Nolan's 14

Matt Mahoney's 2001 Colorado Vacation

2001 Nolan's 14

Aug. 16-18, 2001. Nolan's 14 is a race over 14 summits over 14,000 feet, about 100 miles and 45,000 ft. of climb and a 60 hour cutoff. Last year I had finished second out of 6 runners with 10 summits, climbing Massive, Elbert, La Plata, Huron, Missouri, Belford, Oxford, Harvard, Columbia, and Yale in 55 hours. This year I made the same number of summits, but missed the 60 hour cutoff on Princeton by 76 minutes. That would only have moved me from 9th to 8th place out of 12 runners. Four finished all 14 summits. Complete results.

The race started at 6:00 AM Thursday at the Leadville Fish Hatchery. Eric Robinson, Ginny LaForme, and Steve Simmons climb 14,421 ft. Mt. Massive northeast ridge.

Steve Simmons on Massive at 8:55 AM. From here we descended the soft scree slopes to the west, a much quicker route than the standard east ridge/Colorado trail. From there we climbed the NW ridge of Elbert to 14,433 ft.

1:21 PM. Descending Mt. Elbert via Bull Hill. I was alone for most of the race.

Mt. La Plata, 14,336 ft. I reached the summit 7:10 PM with about an hour of daylight left. As it got dark, I could see Hans Dieter Weisshaar's flashlight about an hour behind me. I reached Winfield at 11:30 PM and slept 4 hours in Jim Nolan's truck.

I started up Huron (14,003 ft) at 3:30 AM and reached the summit at 7:10 AM. Hans was still asleep when I left, and told me not to wait for him.

The descent from Huron. There is no trail until treeline, and I wanted to do this section in daylight.

I waited for Hans at the Cloises Lake cabin aid station between Huron and Missouri. We departed at 11:33 AM.

We climbed the steep trail to Missouri (14,067 ft). Hans had pulmonary edema and was climbing very slowly. We reached the summit at 1:50 PM.

We descended a steep scree slope from the summit to the aid station. Hans and his wife Suzi (center) left to recover and resume climbing tomorrow. I continued.

A storm threatens Mt. Belford (14,197 ft). Earlier I was pounded with gale force winds and snow for about 20 minutes. I reached the summit at 4:52 PM with the second storm passing by harmlessly.

After traversing a saddle, I reached Mt. Oxford (14,153 ft) at 5:38 PM. From here, the route to Harvard is visible. I descended the saddle to the Pine Creek aid station at 11,000 ft, then up the northwest ridge. I reached Pine Creek at 7:15 PM, and bushwacked to above treeline before dark. I reached the summit of Harvard (14,420 ft) at 9:58 PM and Columbia (14,073 ft) at 3:09 AM. This year I was climbing alone and got lost during the traverse in the moonless night and ended up missing the easy grassy slopes and traversing dangerous steep rocks.

I arrived at the North Cottonwood aid station at 6:15 AM with no sleep. Dennis Herr (left) was waiting. We bushwacked up the west avalanche chute of Yale, finding several pieces of aircraft wreckage.

Above treeline, Dennis and I took separate routes to the summit of Yale (14,196 ft). I went up the east ridge (from the left), and he took the west ridge. He was there first (being a faster climber), and I reached the summit at 10:50 AM. There were about 30 people on the summit and another 100 or so climbing up from the Denny Creek trail. It was the 300'th anniversary of Yale University.

Mt. Princeton (14,197 ft.) from the east ridge of Yale. Dennis stopped after descending Yale, but I went on hoping to get 11 summits before 6:00 PM (60 hours). I reached the Denny Creek trailhead about 1:00 PM but had 10 miles to hike before the start of the climb at Maxwell Gulch. When I got there, I had less than 2 hours to climb 4500 ft, which seemed unlikely, but I went anyway. I made a last minute decision to climb the northwest ridge south of Maxwell Gulch, which turned out to be a better route than the dangerously steep talus and boulder slopes I had taken in the past.

I had only reached about 12,500 ft. when the 6:00 PM cutoff passed, so this summit would not count. But I still had to climb it to get to the east ridge trail. I reached the summit at 7:16 PM with a storm threatening, but all I got were a few snow flurries.

As I descended, it got dark and I lost the trail. I ended up traversing a steep ridge with loose boulders everywhere. One boulder the size of a table slid out from under me and I had to jump off. I knew the trail had to either be above me or below me, but I didn't know which. Charlie Thorn was going to pick me up, and I radioed him to come out on the trail with his flashlight but he couldn't hear me because he was behind a ridge that blocked the radio signals. I decided to go down because it was getting cold and windy, and after about 2 hours I crossed the trail. I was finally off the mountain at 10:26 PM, or over 64 hours.