14'er speed record snapped
By Steve Lipsher
Denver Post Mountain Bureau
Sept. 16, 2000 - Shattering an increasingly assaulted record, a
self-described bum on Thursday night descended from the summit
of Longs Peak to claim the speed title for climbing all of the state's
Ted E. Keizer, 29, scaled 55 peaks in 10 days, 20 hours and 26
minutes, besting by nearly two full days a self-reported record set
by Ricky Denesik earlier this summer.
"It was amazing. It was absolutely incredible, way more rewarding
than anything I ever dreamed," said an exhausted Keizer, who
claims Breckenridge as his home. "I've never done anything quite
like it. It's got to be one of the most demanding mega-marathons
out there, mentally, physically and emotionally."
Keizer joins elite endurance athlete Danelle Ballengee of Dillon, who
earlier in the summer set the women's record of 14 days, 14 hours
and 49 minutes.
"I would say it's the hardest thing I've ever done, and it's hard for
a long time," said Ballengee, a veteran of several Eco-Challenge
adventure races and perennial champion of snowshoe, running and
bicycling races. The "Fourteener Record" first was established
when Cleve McCarthy climbed the then-recognized 52 14,000foot
peaks in 52 days. Over the years, the fourteener list has been
expanded to 55 peaks - the new ones were previously considered
subsidiary points - but only recently has climbing all of them rapidly
become a popular goal that involves intense logistics and strategy.
Starting Sept. 4 and going after the most difficult peaks first,
Keizer benefited from a waxing moon and generally good weather -
as well as a sixmember support team that did all of the driving,
cooking and preparation.
"They made it happen," said Keizer from a campsite in Rocky
Mountain National Park, where he was recovering and celebrating
his feat. "All I needed was to hike, eat and sleep. They did
everything else. That is the key."
Nonetheless, Keizer alone had to face fierce winds and snow and
only occasionally hiked with others, including Ballengee, previously
a stranger who joined him for moral support on Grays, Torreys,
Bierstadt and Evans.
"I had about 20 mountains with severe winds. At one point, I was
whiteknuckled on the face of Wetterhorn with 50-knot winds
tossing me about on an 800-foot exposed cliff," he recounted.
"It was snowing hard, and the snow was actually pelting me from
An undeniable physical challenge, the speed ascents of the peaks
nonetheless attract a certain amount of criticism among serious
mountaineers and scrutiny from observers who wonder how much
aid is appropriate to claim a record.
"Nothing is set in stone in the rules," Ballengee said, who noted a
former record holder who once climbed 1,000 vertical feet three
times to meet an elevation-gain requirement. She also raised
questions about trail cutting and whether others should provide
equipment such as forgotten headlamps.
"I drove the speed limit between peaks. I know Teddy's crew was
going as fast as they could between peaks. I know that because I
thought I was going to die. Maybe that should be a rule, too, that
you've got to go the speed limit," she said.
Still, Keizer spent four years planning the assault and the last two
actually climbing the peaks - about 200 total ascents - to scout
the routes. In addition, he had to beg for access to Culebra Peak,
which is on private property and generally closed to hikers these
"It'll be beat," Keizer said of the mark that only truly exists in the
minds of the competitors rather than in the Guinness Book of World
"It probably won't be beat by days any more. Minutes are