The Milner to Berthoud Pass Continental Divide Ridge Traverse Fastpack was one of my biggest and proudest projects of 2020. Like the L.A. Freeway route, I think we’re going to see a lot of interest from people wanting to take it on in 2021 and beyond.
Fastpacking differs from ultralight backpacking to me (although the line is indeed blurry) in one major way: the brisk movement through terrain is most likely the only objective. There’s rarely a large camping/cooking/hanging out portion of a fastpack. Instead it’s all about that forward motion: fastpacking is a multi-day, unsupported run.
It’s best to be as prepared beforehand for the adventure, and get your gear dialed in as best as possible. Part of this dialing in is picking out what to bring, as well as how to pack it. I’ll be focusing on the latter idea in this post.
Nutrition is a difficult subject for me to broach, as I don’t feel as if I’m an expert on the subject to give advice to others. But, I can share the strategies that I personally take when doing my projects, and invite you to use it as a model for your own experiments. What I cover in this article is for unsupported, take no prisoners, as fast you can fastpacks on difficult mountainous terrain. Pack space is at a premium and the total weight is something you try to keep at a minimum. This will not be advice for an ultralight backpacking trip, which is a different beast altogether. No stopping to prepare a meal, no stove.
Pinned. In front of me, like plated back spikes of a malevolent dragon, was a sheer tower of rock twelve feet high, overhanging on all sides, 300-foot drops to the west and east, and no obvious way to climb up, over, then down to the next spire. How many more of these I would have to surmount was uncertain, but I’d already climbed over three of them. I told myself – perhaps in an attempt to keep calm, that it’s good I’m continuing to go forward, because there’s just no way I was going to be able to reverse the moves previous to get back down to the safer ground I left behind.
Sometimes it’s seems that it’s hard to follow up something like the Tour of the Highest Hundred with the next project. It took years to get myself physically and mentally ready to take something like that on – save nothing for the financial burden of taking so much time off work and the burden of that food bill!
Still, in the heartbeat, I’d do it all again. But the world is a big place, and there’s so many fun and challenging things to do – even so close to where I live. I don’t necessarily like to repeat myself, but I do like to progress in what it is I do, and in doing so: explore different facets of the talents I’ve taken a life to develop.
Anyways, the future! What’s on my mind to do this summer (or next)? Here’s two projects I’d like to try (more coming, later…)
After cruising through the Sawatch, I had to once again cross west over the Continental Divide – this time with an unruly bear canister in tow, to dash off the Elk Range.
A fairly stout portion of the tour was awaiting me, featuring some interesting climbing, some fairly loose and dangerous routes, and some unknowns for me with Hagerman, Cathedral, and Thunder Pyramid.
Timing wasn’t very good. It was coming up on Labor Day weekend. I certainly didn’t want to visit the Maroon Bells at that time – an already busy area would be a mad house (lots of people = lots of potential rockfall), so I opted to take the range in a strange order: first Capitol, Snowmass, and Hagerman in the west, then Cathedral, Castle, and Conundrum at the east side of the range; and finally the Bells and Pyramids right in the middle.
I questioned framing this leg of my Tour of the Highest Hundred as a, “Fastpack from Hell”, as the numbers really don’t compare to the Crestones, Sierra Blanca – let alone the mighty Weminuche. A motivated person, starting early with fine weather, could potentially do this course between sunrise and sundown. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my situation, when I left my bike far above Creede, CO in the summer of 2017.