climbing
August 16, 2013 posted by

Human Powered 14ers

Human Powered 14ers

Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright did something really cool this summer, climbing the 15 California 14ers all under human power, by cycling, hiking, and climbing their way from Mt Shasta to Mt Langley. For your weekend Psyche, here’s Wright’s first person account. Climbing mag reports,

Over three weeks and one day, Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright pulled off a unique adventure in their home state of California: enchaining all of the state’s 14,000-foot-plus peaks (and then some), using only two bikes and their own two feet for transportation. Along the way during this remarkable journey from Mt. Shasta to Mt. Langley, the two biked more than 700 miles, hiked at least 100 miles, and climbed over 100,000 vertical feet, often via difficult technical rock climbs. The two free-soloed every route they climbed, up to 5.10a. They took about five rest days.

These two guys are both legendary climbers, especially Honnold who’s become somewhat of a mainstream celebrity due to his soloing achievements (click for a CBS news profile), but the 14ers are a different animal as it’s more of a hybrid ultra event than pure climbing adventure. Adds Wright,

“Taking the car out of the mix really makes things much more difficult—adding 6,000 feet of elevation gain on the bike to each mission really ups the suffer quotient. We definitely threaded the line between being efficient and blowing out our knees! “

For climbers, in fact, the biking might have been the crux,

“One of the cruxes was White Mountain, which was around 90 miles round-trip [from the highway] and involved over 10,000 feet of elevation gain on a bike, much of it on rough, sandy dirt roads. It was BRUTAL. Even Honnold had a moment of wanting to give up.”

Wright summed it up with some high praise indeed, given the resumes at hand,

“I consider this to be one of the greatest achievements of my climbing life, and it was awesome to share it with Honnold, who is great friend and motivating force in my life. Mostly we toiled and suffered, but occasionally I would have a moment of genuine bliss, taking in the beauty of the incredible Sierra Nevada. It was a full-on suffer fest, but I think in a couple of weeks I’ll look back on this as fun. Hopefully we will inspire other climbers to undertake a big human-powered adventure.”

Last summer, as reported here, Sean O’Rourke blasted the 14er record using support in a gobsmacking 62 hours and 3 mins. Check out his account to get your head spinning about future possibilities. 

Those of you who follow The Straight Dope know I’m a fan of human-powered adventures, and this seems like one of the better nature lines in the US. Congrats to Cedar and Alex for raising the bar, again.

Pic: Alex Honnold on the Tyndall Effect on Mt. Tyndall, peak No. 10 on an 800-mile, 15-summit journey and Wright and Honnold on top of Langley, their final peak. Photos by Cedar Wright.

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