Man Summits Every 14,000-Foot-Plus Peak in Colorado in 40-Day Journey That Needs to Be Made into a Movie

by Jennifer Shea

In an epic journey that we here at Outsider would love to see on the big screen, a Colorado man climbed all 58 of Colorado’s 14,000-plus-foot mountains over just 43 days.

Pawl Szafruga, 35, suffered some aftereffects from his daring feat. He is experiencing liver problems and rhabdomyolysis, a condition that crops up when the body breaks down its own muscles due to extreme, prolonged strain, according to Out There Colorado.

But Szafruga says the journey delivered on his expectations and gave him a renewed appreciation for America’s public lands.

“This was a lot of ‘nose to the grindstone,’ which is what I wanted when I entered the trip, and the trip definitely satiated that,” Szafruga told Out There Colorado.

Colorado Journey Was Liberating for Szafruga

Szafruga took a spartan approach to climbing the mountains. He slept in a bivy sack and toted a few days’ worth of food along with him between stops. Many of his summit-bound routes were non-standard and therefore free of tourists.

The expert climber began his trek at the bottom of Barr Trail on July 14 at around 4 p.m. In a rather extreme but impressive touch, Szafruga refused to use a vehicle or a bike to traverse the distance between trailheads. He went through three pairs of running shoes over the course of his 1,182.5-mile journey. That works out to an average of 27.3 miles per day.

“The weather made me miserable a lot, but not to the point that it had me feeling unsafe,” Szafruga said. “I’m not sure if everyone would agree that it was safe, though.”

On Aug. 26, at 10:43 p.m., Szafruga completed his journey at the foot of Longs Peak. He had climbed 297,000 feet of vertical gain over the course of his trip.

“Colorado can seem so touristy, but at one point I was able to travel 100 miles of trail without crossing a road. I didn’t know that existed,” Szafruga said. “It really grew my appreciation of public lands. We’re incredibly privileged to be able to experience that.”

Szafruga Is A Rock Climber and Runner

Szafruga is an old pro at climbing, and he was in tip-top shape as he began his trek. The rock climber and runner had previously climbed 30 peaks. So he was able to traverse more technical class five ridge terrain than most people could manage. Aside from three nights spent in hotels, he slept exposed to the elements in a Bivy saick and lightweight sleeping bag.

And Szafruga believes he set the fastest known time for climbing all 58 of Colorado’s fourteeners in a single self-supported push. (The closest recorded contenders are Junaid Dawud and Luke DeMuth, who completed a similar journey in 2013 from July 20 to Sept. 29.)

In the end, Szafruga’s journey was the stuff of major feature films, spanning dramatic terrain, dangerous traffic between mountains, headlamp-navigated passes and barely-traversed ridges. Sign us up for tickets.