Peak(s):  Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
Mt. Antero  -  14,269 feet
Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Huron Peak  -  14,003 feet
Mt. Massive  -  14,421 feet
Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  09/28/2019
Modified:  09/29/2019
Date Climbed:   09/25/2019
Author:  thatOneMonoskier
 Nolan's 14 - 55 Hours in Heaven   

'After roughly 55 hours, I found myself on top of Massive, 90 miles and 90,000 feet of change from where I had started my journey. Somehow, probably through the dehydration and exhaustion, I couldn't find the energy to cry or really feel much of any emotion. But it was over! So I thought...'

This is a trip report about my successful completion of Nolan's 14. While I will share some beta on the route, this is mostly just a story of how I entered and went through a two and half day flow state. As this is the my first journey in the ultramarathon distance, I feel that some kind of debriefing is necessary (plus I know that at least to people, Mr. Gordon and Glen, will get a kick out of this TR). So, let's commence!

What is Nolan's 14?

For those of you unfamiliar with the long range traverses of Colorado's mountains, Nolan's 14 is the highest density 14er traverse in the 100 mile distance. In roughly 100 miles, you connect the 14 14ers in the Sawatch range between Mt. Shavano (south) and Mt. Massive (north). As this was once an 'official' race, there is also a 60 hour time limit - in essence, you hike up and down some of Colorado's highest peaks for as long as you can and pray that you finish within two and a half days. The full history of this route, the best route description, and pretty much anything else you would want to know about it can be found here.

A (very) brief history of me

Growing up in Colorado, I've always been in the mountains and I've climbed a number of Colorado's highest peaks. Fast forward to the start of the 2019 summer, and I found myself embarking on a 6000 mile biking loop up to Canada, down to Mexico, then back to CO. Just south of Banff, I crashed my bike and broke myself enough that I had to pull the plug on that adventure - this was possibly the best thing to happen to me! I now found myself with 3 months of no responsibilities in the best shape of my life. My broken ribs prevented me from running, but hiking was mellow enough that it caused no pain, so long as I wasn't carrying a heavy pack. As a result, I spend roughly 2 months living in my car, hiking up Colorado's beautiful mountains every day, each day getting my legs in better climbing shape. Sometime early in my adventures I sent it up Ellingwood ridge on La Plata (which I recommend you climb) - from the top of LP, you can see some ridiculous number of mountains, including most (if not all) of the peaks of Nolan's. At that point, the seed was planted and I knew I was going to make an attempt in the late summer barring winter didn't come super early. As I lived my dream of climbing for the next 2 months all across the state, Nolan's was always in the back of my mind. After a completing a 35,000 foot week down in the San Juans, I knew it was time to drive back to Buena Vista and begin the taper for Nolan's.

Originally, the plan was to start on Friday morning, September 27th. By doing this, I would be able to have a crew and a pacer guaranteed since it was the weekend and I guess real adults have responsibilities (something I know nothing about...). As happens in the fall, the weather was not looking favourable - on Sunday night, September 22nd, I got a call from my dad (who was going to crew with my mother). The weather guy on Pinecam was calling for snow over the weekend - not what I was hoping for! Fortunately, my dad said he could make it work if I started on Wednesday morning. After some contemplation on Monday, I decided the favourable weather would give me a better chance of success than having a pacer on the last two mountains. I made the call and suddenly the pre-event stoke started to kick in way stronger than I anticipated - T-48 hours until Nolan's! The next 48 hours were very uneventful and consisted of me mostly hanging out at the BV library.

Nolan's

The course breaks down into 3 big sections: Blank Cabin to Avalanche Gulch (the Yale TH), Avi Gulch to Winfield, and Winfield to the Fish Hatchery. By the numbers, each of these three sections is roughly 1/3 of the climbing and roughly 1/3 of the distance. The only difference is how fresh you feel and how dark the sky is.

Blank Cabin to Avalanche Gulch

I woke up at 4:20 on Wednesday morning, ate the usual breakfast of champions (yogurt, bananas, and granola), and finished packing my bag (my parents hadn't arrived until after I was asleep and they brought all of my Honey Stinger fuel with them - for reference, I ate a lot of Honey Stinger, I like Honey Stinger a lot, and I will shamelessly plug them because you should be eating Honey Stringer). At 5:02, I set out in dead calm weather for the most epic experience of my life. After cranking for roughly 25 minutes, I saw a series of headlights heading down - two ladies were curious if they were on the right trail and so we chatted for about 2 minutes. I only mention this because, save the aid stations, this was the longest conversation I would have for the next 50 hours. I told them that the trail went to the top somehow (now only 95% sure it was the right trail), and continued on my way. The sun was rising as I gained Shavano's ridge and summit and it actually started to hit me on Tabeguache.

At this point I should mention that I didn't take many pictures. The ones I did were for my Instagram story (@monoski_heaven), so I'll just use those here.

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The descent off of Tabeguache is the first of many cruxes. The easiest way I found is to descend back into the saddle towards Shavano, then just drop North off of the ridge. If you play it right, you only have to descend about 1500 feet of loose blocks and steep dirt before you reach grass. By the time I hit the creek at the bottom, I had taken 45 minutes off of my scouting descent time, so I was feeling quite stoked. Although I had scouted the lower slopes of Antero, I hadn't actually done the upper half of the mountain. I was a little surprised at how blocky the top was, probably just because there's a road going up so high. Coming down these blocks was the last time I felt/worried about my knee that I had injured doing an Ironman several months ago (it blew up running downhill - I knew there was a lot of downhill coming up).

19884_2619884_25(not really sure what that second picture is...)

Coming down Antero's slopes is also the first time I noticed one of several trends - with Nolan's, there is this very delicate balance between distance and climbing. By that I mean that you don't want to travel farther than you need to, and if going straight up/down the side of a mountain will save even little relative distance, it's totally worth it. So I descended straight down Antero's north side, cutting switchbacks on the road until it mellowed at below the upper slopes - this is not the only time I would take a more direct route in order to avoid going some extra distance. As someone who has been in the mountains my entire life and recognizes the fragility of the alpine world, this is something that I was morally conflicted about and a point that I want to put out there clearly. I do not condone cutting switchbacks or taking anything other than sustainable routes up/down mountains - it's bad for the future and I think keeping the mountains as pristine as possible is a top priority. However, the most sustainable routes up/down mountains are seldom the quickest and since Nolan's is in the name of speed, it becomes necessary to do something environmentally incorrect on occasion. If you ever try Nolan's (or just want to take a non-standard route up the mountain), please try to the best of your ability to follow Leave No Trace principles, namely walking on sustainable surfaces (ie. rock and not directly on vegetation - that's where the traction is anyways). Thank you.

Since I never trained by actually running, I was going to do Nolan's without actually running at all, I would just hike. This isn't really that big of a sacrifice since most of the route is either too steep, too loose, or too bushwacky to run effectively. That being said, I would have ran down the Antero road if I could have. This was one section that seemed to just go on forever, mostly because it's relatively flat and there's not a whole lot to see (I recall listening to Outside's podcast on tornadoes coming down the road... I'm thankful it wasn't that windy!). Once I did finally get into Alpine, it was a quick resupply and a point at which I made the 2 biggest mistakes of my journey.

19884_08Down at Alpine, featuring the best car ever!

When you look up how to run 100 miles, there are a lot of results that come up but there are some fundamental truths and suggestions - be in really good shape, don't forget to eat, make sure you know where you're going, etc, etc. They (who the they is, I'm unsure...) tell you to use footwear that you've already broken in. They also tell you to have an extra pair of shoes since your midsole breaks down at that distance. In Alpine, I put on a new pair of shoes for the first time - rookie mistake! Oh how I wish I hadn't done that! They were exactly the same shoe that I was wearing/trained in, but my feet had started to swell and so that size 9 shoe felt way not size 9. During the on-trail portion of the hike up Princeton from Alpine, all I could think about was my shoes feeling too small... that, and the fact that my stomach was starting to feel like trash. They also tell you to dial in your nutrition strategy and plan what you're going to eat - I, feeling very good and thinking cheese and chocolate sounded good, proceeded to eat cheese and chocolate. After my stomach started to give out, I realized that I had not eaten cheese or chocolate in about 3 months. It's incredible how much more difficult it gets to move fast when your stomach just hurts, but at least I noted cheese and chocolate were no bueno. However, it made powering through Princeton a little much - luckily my sister was up to nothing so we had a lovely chat.

19884_2419884_2219884_23The leaves were also in full bloom for my attempt - that made it that much more surreal.

I didn't have time to scout Princeton before the route so I wasn't really sure what I was getting into. Despite that, I wasn't that worried since I knew it would be light out and I would be pretty fresh. Princeton's south ridge was a little involved, but the downclimb was the part I remember most (which I think is the trend with most of these mountains). Coming down not on standard routes pretty much follows the same formula: 1500 feet of loose choss/blocks, 1500 feet of steep grass (if you're lucky), then bushwacking until the bottom/trail. Princeton followed this formula to the letter - and then there's ~6 miles of just walking on the CT. Those 6 miles was a section that I would have ran if I could, but instead I occupied myself with podcasts and attempting to talk on the phone with some friends - I say attempting because this was the point where the Great Electronic Sabotage of 2019 started (more on that in a bit).

19884_2119884_2019884_09Somehow in okay spirits at Avalanche!

By the time I got to Avalanche Gulch, my stomach and feet were absolutely wrecked from my rookie mistakes, and I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to take in any food. I somehow managed to stuff and keep down a couple of tortilla chips, guac, fruit, and some drinks (this is the first time I took in any caffeine in about 5 years - two coffees worth), change shoes and socks, and fill my overnight pack with more food than I thought I'd need. I was still in very good spirits since I had made excellent time to this point and knew that the intro was pretty much over. I took one minute to mentally prepare for the upcoming night, then headed out.

Avalanche Gulch to Winfield

This section of Nolan's is probably the most difficult simply because it's the most remote. As I left Avalanche Gulch, I wasn't expecting to see another person for roughly 20 hours (except maybe the odd Thursday morning 14er hiker) and I was expecting to climb a number of mountains totally in the dark, some of which I hadn't had time to scout. I also knew that if I blew up, I'd be alone and have to self rescue or at least make it until morning - this was a no joke zone. I knew that as I headed away from Avalanche gulch and I felt the full weight of what was about to come since my stomach still wasn't having it. I was perhaps the most un-stoked I was the entire trip for about the first 2000 feet of Yale, simply because I didn't feel good. However, once I gained the saddle between Yale and S Yale, some switch turned in my body and I was able to start taking in food again - I ate 8 Honey Stinger waffles in one sitting and only stopped because I wanted to get moving! That did provide a logistical issue though, since I now thought I might run out of food. Luckily for me, my parents are the best and my dad said he would hike the 1.5 miles up to the North Cottonwood Aid Station with extra food, liquid, and some more caffeine - thanks dad, you're a legend!

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Sunset on Yale was more surreal than usual, since I'd been moving since sunrise pretty much nonstop. Descending Yale is also a mellow (comparatively) as there's not that much talus and no real route finding difficulties. That being said, I managed to spook myself pretty good on the way down - going down the avalanche gulch, there is a bunch of airplane debris near treeline from some unfortunate soul's crash. Walking past that debris, in the dark, when it's totally calm and there's nothing else to think about... Let's just say I made hasty progress since I thought maybe someone was following me but I didn't want to find out. I was very relieved when I saw my dad's headlight down at the creek! I filled up my pack and stomach to the brim, said my thanks, and then started hiking up Columbia.

I loved most of the climbs on this route but Columbia was particularly memorable - I decided to just walk up the standard route since it was dark and I didn't feel like bushwacking (plus adding only 1 mile to get a staircase to the top? Worth it), so I put on some tunes, put my head down, and just cranked. At this point the weather was starting to get a little more windy which made it easy to keep moving since I would just freeze if I stopped. I topped out Columbia in the middle of the night, totally stoked!

19884_17(It was 'just a little bit fucked up' because I was tired and at some point went pretty deep into the pain cave since I didn't want to stop moving.)

I'd read a lot of things about the traverse to Harvard from here. Hell, the route description on this website says it's more than it looks like. Despite that, I thought I would be able to do it quickly without scouting it properly, but I had studied it a good amount from the top of Columbia during the day. I set off down the ridge, and this is where the Great Electronics Sabotage of 2019 (GES 2k19) really came into full effect. Knowing that I was going to hike through the entire night, I had changed my headlight batteries so they would be good to go. I even went through the effort of carrying an extra set (4 AAA batteries actually aren't that light). So you can imagine my surprise when, during the downclimb off of Columbia, my headlight started to dim - after about 20 minutes, the brightest setting was hardly enough to make out which blocks of rock would shift and which wouldn't. I took the time, changed the batteries (that had never been used!), and then started off again. So you can imagine my surprise when, after about 20 minutes, my headlight started to dim! (Admittedly, the spare batteries I used were ones that I grabbed from my parent's office that had probably been there for a number of years - I, as someone with a degree in physics and a specialty in electrical systems, should have known better, but alas.) So here I am, somewhere close to but not exactly en route of the Columbia/Harvard traverse, in the middle of this giant field of talus, in the middle of the night with a headlight that's essentially useless - this is a situation I never thought I'd be in! Luckily, I had brought a very bright bike light that I was using to 'see' for long distances to aid with navigation. I ended up using this light as my main light for the next 8 hours and it totally saved me. The only reason it was a bit annoying was because I had to hold it like a flashlight - not something that is ideal when you're hopping over boulders and climbing up class 3+ gulleys! But either way, I was glad I had it and I somehow found my way to the top of Harvard.

19884_15"Headlight ate all my batteries... Guess I'm bivying somewhere"

On top of Harvard, I thought that I might need to actually just wait for it to get light again since I wasn't sure how long my light would last. Well surely I can use my phone if my light dies, yeah? Well, since this is the Great Electronics Sabotage of 2019, my phone would no longer charge off of the battery pack. I assure you, this brought me so much more grief than you can understand here, and this put me in a bit of a pickle. I had roughly 35% battery remaining on my phone and an unknown amount on my light; I could probably make it through the night but if I had to use my phone, I would risk losing all of my Strava data (which seemed very important to me at the time!) if I couldn't make it to Winfield before my phone died. On the other hand, even if I didn't use my phone as a light, I might not make it to Winfield fast enough anyways, which would cause just as much grief. All in all, if you never decide to do something like this, just know that when you've been hiking for 20 hours straight and it's dark out, your priorities change and your mind doesn't work the way you think it will! Over the course of the descent off of Harvard, nearly all I thought about was if I was going to keep going or try to bivy down below Oxford (at least until I started needing to bushwack - then I just wondered what Gary Robins was thinking when he was on that route).

Once I got across Pine Creek, things got really weird really quick and this is the part of the course that I have the most difficulty remembering. I was very tired, having already done 22,000+ feet of climbing in less than 24 hours; I was very dehydrated, having been working hard for the past day; and I was very low energy, having not eaten nearly anything since before Columbia. I took nearly a 20 minute rest at a creek crossing and made a crucial decision: I decided to drink the energy drink my dad had given me nearly 6 hours before - if I was going to take a nap, that was fine with me, but I was going to do it while hyped up on caffeine which would make it short. I then stuffed some food in myself, refilled my water for the next 3 mountains, and started up Oxford.

I can't really describe what I felt on Oxford through words, but perhaps experience. The route itself is 50+ degree bushwacking straight up the side of the hill, followed by 50+ degree talus - a very physically demanding climb. Couple that with exhaustion, caffeine, and the dark and the only way I can begin to explain what it was like is through drugs. My mind just wasn't working quite right and I couldn't hold a single train of thought for very long. I sat down to take a couple of rests and even tried to nap a couple of times but every time I got the spins. I don't really have any memories of what I thought about, save that the sky was beautifully clear and the stars were moving. It was weird, but somehow I found myself on top of Oxford when the sun was starting to rise - beautiful!

19884_1619884_14Oh yeah, the GES2k19 saw the downfall of my endless supply of music too.....

As the sun came up, things started to make sense again in my head and I started to feel much better as I headed over to Belford. I was shown that I had brought enough layers since it was super windy and cold (like ~40mph gusts and 30 degrees) but I wasn't suffering too bad.

19884_13

I quickly made my way down Belford towards Elkhead pass and around the east ridge of Missouri, climbing up the semi-loose south slopes to gain the South ridge. At this point it was windy and I was running out of water so I didn't faff around too much and really focused on just getting to Winfield. I had made Missouri at nearly three hours ahead of my scheduled time, but I had gotten there at the halfway mark. It's a strange midset when you know how cooked you feel but you also know you're going to basically do that exact same effort again...

19884_07

I descended the West ridge of Missouri to Clohesy lake and began to realize that the downhills were becoming very difficult on the knees. Coming off Missouri was particularly difficult because of the consistently steep grade on loose dirt. Once at the lake, I took 15 minutes to rehydrate, refuel, change socks, and mentally prepare for Huron. I had not scouted Huron but I knew the East slopes were not good - seeing this for the entire descent down Missouri seemed to confirm that. Although CalTopo has trails marked on the East side, it looked like it winded around more than I was hoping, so I decided to just go up as fast as possible. Luckily, there were tons of game trails; unluckily, I was in the sun and started sweating. Not a big deal, except that certain areas that you don't want chafing had started to chafe roughly 12 hours before, and the salt was not appreciated. By the time I had gained the ridge on Huron, I had started to have auditory hallucinations and I thought I could head people yelling my name in the wind.

19884_06That's a Honey Stinger jacket...

The descent down to Winfield was particularly tolling. The fact that it was on a trail made it physically easier, but I also knew the exact distance I needed to go. Since my sense of time had started to go, it seemed to just take forever to get off of that mountain and I got upset at how slow I was going (according to Strava, I was doing ~20 min/mi the entire way down, but it didn't seem like that then). Couple that with the fact that my legs were just so shot from having worked for the past 31 hours and I would say this downhill extracted part of my soul.

When I got into Winfield, I had absolutely zero left in the tank and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish. Numbers-wise, I had roughly 27 hours to do the remaining 3 mountains. On a regular day, 9 hours to do a single mountain for me is a crawl. However, after having done 11/14 of Nolan's, 9 hours seemed like it would never be enough time. I needed to sleep, but not before stuffing myself full and dealing with the GES2k19. I told my mom to wake me up in an hour and have pancakes and caffeine tea ready, crawled into my car, massaged my legs for 5 minutes, and passed out in the blink of an eye.

19884_1119884_10Beauty during a beauty sleep.

Winfield to the Fish Hatchery

Somehow my brain must have never shut off. After an hour my mother asked in the most calm and gentle voice if I wanted to wake up - without hesitation, I got up and out of my car. No shaking, no yelling, no hassle. How that works is a mystery to me, but after hobbling to my chair, I found tea and pancakes waiting for me - best crew ever! I made sure everything was good to go for La Plata and headed out with my dad (who would follow me until the road ended).

It's incredible what the body is able to do if the mind is there to support it. After my nap, I felt super fresh, way better than I was expecting to feel after having hiked for the past day and then some. It took a couple hundred yards for my legs to loosen up, but I was able to go from the bottom of La Plata to the top without stopping once - a huge mental win! La Plata is my favourite peak in the Sawatch range and it was one I was looking forward to. Although it was quite windy, the view during sunset was simply phenomenal and it made me remember why I was trying something like this - because mountains are just awesome!

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It's a good thing I had that moment of appreciation on La Plata, because descending it was an absolute nightmare of a time! It's not really that hard of a descent but there is a good amount of steep, loose dirt all the way down and my knees were just not having it and within the first 1000 feet I was in pain. Knowing I still had 3000+ feet left just brought me back to Huron's descent and how much that sucked. At least now it was dark and so I couldn't see where I had to go - that helped a little. In those moments it really is the small things that get you through (like a working headlight or a bottle full of grapes). After 2.5 hours and many auditory hallucinations later, I managed to make it down and meet up with my dad about .5 miles from the TH. After some debate, I was convinced to sleep for two hours and then go for the last two mountains. That way, I would wake up at midnight and have nearly 17 hours to finish if I needed it - I definitely did not want to be out for 17 more hours, but I figured if I took a long nap then I might be able to crank a little harder on the climbs. Arriving at the La Plata TH, I ate some food, massaged my legs, and passed out.

Somehow again, I was woken up by my mom simply asking if I was ready to get up - no hassle! I ate some eggs and toast, made sure everything was ready to go, and then headed out around 12:30 in the morning for Elbert. I had done most of this section of Nolan's before in the opposite direction a number of years back with a friend and it had taken us 17 hours. I was obviously in better shape now, but I would be lying if I didn't say I was slightly worried, and that's why I originally wanted a pacer for this section. I knew it'd be long, slow, and the amount of time between objectives was more than anywhere else on the trip. Hell, people decide to go North to South just so they don't have to do these two mountains last!

As I walked along the Independence Pass road, I got passed by 3 cars (what they were doing there at 1am is known only to them) and then started up the 'trail' on Bull Hill. Perhaps there is actually a trail that goes down to the road, but it was dark and I did not find it until about 0.5 miles up. Luckily, I knew that Gary Robins and Jared Campbell had to deal with the same BS bushwacking, so it made it better and I eventually found a trail that winds nearly all the way up Bull Hill. The traverse over to Elbert from Bull Hill was something I had never done before and it turned out to be way more involved than I was hoping for. Throughout the course of my journey, I had developed this thought that "there's always more talus" - you think you've done it all, and then somehow you find yourself hopping across more goddamn talus. Luckily, I really enjoy talus hopping but after 40 hours my sense of balance was very poor and I would have preferred to just walk on a trail. I also had forgotten how big Elbert is and how many false peaks there are when you come from the south - it felt like about an hour of seeing a peak, believing that was the top, then realizing it wasn't. Couple that with the wind, the cold, and the snow that had started and it was another epic experience! (Still not as messed up as Oxford on the first night though). After an unknown amount of time, I was on top of Elbert.

19884_03

I knew the descent off of Elbert was going to be the crux of the last third of Nolan's, perhaps the entire route. The north slopes descend 3000 feet in 1 mile - that's really damn steep and my legs were already struggling with downhills. I also knew that if I didn't hit the exact right line, it would be super loose and balancy and might cliff out in some spots. On top of that, I needed to do it in the dark after nearly 2 days of moving. Like I said, I knew the descent off of Elbert was going to be the crux, but I could not have imagined just how fucked up it would be.

My GPS showed that Gary and Jared had backtracked a little before descending. I remembered from my experience last time that it appeared easier to try to follow the North ridge for a bit before going down. I made the decision to go for the ridge. I followed the trail for roughly .3 miles, then dropped down into a gulley - I knew they would all be loose, so I figured it didn't really matter where I went for it. I quickly realized that trying to traverse to actually stay on the North ridge was going to just be dumb, so I quickly decided to just go down and face whatever came my way. I have great confidence in myself that I can get through anything that a mountain will throw my way - perhaps that caused me to take a way harder line than I needed to on this particular morning, but it's the choice I made and so I gave it. And gave it... and gave it some more. It seemed like it took half of my life to get down Elbert's north slopes which is surprising because it was so loose that I couldn't really stop at any point or I would be swept away by the rockslide I was causing. It was a very character building experience, but about 1000 feet down, I found a great source of entertainment - a soccer ball was stuck in the gulley I was in (why someone had lugged it up Elbert and then obviously lost control of it will forever be beyond me). So I picked it up and threw it, watched it bounce, and then went down after it. It's really quite comical when I think about it now - this totally knackered hiker, 80+ miles and 2 odd days into an excursion, chasing a soccer ball down a gulley of the loosest rock imaginable in the middle of the night! I would lie if I didn't tell you that I named it Wilson...

19884_02Wilson

At some point, I left my newfound friend and decided that it would be just as fun to be done. Near the bottom of the 3000 foot gulley, it became less loose and eventually turned into grass right before the road. I cranked down the road as the sun was rising and found myself at the North Halfmoon Creek TH around 7. At this point, I was dead-set determined to finish this thing and, for the first time, it really dawned on me that I might actually finish Nolan's 14. Until this point, I had just been going but I never really though about the end. I now only had one climb and one descent and I had nearly 12 hours to do it - I had this in the bag! But it's not over until it's over. I refueled, rehydrated, stripped, put in the tunes (which for some reason started working again...), and gave an incredible dig to the top of Massive. If you were one of the 3 people I passed that day, let it be known that yes, I passed you after having climbed 13 other mountains and moved for 50 hours. Hell, I placed in the top 50 on Strava and that was with a 20 minute refuel/put clothes on break. I think trying to empty the tank on the Massive climb is really the reason I was able to get to the top of that mountain. And before I knew it, there I was. After roughly 55 hours, I found myself on top of Massive, 90 miles and 90,000 feet of change from where I had started my journey. Somehow, probably through the dehydration and exhaustion, I couldn't find the energy to cry or really feel much of any emotion. But it was over! So I thought...

19884_0119884_30Some dude up there took this photo for me - thanks pal!

For some reason, you only need to top out the last mountain before the 60 hour cutoff to be a Nolan's finisher. I wanted to finish the entire course in 60 hours, but that's the explanation behind that photo. You would expect that the hike off of Massive would be some great experience, knowing you had just finished this course and it was pretty much over. Well, I had those same thoughts but then I realized that I still needed to hike down which is a tall order after having just done everything else. To keep it simple, getting off of Massive was on par with the rest of Nolan's - it extracted part of my soul, I lost it a little, and I even got lost a little right at the Fish Hatchery (yes, I navigated full mountains in the dark with nothing by a headlight and phone - but I got lost during the day when there were signs with arrows). But somehow I made it down. I was done. Everything I had just went through for the past 55 hours was behind me and I could rest now. Even though I was really too tired to express it, I was stoked out of my mind!

19884_1219884_3219884_31

So that's that! Nolan's 14 is a truly epic experience, a super fun course, and absolutely sick! It's probably not the easiest choice for my first 100 miler, but at least with a 60 hour time limit you don't have to really move that fast.

I'm just as obsessed with stats as some of you, so here's some fun ones: 96.82 miles in 55:19 with roughly 94,150 feet of change. 14 14ers, 37 Honey Stinger waffles, 2 bags of grapes, 12 coffees worth of caffeine, 3 hours of sleep, 4 falls on my ass. Check out the Strava here.

There are a number of people I would like to thank. My parents - for being the best people on the planet. Gary Robbins and Jared Campbell - thank you for the GPS file and some good laughs. Justin Simoni - I didn't end up using your GPS files but I had them and used some of your beta. Brendan Leonard and Jayson Sime - for your instructional video and inspiration.

I'm not 100% sure about this, but I'm only 22 years old and I'm probably the youngest Nolan's finisher ever (I've emailed Matt Mahoney to confirm - he says probably but there aren't any age records kept). It's not the reason I did it, but it would definitely be pretty cool. Other than that, I hope you enjoyed reading and I hope you get out there and try something crazy!

Happy Trails,
Justin




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
greenonion
User
That's pretty...
09/29/2019 09:26
BAD ASS!! Super well done!! Starting to wonder if this 56 year old has it in him to try this within a couple of years...


shelly+
User
greenonion....
09/29/2019 11:55
i don't know you.... but the answer is yes.


Stratosfearsome
User
Awesome!
09/29/2019 12:37
Way to execute! Really enjoyable read. I appreciate that you detailed the suffer-fest.
Rob


thatOneMonoskier
Thanks!
09/29/2019 13:12
All of you! Definitely give it a go greenonion! There are no DNFs, just DNSs (did not start)!
Thanks Rob, I'm glad you appreciate suffering haha


greenonion
User
shelly+
09/29/2019 14:56
I should have specified... MY Nolan's would certainly need an extended time limit beyond 60 hours. But I'd be happy just finishing!


justiner
User
Great Job
10/01/2019 15:58
Great Job, but double-check that elevation gain - 90,000' seems a bit on the high side.


thatOneMonoskier
justiner
10/01/2019 16:11
Thanks! The corrected elevation on Strava says it was ~45.2k of climbing and I'm assuming it's about the same on the down. I'm sure if I took the exact optimal route it would be a little lower, but there were a couple times when I got a little off route and ended up climbing/descending a little extra


JulianSmith
User
Awesome
10/02/2019 07:47
job! Way to go; quite the stylish way to put all that together... never scouted Huron before... That's impressive! Thanks for sharing.

Julian


CaptCO
User
congrats
10/07/2019 18:34
cool deal, I might have to try this after I finish the 58 and get bored. Not for the faint of the heart! Your parents are nice


ZNixon
User
Nice work!
10/14/2019 09:00
Very awesome report, congrats on the finish Justin! This was good to read!


thatOneMonoskier
Thanks all!
10/14/2019 18:32
I'm glad you appreciated the report! Cheers


tvaughn54
Photo on massive
03/08/2020 20:51
I was the dude that took your photo on Massive, you are welcome. Congrats on the very impressive feat!


thatOneMonoskier
tvaughn
03/09/2020 18:13
No way! Thank you for the picture and for chatting a bit. I was pretty out of it but I remember the aspens were on point


14erd00d
Oh wWOW
06/24/2020 09:00
Nice job, epic post, thanks for sharing


T2000Haynes
Absolutely insane
07/22/2020 18:45
Epic recap. Congrats.



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