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Nolan's 14 results

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  • Matt Mahoney
    There were 12 starters and 4 finishers at Nolan s 14 on Aug. 16-18. The run crosses the Sawatch range in Colorado with 14 summits over 14,000 ft, 45,000 ft.
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 19, 2001
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      There were 12 starters and 4 finishers at Nolan's 14
      on Aug. 16-18. The run crosses the Sawatch range in
      Colorado with 14 summits over 14,000 ft, 45,000 ft. of
      climb, and only 56 miles if measured along straight
      lines, but closer to 100 miles along practical routes.
      You can choose any route between summits. There are 8
      aid stations and a 60 hour time limit, some of which
      had to be backpacked in up to 10 miles. There were no
      finishers during the previous 2 years.

      Mike Tilden was first on Shavano, the last summit,
      followed by Blake Wood, John Robinson, and Jim Nelson.
      I don't have times, but they were at the bottom in
      the last hour of the time limit, although the finish
      line is at the top and it probably took about 1-2
      hours to descend. Robinson led for most of the first
      day, with Wood on the second day. They wisely stayed
      together during the second night. They did not stop
      to sleep.

      We were very fortunate with the weather. There was a
      strong west wind which brought in cool, dry air to
      supress the normal afternoon thunderstorms. However I
      did get about 20 minutes of snow with gale force winds
      during a brief storm on the second afternoon while I
      was climbing Belford (summit #6). Temperatures ranged
      from about high 20's to 60's above 14,000 ft. and up
      to the high 70's at the lower elevations.

      Steve Bremner and Laila had planned to get married on
      the summit of Shavano, but the race turned out tougher
      than he planned, and the wedding was moved to
      Princeton (#11), which he reached at 4 PM Saturday (58
      hours). Laila only climbed Massive (#1) with the
      group on Thursday morning and Princeton. This was all
      coordinated by the FRS radios that we all carried.

      Steve Bremner and Dennis "animal" Herr ran together
      for much of the race. They are very fast and good
      climbers, but took too much time sleeping. I caught
      up to Animal at the start of Yale (#10) at 48 hours,
      where we bushwacked up a steep avalanche chute and
      found aircraft wreckage that had probably been there
      for years. Steve has climbed just about all the 14ers
      in Colorado, including some winter technical routes.

      Ginny LaForme and Eric Robinson made it to Princeton
      also. Ginny was the only woman in the race. She has
      run Hardrock, Eco Challenge (8.5 days), and is a rock
      climbing instructor and former nationally ranked
      weightlifter (80 kg clean and jerk, 60 kg snatch).

      Hans Dieter Weisshaar of Germany was about an hour
      behind me on the first three mountains (Massive,
      Elbert, La Plata) and I would have waited for him on
      La Plata but it was getting dark and I wanted to get
      off the difficult summit rocks and on to the better
      trail before I had to use my flashlight. I got to the
      Winfield aid station at 11:30 PM and slept 4 hours,
      asking them to wake me when Hans got there so we could
      coordinate plans to climb Huron (#4) together and make
      the difficult descent after sunrise. He was not ready
      at 3:30 AM and told me to go ahead. I waited for him
      at the next aid station at Cloises Lake and we climbed
      Missouri (#5) together starting at 11:30 AM Friday,
      but he had pulmonary edema and was very slow. He
      described it as being very weak, and a feeling of
      fullness in his lower lungs. It took us 2.5 hours to
      climb from 11,000 to 14,000 ft., about an hour longer
      than normal. He hiked out Missouri Gulch and came
      back the next day after recoving to climb Belford,
      Oxford, Harvard, and Columbia (#6-9).

      Hans was the oldest runner, at 61. Last year he set
      the record for the most 100 mile finishes in a year,
      20 including Hardrock. However this year, Monica
      Scholz of Canada (who holds the women's record at 16)
      is trying to break this record with 22. This weekend
      she ran Leadville in 27 hours, the first of 9
      consecutive weekends of 100 mile races.

      Simon Shadowlight reached Huron at noon Friday (30
      hours), way behind the other runners, left the course
      to sleep, then returned to continue through Columbia
      without aid station support. He qualifed by
      volunteering last year (rather than finishing
      Hardrock), and had no real running experience.

      Steve Simmons arrived with no altitude acclimation or
      experience on the course. He ran with Ginny, Eric
      Robinson and me on Massive, then took an hour at the
      aid station and climbed Elbert alone. He took the
      wrong descent route, bushwacking down a draw instead
      of the trail down from Bull Hill. He dropped out due
      to wrinkled feet (he has very thick callouses), but
      then decided to continue the next day without aid
      station support. He started at noon Friday (day 2),
      climbed La Plata, reached Huron at sunset and made the
      difficult descent down steep loose rocks and
      bushwacking below treeline in darkness. On the summit
      of Missouri in the middle of the night his flashlight
      went out and he had to sleep with just a space blanket
      on the summit in very cold but dry conditions, unable
      to downclimb in the moonless night. In the morning he
      climbed Belford and Oxford, without water until he got
      to the stream at Pine Creek. However instead of
      hiking out the 10 miles to the nearest road and
      radioing to get picked up, he was out of FRS range and
      walked 20 miles on the Colorado trail and then
      hitchhiked to the race HQ cabin in Buena Vista a few
      miles away.

      The moonless night made it very difficult to navigate.
      Normally in daylight above treeline (11,800 ft) you
      can see terrain for miles and easily figure out which
      direction to go, but at night your entire world is the
      range of your flashlight, about 50 feet. I reached
      Harvard at 10 PM using the NW ridge, a route I haven't
      tried before, but which worked well. But I got off
      course on the familiar route to Columbia and it took 5
      hours when it should have taken about 2. The route is
      about 2 miles on mostly grassy tundra, from 14,420 ft
      down to 12,600 and back up to 14,000. However the
      route I took crossed boulder fields and climbed a lot
      of dangerously loose rocks, scree, and talus. It was
      impossible to find the correct route given that there
      is no trail. I reached Columbia at 3 AM and
      bushwacked down the steep south ridge to reach the N.
      Cottonwood aid station at 6 AM without sleep on the
      second night.

      I had finished 10 summits on pretty much the same
      schedule as last year, 55 hours. But instead of
      stopping, I tried to make it to Princeton with 5 hours
      remaining. It was a long hike to the start of the
      climb at Maxwell Gulch, about 10 miles, so when I got
      there I had less than 2 hours to climb 4500 ft. I
      went anyway but only made it to about 12,500 ft. when
      the 6 PM cutoff expired, but I still had to go over
      the summit to reach the east ridge trail to get picked
      up. There was a storm to the north but all I got were
      strong winds and a few snow flurries. I reached the
      summit at 7:16 PM and started descending the horribly
      steep trail, cursing as I stumbled over loose rocks
      and slipping on loose dirt and falling on my butt. I
      tried going directly over the rocks to reach the
      better trail below, but as it got dark I lost sight of
      the landmarks I was using to navigate. I ended up
      having to very slowly traverse miles of a steep
      hillside covered with dangerously loose boulders. One
      boulder the size of a table slid out from under me and
      I had to jump off. In the tiny world lit by my
      flashight, I could see only rocks in all directions.
      I did not know if the trail was above or below me.
      Charlie Thorn was going to pick me up, and I was going
      to ask him to walk out on the trail with his light,
      but the ridge blocked the radio signals. I was able
      to contact Jim Nolan, but he had miles to drive over
      slow jeep road to get to the trailhead. I thought to
      myself "please God, let me get out of this alive".
      Last night on Harvard I saw several meteors including
      a giant fireball to the south as bright as the moon,
      leaving a vapor trail, and about 2 minutes later, a
      faint "boom". I had not seen such a bright fireball
      since I was 7. Was this an omen?

      As it got colder and windier, I thought it was safer
      to descend rather than climb, and by luck I found the
      trail after moving only a few hundred feet in an hour.
      "Thank you, God". The trail was worse than
      Massanutten's Short Mountain, but vastly better than
      the alternative. I arrived at Charlie's truck at
      10:30 PM, over 64 hours.

      -- Matt Mahoney, matmahoney@...

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