What did I do?
I climbed Colorado’s 100 highest mountains without using a car. While most people who climb in Colorado wake up at about 5,000’ and drive a motor vehicle hundreds of miles to a trailhead at 9,000’ to 11,000’, I did not. On July 1, 2016, I started at the Four-Way trailhead outside of San Luis, Colorado, a full twelve miles north of the New Mexico border. On September 9, 2016, after climbing 104 peaks and biking peak to peak, I summited Longs Peak and finished my journey at the Longs Peak ranger station in Northeast Colorado.
My journey included: climbing all of Colorado’s 14ers (peaks above 14,000’), as well as 47 13ers (peaks above 13,000’); climbing, hiking, and biking across 2055.6 miles (the distance from Denver, CO, to Miami, FL), with an average of 29.25 miles per day; and a vertical gain exceeding 350,000’ (more than 66 miles perpendicular to the ground). It took me 70 days, 6 hours, and 36 minutes to complete.
This type of feat is known as being “self-powered.” This is because motor vehicles, trains, and even bicycle drafting, were not used during the 2055.6 miles. Colorado has a history of these sorts of feats and I am honored to have added to them.
Why did I do it
My reasons were two-fold. First, it had never been done. Never. How many people have the opportunity and ability to do something that they genuinely know had never been done? This appealed to me. Second, I wanted to raise money for the American Lung Association. I grew up with severe asthma, to the point where I was told by a physician I would not be capable of being physically active in my thirties (side note: I am thirty-one) and may even need oxygen. I wanted to show people with asthma and other lung diseases that they can be just as physically active as everyone else. Consequently, I started a website where all donations go to the American Lung Association’s Champ Camp. The camp teaches kids with asthma how to manage their asthma so that they too can live active, healthy lifestyles. The camp and its message buttress a paradigm I wish I had been taught as a kid.
I encountered numerous obstacles in the backcountry. I became a lightning leader and my ax shocked me on one occasion. On one occasion, I became hypothermic after an early morning rainstorm and was eleven miles from the nearest road without dry clothing. I was caught in a rockslide. I had to sleep in a tarp in 30 degree weather without a coat, pants, sleeping bag, tent, or bivy sack.
One thing I didn’t need to worry about was my nutrition. INFINIT makes products that can be easily carried in the backcountry and that fuel the body to perform. Every day, for seventy days, I used a blend called the mountainman blend while I was moving through the backcountry. It is a protein-carbohydrate blend that one places in water. It provided me 305 calories of energy per 1 liter. This was an amount determined based on my body fat percentage and weight. Despite burning 6,000 to 8,000 calories per day, my start weight was 153 lbs and my finish weight was 155 lbs. I actually gained two lbs. I attribute this to INFINIT. To be able to maintain one’s body weight in such an environment and over such a long duration is an incredible accolade for INFINIT.
The Mountainman Blend is so nutritious that I was capable of being without conventional food for an entire day. For example, on July 27, I climbed 2 peaks, covered 15 miles on foot, before my friend and I ran out of both ordinary food and daylight. Consequently, we were forced to bivy (sleep without protection such as a tent or sleeping bag) in a shallow rock overhang at 12,000’. The following day, without ordinary food, I used INFINIT’s mountainman blend exclusively to knockout the 15-mile return hike to civilization. I experienced no cramps, confusion, or fatigue, despite being at high altitudes and not having food for a day.
INFINIT makes other great products that made this journey successful. I am particularly fond of two other products. One is a recovery protein and sleep aid: Nocturne. This product was great, especially when I was doing big days back to back (for example, on July 6, I climbed 7 peaks and hiked 27 miles, and followed that up on July 7 with a 100 mile ride from the Sangre de Cristo range to the San Juan range) or the night before a particularly dangerous peak or route (where my mind would race about worst case scenarios). The tryptophan put me to sleep, while the protein and amino acids helped repair my muscles from the previous day’s effort. The other product is called MUD; it is a meal replacement coffee that has caffeine, chocolate, flax seed, protein, and omega-3 in it. I used this religiously in the mornings and also on days where I would bag peaks in both the morning and then evening just before sundown. On those doubleheaders, MUD was mandatory part of my diet.