USA's Howitt Leads US Official Speed Climbing

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USA's Howitt Leads US Official Speed Climbing

New postby ClimbingNews on Sat 09 Jun 2007 06:42

Mount Adams is one in a small group of the US's most difficult alpine speed climbing mountains. A sport in it's pure form requiring no technical equipment and not including a glissade/slide descent on one's seat rapidly down the steep snow slopes, only running and climbing uphill (and often downhill), emphasizing endurance and strength and not the assistance of any technical equipment such as ropes, rappel, etc, from trails to difficult glaciated terrain, usually averaging between 20 and 45 degrees over several miles at altitude.

Mount Adams is 12,276' elevation. The start of the traditional speed climb is 6,000' elevation.

Mount Adams, one of US's greatest speed climbing mountains
MountAdams.jpg (37.74 KiB) Viewed 895 times

Following is the Hood River News coverage of the then and still current official Mt. Adams speed record set by Dan Howitt of the United States.

Below the article are pictures of Mt. Adams, the start and summit photos of Howitt's speed record as taken by the hired timing officials of Oregon Army National Guard and the then Adams Mountaineering Incorporated, led by Sergeant William Smith of Trout Lake, WA at the base of Mt. Adams.

Northwest climber sprints up Mt. Adams
Story by: Dave Leder

Start of speed climb, photo and time-verification by Oregon Army National Guard
MtAdams.Start.2003w.jpg (34.18 KiB) Viewed 886 times

Summit at end of speed climb, photo and time-verification by Oregon Army National Guard & Brad Aas
MtAdams.Summit.July2003-1.jpg (21.72 KiB) Viewed 873 times

Who says you have to be an expert climber to scale a mountain in record time?

If you ask Portland’s Dan Howitt, all you need is a little ambition, a thirst for adventure, and someone to help you verify the results.

“There are a lot of skeptics out there,” said Howitt, a climbing newcomer who bolstered his mountaineering résumé on July 24 when he sprinted to the top of Mt. Adams — roughly 8.25 miles on the South Spur Trail — in 2 hours, 39 minutes.

Howitt contracted Oregon Peak Adventures (for Hood, director Joe Whittington) and Oregon Army National guard (for Adams, sergeant William Smith of Trout Lake, WA) for his two speed climbs this month (Mt. Hood, July 7; Mt. Adams, July 24), and plans to bag a few more peaks before the season is over, Rainier and Shasta.

“There were people observing me the entire way on both climbs,” said Howitt, who became the first speed climber to summit Mt. Hood since Steve Boyer some 20 years ago.

“On Hood, I had someone verify the start time in Government Camp, then wait for me to come up the trail at Timberline Lodge, and watch me with binoculars all the way to the top,” he said. “There was even someone taking photos at the summit as I approached it.”

Howitt reached the top of Mt. Hood in 2:58, and then climbed back down the 8.35-mile route (Old Blossom Trail) for an official time of 4:47.

His ascent time was just shy of the record, held by Gary Leech, who, in 1936, reached the summit of Mt. Hood in 2:36.

“Leech is considered a legend in the sport because he was the first one to track his results,” Howitt said. “But his results were only partially verified, so there isn’t a whole lot written about him.”

That lack of written history is exactly what Howitt is trying to reverse.

Besides building a name for himself and the sport of speed climbing, Howitt’s mission is to earn credibility for a sport that has very little historical documentation or current participation.

“There can be a lot of problems with speed records when they aren’t officiated,” he said. “Boyer has been credited with the Mt. Hood speed record in a few books, but after I researched it, I realized that his route was roughly three miles less than Leech’s.

“There are a lot of hearsay records like that, and because no one has ever had their climbs verified, it’s hard to know what to believe,” he said.

Another Northwest climber who was once active on the speed climbing circuit was Monty Pearson of Trout Lake, Wash. Before Howitt’s ascent last week, Pearson was the last climber to race to the summit of Mt. Adams.

But Pearson’s climbs were mostly for fun, and they were more than 40 years ago.

“As far as I know, I’m the only active speed climber in the Northwest right now,” Howitt said. “I wouldn’t mind a little competition, but that’s why I’m trying to get the word out. I just want to promote interest in the sport right now.”

“That’s my biggest motivation for doing all of this,” he said. “To promote the sport. It’s not about me trying to get attention for myself. At the same time, though, I’m proud of the fact that I have taken the necessary steps to make the results official.”

“This is as legitimate as it gets, and more and more people are showing their support,” he said in reference to two Portland television networks, KOIN and KGW, who have pledged their support.

And once Howitt’s story airs, it should be all downhill from there.
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Re: USA's Howitt Leads US Official Speed Climbing

New postby James on Sat 09 Jun 2007 13:22

Been there, done that, bored about the Dan Howitt related fights. I do not want to see any here or I'll just delete the thread and ban the users.
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Re: USA's Howitt Leads US Official Speed Climbing

New postby Taky on Sat 09 Jun 2007 20:45

with you all the way James...

Since the forum is so quiet and the moment, I kind of expected 0 replies and a dusty death for the topic...
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Re: USA's Howitt Leads US Official Speed Climbing

New postby JessR on Sun 09 Sep 2007 19:43

After a search I found these listings on speed climbing and speed records. It has been difficult to find sources on records. Photos. Times. Mountains. People.

It's a cool sport. Looks real difficult. An interesting race course right up the mountain.

I've climbed Mt. Adams before. Am incredulous to think someone did it to the summit in 2hrs 39mins from that low point (way down there) at Round-The-Mountain Trail!

This official part of Dan Howitt's records is brilliant. The timings officials are public figures too. This makes it more undisputable. I was privy in the past to owner George Martin critically pursuing this Adams record. He was throwing out all kinds of allegations. Even that the timers for Adams were non-existent while they are real. Timer Sergent Williams Smith is a well known resident in Trout Lake, WA right next to Mt. Adams. He did time the whole thing. Everyone knows about it.

No one since the 1960's has done a speed climb on Adams. Anyway I'm inspired and hope to give it a try myself someday.

Anyway I write because I'd like to hear about Dan's training, technique, gear used, cost of timers, how it's coordinated. Etc.
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