In September, Katie Rhodes and Bethany Garretson added their names to Adirondack hiking lore by doing an unsupported trip through the High Peaks in just over seven days.
According to fastestknowntime.com, a website that tracks and verified hiking challenges around the world, the pair are the first women to do this style of trip through the High Peaks, at this pace. Unsupported means they carried their supplies from the start to the finish and didn’t get any help along the way from anyone else. Supported speed hikers receive assistance from others on their trip.
They were at least the second pair of women to thru-hike the Adirondack High Peaks this fall. Sarah Keyes and Alyssa Godesky did a supported version of the Adirondack 46, with Godesky setting the women’s record in 3 days, 16 hours and 16 minutes.
I’ve been writing about these types of Adirondack hiking challenges for about decade, dating back to January 2010, when I wrote about two men – Cory Delavalle and Jan Wellford – becoming the first men to document this same type of unsupported trip.
Part of the culture
These types of challenging trip have always been a part of the Adirondack hiking culture, with a few notable trips always bubbling up to the surface to become public.
For instance, in 1977, Ed Palen, owner of Rock and River Guide Service in Keene, joined with Sharpie Swan to climb the High Peaks in four days and 18 hours. Unlike the unsupported trips, the pair got assistance from others and was considered supported. Their record time stood for 25 years until Oregon resident Ted “Cave Dog” Keizer came through to set the speed record in 2002. Keizer drew some criticism because he was viewed by some as doing the trip to draw attention to himself.
But as former Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown wrote in 2002, “Speed climbing is nothing new to the Adirondacks. Bob Marshall, the co-founder of the Wilderness Society, went up 13 High Peaks in one day in 1932. An account of his hike appears in The Adirondack Reader, edited by Paul Jamieson (and published by ADK). The following year, Herbert Malcolm climbed 18 High Peaks in a single day, ascending almost 21,100 feet.
“Back in the 1920s, Marshall, his brother George and their guide, Herbert Clark, became the first to climb all 46 High Peaks, a feat accomplished over several summers. In 1948, Lillian and Daniel McKenzie set the first speed-climbing record: 23 days. Other hikers followed suit, whittling the record down to nine days by 1972.”
What is notable about this most recent trip by Garretson and Holmes is that this trip was the first documented, unsupported speed hike through the High Peaks completed by two women.
Katie Rhodes and Bethany Garretson, who hiked all 46 Peaks continuously, unsupported. Photo provided
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Mike’s weekly “Backcountry Journal” email newsletter. Click here to sign up.