DENVER (KDVR) — Climbing a 14,000-foot mountain is a challenge for many people. But can you imagine climbing 12 of them in less than 24 hours?
That’s exactly what Andrea Sansone just did. On July 31, she set out to break a record for the fastest known time for climbing as many 14ers as possible during a 24-hour period.
She completed a dozen 14ers in 22 hours and 16 minutes, which is the fastest known time.
Eric Lee set the previous men’s and overall fastest known time with 11 14ers in 21 hours and 50 minutes on Sept. 9, 2020.
Becca Jay set the previous women’s fastest known time with 8 14ers in 18 hours and 33 minutes on July 8, 2020.
Beating the record is not something that happened overnight, it is something her boyfriend, Andrew Hamilton, and she spent years thinking about.
“There was a lot that went into it, and it was more than just coming up with the idea in our head and executing it. There was a lot of planning, there was a lot of training, a lot of bickering back and forth with Andrew and I,” Sansone shared.
Sansone is no stranger to a challenge or even breaking records. This is why a record-setting day in May was the perfect setup for her 14er attempt.
On May 31, she completed the fastest known time by doing 19 laps of the Manitou Incline in 23 hours and six minutes.
Preparing for the trek
She said breaking that record helped her to realize she had a really good fitness base and, “the time is now to do other 14er records we have on our mind,” Sansone explained.
When it came time to plan and prepare for the 14er record, Sansone said the logistics and timing were a complicated part of the process.
She even rented an ATV to get to each trailhead more quickly. Hamilton helped by driving between the different legs of the trip. Hamilton’s brother-in-law, Dave, also helped.
“What is the shortest distance to drive from this trailhead to this trailhead? If we have the ATV, how much time could we save?” Sansone said. “We had to go out and test it and drive these roads and see, well will it really save us time?”
Sansone trained and prepared by scouting, building a support team, and getting her splits down, even by climbing in the dark.
“I didn’t feel like I had time to make one minute of a mistake,” Sansone shared. “So even though you can’t really make that bad of a mistake, I didn’t want to spend time figuring out where I’m going wrong on my route, I just wanted to know in the back of my hand.”
Beating the record
Sansone started the attempt with Mount Columbia and finished with Mount Evans.
She said Hamilton joined her during her first split, which was Columbia, Harvard, Belford, Oxford, and Missouri. They were able to complete that group of 14ers in an incredible time of 6 hours and 55 minutes.
While Sansone said she runs off of highs and gets those highs when she is beating her splits, there were points during her record-breaking attempt when she ran into lows.
The biggest low came on her second to last peak, which was Bierstadt. She was so far ahead of her splits that she ended up doing Bierstadt in the dark, which is something she had not planned for.
“I was nervous to be on the sawtooth in the dark because I had my splits down and I wanted to match my splits, but I feel like a lot of times we slow up in the dark because you’re being more careful or you’re looking for your route a little harder, or you think you’re moving faster and you’re really not,” she said. “I was doubting myself seriously on Bierstadt because I didn’t know how I would finish, I didn’t think I was going to finish, and I didn’t know how I’d get through, and I just told myself that I have to just keep hiking because that’s what I know how to do.”
Her friends also told her to trust her training and that’s what she did. She also credits Hamilton for her ability to keep going.
Sansone never slept during the record attempt. She fueled up on snacks in the car while she went between the different destinations.
Photos from the experience
Riley Hanlon followed Sansone on her journey and took these incredible photos:
The 14ers Sansone climbed
During the record-breaking attempt, Sansone said there were times when she experienced hail storms. She credits her friend and FOX31/Channel 2 Meteorologist Chris Tomer with helping her to pick the right days in the forecast to make the attempt.
Sansone said she carb-loaded by going to Olive Garden for a few nights before the record-breaking attempt. As for a victory meal, she said the cleanup took some time after the 24-hour journey, so she decided to go to the grocery store and got cake and ice cream, four-cheese tortellini, and garlic bread to celebrate.
“The best thing about these attempts is that I can eat whatever I want,” Sansone said.
Next record attempt
While Sansone continues to process the excitement from this journey, she still has her eyes on other record attempts. Her biggest long-term goal is the 14er speed record.
“I think that would be such a cool thing to do. I’ve had my eye on that and my thoughts on that for years but that probably won’t take place for a few years because I need to do a lot of scouting on my own and there’s lots of planning for it,” she shared.
You can watch the entire interview of Sansone’s record-breaking climbs in the player above.