Chugach Front Linkup
For anyone looking for a different 24-hour challenge in a more exotic part of the world, here is something I recently stumbled upon while spending too much time on the internet rather than on the fells.
The Chugach Mountains stretch for some 250 miles eastwards from Anchorage, Alaska, with many unclimbed peaks in the Central and Eastern sections of the range. Within the more accessible Western Chugach, the Front Range is the group of mountains closest to Anchorage. A route across the twelve 5,000-foot peaks of the Front Range constitutes the Chugach Front Linkup. There are various differences between this challenge and the UK’s classic 24-hour rounds.
There is no time limit for a “successful” completion. There have been 13 completions, of which 6 have been under 24 hours. The first was in 1990, and the record time is 22h 10m, by Harlow Robinson and Matias Saari (two of Alaska’s top mountain runners) last year. Robinson is the only person with two successful traverses to his name.
It is point-to-point, not a round. It can be done south-to-north or north-to-south. Timing is between the trailheads at the start and end of the route, not between the first and last peak. [Trailhead: American English for the place where a path leaves a road.]
There is as yet no generally recognised optimal route between the peaks. Indeed it appears that plotting a good route is a major part of the challenge. In any case, the traverse is said to involve “serious rock scrambling”. I am not sure exactly how serious: runners pictured on the route don’t appear to be carrying ropes or other climbing paraphernalia, but I imagine it is not something you would want to try if you wouldn’t feel happy doing the Glencoe Skyline, for example. Also, the Chugach Mountains are notorious for their unstable rock; the sort that comes off in your hands.
One thing that it does have in common with the Bob Graham Round is that there is no general agreement about the distance: I have seen estimates varying between 31 and 40 miles, with 20,000 to 25,000 feet of climbing. So maybe only half the distance of the BGR, which tells you something about the difficulty of the terrain.
All successful traverses have been by solo runners or pairs, generally self-sufficient. They have not had pacers (except possibly for the first or last one or two peaks), and have been met no more than once en route by supporters. There are no road crossings, so support is difficult to organise in any case.
Feeling tempted? You should be: the first summit on a north-south traverse is called Temptation Peak. But the last three are Avalanche Mountain, North Suicide Peak and South Suicide Peak. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
The unofficial record keeper for the route is Joe Stock, see http://www.stockalpine.com/posts/chu...nt-linkup.html , where there are links to an account of Joe’s own traverse of the Linkup with Trond Jensen (the first sub-24-hour traverse) and a news report of Saari and Robinson’s record-breaking round. I have also found a video of a run along the ridge from The Ramp to Mount Williwaw (two of the peaks on the route), which gives an indication of the severity of the scrambling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYw7ZMSBO0s .