FKT: Skyler Williams - LA Freeway (CO) - 2021-07-19

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
17h 42m 53s
GPS track(s)

Solo unsupported effort after scouting the entirety out as a backpacking trip the week before. This line is, as advertised, difficult and sustained. Detailed trip report coming on Strava.


Longs Peak: 2hrs 17m

Pagoda: 2hrs 50m

Chiefs Head: 3hrs 39m

Alice: 4hrs 29m

Tanima: 4hrs 59m

Isolation: 6hrs 3m

Ouzel: 6hrs 39m

Ogalalla: 7hrs 17m

"Ooh La La": 7hrs 39m

Point 12227: 8hrs 24m

Red Deer: 8hrs 42m

Sawtooth: 9hrs 3m

Algonquin: 9hrs 39m

Paiute: 10hrs 56m

Toll: 11hrs 41m

Pawnee: 11hrs 59m

Shoshoni: 12hrs 32m

Apache: 13hrs 38m

Navajo: 14hrs 3m

Arikaree: 14hrs 46m

Deshawa: 15hrs 34m

N. Arapaho: 16hrs 15m

S. Arapaho: 16hrs 38m

4th of July TH: 17hrs 42m 53sec


After backpacking the route last week and making it in about 10hrs from Buchanan to the end, I felt like I had a decent chance of going under 20hrs on a good push (thought minimum 18hrs) despite all of the minor setbacks of the summer (sprained ankle, less altitude). I'd blocked this week out a month or two ago thinking it would work well for water and weather, and indeed things looks just perfect for going on Monday and then actually getting to relax the rest of the week. Got all my stuff ready the night before so I could get up at 2 and roll out around 2:30 with coffee and eggs.

Tons of people at the trailhead, likely trying to get the Longs summit in sans snow and pre-monsoon. I fumbled around for a few min, forgetting my gloves in the car and having to turn back, but managed to start by 3:51am, just a little later than intended. Tried to not go too fast on the way up but was a bit excited and couldn't help myself a few times. Filled my 2L bladder at Jim's, then got enough light to click off the headlamp by the shoulder of MLW, could've definitely started earlier. Took a pretty direct line up to the base of Cables, not much snow left in the way, and then blessedly the route was dry! It felt like a sign from the mountain, for me to use this opportunity and my youth to give it all a good try. I scurried up and over to the top quickly and securely, getting there just a couple minutes past my goal of 2:15. Tagged the top and said a quick howdy to the few folks there (last people I saw all day), then scurried down the Homestretch and into the talus leading over to Pagoda.

Took what seemed to be a more direct line towards the little downclimb but ended up wandering a little, tried to make up for it by carrying my momentum through the saddle and up Pagoda. Had made much better time than I'd expected but just as good as I'd hoped, was ecstatic. Bumbled down the south ridge looking for an early spot to drop but quickly gave up and just cruised the talus, try to make up with speed what I lacked for in directness. The snowfield at the bottom of the slabs was so melted from a week previous, never had to touch it and just turned to cruise down the loose ramp. Found the easy but exposed class 3 bit I missed last time, and turned immediately onto the Pagodaway, trying to move as quick as I could on that beautiful ledge. Took a decently efficient route up to the top of Chief's Head and was again surprised at my time, which got me stoked enough to start running on the downhill towards Alice. Took the trail up Alice this time and it was surprisingly not too bad, didn't feel quite that sloggy, excited I ran down the backside and made quick work up/down Tanima.

Isolation seemed very imposing onsite but was a highlight of the day to return to. No indecision about my line this time, and found a more efficient way up to the notchy bit right before the fun 5th class section, which was just straight up fun this time. Remembering how long the rest of that ridge felt, I put my head down and just ground it out, getting to the top before I knew it. All of a sudden I was somewhat surprised by where I was at what time with my current supplies, so I started chugging water and eating extra snacks on my way to Ouzel. Got to the spring with just 0.5L in the bladder and did a full chug/fill/snack rotation. Made pretty slow work from there to Buchanan, trying to run where I felt good but not push it too hard, conscious of the ankle and the length of day remaining. Mentally Buchanan is the halfway point for me, and I figured my final time would likely be double my time to there, so was hype to see not only under 10 hours but under 9. Felt slow but steady heading up Sawtooth/Algonquin, then felt quite sluggish on the traverse over to Paiute, hit my line well was just moving slow on it. Hit the top of Paiute, which is always fun, and realized I should be eating and drinking more, so I made a point of doing so on the way to the Toll saddle and then chugged/filled the flasks from a good bit of flow there. Thought I heard some voices heading up Toll but couldn't find anyone, I like cruising up the 4th class on the west of the ridge before bopping left just as it steepens in a 3rd class chimney (chossier than you want) where you can snake left-then-right to get to the base of the chimney which overhangs to the left (gotchu Abel). 0 style points on my chimney ascent, but hey I haven't dialed my beta on that still somehow so for speed just ended up mostly offwidth shimmying. Started to feel a bit sloggy on the 4th class to the top, but it seemed I was still moving quickly so I let it be a mostly mental thing.

Didn't feel too quick heading over to Pawnee but took a more direct line than last time so got some unexpected time back, stoked on this I actually ran a good deal of the trail down to the pass. Started going around the side of the hill towards Shoshoni and went under the snowfield I'd gone above before, a more efficient line for sure and grabbed some sweet sweet water along the way as a bonus. Flopped over the top of the summit block on Shoshoni and rested my torso there for a moment feeling gassed, then tried to marshal some decent hustle to the start of the Apache ridge. At some point on the way I was eating some lil smokies and felt a sort of "twist" in my throat/stomach and my throat got tight, which quickly became the most uncomfortable part of the day. I'd been nose-breathing almost exclusively the whole time and getting what felt like a great amount of oxygen, but now whenever I twisted my torso or neck I'd get a weird knotting sensation which triggered nausea and a feeling of hypoxia, even though I was breathing fine. Having looked things up on the internet, I think it's subcutaneous emphysema, as the right side of my neck was and is crackly upon touch. Anywhoo, that kinda threw a wrench in my desire to try hard from that point on, I felt this distinctly on the way towards Apache as I was crawling my way along the eastern cliffs thinking how I never hit a good line through there and knowing that I was not going to let myself stop until it was finished. A real sense of finality hit me then, and I decided that regardless of what it felt like I sorta would rather just finish it out. Oddly enough, this seemed to quell any issues I'd been having with my legs or getting enough oxygen, and it was just my throat and my lungs I had to battle the rest of the way. And the wind, which picked up significantly out of the east at this point.

Apache passed quickly enough and Navajo flew by before I could realize what happened, I think I was thinking about what makes the difference between muffins and cupcakes when my brain pulled me back as I was looking for a handhold on the final handcrack, legit don't remember what route I took on the first section but it wasn't my normal one. The descent down to the Most Glorious of Lakes was much quicker this time but much less sweet, I fell a number of times (4?) from talus shifting/falling beneath me, at one point I just sat there for a minute wondering what wouldn't move when I stepped on it. Finally got down to the lake and chugged/filled super quick while plugging my watch in (I didn't know how much I'd slow down on the coming ridge and didn't want to fuss with it in the potential dark), then started up Arikaree while packing stuff away. That ridge was much more fun this time, stayed pretty much direct except for silly towers and it was awesome, but the wind was significant enough that I was trying to stay in the sun/out of it wherever I could. Grabbed my watch back at the top and saw I'd made great time and that I'd likely make it to NA before nightfall, huzzah! This motivated me to get moving, and despite being a bit ungraceful on the talus descents I made super quick work over to Deshawa, entirely since I knew the line from last week and was following things I remembered to the letter. The light on the ridge at this point was truly stunning with all the smoke around and my body was moving on complete autopilot, taking care of every bit of scrambling without me having to pay any attention, it was quite surreal. Heading over to North Arapaho felt both sloggier and quicker than last time, the wind was really starting to pick up and this kept me moving. Hung out for a moment at the crux, tired and enjoying the last bit of fun, then pulled the moves and headed towards Endless Class 3 Ramp Galore™. Tweaked my ankle something fierce on that last damn scree ascent to the top of North Arapaho and started laughing my ass off, but quickly got myself moving again and tagged the summit. Tried to keep a smile on heading to South Arapaho but really just stumbled over, alternating between having my wind jacket on and off since it was getting much darker and colder. Hit the final summit and just wanted to get out of the wind, was really having trouble thermo-regulating since the wind was so strong but my internal temperature seemed to be all over the place, I think due to the emphysema. I thought I'd be running the last section downhill but the only thing I could convince myself to muster was a motivated stumble. Got into the tundra before I had to turn on my headlamp, but once through the creek crossing had to click it on. Once I got to the gully I knew went cliff-free I just turned downwards and tried to move, which was still depressingly slow. I fell another few times but it was grass so I kinda just rolled back upwards and kept moving. At some point I turned "Down Under" on my phone speakers and let that play on repeat until I got back to the trail, motivating my way through the grove of trees I somehow found. I tried to run down the last section of trail but was truly afraid of my ankle going so walked a few portions I was less certain of. Ran into the parking lot with a yelp and definitely disturbed some people, but holy everything it was good to be done.