One Dirty Magazine

Photo Gallery: 30 Hours of Wind, Fog and Rain on Nolan’s 14

In July, Gary Robbins and Jared Campbell suffered through hours of inclement weather (and near hypothermia) to log an official Nolan's 14 finish.

Administrator August 16th, 2017

  • Descending off the third peak, Antero (14,269 ft). Unbeknownst to us, we'd timed our attempt to coincide with the High Lonesome 100. We were taking the most direct line down the mountain, short cutting the switchbacks, and some runners laid eyes on us as if to say "Hey, what the heck!" We assured them we weren't shorting the race course. Further down, we ran through an aid station. We did accept hugs, but did not take any calories from the tables.
  • Jared descending Princeton (14,197 ft). Some minor weather descend upon us as we approached the summit, and we apparently missed some lightening that had hit the area about 30 minutes prior to our arrival. These would be our last summit views until Mount Elbert, nine peaks and two stormy nights later.
  • Peak five, Yale (14,196 ft). We were a few hours into our first night and the rain had only just begun. The forecast only called for a 60-percent chance of rain, and when the rain began, around 8:30 a.m., we had every reason to believe it would be temporary. Little did we know that the rain that started just before this picture was taken would last over 24 hours.
  • As we descended Mount Harvard (14,420 ft), we crossed a frigid river near Bedrock Falls. Jared pulled out his camera and asked me to go back into the river for a picture. I declined, so he took this photo instead ...
  • ... then he asked me to hold his camera. He went back into the river himself for a picture of "us" crossing the river.
  • Jared ascending Mount Oxford (14,153 ft). At this exact point we were discussing how dangerously close we both were to hypothermia, and how long it would be until we would access our crew again. We agreed that neither of us could safely tackle another night in our current state. We'd been in consistent rain for about 14 hours and were about an hour away from calling it quits. By the time we had reached the summit, snow had started to fly.
  • This was taken atop Oxford. No disguising it: we were in a bad state, and a successful finish was not looking promising. We kept peering skyward, just wondering how much longer the storm could last. It was maybe 10 a.m. We knew that if the storm cleared, the air would warm up instantly and we'd be able to rally. Unfortunately conditions only continued to deteriorate.
  • This selfie was taken atop Mount Missouri (14,067 ft). After Oxford, we had called it quits and dropped down to the Missouri Gulch trail access point. We were a half-mile from the next peak, Mount Belford (14,197 ft), but we skipped it, believing that we didn't have the resources to safely tag the summit. After warming up and changing our clothes and supplies, we decided to give things another go. Unfortunately, as we backtracked up to claim Belford, the cloud and rain enveloped us again. We were soaked to the bone within minutes (for the third time in the past 20 hours).
  • We dropped straight off Missouri and down a steep scree slope. It was mountain bliss, and one of the few times during the rain storm that we were both really enjoying ourselves. As we headed towards Clohesy Lake, the clouds peeled back ever so slightly and I was able to capture this image of Jared up ahead. Our next objective, Huron Peak (14,003 ft) peers down at us in the distance.
  • En route to the final peak, Mount Massive (14,421 ft). Jared was packing along a full burrito and made short work of it during our many quick food breaks. He was the lucky one, who was able to keep his stomach in check and continue eating regularly. I am staring at him from behind the lens, having recently lost my guts for the 10th time, in great envy of his enjoyment of real food and substantial calories.
  • The day after our run, in the sunshine ... of course. All of this, plus a few missing items, were utilized and necessary in keeping me safe and warm enough to persevere through the extra-trying conditions dealt to us along the way.

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.

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