Table of Contents

This section will attempt to document some peakbagging records and other achievements in the mountains of New England. Since New Hampshire has most of the 4,000 footers that is where most such achievements take place, but I will also collect similar ones in Maine and Vermont.

Basically I am interested in documenting new achievements as they take place, and will attempt to go back and find information on earlier ones to put the current ones in context. The AMC 4,000 Footer Committee does not recognize speed (or any other) records, so this compilation is purely informal.

Speed Records

The issue of speed records is rather controversial in the hiking community, many hikers believe that such records are irrelevant to hiking, while others care a lot about them. Personally I have very mixed feelings: I do not see hiking as a competitive sport, but I very much enjoy the feeling of my body working as hard as it is capable.

In any case, many people do care about them, and this site is as good a place as any in which to try to collect them.

The Fitch Brothers, Summer 1973

In August 1973 George and Tom Fitch, aged 17 and 15 respectively, climbed the 46 peaks then on the list in six days, 15 hours and 30 minutes, finishing at Madison Hut. Their record is unique in several ways: they had absolutely no support, they used one car (with a bicycle to retrieve the car on traverses), and they slept in the car. I consider that the supreme Tom Sawyer accomplishment in New England hiking history! I am reproducing an excellent article from the AMC Outdoors, Oh, Brothers: The Fitch boys climbed 46 \ peaks—in seven days with the kind permission of the author and the Publisher.

Al Sochard, Bill Parlette and Doug Mayer, Summers of 1991 and 2001

In the summer of 1991 these three hikers climbed the 48 peaks now on the list in eight days (they dubbed it "The Hike From Hell"). They were aware of the Fitch brothers' record, but their purpose was to have a fun adventure, and eight days seemed right. Ten years later they were able to repeat it, a remarkable achievement. Doug Mayer wrote a humorous piece about the first trip for Appalachia, June 1992, that said little about the actual adventure. He has been kind enough to send me an itinerary of The Hike From Hell, which I have used to create a table of distances and elevation gains. He also sent me a couple of emails about their motivation. I will quote one of them briefly here:

... get you some thoughts about the hikes. For me anyway, they were about having a silly, fun adventure with my pals in the mountains. I have such GREAT memories of those hikes. I was challenged to my personal max, which was just what I wanted. Al and I were just talking about these hikes on the way up to Tucks the other morning—we always realized these hikes were about creating an adventure for ourselves. Hopefully others have been similarly inspired. In a few years, I'm sure we'll do the four thousand footers again. Who knows. I also like doing the one day, summer huts traverse—that's a great test of summer fitness.

I have reproduce the other email in full on its own page.

Maine and Vermont Fours in Five Days

In 1993 a group, which included Sue Johnston, Al Sochard, Bill Parlette, Doug Mayer and others, did the five Vermont 4,000 footers in one day, then drove to Maine and did the 12 (they are now 14) peaks then considered 4,000 footers in another four days. This trip, which involved a lot of driving in addition to the hiking, was dubbed "The Hike From Heck". Doug Mayer wrote a piece similar in spirit to the one on their New Hampshire adventure in the June 1994 Appalachia. Sue Johnston was kind enough to give me the itinerary of The Hike From Heck.

Ted E. Keizer (Cave Dog), Summer 2002

In August 2002 Ted Keizer (Cave Dog), who had established a record for doing the Colorado fourteeners, was the first person to attempt the White Mountain 4,000 footers in ultramarathon style, hiking (often running) almost continuously with minimal sleep. He finished on the summit of Waumbek in 3 days, 17 hours and 21 minutes. His site gives details of the times to various landmarks (summits and cols).

As the first person to attempt this record in ultramarathon style he set the rules, one of which was:

4. The Clock: The clock starts at the trailhead of the first peak climbed and stops at the summit of the last peak.

That rule puts a premium on ending as far from the road as possible, since the final run back to the car is not counted in the time. This has caused some controversy on the bulletin boards, but I must point out that the Fitch brothers did the same, ending the timed trip at Madison Hut (where they spent the night) rather than at the trailhead.

Tim Seaver, Summer 2003

In July 2003 Tim Seaver broke Ted "Cave Dog" Keizer's previous record, finishing on Owl's Head in 3 days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes. He covered 184.4 miles with 62,436 feet of elevation gain in that period. The details are available in a large spreadsheet on his site, which contains a running narrative besides the times, distances and elevation gains.