Summer 2015 has been full of amazing mountaineering records and feats, from Scott Jurek setting the new Appalachian Trail record to Andrew Hamilton climbing all Colorado's 14ers in record time. Now, two mountain bikers are attempting to set records on terrain that only runners had previously tread.
Photographer, writer, and mountaineer Ian Fohrman, along with artist and pro skier Whit Boucher are taking on a project called Bike the 14ers, in which they are attempting to ascend and descend all 18 of Colorado's 54 peaks that stand above 14,000 feet that are legal to cycle on. "We are taking bikes where other people aren't," says Fohrman. "It's about exploring our home state with some great biking that's never been done and inspiring other people to follow in our footsteps." The pair also hopes to get people thinking about whether bikes should be allowed in wilderness areas — the designation prohibiting riding on the other 36 peaks.
Fohrman and Boucher started on the project when they heard a rumor that it was possible (and fun) to ride a bike down the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains, Mount Elbert. After hiking their bikes to the top of the peak, they let it rip, finding a line to ride almost all of the 14,439-foot mountain. After that, the guys were hooked and began hunting lines on more of the state's tallest peaks — never taking the same route up as they do going down.
"Mount Antero was the first one that we really strategized with getting to the top and biking to the bottom from a completely different route," explains Fohrman. "We ascended up the south slope across a one-mile ridge traverse and there is a lot of technical descent there, but we were able to create a line that connected onto a big loop of the Colorado Trail so we got technical alpine and trail riding all at the same time. It was a big day on the bikes."
Besides Antero and Elbert, the pair has also ridden Mount Sherman and Democrat. They don't have a strict timetable for completing all of the 18 peaks, but they're aiming for October. It's a process, since they are traveling around the state, camping in between rides, and the fact that just getting to the start of each ride is no easy task.
"Hiking bikes up these mountains is hard work, but you get used to it," says Fohrman. "We ride as much as we think is possible going up, but going down we get to ride almost 90 percent of the descent. Pushing off the top of the mountain is pretty exciting. It makes it worth it."