Saturday, July 16, 2011

Uneva Pass Run

Last Saturday, I was looking for a longish run at elevation before we took off for a week in Minnesota.  After scouring the maps and looking for some "new to me" trails, I settled on the Gore Range trail to Uneva Pass.

It begins at the Copper Mtn exit off I-70 and winds up for about six miles to the pass.  From there you can summit the two peaks on either side of the pass and continue the ridge to Uneva Peak.  That was the plan.

Like all of Colorado, this area had received ample rain the night before making it one soggy run.  I can handle wet as long as that wet doesn't turn in huge and impassable snow fields.  I encountered plenty of snow up high, but nothing that stopped my forward progress.

It was partly cloudy at the start of the run (5:30 a.m.), but after about two hours, the clouds increased rapidly and got darker.  I knew the likelihood of storms that early in the morning was slim to none, but when I got up to the ridge, I felt very isolated and exposed.  Once the clouds started swallowing up the peaks, I bailed on my attempt at Uneva Peak in order to begin the 45 minute trek back to treeline.  The storms never materialized, so I'm bummed that I didn't get up there when I was only about a half mile away.  I still think it was the right decision.

Still waiting for the sun to rise.

Not the most appealing singletrack.

Wheeler Lake #1

Wheeler Lake #2

View of Uneva Pass from Wheeler Lakes.
The Tenmile Range.

My only wildlife encounter.

Squish, squish, squish...


Somehow I managed to keep following the trail despite stretches like this.

Lost Lake

The second most nerve-wracking snowfield.  The angle & hardness of the snowpack made it  feel like my feet would slip out from under me.
Attempted to cross this one with jagged rocks in hand to serve as ice axes.  Didn't work and turned around because the grade was too sharp.  A glissade into the rocks & trees below would have been the outcome.  Instead bushwhacked the final pitch to the top of the pass.

View to the south from the pass.

Uneva Peak to the north.

Sneva Peak to the east.

Copper Mountain from Sneva Peak.

Had to thread the needle between the snow to get up to the ridge leading to Uneva Peak.

Beginning of the ridge to Uneva Peak.
More of the Gore Range.
The self-portrait.  This is where I bailed on my attempt at Uneva Peak.  Maybe I shouldn't have goofed off so much with the pictures and just ran up the dang thing!

I thought I'd get in a few more than 16.5 miles, but I had a great time enjoying a morning of solitude in the mountains.  I'm heading up to Leadville tonight for the Silver Rush 50 on Sunday.  I have no expectations for this since I signed up last minute in order to guarantee one last long training run for the LT100.


  1. Great pics and post, as always. When you do these kinds of runs, what is your average pace (inclusive of walks and hiking)...just curious, because my overall pace is real slow on my trail runs here in NH:)

  2. Nice pics - thanks for sharing. We're leaving tomorrow on a week long backpacking trip, this route was our original plan. Sloppy stuff, glad we're heading a little further south now and will be in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. Good luck at Silver Rush!

  3. Good question Anon. When I go on one of these runs with camera in hand, I pretty much know it's going to be a slow one. I believe for this particular run, I finished with a 13:51 pace (inc. hiking/walking). That doesn't include me stopping the watch for various reason when I'm not moving. When I run my local trails (around my house), I try to run a little faster since I'm not really in "adventure" mode.

    Those NH trails can be tough (rocky, straight up). I ran some last Fall and averaged over a 15 min pace.

    Chris - Have a great backpacking trip! Good call on changing your plans. On the descent, I passed 4 guys backpacking up to Lost Lake. Well, in the pic above, you can see the conditions that were awaiting them.

  4. Dear Mother Nature -

    Please melt the snow in the high country.


    Colorado Trail Runners

  5. Uneva Pass is a great backcountry ski spot. Great pics. And you ran this the day before Silver Rush? You are rocking it!

  6. No, no...this was on Saturday, 7/9. I'm not that nuts...yet.

    Seriously Jim. My first plan was to head to the Indian Peaks, but then read some reports and saw some pics that convinced me it wasn't close to being ready for running.