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

Blanca Peak, Tour of the Highest Hundred

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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Tour of the Highest Hundred Week #7 Notes

Hagerman Pass

Centennials Summited (11):

  • Mount of the Holy Cross
  • Holy Cross Ridge
  • Mt. Oklahoma
  • Mt. Massive
  • Mt. Elbert
  • French Mountain
  • Casco Peak
  • Lackawanna Peak
  • Capitol Peak
  • Snowmass Peak
  • Hagerman Peak

Total Mileage:

  • By foot: 76.9 miles, 31,821′ elevation gained
  • By bike: 200.1 miles, 15,165′ elevation gained
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Tour of the Highest Hundred Week #6 Notes

Summit of Mt. Yale

This was most likely the largest week in the entire tour, in terms of number of peaks summited. Access in the Sawatch is generally easy, resupply is plenty, and most of the peaks don’t pose too much technical problems.

Centennials Summited (19):

  • Cronin Peak
  • Mt. Antero
  • Mt. Shavano
  • Tabeguache Peak
  • Mt. Princeton
  • Mt. Harvard
  • Mt. Columbia
  • Mt. Yale
  • Mt. Hope
  • Missouri Mountain
  • Mt. Oxford
  • Mt. Belford
  • La Plata Peak
  • Ice Mountain
  • North Apostle
  • Mt. Huron
  • Horseshoe Mountain
  • Mt. Sherman
  • Dyer Mountain

Plus bonus peaks: Iowa, Gemini, Peerless, etc

Total Mileage:

  • On foot: 103.8 miles, 48,889′ elevation gain
  • On bike: 136.5 miles, 10,029′  elevation gain
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Tour of the Highest Hundred Week #4 Notes

A Firey Jagged Mountain

Centennials Summited (13):

  • Pigeon Peak
  • Turret Peak
  • Jupiter Mountain
  • Windom Peak
  • Sunlight Peak
  • North Eolus
  • Eolus Peak
  • Jagged Mountain
  • Vestal Peak
  • Wilson Peak
  • Gladstone Peak
  • Mt. Wilson
  • El Diente

Total Mileage:

  • On foot: 98.1 miles, 42,073′ elevation gain
  • On bike: 42.7 miles, 5,342′ elevation gain
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Tour of the Highest Hundred Week #2 Notes

Crestones

Centennials Summited (11):

  • Mt. Adams
  • Kit Carson Peak
  • Challenger Peak
  • Columbia Point
  • Humboldt Peak
  • Crestone Needle
  • Crestone Peak
  • Phoenix Peak
  • San Luis Peak
  • Stewart Peak
  • Rio Grande Pyramid

Total Mileage:

  • By foot: 85.4 miles, 29,916′ elevation gained
  • By bike: 276.3 miles, 12,298′ elevation gained
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Chaffee County 390 Ramble: The Three Apostles, Huron, Missouri, Iowa, Emerald,

My time in Salida on tour soon came to an end, after a little time at the hostel with an honest to goodness shower. Time for me to travel north! Out of Salida, there’s some pretty awful highway riding to get directly to the next town, Buena Vista, and the day I set off saw me face a stiff headwind, that only got worse as I got closer and as a storm cell was moving from west to east. Frustrating!

I made it to Buena Vista, which I was going to only use as a top-off spot for food, etc – but my Brother was in town for Paddlefest, so I decided to linger a bit. After another partial day of rest, the weather turned much nicer, and I continued my ride to Chaffee County 390. The road out of BV North is dirt, and  follows an old railroad line complete with tunneled out sections of the hillside, making things quite fun. TONS of people were out for Paddlefest – or just the good weather – I’ve honestly never seen it so packed.

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Longs Peak November Duathlon: Trough Direct to SW Ridge

Slowly, I roll to the gate. The Park ranger sees me from afar and returns to me only a tired stare. He himself walks slowly to the entrance booth, not resting his gaze. I now roll towards the booth even slower. Nervous.  I feel as if I’m performing a border crossing, rather than just entering a National Park. The guard just continues his stare – his eyes looking right at mine; the rest of his visage saying absolutely nothing. I offer a hello, but get no reply. Meeting him at the booth, he continues his vacant look. Is he looking at me, or past me? I don’t know, but  I hand him the entrance fee I just made change for at the coffee shop in town that I stopped at to regain feeling in my hands and feet after making that chilly descent into Estes Park. Having climbed out of town, I’m much warmer now. Unseasonably warm. Finally,

“Oh. Day Pass. Map?”

I accept, and that’s my entire interaction with this guy. It’s also the first time I’ve ever paid for entrance into the Park in my 5+ years of visiting it. It feel almost wrong. Some things, I ponder, shouldn’t be bought.

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Sailing Against Prevailing Winds: Longs Peak in Winter Solo, by Bike and by Foot

I’m only in Allenspark, and the sun has already risen. I feel as if I’m very late to my own party. Allenspark is only seven miles away from the Longs Peak Trailhead – my riding destination, but as I summit the last punchy climb and await the downhill just beyond, I conclude that the downhill won’t give me the rest I’m hoping for. The winds are strong today – strong enough that I’m fighting to stay upright as I crest the hill, and belaboring with my never-ending pedaling to simply continue going forward while I start descending. These are the exact type of conditions that even the hard men that have established such challenges have tried to avoid, because it’s madness.

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