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PSA: Secure your permit now for Pfiffner Traverse

By Andrew Skurka / March 14, 2018 /

Public Service Announcement If you have not already, you should apply for your backcountry permit for Rocky Mountain National Park if you plan to attempt the Pfiffner Traverse this summer. The permit system in Rocky Mountain is similar to Glacier and Yellowstone: camping is permitted only in specific backcountry sites and a few at-large zones.…

It’s the vertical, stupid: How many days should I budget for a high route?

By Andrew Skurka / March 12, 2018 /

Last week on r/Ultralight, member u/TeddyBallgame1999 asked multiple questions about the Wind River High Route, including: The essence of this question — “How long will it take me?” — has been posed before, in the context of the WRHR and similar routes like the Kings Canyon High Basin Route, Pfiffner Traverse, Glacier Divide Route, and…

Six questions I ask before drinking unpurified backcountry water

By Andrew Skurka / February 27, 2018 /

They say to practice what you preach, but I’ll be honest: While I recommend that you purify backcountry water sources, I generally do not. But your mileage may vary. Normally I hike off-trail and in low-use corners of the Colorado Rockies and High Sierra — at the headwaters of the Colorado and San Joaquin Rivers…

Houston Marathon training: Re-finding purpose & speed || David Roche interview

By Andrew Skurka / January 9, 2018 /

Prior to my big races last year — Boston, Bighorn, and UTMB — I interviewed David Roche, who has coached me for 12+ months now. They were opportunities to discuss the rationale behind each training block and to reflect on the results they generated, with the hope of providing readers with some value. Read the…

Science of Ultra Podcast: Five must-listen-to episodes

By Andrew Skurka / December 4, 2017 /

Last week I sat down for an interview with Dr. Shawn Bearden of Science of Ultra. Lace up, pop in your ear buds, and stream it via iTunes, Google Play, IHeart Radio, or Stitcher during your next hour-long run. Or listen to it here: I’ve known Shawn since 2014, when he joined me on a guided…

Five strategies for hunting elk & mule deer in Colorado

By Andrew Skurka / November 20, 2017 /

You can’t shoot an elk or mule deer until you find one. Duh. And for a beginner DIY hunter, learning to find one is probably the biggest challenge — at least, that was my experience. Where will the big game be, given the location, season, current and recent conditions, and time of day? Otherwise, hunting is…

Stay warm when it’s wet: How to protect down insulation from moisture

By Andrew Skurka / November 7, 2017 /

When shopping for a sleeping bag, insulated jacket, or insulated pants, you will have a choice of insulations: Down, which is a commodity product measured by fill power, e.g. 800-fill; or, Synthetic, which is normally made of interwoven plastic fibers and which may be marketed as Primaloft, Climashield, or a proprietary version like TNF Thermoball.…

Tutorial: Dead-reckoning navigation | Basic but oft-used skill

By Andrew Skurka / September 11, 2017 /

Dead-reckoning is the simplest navigation skill. It’s much easier to learn than reading a map, or operating a compass, GPS, or altimeter watch. Yet I find it to be one of the most useful and frequently used, especially when hiking on well-maintained trails where a consistent physical effort yields consistent results. Such trails include well-known long-distance footpaths…

Training program for UTMB, my 2017 apex race || Interview with David Roche

By Andrew Skurka / August 27, 2017 /

How have I trained for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), the world’s premier ultra marathon? As part of an ongoing series, I interviewed again my coach, David Roche, transcript below. But to fully understand the context of this training, it may be necessary to read similar interviews prior to my two other big races…

New FKT: Pawnee-Buchanan Loop || Take note, UTMB

By Andrew Skurka / August 16, 2017 /

The Pawnee-Buchanan Loop has become a classic among ultra runners and backpackers. It’s about 27 miles long, includes two 12,000-foot passes over the Continental Divide, and the starting trailhead is a 60-minute drive from my front door. (Side note: To spice up this loop, use the Pfiffner Traverse to connect Buchanan and Cascade Creeks, rather…