Michael Wirth establishes a new FKT on the rarely finished Elk Traverse
Brought to you by Strafe Outerwear – Founded in Aspen, Colorado
The Elk Traverse is a link-up of all seven technical 14ers near the Aspen area, including Capitol, the Maroon Peaks, Snowmass, Castle, Pyramid, and Conundrum. The linkup first became reality when Neal Beidleman and Jeff Hollenbaugh’s accomplished the feat back in 1996 in a time of 34 hours. Since then, only a few people have finished it let alone done it with speed in mind. The previous FKT was set by Rickey Gates back in 2017 with a time of 27hours.
Five years later, Michael Wirth established a new FKT with a time of 22 hours and 30 minutes.
Check out his Q&A below about his why and what gear helped him accomplish this technical and fast feat of strength.
When and why did you decide to go after this FKT? What made you decide to tackle this?
It’s pretty simple honestly, these are my home mountains and doing big objectives in them both makes me feel challenged and at home in this weird contrasting way. I have viewed the Elks Traverse as the premiere mountain running FKT objective in my home range (the elks) and possibly Colorado at large. Just when you look at the combination of technicality, remoteness and distance/vert it seems like the Elks Traverse offers the highest level of challenge for Colorado FKTs.
What gear did you use on your Elk Mountain Traverse FKT?
Why did you choose those specific pieces?
Comfort, lightness and stability. The Mutants really are the mountain running shoe I opt for as they provide unmatched stability and the rubber really can’t be beat by any other brand in terms of traction on rocky surfaces. This is extremely important for the fifth class sections.
Strafe Skyline is breathable and made me look good. So I felt good. It dries super fast, but I changed shirts at Maroon Lake to keep things fresh.
Scout Jacket is just crazy light and helped keep me warm in the hammering night winds on top of Castle and Conundrum.
What did you eat and drink?
Lots. Maybe didn’t drink enough.
A mix of spring gels, Skratch superfuel, a tin of sardines, one avocado sardine burrito, and plain water. Think I took in around 5000cals.
TMR 40 miler on Saturday this week and prospectively a 100 this fall–we’ll see. Thinking a lot about skiing now honestly and wanting to climb more throughout the fall to be able to confidently take on more intense ski alpinism objectives than last year.