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Simmons links all the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

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Simmons hyperlinks all of the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

Scott Simmons had thought of a particular mountain problem within the San Juan Mountains for years. He by no means imagined finishing it in path trainers as an alternative of ski boots.

The 48-year-old Durango man set out Aug. 11 on a mission to hyperlink up the 13 summits of 14,000 ft or greater within the San Juans in a single effort with out navigation from exterior Durango, Silverton, Lake Metropolis, Ouray and Telluride. Although he needed to drop out after his preliminary day in Chicago Basin over to Stony Move, the graduate of Fort Lewis Faculty would persevere.

After 104 hours and 58 minutes, Simmons stood atop El Diente Peak at 14,160 ft and stopped his watch. He had completed it, one in all his largest feats after 30 years of dabbling within the San Juans.

“It was so tough proper up till the top. It was a fairly wonderful feeling,” Simmons mentioned. “I wish to problem myself and really feel like plenty of mountains right here you actually can run up them in a few hours. It’s a problem perhaps to do it speed-wise, however the precise problem of whether or not you may rise up them perhaps isn’t that nice. To hyperlink these all up within the type I needed to, it took longer than I needed to, nevertheless it was a tremendous feeling. The most effective emotions I’ve had within the mountains simply to drag it off.”


Scott Simmons took one final look again at El Diente, his final of 13 summits within the San Juan Mountain vary throughout his San Juan 13 problem. The image is taken from Kilpacker Path.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

The San Juan 13: Simmons hyperlinks all of the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

Scott Simmons took one final look again at El Diente, his final of 13 summits within the San Juan Mountain vary throughout his San Juan 13 problem. The image is taken from Kilpacker Path.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

Simmons’ purpose was to beat 100 hours. Initially, he anticipated the path to cowl 140 miles. However his run would truly cowl 157.14 miles. It featured 58,949 ft of elevation acquire. He felt he might have completed it in 100 hours, however he selected to sleep a number of hours earlier than climbing Wilson Peak after some trail-finding points at nighttime in a giant meadow in Bilk Basin.

Initially, Simmons needed to do the journey on skis within the winter. He had thought of it for a number of years and was able to do it final spring earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“I’ve in all probability been serious about it for a few years, however by no means serious about working it,” Simmons mentioned. “Actually, I had simply been using my bike this 12 months to remain related with the children. I haven’t been working in any respect. I don’t know when it actually occurred to me to perhaps simply run it since I wasn’t in a position to ski it.

“I’d wish to ski it. That might actually be the most important purpose is to hyperlink all of them up on skis. I had it in thoughts to do it this 12 months, however we bumped into the COVID. It appeared just like the consensus was to not put your self approach on the market within the backcountry in case you needed to be rescued and all that, so I simply sort of drew again on that.”

Inspiration got here from the Nolan’s 14. The Nolan’s 14 is a mountain running challenge that has drawn worldwide notoriety in recent times. Jim Nolan, who has climbed all 54 of Colorado’s famed fourteeners, was requested by Fred Vance what number of fourteeners may very well be linked in a 100-mile point-to-point course. Nolan got here up with a string of 14 peaks within the Sawatch Vary from Leadville to Salida. The primary official run was in 1999, as a bunch of Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run veterans set out on the problem. Since then, the problem to attach the 14 summits in lower than 60 hours has drawn runners from all around the world to check their mettle.


A map outlines the route Scott Simmons took throughout his San Juan 13 problem final month.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

The San Juan 13: Simmons hyperlinks all of the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

A map outlines the route Scott Simmons took throughout his San Juan 13 problem final month.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

Simmons favored the thought of attempting to do one thing comparable within the southwest nook of the state. To his information, no person else has linked up all the San Juan fourteeners in a single effort.

“I knew I couldn’t be the quickest at it, so I would as effectively be the primary,” Simmons mentioned. “100 hours was actually laborious for me. I’d like to see somebody quick go get it. I’d simply say watch out. There are some fairly nasty down-climbs should you attempt to straight line it by the peaks.”

Among the first names that got here to thoughts for Simmons have been Durango’s Kyle Curtin, a Tahoe 200 winner, and four-time Hardrock 100 champion and world-famous runner Kilian Jornet of Spain.

“I sort of know him loosely,” Simmons mentioned of Jornet, noting their time as aggressive ski mountaineer racers. “It might be superior if Kilian got here and did this. He’d like it. He loves the San Juans and loves Hardrock. This mainly was like a giant Hardrock with plenty of off-trail navigation. It was lot of time not on path which is a reasonably large distinction additionally from Nolan’s. Nolan’s, there may be some thrashing round, however not the magnitude of what I went by on this.”

Lately, Simmons is mostly identified for being the daddy of Quinn Simmons, a 19-year-old skilled bicycle owner who gained the 2019 junior world championship. Quinn, too, has a ski mountaineering background, as he gained a bronze medal within the dash race on the 2017 Worldwide Ski Mountaineering Federation World Championships in Italy.


With father Scott Simmons at his facet, Durango’s Quinn Simmons gained a junior world championship final 12 months.

Casey B. Gibson/USA Biking file

The San Juan 13: Simmons hyperlinks all of the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

With father Scott Simmons at his facet, Durango’s Quinn Simmons gained a junior world championship final 12 months.

Casey B. Gibson/USA Biking file

Simmons has put collectively loads of his personal spectacular ends in competitions on skis and bikes. Born in Alaska, Simmons stayed in Durango after his time at FLC. He entered his first ski mountaineering race in 1997, a sport he turned fascinated with after he accomplished an uphill and downhill race at Silverton Mountain.

A well-respected backcountry skier, Simmons has been named to the U.S. group for the ski mountaineering world championships 4 occasions, and he set a Grand Traverse course report. Simmons and longtime ski associate Paul Hamilton additionally notably joined Jason Schlarb of Durango and filmmaker Noah Howell for the first-known ski loop of the Hardrock 100 course.

Final winter, Simmons determined to ski from Silverton to Lake Metropolis and again, noting it was simply as quick to succeed in the couloir he aimed to ski by touring from Silverton to Lake Metropolis than it was to finish the seven-hour round-trip drive from Durango to Lake Metropolis.


Scott Simmons is a four-time nationwide group choice for the ski mountaineering world championships.

Courtesy of Holly Simmons

The San Juan 13: Simmons hyperlinks all of the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

Scott Simmons is a four-time nationwide group choice for the ski mountaineering world championships.

Courtesy of Holly Simmons

Simmons didn’t have a lot time to coach for his San Juan 13 effort. He spent many of the summer time on a bicycle, both coaching along with his sons Quinn and Colby on the street or using within the mountains. He accomplished the Telluride One Hundred mountain bike race on July 31 and had solely 10 days to change gears to working earlier than his try. His ft paid the value.

“I believe I obtained in seven or eight runs and foolishly mentioned, ‘Yeah, I’m prepared.’ So, yeah, I set out on a Tuesday morning to run what I assumed was 140 miles and turned out to be 158,” he mentioned. “It was all I anticipated after which some.”

The RouteSimmons began on the Purgatory Flats trailhead at 3:18 a.m. Aug. 11. He bumped into Chicago Basin and checked off North Eolus (14,039 ft), Eolus (14,085), Daylight Peak (14,058) and Windom Peak (14,088) and slept on Stony Move after 43.3 miles and 21,500 ft of vertical acquire.

“There’s a dispute if North Eolus is (a fourteener). It’s above 14,000, nevertheless it doesn’t have the distinction in elevation from Eolus, itself,” Simmons mentioned. “However, there are 4 in Chicago Basin.”


Mountain goats are considerable in Chicago Basin underneath Eolus, one of many fourteeners Scott Simmons summited first throughout his San Juan 13 problem final month.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

The San Juan 13: Simmons hyperlinks all of the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

Mountain goats are considerable in Chicago Basin underneath Eolus, one of many fourteeners Scott Simmons summited first throughout his San Juan 13 problem final month.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

Simmons had left some meals on Stony Move two days earlier than his effort. He was pressured your entire time that an animal or camper would discover his stash, nevertheless it was hidden away effectively and ready for him when he arrived. What he wasn’t prepared for was how laborious the primary day could be.

“The primary day went approach longer that I assumed it might. I used to be out for 21 hours and thought it might be 5 hours lower than that,” Simmons mentioned. “Off path from Windom to Stony was approach tougher than I assumed, despite the fact that I had been there earlier than. I truly give up that first night time. I made a decision I wasn’t going to go anymore. It was simply too laborious.”

However Simmons didn’t need to name his buddies in Lake Metropolis and inform them he wasn’t coming for the meals that they had stashed at Nellie Creek, so he saved going.

On Day 2, Simmons climbed Handies Peak (14,058), Sunshine Peak (14,007) and Redcloud Peak (14,035). He would spend the night time at Nellie Creek after 31 miles and 10,777 ft of elevation acquire.

The subsequent day, he checked off Uncompahgre Peak, the tallest peak within the San Juan Mountains at 14,308 ft. Then, it was on to Wetterhorn Peak (14,015) earlier than he ran to Ouray and resupplied. He spent the night time in Yankee Boy Basin after 39.43 miles and 11,652 ft of climbing.


The dawn within the Lizard Head Wilderness Space from Bilk Basin on Scott Simmons’ last day of the San Juan 13 problem.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

The San Juan 13: Simmons hyperlinks all of the fourteeners in San Juan Mountains in single effort

The dawn within the Lizard Head Wilderness Space from Bilk Basin on Scott Simmons’ last day of the San Juan 13 problem.

Courtesy of Scott Simmons

Out of Yankee Boy Basin, Simmons checked off Mt. Sneffels (14,150) after which ran to Telluride to get his last resupply. He spent the night time in Bulk Basin after 30.41 miles and eight,790 ft of elevation acquire.

The ultimate effort got here on the Wilson group exterior Telluride. First was Wilson Peak (14,017) after which Mt. Wilson (14,246) earlier than the end atop El Diente Peak (14,160). He completed with 13 miles with 6,230 ft of elevation acquire earlier than he hiked out Kilpacker Path.

HHHSimmons mentioned he packed heavier than he wanted to. He had a powerful shelter with stakes within the occasion of heavy rain, which by no means got here. He had a sleeping bag and pad, saying he wanted a snug mattress to get by the problem. He additionally had a water filter, pants and a puffy jacket for heat.

Together with the blisters on his ft that made the ultimate two days excruciating, Simmons mentioned he made some pretty dangerous route selections that would have turn out to be problematic. However he needed to stay to his plan and keep away from backtracking at any time when doable.

He mentioned it was additionally a psychological problem seeing his subsequent fourteener and understanding it was, within the case of Windom to Handies, 37 miles away.

“I do know all of the fourteeners. I’ve been up all of them, so I do know the place they’re and acknowledge the form,” Simmons mentioned of his resolution to not use navigation. “I might see them a good distance off, and it positive takes a very long time to get to them to truly begin climbing them. Then, as you go away from them, the opposite factor I spotted is it takes a very long time to get them our of your rear-view mirror. There’s plenty of distance between them.

“Form of what I needed to do was mainly show to myself, I suppose, that I sort of know the San Juans.

Now, Simmons is able to sit again and see if another person can set a quick time and assist construct pleasure across the problem. And he’ll look to get again on the market on skis as soon as the snowpack returns to the mountains he loves.

“I’d wish to see somebody put a quick time on it and listen to the tales,” he mentioned. “There are some tales on the market.”

jlivingston@durangoherald.com

https://www.frebike.com

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