Body of Missing Climber Found on Longs Peak | Colorado News | US News

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. (AP) — The body of a climber missing on Longs Peak has been found.

Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson says the body of the 39-year-old man from Thornton was discovered by searchers on Sunday and flown down by helicopter.

He was mountaineering with two acquaintances on Saturday when he reportedly decided to descend the challenging and popular mountain by himself. When they returned to the trailhead’s parking lot later in the day they saw the man’s car was still there.

At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak is the highest mountain in the park and the 15th highest in the state.

Source: Body of Missing Climber Found on Longs Peak | Colorado News | US News

Mental Training: In Search of a Free Mind | Heather Weidner

by Heather Weidner,

In a sport like climbing, so dependent on mental fortitude, where is all the information on training the mind?  I find it crazy how many resources there are about fingerboarding and campus workouts, but so few  on how to deal with fear and the ego?  Am I alone with these feelings of negative self-worth in the world of performance rock climbing?  What can I do to improve my mental strength?

Pro-climber and bold British badass Hazel Findlay feels similarly.  “I think climbers get totally bogged down in the physical aspect of climbing and never pay attention to the mental side of climbing,” she claims on her interview with the Enormocast.  “I mean, how many books and blogs are there about finger-boarding, about your weight, or like endurance training or something and there’s hardly anything about how to deal with falling off at the climbing gym.  It’s such a bigger hindrance to performance than whether you can hang on a mono with one finger.  I think people should pay more attention to it.”

I sat down with Jonathan Siegrist, one of the nation’s best sport climbers, during his stay in Vegas.  He had just been in Spain trying to redpoint Pachamama, 5.15a.  He put in 8 continuous weeks of effort on this single route without sending-  the most work he’d ever continuously put into a single pitch of climbing.  I was curious about his head space and how he dealt with this repeated failure.

“My first impression (of Pachamama) was simply that the route was too hard for me, especially based on my previous experiences with projects.  It took me several days to even do all of the moves, and weeks to begin to make significant links.  But I was making just enough progress every day to remain motivated.  In the end I got heartbreakingly close, but it took a month of beating my head against the wall to reach this point.”

I’d say the majority of us struggle mentally in the world of climbing- not to mention with work, day-to-day life, or in relationships.  In the face of repeated challenge how does one maintain a positive attitude?

Jonathan explains, “In all honesty I don’t always maintain a positive attitude.  There are always downs and this is just part of the process.  I think it’s unrealistic to feel optimistic all of the time, and stoked about negative progress or bad conditions or torn skin.  I just try not to sink too far into that space, and let those low moments pass over me.”

I know that dark space, and it’s tough to avoid.

For the past five years I’ve set one big climbing goal for the year, usually around the holidays.  It’s typically been a big project that I’m not sure I could actually do- a climb that is close to my physical and mental limit.
These goals have allowed me to send my hardest routes over the years- but not without significant sacrifice.

My achievement-based motivation often led to frustration and stress.  These projects would sometimes take months- if not years- to complete and involved a large amount of failure.  Dealing with that repetitive failure led to an ego crush- I never felt good enough.  Ultimately, my negative self talk and self-loathing behavior advanced to the point that it affected my relationships.  And sometimes climbing just felt like work.

“Once I get in too deep I think the reality is that I need to step back,” Siegrist explains.  “Take a break, go back to training or change the route or the environment. I’m learning the hard way but I think it’s better to avoid trying too much for too long.  Get some other sending under your belt and lift your stoke levels up before a strong return.”

I needed to step back, too.  The kind of relationship I had developed with myself and climbing was not sustainable.  I had to change something about my redpoint process.

So this year, I have a different goal, and it doesn’t involve climbing (at least directly).  Instead, my goal is a mental goal- to develop a free mind.

What is a free mind?  In sports it’s that magical flow-state you get when you’re fully “in the zone” on a rock climb, or when you’re immersed in painting or playing music.  Time seems to go so fast and you’re completely in the moment, free of distractions.  There’s no inner voice nagging at you or thinking about what you’re going to eat for lunch or that you’re not strong enough or smart enough.  Just you, your breath, body, and laser focus. (For more details on free mind visit:

This mental-driven shift started for me shortly after running into Arno Ilgner, author of The Rock Warrior’s Way at the OR show last summer.  I had just sent China Doll, a send which I felt was my proudest accomplishment as a climber, and I still just didn’t feel “good enough.”

Arno was interested in picking my brain about my redpoint processes and putting together a mental plan for more advanced climbers, Arno hopes to develop mental training programs for elite rock climbers in the future, expanding beyond one of the main focuses of his clinics which is catered to more moderate climbers tackling the fear of falling. In return for working with Arno I would benefit from mental training directly from the warrior himself.

Since last fall, every week or two Arno and I are in contact.  He has given me mental drills, such as meditation, journaling, and intentional breathing to name a few.  We talk on the phone about mental processes, what I’ve been up to, and how my drills are going.

Because I’m in the thick of these exercises and talks with Arno, I honestly don’t have an answer to the most common questions I get from climbers like, “what is the point of all these drills?” and “is it working?”

What I know is that my awareness has increased tremendously.  I can’t say I never get upset when I can’t do a rock climb or that my feelings of self-loathing magically went away.  But I can say I notice my inner voice more, and I now have some tools to use in order to deal with dips in self-confidence and worth in the face of climbing (and life) challenges.

Setting a goal centered around mindfulness instead of achievement- like a specific climb- is a big change for me, and honestly it’s scary.  After all, we live in a world where great achievements are highly praised.  Will I get worse at my favorite sport?  Will I lose motivation?
Creating new habits in the face of mental addictions feels like work.  For me, focusing on being attentive to the learning process has been the key to sticking with my mental training every day.  In this way, it is quite simple- but certainly not easy.
Siegrist believes, “To be critical and open-minded is most important.  Write things down, speak with others around you, and try to be realistic about your experience. Try to be humble to the process and recognize a learning opportunity. I think everyone could benefit from carefully considering their climbing attitude…

Every time I go climbing it is mental training!”
And maybe that’s why- in part- we keep coming back for more.

Source: Mental Training: In Search of a Free Mind | Heather Weidner

American Woman Reaches a New Milestone in Rock Climbing

“It goes, boys”

Nineteen-year-old Margo Hayes has taken a huge leap in shrinking the climbing world’s gender gap.

by Andrew Bisharat, National Geographic

Throughout the 1980s and much of the 1990s, when rock climbing was very much a fringe activity, women were rarely spotted up on the rock. Even fewer were performing at a cutting-edge level.

The notable exception was Lynn Hill, who in 1993 became the first person (male or female) to free climb the 3,000-foot Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Free climbers ascend without falling or using gear to rest or aid upward progress. Hill’s feat cemented her status as an action sports legend and proved in the biggest way possible that women could climb just as hard as, if not harder than, men.

“It goes, boys,” she boldly stated after her big achievement.

Before climbing the Nose, Hill became the first woman to climb a route with a difficulty grade of 5.14a, which was considered a world-class level at the time. In 1990, Jean-Baptiste Tribout, the leading French sport climber of the time, infamously stated that year that “no woman would ever climb [a 5.14a].” Hill proved Tribout wrong that same year by completing a 5.14a sport climb in France called Masse Critique.

Best of all, she completed the route in fewer tries than Tribout.

In a similar breakthrough, Margo Hayes, 19, of Boulder, Colorado, has achieved a new milestone in the sport. On February 26, 2017, she climbed La Rambla, a sport climb in Siurana, Spain, that is rated 5.15a. This achievement makes her the first woman to reach this level of difficulty, which is very close to the highest levels ever achieved by top-performing male climbers.

“Over the last few years the gender gap has really narrowed,” said Hayes in an online video interview last year. “There’s going to be a big change—there’s more women and more young girls coming up in rock climbing. Watch out, boys!”

La Rambla is a 150-foot tall yellow and blue limestone route. It overhangs by 30 degrees the whole way, making it an unrelenting challenge. It has been climbed by only a few of the best male climbers in the world and is considered solid for its difficulty rating.

The holds on La Rambla, particularly on the blue patina of limestone near the top of the route, can be razor sharp, making the climbing not just difficult but downright painful as the rock chews through fingertips like dog toys.

“Margo’s effort was unprecedented,” says Jon Cardwell, a top American sport climber and one of Hayes’s climbing partners during her historic trip. “She was bleeding from her fingers every day. That route is a bloodbath now! But never once was this an excuse. Extraordinary character in that girl.”

One sign of the changing times in rock climbing is Hayes’s presence at a world-class crag in Spain with perhaps the two strongest American climbers right now, Jon Cardwell and Matty Hong—all of them climbing as equals. The three live in Boulder, Colorado, where they climb and train together.

Hong, in fact, successfully completed La Rambla just two days before Hayes. Cardwell, who is also “projecting” the route, is expected to achieve his own success any day now.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support I’ve received from the climbing community, and my family and friends near and far,” Hayes wrote on Instagram. “None of us achieves our dreams alone, we do so together, and build on those who have come before us.”

Indeed. The question of whether a woman would reach 5.15a was never one of “if” but of “when” and “who.” Over the last decade, the best female climbers in the world have been pushing right up to that 5.15a level.

Climbing grades are subject to a community-wide consensus of difficulty, so women have climbed routes that were first considered to be at a 5.15a difficulty level but were retroactively downgraded after consensus was reached.

With those shifts in mind, the climbing community has awaited a female ascent of 5.15a sport climb that is widely agreed to be a benchmark for the grade. Hayes’s ascent of La Rambla meets that criteria.

Here’s a timeline of top achievements in female sport climbing that have led up to this moment:

1990: Lynn Hill climbs Masse Critique (5.14a) in Cimai, France, a route that J.B. Tribout once said “no woman would ever climb.” The route takes Hill fewer tries than Tribout and her ascent makes her the first woman to climb a 5.14a.

2002: Josune Bereziartu, a Basque climber, becomes the first woman to climb a 5.14d when she ascends the Bain de Sang in St. Loup, Switzerland. At the time, the hardest route in the world was only one grade higher at 5.15a. She was also climbing two or three grades harder than any other woman.

2004: Bereziartu climbs another 5.14d: Logical Progression in Japan.

2005: Bereziartu achieves her hardest route yet: Bimbaluna in Switzerland. The route is given a “slash” rating of 5.14d/5.15a, meaning it might not be difficult enough to be considered a full-fledged 5.15a, but compared to all other routes with 5.14d ratings, it’s a tough one.

2011: French climber Charlotte Durif climbs PPP (5.14d) in Verdon, France. Some European climbing magazines dispute the veracity of her claim and refuse to publish the news.

2011: Sasha Digiulian, from Virginia, climbs Pure Imagination (5.14d at the time) in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky. Subsequent ascents of the route, however, land the consensus grade at 5.14c.

2012: Digiulian climbs Era Vella (5.14d), in Margalef, Spain. Again, subsequent ascents suggest the route might in fact be slightly easier.

2013: Murial Sarkany, from Brussels, Belgium, climbs Punt X (5.14d) in Gorges du Loup, France, at age 39. This makes her either the second, third, or fourth woman to reach the 5.14d grade after Bereziartu, depending on whether Durif and Digiulian’s ascents are considered valid.

2015: Mar Alvarez, a full-time firefighter, climbs Escalatamasters (5.14d) in her home country of Spain.

2015: At age 13, Ashima Shiraishi, the phenom climber from New York City, takes a spring break trip to Santa Linya, Spain, where she climbs a potential 5.15a called Open Your Mind Direct. However, other climbers agree to a consensus that the route is, in fact, only 5.14d. The community still awaits a female ascent of an undisputed 5.15a.

2016: Margo Hayes climbs Bad Girls Club (5.14d) in Rifle, Colorado.

2016: Laura Rogora, a 14-year-old climbing prodigy from Italy, climbs Grandi Gesti (5.14d), in Italy, making her the second youngest person to climb that grade.

2017: Rogora continues her tear and climbs another 5.14d: Joe Blau in Oliana, Spain.

2017: Margo Hayes climbs La Rambla (5.15a), becoming the first female climber to reach this level.


Source: American Woman Reaches a New Milestone in Rock Climbing

Boulder Climber Margo Hayes Climbs La Rambla, Becomes First Woman to Send 5.15a 

“I conscientiously work on being positive in life,” Hayes told Climbing, in an interview for her 2016 Golden Piton Award win. “When I am positive, I’m more productive and open-minded, and that carries over into climbing.”

Yesterday Margo Hayes clipped the chains on La Rambla in Siurana, Spain, becoming the first woman to send 5.15a and making history.

by Liz Haas, Climbing Magazine

Yesterday Margo Hayes clipped the chains on La Rambla in Siurana, Spain, becoming the first woman to send 5.15a and making history.

Last year, Hayes, a 19-year-old from Boulder, Colorado, made it her goal to climb 14 5.14s to “learn as much about the grade as she could.” She not only succeeded in ticking 14 routes 5.14a and harder, but she sent her first and second 5.14c’s, Pure Imagination in the Red River Gorge and The Crew, a Rifle, Colorado, testpiece.

She also made the first female ascent of Bad Girls Club, her first 5.14d. She had only been in Siurana for a week when she added La Rambla to her impressive tick list.

“I conscientiously work on being positive in life,” Hayes told Climbing, in an interview for her 2016 Golden Piton Award win. “When I am positive, I’m more productive and open-minded, and that carries over into climbing.”

While Hayes is the first female to send a confirmed 5.15a, Ashima Shiraishi and Spanish climber Josune Bereziartu have come close, each sending routes graded 5.14d/5.15a. Bereziartu claimed the second ascent of Bimbaluna at St. Loup, Switzerland, in 2005.

At just 13 years old, Shiraishi sent Ciudad de Dios in Santa Linya, Spain, in March 2015. Shiariahi was the first to climb Ciudad de Dios after a hold broke, and there was speculation that the route had become 5.15a, but future ascensionists disagreed with the upgrade.

Alexander Huber established La Rambla Original (5.14c) in 1994. While working a longer version of the route, a hold broke near the top. Huber lowered the anchors and made the first ascent of the shortened lines. Ramón Julián Puigblanque extended the climb and made the first ascent of what is now called La Rambla (5.15a) nine years later.

Since then, many of the world’s strongest climbers have added La Rambla to their tick lists, including Chris Sharma, Adam Ondra (on his fifth attempt), Alex Megos (on his second attempt), and most recently, Boulder, Colorado, native Matty Hong. Hong sent La Rambla, his second 5.15a, the day before Hayes made the first female ascent. Both Hayes and Hong were awarded Climbing’s 2016 Golden Piton Award for sport climbing for their impressively long and diverse 5.14 tick lists last year.

Source: Margo Hayes Climbs La Rambla, Becomes First Woman to Send 5.15a – Climbing Magazine | Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Bouldering, Ice Climbing

4 Reasons to Hike North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell in the Winter

At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is one of the loftiest peaks in the East. Here, 4 reasons why you shouldn’t wait until summer to explore it.

by Rob Glover,

Thousands of years ago, when extreme cold gripped the North American continent, flora and fauna most suited to northern latitudes migrated south, covering what is now North Carolina. As the cold retreated and temperatures climbed, the trees and animals more suited to warm weather returned. Except, that is, for those living on the highest peaks in the state.

Like islands of alpine forest in a sea of temperate climate, the rounded precipices of North Carolina’s loftiest mountains still have look and feel of their Canadian counterparts—none more so than Mount Mitchell, standing 6,684 feet above sea level.

Coated in crystalline frost even while surrounding valleys are bathed in relative warmth, Mount Mitchell is among the best places in North Carolina to experience a real winter wonderland. Here we offer four reasons to brave the fickle conditions on the East’s loftiest peak during its harshest months.

1. You’ll earn serious bragging rights.

Hiking to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi is a formidable goal any time of year. But in winter, when the Frasier fir trees are dusted with snow and a brutal wind forms sideways icicles, hearty hikers gaining Mitchell’s summit become part of a special club.

The Mount Mitchell Trail is the most popular summit route in the state park. This 6-mile, one-way trail begins at the Black Mountain Campground and wanders through several distinct biomes on the way up. Mountain laurel and rhododendron line lower elevation creek beds. Mountain maple, spruce, and birch trees crowd for sunlight midway up, while the last remnants of an alpine fir forest cap the final stretch.

The Black Mountain Range, a 15-mile stretch of peaks anchored by Mount Mitchell, stands high enough to affect the weather. Temperatures have dropped to minus 34 degrees while wind gusts of more than 170 mph have been recorded at the peak—and it’s important not to take a winter day here lightly. These conditions certainly add to the challenge, but also to the accomplishment.

2. It’s a different world in winter.

During spring, multi-hued flowering bushes line babbling creeks on the mountainside. Songbirds fill the trees and lush vegetation buffers the trail in an expansive green carpet.

But winter brings an entirely different mood to Mount Mitchell. There are no songs from the forest now; just the crunch of your footsteps on frozen trail reverberating off weathered tree trunks. On a rare, still day, there is no other sound. On a typical day, however, the whistle and howl of wind overhead surrounds you.

Down low, at the beginning of your hike, branches are coated in a heavy snow. Nearer to the peak, horizontal ice formations and bowed trees are static reminders of punishing winds. Where a blue haze might limit views in the summer, clear winter days provide vistas of frosted peaks up to 80 miles away. It’s a special kind of serenity that only a winter hike affords.

3. You’ll savor plenty of solitude.

The challenge of climbing some 3,600 feet to the top of Mt. Mitchell may be substantial, but in good weather it’s a common undertaking. No surprise, then, that the Mount Mitchell trail can be heavily trafficked in summer. And at the top, where a large parking lot sits adjacent to the snack bar and museum, families and groups of motorcyclists can crowd the view.

In winter, however, the snack bar and museum are closed for business. Difficult road conditions, school schedules, and the tough climate keep many visitors at bay. The quiet of the trail continues all the way to the top. It’s a memorable outdoor adventure not possible on busy summer days, making the wind-burnt skin and cold toes well worth it.

4. You’ll find plenty of post-hike happiness nearby.

An 800-degree stone oven provides the tell-tale char on the crust at Fresh Pizza and Pasta. Don’t want it? Just let them know when you order. Rob Glover
A winter exploration of Mount Mitchell will chill your bones and burn some serious calories. These days are made for hearty craft beer and huge, wood-fired pizza.

This perfect one-two punch awaits in the quaint town of Black Mountain, due south of Mount Mitchell. Begin with a stop at Lookout Brewing. This nano-sized brewery crafts the full range of flavors, from a crisp IPA to a soul-warming stout. There’s nothing fancy about the place, just true-to-style brews and a comfortable atmosphere to knock them back in.

When you step out of the taproom, follow your nose across the road to Fresh Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta. Settle into this cozy restaurant and watch while bubbly-crusted pizzas are pulled from an 800-degree stone oven. (The typical pie comes with a charred crust which creates a wonderful flavor, but you can ask them to leave it un-charred if you prefer.) The calzones are the size of a small RV and the beer selection is admirable. Leaving hungry, even considering your incredible effort earlier in the day, is unlikely.

Source: 4 Reasons to Hike North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell in the Winter

Story of survival: 90 mph gusts blast Colorado man off Rocky Mountain National Park trail

“If it wasn’t for Jim, I wouldn’t be alive today”

by Oscar Contreras, 7NEWS Denver

DENVER – An experienced Colorado mountain climber is recovering after he was blown off by 90 mph wind gusts at Rocky Mountain National Park earlier this moth.

Alan Arnette, 60, and his long-time hiking buddy, Jim Davidson, were on the Twin Sisters Trail on Feb. 10 training to conquer higher mountains when the increasing winds forced them to head back.

As they came down from the mountain, Arnette describes 90 mph wind gusts coming out of nowhere, sweeping him off his feet and pummeling him into the rocks.

“I went airborne about 8 feet and downhill about 20 before coming to rest on my left side, head uphill, in the most sharply intense, indescribable pain of my life,” Arnette described in a Facebook post three days following the fall.

He didn’t know it yet, but he had broken his tibia in three different places and his fibula in another. “It was a debilitating pain that I’ve never felt any time in my life,” Arnette said.

In his anguish, Arnette recalls it was his friend who helped him through the whole ordeal.

“I’m here with you, you’re not alone,” is what Arnette remembers Davidson saying to him as the 60-year-old lay on top of the rocks with broken bones and a bloody face.

“If it wasn’t for Jim, I wouldn’t be alive today,” Arnette told Denver7.

Davidson was able to get a hold of 911 and first responders were able to get him in touch with the National Park Service.

Search and rescue teams from both RMNP and Larimer County helped Arnette reach safer grounds. In total, about 40 volunteers helped in the rescue, according to Kyle Patterson, a spokesperson for Rocky Mountain National Park.

“I’m grateful for these people,” Arnette told Denver7, adding that he was in tears after realizing how many people came to his rescue.

It took about four hours for search and rescue crews to reach Arnette, who was battling not only intense pain, but also strong, cold winds that Friday afternoon.

It took another five hours for crews to sled him down and reach the trailhead and for Arnette to be sent to Estes Park Medical Center for treatment.

After spending five days in the hospital, Arnette was released and is undergoing physical therapy to get back on the trails within the next year.

“There are 1,000 reason to give up, and only one to keep going,” Arnette wrote in a Facebook post. “Find your 1.”

Source: Story of survival: 90 mph gusts blast Colorado man off Rocky Mountain National Park trail – 7NEWS Denver

Alex Honnold on Public Lands and the Power of an Outdoor Industry Willing to Speak Out – Men’s Journal

Climber Alex Honnold talks about being an environmentalist, the perils of being an opinionated athlete, and the power of the outdoor industry’s lobby.

By Seth Heller, Men’s Journal

Alex Honnold’s epic free-solo ascents have given him a stardom that the climbing world has never before seen. While continuing to push the boundaries of the sport, Honnold has also made use of his celebrity off-the-wall, founding an environmental nonprofit called the Honnold Foundation in 2012, and becoming an outspoken environmentalist. Given the heightened political climate over global warming and public land policy, we talked to Honnold last week about the perils of being an opinionated athlete, the power of the outdoor industry’s lobby, and the moral obligations all humans have to the environment.

How powerful is the outdoor industry’s environmental lobby?
I think the industry has more strings than people realize — it’s a coalition that includes everybody from hippies to ATV riders. Everybody likes to exercise, so the outdoors is one of those rare places where everybody can come together regardless of party lines.

“Given a choice, I always move in a progressive direction; I mean you have to act on your principles. I think boycotting [Outdoor Retailer] is a pretty valuable way to show your position.”

What next steps do you want the industry take?
I think it’s important to broaden the reach of the industry. For example, the Access Fund [a nonprofit devoted to increasing outdoor climbing access] has partnered with mountain biking groups in the past. Coalitions like that are becoming more common — some climbers attended the Save Red Rock hearing this morning, but there were also hikers and a lot of people who just appreciate Red Rock Canyon.


Fort Collins mountaineer Jim Davidson returning to Everest

After the 2015 Nepal earthquake cut his first attempt short, Jim Davidson will once again try to climb Mount Everest.

By Matt L. Stephens, The Coloradoan

This time, the plan is for no earthquake.

Fort Collins resident Jim Davidson was climbing Mount Everest in April 2015 when a 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal, causing avalanches on the mountain and stranding him above base camp for 40 hours. Climbing the mountain had been a dream of his dating to college, and the 2015 trek was his first attempt.

Nearly two years later, he’s ready to give it another go.

Davidson, 54, will leave for Nepal on March 22 and expects to be gone for about two months as he tries to reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountain at 29,029 feet.

Lost hiker rescued near North Longs Peak Trail

“Climbing the mountain then became instantly unimportant once the earthquake hit,” Davidson said. “What did become important was getting back to base camp and helping people get to safety and trying to rebuild.”

Source: Fort Collins mountaineer Jim Davidson returning to Everest

The Top FKTs of 2016, from Ultimate Direction

Joe Grant nabbed the FKT for bagging all of Colorado’s 14ers without the help of a car in 2016. Photo courtesy Joe Grant

The FKTOY award will recognize the top FKT by a Female and by a Male. The purpose is to learn, appreciate, and be inspired by the accomplishments of others. No one actually wins anything – just the respect of their peers.

by Buzz Burrell, Ultimate Direction

The “FKT” has arrived!  Runners all over the world now understand and use the term, and may expend more effort going for a Fastest Known Time than in a regular race.

So the time has come for a “Fastest Known Time of The Year” Award!  Following the long-standing Ultra Runner of the Year (“UROY”) awards that have recognized and celebrated the sport’s best since 1981, the FKTOY award will recognize the top FKT by a Female and by a Male. The purpose is to learn, appreciate, and be inspired by the accomplishments of others. No one actually wins anything – just the respect of their peers.

So a list of top candidates was created by Peter Bakwin from his FKT site, then a group of 21 experienced runners were recruited to vote … and after much deliberation, their votes decided it!  It was an amazing process.  The winners will be announced next week in Ultrarunning Magazine and on this blog, along with brief comments from the Voters as to why each was valued (Hint: they ALL were incredible, but two more so than the others

So here is the list of candidates and what they did.  What do YOU think about these routes?  Which do YOU think should be the inaugural FKTOY?  Please post your Comments below.

FEMALE (all in chronological order)

Joelle Vaught – 5/20; Trans Zion; 48 mi; 8h, 26m, 9s – Sweet route crossing Zion NP on trails; previous FKT’s by Krissy Moehl and Bethany Lewis.

Amber Monforte – 7/22-26; John Muir Trail Unsupported; 222 mi; 4d, 1h, 13m – One of the mostly hotly-contested long trail routes. Only 5h 13m slower than Sue J’s 2007 Supported record.

Gina Lucrezi – 8/10; Mt Whitney (car-car); 22 mi; 5h, 29m, 22s – 6,000′ vert in 11mi to highest point in lower 48 states; first known attempt by a Woman.

Heather Anderson – 10/7-27; Arizona Trail Self-Supported; 800 mi; 19d, 17h, 9m – “Anish” now holds the Overall Self-Supported records for the AT, PCT, and the AZT.

Meghan Hicks – 9/9-11; Nolan’s 14; 100 mi; 59h, 36m – Open Course tagging 14 14ers; few trails, lots of navigation, tons of vert. Supported.

Sue Johnston – 1/1-12/26; 4000ers Calendar Grid; 3,159 mi; one year – All 48 New Hampshire 4,000′ summits every month for a year. Reported 3,159 mi, 993,970′ vert, and hiking 205 days.
Yikes!  Stout stuff!  What about the guys?


Ryan Ghelfi – 7/6; Mt Shasta Ascent; 1h, 37m, 5s – This used to be an actual race. Ryan beat FKT’s by Rickey Gates, and John Muir from 1874!

Uli Steidl – 7/26; Mt Rainier (car-car); 4h, 24m, 30s – Bettered Willie Benegas 2008 time. This is the Runners Record; there are separate records for Skiers (which is faster).

Leor Pantilat – 8/6-10; Sierra High Route Unsupported; 195 mi; 4d, 16h, 21m – Technically difficult for most runners so few attempts have been made; this took 3 days off the previous FKT. Roughly paralleing the JMT but above it, mostly off-trail, with 3rd Class sections and navigation.

Nick Elson – 8/13; Grand Traverse; 17 mi; 6h, 30m, 49s – Legendary alpinist Alex Lowe had this FKT, then Rolo Garibotti at 6h, 49m for 15 years. 10 Teton summits, 12,000′ vert, climbing up to 5.8 grade, free solo.

Joe Grant – 7/26-8/26; Colorado 14ers Self-Powered, Self Supported; 400 mi; 31d, 8h, 33m – 3+ days faster than Justin Simoni from previous year. Start/Finish at his house, hike/run 400mi, bike 1,100mi, climb 57 14ers, no Support.

Karl Meltzer – 8/3-9/18; Appalachian Trail Supported; 2,189 mi; 45d, 22h, 38m – Speedgoat’s 3rd try took about 9 hrs off Jurek’s time from previous year. This is the original long trail, featuring David Horton, Pete Palmer, Andrew Thompson, Jen Pharr-Davis, Scott Jurek, and countless before.

Jim Walmsley – 10/4; Grand Canyon R2R2R; 46 mi; 5h, 55m, 20s – Took 25m off Rob Krar’s 2013. Super classic route. Blazing 2h 46m S-N to begin, which is an R2R FKT going in the slowest direction.

Pete Kostelnick – 9/12-10/24; Trans America; 3,067 mi; 2d, 6h, 30m – Goes way back to the “Bunion Derby” days of the 1920’s Broke 36 year old FKT by 4 days. 72mi/day for 6 weeks.

Incredible!  How does one choose between these?  The Voters were allowed to vote for up to 5, ranking them accordingly, then the scores were added up.

Source: The Ultimate Direction Buzz | Athlete Commentary, Product Development and Race Updates

A Female Saudi Arabian Alpinist on Breaking Molds and Smashing Stigmas


Raha Moharrak is a force of nature. When she’s not climbing, she’s encouraging other Saudi women to follow their dreams and paving the way by following her own.

by Cory Buhay, Adventure Journal

Many nations plant their flags on top of Mount Everest every season, but few have climbed through greater odds than Raha Moharrak. The first Saudi Arabian woman to summit Everest, 30-year-old Moharrak, comes from a desert country that tops out at roughly 9,000 feet in elevation, where carabiners aren’t sold, women aren’t allowed to drive, and 25 is considered the upper limit of unmarried life.
Raha descends after a successful summit of Mount Everest | Photo: AFP

“When I was 25, my mother was in a corner wailing that I was not married, and when I told my father I wanted to climb a mountain, he said no, flat out,” said Moharrak. She said sending him an email to argue her point, opposing him for the first time in her life, was the biggest obstacle of her climbing career, harder than getting hypothermia on Kilimanjaro, her first climb. Harder than the nine comically miserable days she spent trapped in a tent with a Russian man and an American man in a storm on Denali. Harder than the summit ridge of Everest.

Even with her parents finally on her side, Moharrak faced other hurdles. Acquaintances told her a woman couldn’t possibly climb mountains and looked down upon her parents for supporting her. She wasn’t allowed to train in public. In Antarctica, one of the members of her all-male team stood up at the first meeting and asked the guide, “What the hell is Barbie doing here?” Moharrak snapped, “Don’t be fooled by the Disney princess hair.” (In the end, she was the one who ended up helping him on the descent.)


Source: A Female Saudi Arabian Alpinist on Breaking Molds and Smashing Stigmas