Route: Norman's 13 (CA)

California, US

This route is the brain-child of Andy Gohlich.  The idea is a continuous link up the thirteen 14ers in the Sierra Nevada Range, similar to Nolan's 14 in Colorado's Sawatch Range.  Gohlich tried the route in late Sept / early Oct of 2017, but only completed 5 peaks due to snow and crewing problems.  Gohlich's idea is well described in an article in Trail Runner Magazine:


This route pays homage to Nolan’s 14, applying its summit-to-summit style to the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

From a 14,000-foot view, the stats look about equal; Norman’s stretches roughly 85 to 90 miles, with between 40,000 and 50,000 feet of vert. But the routes differ substantially on the ground (as it were).

Norman’s consists of two clusters of 14ers, separated by a stretch of the high-altitude John Muir Trail. Unlike its quasi-namesake—which demands a willingness to bushwhack but no technical climbing skills—the California version entails low-fifth-class scrambling on jutting granite ridges.

Why you should care: Norman’s 13, to our knowledge, has never been done. It’s the brainchild of Andy Gohlich, an LA-area climber and runner who plans to take it on later this year.

Like Fred Vance, Gohlich saw a logical line in the mountains, and wondered why it wasn’t a thing. California has 15 14ers. One, Mount Shasta, is way up north near Oregon. Another, White Mountain, is off to the east by the Nevada state line.

But the other 13 are all grouped in the Sierra Nevada.

“I was shocked that no one had focused on just the Sierra 14ers,” Gohlich says.

The project, along with three others, recently won a $1,000 grant through a collaboration between Ultimate Direction, La Sportiva and GU. It’s a good thing, too. Gohlich—who is 26, lives in his van and works a few days a week as a photographer’s assistant—says he otherwise might not have been able to afford the requisite gear.

“It’s so bloody obvious and logical, staring us in the face all these years,” says the grant’s creator, Ultimate Direction VP (and fastest known time OG) Buzz Burrell. “This is FKT action at its best—it’s creative, opens more possibilities and establishes meaning.”

Gohlich, who discovered trail running three years ago, calls himself a “solid upper-midpacker.” But by establishing a new line that’s sure to attract future adventurers, he can earn a spot in the annals of the sport.

In other words, to push the boundaries in trail running, you don’t need to contend for a two-hour marathon. You don’t need to be unusually talented, or even particularly fast.

“I hope that by having the vision for this route and sharing it with others,” Gohlich wrote in his application for the grant, “I can somehow give back to the sports that have given me so much, inspiring others to combine climbing and running … and hopefully inspiring someone to come along someday and do it faster as well.”

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Not super sure how this works but I'll be giving this an unsupported go starting on 9/13 super early. Looks like a good weather window and a full moon! I've been scouting the route for the past month and feel pretty good about most of the beta! Plan is to free climb/unaided on both Thunderbolt and Sill. Here's my gps tracking link and I'll document with pictures on the summits! If there's anything else I need to do please let me's a huge line so definitely have my doubts about it but really stoked to give it a go!

Posting as Matt's mom. His GPS tracker doesn't seem to be picking him up as of Friday afternoon (9/12/19). He mentioned that there was another climber traveling in the opposite direction who started a day earlier than he did (Thursday, 9/11/19). Reaching out to see if there's anyone who may have crossed paths with him on the route, including the JMT. Also, is there any way to access logbook info from along the route(s)? Any info is much appreciated.

Dates are incorrect above. Should be Friday (9/13/19) etc.

I finished the route last night. Official time 3 days 16 hours 33 min car to car. I'm worked now, more details later and GPS etc. That's the first successful completion of the route so fastest known time/first known time. Good luck to Matt too. I saw him briefly in passing on Pinchot pass and didn't realize what he was doing till reading the following summit registers! It was getting brutal cold with the winds yesterday - felt like I was playing a gamble pushing through the Palisades. Heck of a challenge/course to run! I'm done -Ryan 

Ryan, awesome project to finish! glad you managed to beat some of the weather!

Awesome write up, I hate to be “the guy” here, but you stated you accepted some food from hikers, wouldn’t that make this a supported attempt?

No, that is allowed for self supported.  As long as they weren't out there to meet you. You can take help from random people along the trail.

Trying this again, starting tomorrow morning 7/5/20!