Maroon Bells Four Passes Loop (CO) Nov 2, 2009 11:24:50 GMT -5
Post by Peter Bakwin on Nov 2, 2009 11:24:50 GMT -5
Sage Canaday set the FKT at 4h27m10s, September 5, 2013.
Megan Lizotte set the women's FKT at 6h2m35s on August 30, 2015.
The Maroon Bells Four Passes Loop is a 28-mile route in the Elk Mountains near Aspen, Colorado. It circumnavigates the Maroon Bells, through some of the most spectacular scenery in the state. I think it just might be the best run in the entire state! It is a challenging route, with 7,500 feet of climbing and descending, numerous creek crossings, and altitudes up to 12,460 feet. It is normally done as a 3-4 day backpack, but is an outstanding 1-day run for those fit enough. The best time to do the run is probably mid-to-late July, when the snow has melted, wildflowers are going crazy, and there is still plenty of water around.
I have done this route several times. I have run both directions, but prefer counter-clockwise mainly because in that direction the last pass is a piece of cake, and running back to the Maroon Lake TH from West Maroon Pass is more gradual and fun that running down Buckskin Pass.
Anton Krupicka did the loop as a training run on July 17, 2009. He reports as follows:
*** BELT BUCKLE ROUTE! ***
Rickey Gates and partner Elizabeth Thorp have created a series of custom belt buckles commemorating some of the most iconic and hotly contested FKT routes! This route certainly qualifies. Each buckle is awarded to the FKT holder, and passed on when that FKT is superseded. Currently this buckle is held by Sage Canaday for the men. Gates & Thorp are still working to create a buckle for the women.
I went counter-clockwise at a pretty standard training pace for most of the day and didn't inject any significant pace until the last 20 minutes or so, so it's definitely something that can be lowered. Especially since I had to take a few obligatory gawk-and-stare stops...such an epic run.
Splits: Crater split, 19:30; Buckskin pass, 1:02:30; Snowmass Lake, 1:35:45; Trailrider pass, 2:04:25; North Fork river crossing, 2:37:05; Frigid Air pass, 3:26; West Maroon Pass, 3:53; Crater split, 4:34 (making 4:14:30 for the "true" loop) and then another 12:55 back to the parking lot.
Also, I'd be interested in a GPS distance on this run. I wasn't running that slow today, but if it's 28 miles I was still doing over 10min miles? Damn. Also, I was cranking the downhill from Crater back to the parking lot, so I feel like it has to be more than 1.25 miles (of course, there were plenty of tourists/hikers clogging things up).
INCREDIBLE flowers today! -- Anton Krupicka
After Krupicka, Rickey Gates had a go at the route on August 26, 2012. In his blog he wrote: "I have been chasing Tony’s FKT on the Four Pass loop for a couple years mostly because the trail is in my back yard and I’ll be damned if some out-of-town, truck-dwelling hippie lays claim to an FKT on my turf." He completed the loop in 4h35m26s, a new FKT. Gates started the run with none other than Lance Armstrong, who also ran an excellent time of about 5h40m. Gates' splits were as follows:
16’55 - 16’55 Crater Lake Split
54’58 – 38’02 Buckskin Pass
1:24’38 – 29’40 Snowmass Lake Split
1:51’05 – 26’27 Trailrider Pass
2:21’28 – 30’22 North Fork Crossing
3:11’11 – 49’43 Frigid Air Pass
3:40’38 – 29’26 West Maroon Pass
4:21’34 – 40’56 Crater Lake Split
4:35’26 – 13’51 Trailhead
On Sept. 5, 2013, Sage Canaday set a new FKT of 4h27m10s (CCW). A detailed report is on Canaday's site. He reported splits as follows:
Crater Lake: 16:17
Buckskin Pass: 54:53
Snowmass Lake Split 1:22
Trail Rider Pass: 1:49
North Fork River: 2:16
Frigid Air Pass: 3:05
W. Maroon Pass: 3:32
Crater Lake split: 4:12
Finish: 4:27:10 (parking lot pavement).
Prior to Krupicka's run, I had asked local expert Neal Beidleman about the FKT for this run, but he was not able to point to a faster time. Beidleman reported running the loop portion (not including the Crater to Maroon Lake segment) in "just under 5 hours".
There was no women's FKT reported prior to summer 2014, at which point there was a sudden uptick in interest in establishing a respectible women's time. Gina Lucrezi was first to claim an FKT of 7h5m53s (counter clockwise) on July 23, 2014. A link to her report is below. Several weeks later, on August 18, 2014, Sandi Nypaver lowered the FKT to 6h28m59s (CCW). A link to her GPS track is below. On August 30, 2014, Rebecca Much ran the route in 6h29m31s (counter clockwise), which was believed to be the FKT as Nypaver's time (just 32 seconds faster!) was not reported until later. Splits and a link to Much's GPS file are below. Finally, Aspen's Megan Lizotte did the route in a speedy 6h2m35s on August 30, 2015 (accompanied).
”The pity with that loop is that it’s so scenic that it’s hard to motivate to put in a focused, no-stops effort.” -- Anton Krupicka
“Ain’t life funny. Last night I was swearing I’d never do again what I did yesterday. Now today I can’t wait to do it again.” -- Lance Armstrong (a day after completing the Four Passes Loop)
"That was too much fun!" -- Megan Lizotte
photo by Chris Gerber