On August 15, 2020, I finished the slam in a total of a bit over 60 days, measured from the summit of my first peak (Pikes Peak in Colorado) to the summit of my final peak (Mount Peal in Montana). As part of this effort I actually also climbed the Colorado Centennials – the hundred highest peaks in Colorado – plus many other bonus peaks along the way in CO, WY, and MT, so my total peak count was 205 peaks. My total mileage was 1,030 miles with 432,500ft elevation gain. I took a total of three rest days, one for blistered feet, one to drive all day from Colorado to Wyoming, and one for an all-day rain event in Wyoming.
This summer I had originally planned on a 2-month international mountaineering expedition, but had to cancel at the last minute due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions in early June. I scrambled to make alternative plans, and settled on climbing the Colorado 14ers, Wyoming 13ers, and Montana 12ers, which I figured I might just barely be able to squeeze into my time window. The day before I left I decided to also try to squeeze in the Colorado Centennials, which would add another 50 or so peaks.
On June 14th after the SU graduation ceremony I loaded up the car and drove out of Seattle in the evening. After 23hours of driving I reached the Pikes Peak trailhead in Colorado, and hiked up to the summit, my first peak of the slam, on 9:15am June 16th. Over the next 33 days I proceeded to climb all the Colorado Centennial peaks, which included all of the Colorado 14ers plus about 50 other peaks, setting a new fastest known time for the Centennials. In the final week of my effort I shifted my sleep schedule to sleep on average 2 hours per day, in the late afternoon to coincide with daily thunderstorms. I would then climb peaks through the night and the next day. My biggest day was a 49-mile 18kft-gain 36-hour push. I involved my mountain bike on most approaches to trailheads – I would generally park at 2wd trailheads and mountain bike to and from the 4wd trailheads over rough roads.
I finished the Colorado peaks on July 19, then took a full rest day to drive 8 hours to Pinedale, Wyoming. The next morning I set off into the Wind River Range with my partner Matt Lemke to start climbing 13ers. We had horses pack in 3 weeks of food the first 15 miles to near Island lake, but then carried our food ourselves for the remainder of the trip.
Over the next two weeks we climbed the 30 peaks in the core Wind River range as one continuous trip starting and ending at Elkhart Park with one rest day due to an all-day rain event. We soloed all peaks except Spearhead, Wilson, and Koven, for which we used ropes and belayed each other. We ended up not needing the full 3 weeks of food, so got to eat double rations on many days.
After hiking out of the Winds in the evening of August 3 I continued the next morning and following three days to climb the remaining five 13ers. I climbed Wind River, Black Tooth, Cloud, and Francs solo, and then climbed Grand Teton with Andrew Gwozdz for my final Wyoming 13er. This set a new FKT for the Wyoming 13ers at 16 days 17 hours.
The morning after climbing Grand Teton Andrew and I drove into Montana and climbed our first Montana 12er – Rearguard – at sunset. Over the next four days we hiked a big 80-mile off-trail loop hitting 15 12ers. We started at the Glacier Lake trailhead and hiked back to the Lake Fork trailhead, where I got on a mountain bike I’d stashed and biked back to the car. That night we drove 6 hours back to Jackson, Wyoming, where I dropped Andrew off at the airport. I then drove 7 hours back to the Mystic Lake trailhead in Montana to finish off the remaining 12ers.
That evening I climbed Pyramid, then bivied half under a boulder below Mt Wood, enduring a long rain/snow/thunderstorm that lasted through the night and left me miserable, soaked, and sleepless. Over the next two days I climbed the remaining 12ers in a big loop ending back at my car. My final day was a 24-hour push, reaching the summit of Mt Peal at 6:35pm, then hiking and bushwhacking back to my car by 4am. This gave me a finishing time of 6 days 23 hours for the MT 12ers. I managed to get a 2 hour nap in the car then drove 15 hours straight back to Seattle, barely staying within the 2-month summer window I’d given myself for the slam.
I tracked my progress with my inreach and have included a link to my mapshare page. I also included my gps tracks and a link to a trip report I wrote for the trip. The 3 pictures are from on or near the summits of Longs Peak (CO), Grand Teton (WY), and Granite Peak (MT).
(Editor Note: Eric describes this massive trip in Podcast Episode 104.)