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On July 30, Gary Robbins and Jared Campbell finished the classic Colorado peak challenge Nolan’s 14, marking the 22nd and 23rd times that the route has been completed.
Nolan’s 14 is an linkup of 14 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado’s Sawatch range in under 60 hours. There is no official route—simply a challenge to tag each of the summits, starting and ending at the Leadville Fish Hatchery and Blank Cabin at the trailhead to Mount Shavano.
Campbell, 37, of Salt Lake City, Utah—who has finished the Hardrock 100 10 times, and won it in 2010—had already completed the challenge once before, in 2012. Robbins was a first-timer on the route.
The pair came to Nolan’s after Robbins suffered a disappointing wrong turn in the final miles of the 2017 Barkley Marathons, narrowly missing out on a coveted finish.
“[Gary] put so much training into Barkley and it didn’t work out the way we all wanted it to for him,” said Campbell in an interview with Trail Runner several weeks before their Nolan’s run. “So I would love to see him get a high level of satisfaction out of Nolan’s.”
However, the mountains weren’t going to give Campbell and Robbins an easy time. Rain started shortly after they set off from Blank Cabin, and continued for the next 20 hours. By the time Campbell and Robbins reached the eight peak, Mount Oxford, both were hypothermic. On the summit of Oxford, they decided to bail. They cut down to Missouri Gulch to meet their crew and change into dry clothes. But Robbins’ wife, Linda Barton-Robbins, wasn’t ready to let them give up.
“She was continually reminding us ‘you still have 31 hours left to finish this thing,'” says Robbins. “We decided to give things another go.”
The rain continued for the next 10 hours, clearing up just in time for the last few peaks. Campbell and Robbins ultimately reached Blank Cabin in 56 hours 39 minutes, just over three hours before the 60-hour cutoff.
This collection of photos, taken by Robbins and Campbell, capture the pair’s suffering and triumph.
On August 1-3, Spanish runner Iker Karrera set a new supported FKT on Nolan’s 14, in 47 hours 40 minutes, taking roughly six hours off the previous record, held by Andrew Hamilton.