FKT of the Year Awards 2018, Why the Tour of the Highest Hundred is so Weird (and why that’s so awesome)

Blanca Peak, after traversing directly from Little Bear Peak (in the background), Tour of the Highest Hundred , 2017

The 2018 FKTOFTY Awards have been announced. I’ve very thankful that the Tour of the Highest Hundred was selected in the lineup! Although, it didn’t “win”, I really had no reason to think I would! I’m actually a little confused how different FKT attempts can even be compared to each other, but if all we want to do is celebrate FKT projects in general, I think that’s a worthwhile reason to make such lists.

But if I hope that the Tour of the Highest Hundred would win something like a popularity contest… forget it. It’s too long, too hard, too weird, and too obscure to ever become the type of, “Destination FKT” something like the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim or the John Muir Trail are quickly becoming. And that’s totally fine with me. A litmus test is this: try to visualize exact what teh Highest Hundred challenge would entail. Kinda hard, right? What do you focus on? The distance, the peaks themselves, the elevation gain, the route? It’s a complex mother.

But, there’s a lot of reasons I think going for the Colorado Centennials by bike and by foot self-supported makes a totally life-changing challenge, even if you don’t make it your own FKT.

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1/8/18 – 1/14/18 Training Journal

The theme of this week was, “Am I getting sick? I’m getting sick. No, not quite sick, maybe tomorrow?! Tomorrow I’ll be sick?!” Thus, it was an easy-ish load of training. Trying not to overdo it, as everyone around me seems to be inflicted with the plague.

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1/1/18 – 1/7/18 Training Journal

Wow, the start of the new year perfectly coincides with the beginning day of my training journal? Guess that’s good enough excuse enough to jot things down online.

This year, I’ve decided to keep record keeping in a actual gridded notebook, and make my notes as I do the exercise, which makes a world of difference when doing a half a dozen things say, at the gym, and want to keep track of progress on all those things. Even using it for these few days, it’s been amazingly helpful, if not for recall.

Sadly, it makes posts like this one pretty boring, since the added minutiae may not be all that entertaining. But, I’m generally working on a few things:

Aerobic Conditioning

I have no concrete goals, so I’m just hoping for consistency of my aerobic training – doing a workout 6 days a week of at least one hour each workout would be ideal. I’m not looking to kill myself. My aerobic conditioning is probably my most mature of all my fitness by a wide margin. Right now, I’d just like to feel fit, and get a sense of balance and health. Consistency is key – I usually gravitate towards death marches of 9 hours+, but they’re not really really worthwhile for training purposes, as I usually take a few days off afterwards to recover.

Climbing

Far below my aeerobic fitness is my climbing fitness – I couldn’t be any more different in how I train the two. Instead of every day (with one reset day) for aerobic work, I shoot for every other day. I focus almost exclusively on bouldering (power). When it comes time to project a route, it only takes a few weeks to build up enough endurance to make this reasonable. I’m not against training via sport climbing, but I do find bouldering to be the most efficient use of my time. Generally, I find myself pretty heavy for a climber – my legs are pretty developed from mashing those bike pedals and power hiking up those hills, and my upper body just isn’t in comparison. I shy away from any sort of upper body development I don’t need – I’m one step away from being allergic to weights – getting muscle on this frame usually isn’t a problem. Too much back meat does make for a slow Justin.

I’ve been working through an injury in my right ring finger which doesn’t have an exact time/reason it started to affect my climbing, but boy does it. Symptoms are also much stranger than I’ve experienced before: very tender in the pad right after my knuckle – perhaps this is an A2 pulley problem… who knows.

My general way to treat this problem is a little bit of rest, a lot of taping (“x method” being my favorite) and taking a big step back in the grades I climb. Last summer before my trip, I was topping V7’s and V3 were more a warmup. Not being able to do any V3 I want in the gym is a little bit of a pride-swallower. Pulling hard really angers that pad though – more so than crimping. Jugs are also very hard to hold, as they also put pressure on this A2 pulley area. Ugh!

Ankle PT

Man, where to start? Right now, my ankles are some of the worst spots of my lack of mobility. A few years ago, I fell strangely on my left ankle while bouldering, causing an audible (if only to me), “pop”, and some definite problems with my left ankle ankle-ing. I’ve since worked through that, getting marginal mobility back, but pain still remains. Could be just an old-man pain from whatever scar tissue is still in there causing discomfort and slight inflammation. I wish it would go away, and hoping more mobility will at least help on that front.

My right ankle succumbed an intense sprain and/or break (in the foot itself) in September, as I finished my last peak (Longs Peak) of my 105 peak trip. I hobbled down the mountain that day, and got back to the bike, where the injury really didn’t affect me. The next day, I could barely walk. Walking the next few weeks was pretty painful, and running was absolutely out of the question.

I’ve slowly been regaining mobility and use of my ankle, but it’s still touch and go. I’ve started to ramp up my ankle PT I was practicing because of my left ankle for my right ankle. It’s a long, slow, painful process. Each day, I measure the dorsiflextion I can make – just by seeing how many inches away from a wall I can put my foot, and still touch my knee to the wall, when I bend it.

My target is 5 1/2″. I actually do two measurements: one before I workout, and one afterwards, usually after I do all the PT. That way, I can see if there’s a immediate benefit to all the stretching/tearing/terrible things I do to the ankle.

To me, it seems that the ankle PT has to be done almost daily, or the work I do just gets quickly reset.

Yoga

I’ve started doing yoga quite a bit, as a way to work on my total body mobility, which I have painfully (if literally painfully), very little of. I’m quite terrible at it, but it’s fun to start something fully from the beginning again.

Antagonist Training

To be somewhat balanced with all the climbing I do, I sneak in a little antagonist training. I’ve a torn shoulder, so I don’t too any benchpress, but I’m also at the point where pushups are challenging.

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Electronics Kit List for the Tour of the Highest Hundred

The electronics gear kit list! Bringing any sort of gear – especially electronic gear, is a fine balance between the convenience of having the resource, and the burdens of carrying it all with you. Doubly so with electronic gear, as it all requires some sort of power source to charge it all up.

Choose wisely.

For the Tour of the Highest Hundred, I brought more electronic gear than on any other ultra racing/FKT trip in my life! It was a lot to manage, but I made all my choices after much deliberation.

Here’s the rundown:

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Fastpacks From Hell: The Crestone Centennial Enchainment!

The Crestones! A highlight of my Highest Hundred trip – the mountains of this group are awesomely steep, the rock is solid, the scrambling: divine. This is truly a Fastpack from Hell-yeah!

Stats:

  • 36.1 Miles
  • 15,200’+ elevation

Total time:

  • 1 day, 17hr, 28min

Seven Centennials summited:

  • Adams
  • Challenger
  • Kit Carson
  • Columbia Point
  • Humboldt
  • Crestone Needle
  • Crestone Peak

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Fastpacks From Hell: The Colorado Sierra Blanca Centennial Enchainment!

Stats:

  • 33.1 Miles
  • 15,085’+ elevation

Total time:

  • 2 days 25min

Six Centennials summited:

  • Ellingwood Point
  • Little Bear Peak
  • Blanca Peak
  • “Huerfano Peak”
  • Mt. Lindsey
  • California Peak

To make the Tour of the Highest Hundred work, my general strategy was to keep the number of separate trailheads I needed to visit by bike as low as possible, while designing my route on foot to tag as many mountains in an area as possible. Transitioning to/from bike-mode/hike-mode and superfluous riding are big time sucks.

One of the largest puzzles is the Sierra Blancas. Even enthusiastic peak baggers will separate this group of mountains into >= two trips:

  • Approaching from the east for Mt. Lindsey and “Huerfano Peak” via the Huerfano/Lily Lake Trailhead
  • Approaching from the west to access Ellingwood Point, Little Bear, and Blanca via Lake Como Road
  • And well, also approaching from the west for California Peak (if the Centennials are part of your goal), which is accessed from an altogether trail head: Zapata Falls.

Three different trips to three different trailheads is a lot of bike riding for six mountains that sit close together. Visiting the eastern trailhead, then the western ones means either crossing a northern mountain pass (Mosca Pass), or going around the entire southern end of the Sierra Blancas (La Veta Pass) – I was willing and needed to do one, but not both.

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Recovering from the Tour of the Highest Hundred

Header image: Argentine Pass just a few days before finishing. I was, it seemed, a bit tired.

It’s been 22 days since I finished the Tour of the Highest Hundred. I’m asked often what recovery looks like for something like this, and when I think I’ll be 100% again.

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Tour of the Highest Hundred Completed!

Miracles of Miracles, I managed to complete my Big Project for the year: The Tour of the Highest Hundred! There’s many projects that I’ll be branching off from this summer’s trip, but below are some articles/interviews covering the Tour – I’ll update if/when others are published:

Climbing: Justin Simoni Summits Colorado’s 100 Highest Peaks in 60 Days

 

Adventure Journal: This Guy Just Rode and Climbed Colorado’s 100 Highest Peaks, Self Supported and Non-Stop

REI Co-op Journal: Justin Simoni Summits Colorado’s Highest Hundred Peaks.

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