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HIGH UINTAS — On July 8, Utah resident and three-time Barkley Marathons finisher, Jared Campbell, alongside friend and accomplished ultrarunner, Luke Nelson of Pocatello, Idaho, set out to set the Fastest Known Time for summitting all of the 13,000-plus foot peaks (19 total) in Utah on a course known as “The Uinta Traverse.”
This wasn’t the first time Nelson and Campbell had done something like this. In fact, they set a record for summiting all of the 12,000-plus foot peaks in Idaho, shaving 10 hours off the previous record. This also wasn’t the first Uinta Traverse attempt for Campbell, either. In 2016, he set out to do a solo attempt that ended after a boulder sliced his finger when he was already 24 miles out.
However, coupled with the determination to finish what he started and to have another adventure with his friend, the duo decided to go after the record again.
Fully expecting to encounter hard-packed snow and even thunderstorms and knowing that there would be no access to an outside crew, the two made sure to be prepared. Each packed a down jacket and pants, a rain jacket, gloves, microspikes, ice axes and plenty of food and water.
Campbell and Nelson began their journey at 5:40 a.m. at the west fork of the Black Fork Trailhead, heading west toward Tokewanna Peak. And while the initial stretch is a clearly marked trail and quite runnable, the terrain soon becomes a lot more challenging.
“The Uintas are an amazing range, but very committing,” Campbell said. “Once you get on the ridge, you have a good 20 miles until you get out, if you decide to turn back.”
But the two kept moving forward, doing a lot of hiking and even some high-class boulder hopping. Even so, they encountered very few hiccups along the way.
“We really lucked out as far as weather goes,” Campbell said. “We heard thunder, but it went by without hitting us. We even got to run under a full moon that made one of the most challenging parts of the experience (the evening) bearable. It was so bright that we could have done without our headlamps.”
After 22,600 feet of elevation gain, 62 miles and a total time of 32 hours 50 minutes and 28 seconds, the two broke the previous (and only known) record set by Jason Dorais and Tom Goth by 3.5 hours (see the GPS coordinates for their trek here).
While they are excited to have set a new Fastest Known Time, Campbell said that doing so was secondary to the experience.
“I was born and raised in Utah and am drawn to outdoors inherently,” he said. “I know the Wasatch Mountains because I have spent years exploring them. I was a little disappointed in myself for not knowing the Uintas better, and this gave me a chance to use the orienteering skills I have developed over the years to have a great adventure. This experience was less about setting a FKT, and more about the adventure.”
Campbell said he hopes his experience will motivate others to achieve big goals.
“I want to inspire people to set goals with inspiring objectives and develop the skills necessary to execute those goals,” he said. “If you’ve been doing long races, take the skills you’ve acquired and try applying them elsewhere. Get together with like-minded and skilled friends. Use maps. Get out there and explore even if it means a handful of miles up the mountain. Get to know where you live. Utah is a great place to be.”
While Campbell's latest adventure may be over, he is far from finished. Next month, he, alongside fellow Barkley Marathons runner and Fastest Known Time holder of Canada’s West Coast Double, Gary Robbins, will go after the Fastest Known Time of Nolan’s 14— summiting 14 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado’s Sawatch Range in under 60 hours.