Steamboat’s Jimmy Howe biked to 50 14ers — and climbed them, too
July 17, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Talk about some well-honed quads.
Hayden native and Steamboat resident Jimmy Howe embarked upon an 1,800-mile, self-supported, bike-packing trip last summer in which he also hiked 50 14ers (including Mount Rainier and Mount Shasta) and ascended nearly 350,000 vertical feet, both biking and hiking.
A graduate of the University of Colorado and current ski instructor and U.S. Forest Service employee, Howe wanted to spend the summer doing big trips on his own terms. He'd always wanted to hike all the lower continental 14ers, and he thought it'd be more fun to self-power his adventure.
Starting with Mount Rainier, which he summited and skied in May 2017, he began bike-packing through Washington and Oregon and into the Sierra Nevadas. Often biking 100 miles per day, he summited nine 14ers on the West Coast before heading back to tackle Colorado's 14ers, summiting another 41 — a handful with the late Dan Hohs.
"I tried to be the first one to summit all the lower U.S. 14ers self-powered, using only a bicycle to get me to the trailheads," he said, "but I was cut short by bad conditions in California. I arrived right when the heat wave hit, and combined with the enormous snowpack, it wasn't the time to attempt many of the summits safely. So after that, I ended up splitting my trip into parts."
West Coast 14ers
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1,629 miles • 138,760 feet of ascent • 9 summits • 42 days
"I started at Paradise, Washington, summiting and skiing Rainier, then biked down to Mount Shasta. Continuing on to the Owens River Valley, I summited Thunderbolt Peak, Starlight Peak, North Palisade, Mount Muir, Mount Whitney, Mount Russell and Mount Langley. I then biked to Lone Pine, where I took an Amtrak train back to Colorado," Howe said.
Southern Colorado 14ers
595 miles • 93,972 feet of ascent • 14 peaks • 22 days
"I began the second leg of my trip at Pike's Peak and continued to the Sangre de Christos, where I summited Humbolt Peak, Crestone Needle, Little Bear Peak, Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Peak. Then I continued biking across the San Luis Valley to the San Juans, where I summited San Luis Peak, Sunshine Peak, Redcloud Peak, Handies Peak, Mount Wilson, Mount Sneffels, Uncompahgre Peak and Wetterhorn Peak," he said.
From there, Howe followed the Alpine loop for connecting the 14ers ("An amazing bike-packing trip in itself."), missing a handful of peaks to witness the solar eclipse in the Tetons.
Northern Colorado 14ers
563 miles • 113,514 feet of ascent • 25 peaks • 24 days
With Hohs, Howe started in Aspen and summited Snowmass Mountain, Pyramid Peak, Castle Peak and Conundrum Peak. Then they biked to Mount of the Holy Cross, and the rest of the 14 Sawatch Peaks.
"We also did a good job of linking the breweries of the area together," he said.
After Hohs left, he finished the Sawatch Range peaks and then biked on to climb Mount Sherman, Mount Democrat, Mount Lincoln, Mount Cameron, Mount Bross and Mount Quandary.
"That's when I ran out of time and money, ending my trip on the 50th summit for the summer," he said, adding that he was able to bike link most of those peaks together via singletrack on the Colorado Trail.
"It was a spectacular experience, even though I didn't accomplish my original goal," he said. "It was the most I had ever biked before. Day 1 was my longest day ever, only to be outdone on Day 2. I was joined by good friends and realized my main dream of the summer: To go as far and as fast in the mountains as I wanted to, while exploring the most popular mountain ranges in the West."
By the numbers
Miles traveled: 2,789
Feet ascended: 346,246
Peaks climbed: 50
Days on the road: 88
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