It's been just over two months since the Nevada 10-in-10 Challenge, when my toes were so blistered it looked like I had stuck them in Mauna Loa, when my knees creaked like a house from the 1920s, but I'm already planning another adventure challenge. I'll never learn my lesson.
Karl Horeis and I want to climb all of California's 15 peaks over 14,000 feet in record time. Jack McBroom, a 45-year-old high school teacher in Hemet, Calif., holds the current record of 4 1/2 days. We think we can beat that. A million other people think they can, too.
Earlier this month, Sports Illustrated had a story on the ordeal. Russ McBride, 34, tried to break the record this past summer but 16 hours after starting, McBride was sobbing on a boulder and had to quit.
McBroom eclipsed Josh Swartz' record of five days, 23 hours and 41 minutes two summers ago, doing it in four days, 11 hours and 19 minutes. Swartz has called McBroom's record 'soft' and thinks it can be done in 3 1/2 days. McBroom and McBride agree. Karl and I wouldn't say it's soft but think it could be done quicker. You can't mock a record until you hold it and we're nothing but dreamers right now.
This will be much tougher than the Nevada 10-in-10 Challenge. But it will focus solely on our strengths--hiking and climbing peaks. Rick Gunn is convinced he can't do it but he'll come around. We haven't asked K.M. Cannon yet but we're planning to do it next June or July, when, hopefully, the snow has retreated high enough on the Sierra slopes that we can make quick approaches to the higher elevations, then ascend snow-covered faces and steep couloirs efficiently with crampons. Since time is of the essence, bagging multiple peaks each day is the only way.
In this high altitude game, Swartz and McBride think they each have 'secret plans' to break the record. But there aren't any secrets. Anybody who tries to beat the record should know how to read a topographical map and assuming that is true, the only way to beat the record is to stay high as long as possible, linking peaks in one single push, rather than going up and down for each one.
Here is our tentative plan. I'm letting you know now because maybe you won't remember this story by next summer and hold me to it.
Day 1: Climb the seven peaks in the Palisade Region, in order from Thunderbolt Peak (14,003 feet), Starlight Peak (14,180), North Palisade (14,242), Polemenium Peak (14,080), Mt. Sill (14,153), Middle Palisade (14, 012) and Split Mountain (14, 042), then drive south to Cottonwood Lakes.
Day 2: Climb Mt. Langley (14,022), then somehow negotiate ridges by staying high and climbing Mt. Muir (14,012), Mt . Whitney (14,495), Mt. Russell (14,088), then descend to Whitney Portal and drive to the Shepherd's Pass Trailhead.
Day 3: Climb Mt. Tyndall (14,019) and Mt. Williamson (14,375), then drive to the White Mountains across the Owens Valley and climb White Mountain (14,246), then make the long drive north to Mount Shasta.
Day 4: Climb Mt. Shasta (14,162).
Done. It's that easy. Now comes the hard part. And it's not what you think. It's not doing it in four days. It's not letting our minds and bodies get psyched out and convinced in the months leading up to day of our attempt that we can't do it. Go ahead. Call us idiots. I have.
For the story on McBroom and his chasers, go to: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/siadventure/20/game_on/index.html
Jeremy Evans is a Nevada Appeal Sportswriter.