ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. — There are anywhere from 52 to 58 peaks that top 14,000 feet in Colorado — the so-called 14ers. For any Coloradan, climbing one of them is a badge of honor. Early Thursday morning, Andrew Hamilton completed a feat that might never be matched.
Hamilton, a 40-year-old from Denver, scampered up and down Longs Peak in the darkness late Wednesday night into Thursday morning, completing a speed record of climbing 58 of the 14ers in a mind-boggling nine days, 21 hours and 51 minutes.
Hamilton began the quest to capture the speed record of climbing Colorado’s highest peaks he previously held on June 29 at 4:30 a.m. Teddy Keizer held the previous speed record of 10 days, 20 hours and 26 minutes.
After climbing Torreys and Grays peaks, then Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans on Wednesday, Hamilton was shuttled by his crew to Rocky Mountain National Park for the final climb.
He started the ascent of Longs Peak about 7:15 p.m., enduring fog and rain before reaching the summit of the famed peak in Rocky Mountain National Park about 11:30 p.m., the 58th and final summit of the grueling grind across the state.
Based on rules established by those who compete such speed runs, Hamilton had to descend 3,000 feet from the summit before the clock stopped — and he did that at 2:21 a.m. Thursday.
Several people were on the trail to celebrate the record, and many more on a forum at 14ers.com followed Hamilton’s updates as his GPS marked all of his summits the past 10 days.
Keizer flew to Colorado from his home in Portland, Ore., to congratulate Hamilton on his accomplishment.
Doug Hesse posted on the 14ers.com forum that the parking lot at the Longs Peak trail head was almost full at 10:30 p.m. and that Keizer had arrived.
“This has been a simply awesome adventure to watch, not only for Andrew’s achievement but for the work of his crew and for the spirit of the 14ers community,” Hesse wrote.
“The most incredible example of chasing a dream I have ever seen,” poster Crojo wrote. “The strength, stamina, humor, perseverance, planning, love and support. Truly an inspiration.”