There was still some remnant snow and lots of scree to run on, and we were determined not to waste our time emptying our shoes. The gators worked great and we didn’t have any wasted shoe time.
We refilled out bladders with snow at the col between Glasgow and Cornwall. I had nearly finished my 2 litres of water at this time, so the snow which I added to my Camelbak did not melt quickly. I really should have refilled earlier, but I didn’t realize I was drinking so much. Both of us were fueling and drinking regularly; which is probably why we felt so good.
There was still a significant amount of snow on Cornwall. This meant we had to post-hole for about 5-10 minutes, and we also had to take a steeper line than I would have preferred up the scree to avoid further post-holing. The ascent was an ass-kicker for sure.
From there we flew down the descent towards Outlaw and scrambled up the other side without issue. The descent from Outlaw was cautious as I babied my recently sprained ankle, but we still made good time and soon we were on to the ascent up our 4th and final mountain. We were moving steadily and neither of us had any significant energy lulls. We reached the summit of Banded Peak in 4:35 and briefly wondered if it was possible to go under 6hrs.
The way down Banded Peak is on very rough scree and is not particularly enjoyable. At one point Arielle dislodged a rock and yelled to warn me. I slipped as I attempted to get out of the way and it nailed me in the lower back/hip. The rock was a decent size and I yelled in pain. This was a good learning experience for us. For future rocks we will just say “left” or “right” to tell our partner where to go to avoid impact.
We descended via the east drainage – glissading most of the way, but accidentally getting cliffed out at one point, forcing us to back track for a few minutes. The east drainage is probably the toughest descent route for route-finding, but it’s nice because you have very minimal bush-whacking afterwards before you hit the horse-trail which brings you down to the Big Elbow Trail.
We refilled our water, stowed our poles and removed our gators at the base of the drainage. Now it was Arielle’s turn to lead, as the trail was 100% runnable and she is a much faster runner than I am. I maintained the fastest pace I could without feeling like I was putting my ankle at risk and tried to keep her in sight. She did an awesome job of pacing.
Once we got onto the flat Elbow Valley Trail I couldn’t match Arielle’s speed, but thankfully she waited for me at the bridge so that we could finish together. My watch said 2:02pm, 6hrs and 45 minutes.
You can see our Strava file here.
We also filmed a bunch of videos!
Want to see what we brought? Here we break it all down. The UltrAspire Astral pack holds a lot of stuff! (sorry about the videography, I promise we will get better!)
A look inside Arielle’s Head:
It was a day of surprises out there. Between happy legs and happy views, I don’t think we could have asked for a better day. Going into this we definitely had some doubts (as explained in our previous post), however when we got out there all doubts left our head. We felt strong, consistent and happy the entire way. Initially uncertain with how we would work together, it was clear that our differences were put aside and our “strengths” combined forces as the day progressed! Joanna took charge with navigation and led us up the ups. Then when it came time for the downhills and flats, I took over. With both Joanna and I recovering, playing it smart and finishing strong was the goal. Keeping each other accountable to our plan, and fuelling we finished having some juice left in our legs and look forward to seeing how much time we can knock off in the fall!
A look inside Joanna’s Head:
I’m just so happy that my ankle cooperated 🙂
We will take a look at the route up Rimwall, and I get ready to run Bighorn 100!