New Record for California 14’ers

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Hans Florine has smashed the record for climbing California’s 14,000-foot peaks. Starting in the wee hours of September 17, Florine bagged eight Sierra 14’ers in the next 24 hours. On Day 2, he climbed isolated White Mountain and Mt. Langley, and the next day he reached four summits around Mt. Whitney. That left only a flight to Shasta and a quick climb of the Northern California volcano to claim a new record. Elapsed time, car-to-car: 3 days, 12 hours, 11 minutes. The California 14’ers have been contested since 1998, when Florine, Russ McBride and Tony Ralph climbed all 15 peaks in 9 days, 11 hours. In 2001, Josh Swartz bagged the 15 in just under 6 days, and last year Jack McBroom sliced that record to 4 days, 11 hours, 19 minutes. Earlier this summer, McBride attempted to reclaim the record but gave up after Mt. Russell, despite becoming the first person to climb seven 14’ers in a day. The 14’ers are not exactly a measured mile, and precise comparisons are difficult. Florine and McBride both decided to obey a seasonal bighorn-sheep closure on Mt. Williamson, cutting their peak count to 14. (Williamson is very close to Mt. Tyndall and adds only a few hours of peak-bagging.) Florine also dragooned a friend into flying his private plane from Southern California to Shasta, saving four to five hours of driving time. However, even if you add back the time saved by these shortcuts, Florine’s time is at least half a day faster than the previous record. This is not likely to be the end of it. Josh Swartz said after setting his mark two years ago, “The record won’t really be respectable until it’s under three days.”

Read Josh Swartz' 2002 account of his failed speed record attempt at SummitPost.com