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what a wonderful WURLD

this isn't the blog post I thought I'd be writing right now. I thought I'd be chattering with nerves and excitement over the Utah 13ers, the push to link all 21 peaks in Utah above 13,000ft in a single, unsupported push. But with a member of the trip injured, Craig Lloyd and I were left to either continue on without our injured team member or to post-pone the 13ers and make other plans for this weekend. To take into account the preference to travel in a group of 3 for a trip that long... And other plans it is.

So with that short statement that summarizes the trip delay of the last 8 months of planning...

Let's get the mood set.

what a wonderful wurld.... Yes Louis, it is.

First off, what is WURL?
The Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Link-up was coined by Jared Campbell in 2004. David Madera reportedly did the same/similar link-up in the early 90s, and likely others followed suit. Nik Berry did his Horseshoe Traverse in 2010. Given Jared Campbell's reputation in the wasatch, especially among the trail running crew, his line and name for the route stuck. Jason Dorais and Noah Howell completed the WURL last fall, and I've been biting at the bit to get out there and repeat the line. Even though it includes the much debated exit out of Bell's instead of Cherry, it is this line I'd like to copy.

The route involves roughly 30 miles and 20,000ft of elevation gain (40,000ft of elevation change). There might be a bit of that thing called running on Emma's ridge, but, who knows? ;) Much of the route will be technical trail up to 5th class scrambling.

Jared describes the route here after his 2nd attempt:
"Starting in the seldom-traveled Ferguson canyon, the route ascends quickly up to the ridgeline that makes up the northern side of Def Smith Canyon. Once on the ridge, you make your way up to BF Twin Peaks, which marks the 1st of some 20+ named peaks to completion. From BF Twin, the route heads due east towards Albion Basin taking on the summits of Sunrise, Dromendary, Monte Cristo, and Superior. This section is incredible for its extremely defined quartzite ridge with spectacular views in all directions. From Superior, the route descends down to Flagstaff peak, over to Davenport hill, the honeycomb peaks, Mt. Wolverine, Tuscarora and then crosses over Catherinexs Pass. From here you climb up to Point Supreme, over to Devils Castle, Sugarloaf, Mt. Baldy, Hidden Peak, and AF Twins. At this point, the route turns back westward and heads over Red Top, Red Baldy and White Baldy. This section is awesome given the wonderfully rugged terrain, but also the sharp transition from dark red quartzite to perfect white granite. From White Baldy, you head down the western ridge, and over to Pfeifferhorn (I stopped just before Pfeiff). From Pfeiff, you cruise over to S. Thunder, Upper Bells Canyon Peak, and then tag the summit of Lone Peak before heading down and out Bells Canyon."

Noah and Jason filmed a video of their WURL, and is a favorite vid of mine:

The WURL from Jason Dorais on Vimeo.

I haven't been shy about WURL being pretty high on my list of priorities for 2014. In a perfect scenario I'd continue running the line in pieces, getting familiar with each traverse between peaks so that linking them in unison in the dark and terribly tired would go, well, better than it could. But in a perfect scenario, my first WURL attempt would be in August...but I am now left with a wide open weekend of decent weather, trained and tapered legs, and a deep hunger for mountains. (Weekends are a rare commodity at the Eaton household, with my running, and a big-wall climber/scout master/rock climbing junkie husband and two kids... if you get a weekend, you use it!) So, here it is, a blind and sudden hash at WURL.
earning my WURL scout cookies. photo by fantastic photographer Jason Eichorst

Now, the runners that I'm familiar with (Jason, Noah, and Jared) didn't complete WURL on their first attempt, so I have no unrealistic expectations for myself. I know of plenty of hardy mountain folks who've attempted WURL had to leave the line unfinished for various reasons. That said, I am excited, thrilled, and of course a wee bit nervous. I plan on giving this my all, and it would take a lot for me to leave the line incomplete.
kids hike/run with the first part of WURL, the cottonwood traverse, in the background

I'll add the spot tracker link to this blog post once it's live. Feel free to follow along, the trip should start sometime in the painfully-early-most-people-aren't-even-in-bed-yet time this Sat July 12th (like 2am).

Also important, here is a picture of eternal sainthood:

There's a great adventure waiting in the Wasatch.


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