Route: New Hampshire 4000 Footers (NH)

Location
New Hampshire, US
Description

There are 48 peaks over 4000' in New Hampshire. Records have been reported for a few individual peaks, and for climbing all 48 as fast as possible.  Individual peaks are linked below, where available.

Speed trips for climbing all the NH 4000ers go back decades -- at least to the 1970s, when there were only 46 recognized 4000ers. This site has an excellent summary of records going back to the Fitch Brothers (George and Tom) who did all 46 recognized 4000ers in 6d15h30m, in August 1973.

"Cave Dog" Ted Keizer established a stout record for climbing all the 4000ers of 3d17h21m, August 9-12, 2002. Cave Dog's site lays out a set of rules for the trip which included no set route, allowance for resupply at any point, and that the clock would start at the first trailhead, and stop at the summit of the last peak. Also, Mt. Washington must be climbed on foot (not using the road or cog railway). These apparently reflect the accepted rules for this venture.

Beginning on July 6 at 5:00 am, and ending on July 9, 2003, at 8:51 pm atop Owl's Head mountain in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, 41 year old Vermont photographer Tim Seaver set a new record for speed climbing all 48 4000 foot peaks in New Hampshire. With the support of his wife Elisabeth and a small group of friends, as well as a network of cached water bottles placed by him along the route previously, he set a new record of 3d15h51m, beating Cave Dog's previous record by exactly 1h30m.

It took over a decade for Seaver's record to go down, but during July 7-10, 2014, Andrew Thompson did the 48 peaks in a new FKT time of 3d14h59m. Thompson was crewed by Travis Wildeboer and Jonathan Basham. An article about Thompson's adventure is here.

Brianna Tidd set a new women's FKT for the 4000ers by just 16 minutes, 4d19h40m (TH-to-TH), September 8-13, 2014. Tidd hiked the entire way with her father Bill, whose report includes a link to GPS points from their SPOT unit. The pair were supported by Brianna's mother. Brianna's own report is here.

"The Whites are a place where you feel all-powerful and overpowered at the same time. My dad and I had the incredible experience of feeling the extremes of this dichotomy while testing our own limits (or at least mine) over the course of 4 days, 19 hours, 40 minutes completing New Hampshire’s 48 4000 footers. We lost our coordination and sometimes the better part of our consciousness. We laughed a lot; I cried a little (sorry dad). It was a failure and a success." -- Brianna Tidd

Previously, Cath Goodwin had the women's best time of 4d19h56m, set Aug. 27 - Sept. 1, 2010. Her detailed report is here, where Tim Seaver also reports: Starting on August 27 at 5:14 am at the base of Carrigain, and finishing at 1:12am on Sept 1st at the base of Moosilauke, Cath Goodwin has completed the NH 48 in 4 days, 19 hours, and 56 minutes. She was supported by Tim and Val Charboneau, and harassed by me on a few hikes. Synopsis: It was hot. It was cold. It was beautiful. It was even windy at times. Occasionally, people got tired. Alright...that's my version and I am sticking with it.

Prior to Goodwin, Sue Johnston had the women's FKT for the NH 48, as reported on this thread. Sue reported as follows:

"Started at 4:01 am on Sunday morning with a south-to-north Presi Traverse, including Isolation. Finished the day with Waumbek and Cabot.

Monday, my umbrella and I did the Wildcat-Carter-Moriah Traverse in drizzly, wet conditions. Slimy rocks greatly hampered pace--boo! Finished the day with Tom-Field-Willey. Cruddytoes joined me for Field and Willey (THANKS AL!).

Tuesday was a lovely day for Carrigain, Passaconaway-Whiteface-Tris, and Hancocks.

Wednesday--another beautiful August day for Tecumseh, Osceolas, Moosilauke, and Cannon-Kinsmans.

Finally, yesterday was up Flume Slide, across Franconia Ridge, down Lincoln Slide with Neighbor Dave (bushwhacker extraordinaire who joined me for the Owls Head slog--THANKS NEIGHBOR!), then up to Garfield, Galehead, Twins, Bonds, Zealand, and Hale.

My "finish line" was the Hale Brook Trailhead. It is my personal opinion that the clock should run from "car to car." Since I am the first to establish the women's non-winter Fastest Known Time (please correct me if I'm mistaken), my preference is for the clock to stop at the trailhead of the last peak vs. the top of the peak as the men have traditionally done.

Except for Field, Willey, and Owls Head, I hiked solo. My husband Chris joined me for the first couple of miles of the Hancocks and the lower part of Cannon. He did a mighty fine job of crewing... although I don't think he knew quite what he was getting himself into. (THANKS CHRIS!)

Due to lingering, deep-seated fatigue after thru-hiking the Long Trail in 9 days beginning July 17, I'd actually decided to bail on my plan of a speedy 48. Realizing, however, that this would probably be one of my last chances to do a fast'ish time (gettin' old!), I had a change of heart: on Thursday of just last week I decided to go for it.

My goal was sub-5 days rather than attempting to better the current and previous male record holders, Tim Seaver and Ted Keizer... not that I could if I wanted to! I wanted this adventure to be more fun than toil--to say, I didn't want to suffer TOO badly--and, for the most part, was successful in that regard. (Knees started to ache a bit last night but still did the entire thing drug free--yay!) Each night I got a decent amount of sleep, and except for a night of camping at the Carrigain trailhead, I got to clean up in a shower! After all, this IS the chick's FKT."
-- Sue Johnston

Arlette Laan thru-hiked the NH 4000ers completely unsupported in 11d19h (TH to TH, 11d15h TH to last summit), completed September 15, 2014, as reported below (with link to her TR). "I carried all my food and other supplies for the entire trip and everything was connected on foot," she said. Mats Roing had done a similar "thru-hike" of the 4000ers in 10d12h7m days in 2007, as reported here (Roing called this "Directissima"), but his trip was not completely unsupported. Roing did not carry his camping gear to his first campsite and spent the last night in a B&B when the weather turned bad. Ariel and Anna Feindel handily beat these times, doing the unsupported thru-hike of the NH 4000ers in 8d8h37m (TH to last summit), August 29 - September 6, 2015, as reported below. Andrew Drummond tackled the "Direttissima" in July 2016, finishing the peaks in a quick 5d23h58m. Drummond's trip cannot be considered truly "unsupported" since he cached batteries for his electronic devices and also had accompanyment at times (which could be considered "pacers"). These decisions generated a good deal of controversy and discussion, e.g., on VFTT. Since unsupported style is meant to reflect a self-sufficient ethic, we view this trip as technically "self-supported". Discussion of how we discriminate different categories of support is here.

New Hampshire winters are notoriously tough, so doing all the 4000 footers in winter is kind of a big deal. Success depends on fitness & toughness, of course, but also on having good luck with weather and conditions. For the winter records, the clock is stopped at the trailhead at the base of the last mountain (i.e., car-to-car), as opposed to at the top of the last mountain, as in the summer records. During the winter of 2003-04, Sue Johnston and Robert Williams climbed all 48 peaks in 10d22h37m. Sue's blog says "Since we were the first to do so in winter, we sort of traversed uncharted territory and played it a bit conservatively some days." The winter record was broken in 2006 by Tim Seaver, who climbed all 48 in 9d20h24m, during March 6-16, 2006. Cath Goodwin also participated in this trip, and set the women's FKT at 9d23h13m, losing a little time after she "...wiped out enroute to S Kinsman on day 8 and developed two spectacular black eyes...", and paid a visit to the ER. In January 2010, Ryan Welts set a new winter FKT. He started with Jason Ferris and Mats Roing 6:20 a.m. on Saturday 1/16/10. Roing dropped out partway through day four at the summit of Mt Garfield and Ferris skipped north and south Hancock at the end of day seven then rejoined Welts on the final day. Welts' finishing time was 7d17h7m. The trip was "mostly self supported". The trio did "a lot of prep hikes to make sure rarely touched routes were somewhat consolidated". They wore snowshoes "95% of the time", and averaged 28 +/- miles a day and 9000ft +/- of gain a day. Sue Johnston reclaimed the women's winter FKT with a trip on March 10-18, 2010. Her time was 8d4h2m. "We were actually on target to better Ryan's record until a couple of days of bone-chilling rain necessitated a switch to Plan B," said Sue. A detailed account of the trip is on her blog. There is a website dedicated to climbing the 4000 footers in one winter season.

Another NH 4000ers project that has emerged is doing all the peaks in every month of the year. This works out to 576 ascents (48 x 12)! A website dedicated to this currently (1/1/2017) lists 70 people who have finished this mamouth task. In a truly mind-boggling feat, in 2016 Sue Johnston completed the Grid in a single year! She reports hiking 3181 miles and over one million vertical feet during 205 days! An article about her quest is here.
"[I'm] just a gal who's always enjoyed playing in the woods and climbing mountains...albeit perhaps just a bit OCD?" - Sue Johnston
"Sue is the steadiest, healthiest, most durable person I know!" - Doug Mayer
 

 

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