Breck resident climbs over 400,000 feet to set max vert October challenge record
FRISCO — What did you do in October? Maybe cook a new recipe, read a book or run a couple of times a week?
Breckenridge endurance athlete Christopher Fisher ran up and down mountainsides totaling 400,333 vertical feet in October. The feat is likely to be a new world record for the 26-year-old who surpassed by a wide margin the old record of 342,213 feet set by Noah Brautigam last year.
After seeing Brautigam’s performance, Fisher said he was inspired to set his own mark.
Fisher spent eight to 10 hours a day power hiking and scrambling mountainsides as part of the second annual Max Vert October challenge put on by the running event company Cirque Series.
Fisher’s uncle has lived in Breckenridge for more than 30 years, and he said he has been dabbling with mountain endurance sports since then.
About four to five years ago, Fisher said he joined the U.S. Navy, which eventually led him to the Navy SEAL endurance test. Fisher said he ended up quitting during the program’s most challenging final week, called Hell Week, and headed straight to Summit County after that.
“I started to pursue a new lifestyle where I pushed myself both physically and mentally any way I could,” Fisher said. “That’s where the whole mountain endurance stuff came from and has been growing ever since. It’s all based on quitting during a hard time during my life but never wanting to quit in my life again.”
Fisher started the first five days in Breckenridge near his home on a trail on Gibson Hill. On the fifth day, Fisher suffered a knee injury and was forced to pivot his plans for the challenge.
“I was forced to go see a physical therapist in order to get it figured out,” Fisher said. “Shortly after that PT session, I deiced to do the rest of the month in Salt Lake City on Grandeur Peak.”
Fisher would spend about 80% of the challenge on Grandeur Peak climbing the loop to the 8,299-foot summit close to 20 times and spending more time on the peak’s lower section to gain additional vertical.
Fisher’s strategy involved getting down the mountain as efficiently as possible in order to avoid being on his feet any longer than he had to be. Being in motion every day for eight to 10 hours a day can take a toll, especially traversing a mountaintop every single one of those days.
Fisher had to keep a pace of close to 13,000 feet of elevation gain a day in order to surpass 400,000 feet, but there were days when he climbed more than that. Fisher said he had one 18,000-foot day, nine 16,000-foot days and six 15,000-foot days in order to make up for the days in which his vertical was lower due to injuries.
Fisher battled a lot of injuries and fatigue throughout the month, but none of it was enough to make him throw in the towel.
“My knee got to the point the first few days of the month that I couldn’t really walk or run up or downhill,” Fisher said. “I had to figure out how to get around this obstacle in order to push on through the month. I had to tell myself I had been here before (on the brink of quitting), and you don’t want to feel the same way you did quitting once.”
Fisher said he also faced other injuries, including sprained ankles, foot tendinitis and quadriceps fascia tears. Fisher also had to face about six days of cold, wind, rain and snow as he was atop Grandeur.
If the injuries and weather were not challenging enough, Fisher said he also was in a calorie deficit for the majority of the month.
“That’s with eating like 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day,” Fisher said. “For four or five days closer to the end of the day, I had to take some time to rest because I was so close to fainting on the mountain. It was a long battle of battling my injuries and being able to push past the obstacles to keep going. There was a lot of doubts if it would happen, but I made it happen.”
Fisher powered through the final days of the month in order to surpass the 400,000-foot mark.
Fisher’s vertical gain translates to close to 76 miles, which is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest more than 13 times.
Fisher finished his final ascent Oct. 31 atop Grandeur Peak, where he spent so much of his time in the past month.
“I was super excited. My family and friends were up there waiting for me,” Fisher said. “I honestly couldn’t hold it all in. I had been waiting for that day and for that month to end for a while. It was the best feeling in the world, especially for it being the biggest accomplishment I have ever had.”
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