Jack McBroom Sweeps California 14er's
Beats previous speed record by more than a day and a half
August 28, 2002
» Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Note: The speed record for climbing California's 14,000-foot peaks was first set in 1998 by the famous speed climber Hans Florine who climbed all 15 in nine days, 10 hours, 50 minutes. In August 2001, Josh Swartz, 25, did it in just under six at five days, 23 hours and 41 minutes. Everyone thought that time was untouchable until this month when Jack McBroom did it in four days, 11 hours and 19 minutes. McBroom is also an ultra runner and competed in the Bad Water to Mt. Whitney, as well as last year's Eco-Challenge in New Zealand. Jack thinks he might go under four days next summer. I was his solo crew member. Well, my 1992 Toyota 4x4 was also a big help. Paul McGuffin
It was the summer of 1996 and I was camped at 10,000 feet with my friend Paul and his teenaged son. Above us on the Sierra crest loomed the bulk of Split Mountain, puncturing the 14,000-foot barrier by 58 feet. We had come to climb Split Mountain as part of a long-term plan to climb all the 14er's in California.
These 14er's have become symbolic targets for weekend mountaineers across America, providing a tangible goal in this crazy game of peak bagging. California has only 15 mountains exceeding the magic number and we thought, "Yeah, we can do them all. It'll only take maybe four or five years."
As we sat relaxing, a couple of young men came plodding down the trail looking tired but happy. We stopped one of them and he told us they were setting the speed record for climbing all the 14er's. Yep, he said, they were hoping to do them all in under two weeks! "14 days?!" we said. Wow. That got us thinking.
It's July 2002 and I'm coming down from Mt. Russell. I hit the parking lot just ahead of the billowing, choking smoke from a huge fire in Sequoia which soon blots out the sun and begins dropping ash on us. I've just climbed 11 of the 14er's in the last three days, eight hours. Sitting in the shade and eating cookies, I laugh. It figures. Who would ever guess a forest fire would stop me?
August 10th, 2:10 a.m.
For the second time in a month I walk away from the car at South Lake trailhead above Bishop. I'm carrying a pretty heavy pack for what I'm headed up to do. I've got thermal bottoms, a rain jacket, two quarts of water, and my "secret weapon," a 17-ounce down sleeping bag for crashing in the backcountry. I've also got four slices of pizza, Teddy Grahams, candy bars, and a pack of Gu. My LED headlamp creates an alien glow as I cruise up toward Bishop Pass.
My driver/crew is Paul, now 60 years old. We think we have a good strategy of attack, one that has not been tried before. Hopefully, with luck, we can break Josh Swartz's record of five days, 23 hours. Paul is all energy and enthusiasm. I'm all caution and reserve.
Continued on PAGE 2 »
Jack McBroom, MountainZone.com Contributor