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36 Peaks in 45 Days - 19-Year-Old Climber Sets the Pace

According to Mountain Journey, Wyoming can boast 36 peaksover 13,000 feet high. In 2015, the first known completion of these peaks (known as the Wyoming 13ers) was attributed to Teresa Gergen and Sarah Meiser after several grueling years of effort. Eli Boardman did the same, and it only took him 45 days to achieve it. A Boulder, Colorado native, Eli is no stranger to climbing peaks, but even this pace is something that left the entire world staring in awe at the 19-year-old.

A History of Hikes and Climbs

At age 13, Eli hiked the Glacier Trail, and the experience changed him. It was the first time he set foot in the area, and he claims that the hike made him fall more in love with the Wind Rivers. That 26-day trip saw the family following the spine of the range back to Whiskey Basin. In 2016, Eli climbed Gannett Peak, the highest peak in Wyoming. It was then that the fabulous idea that led to his scaling these peaks started to form. Eli knew about the Wyoming 13ers, of course, but only after conquering Gannett Peak did he think that it might be possible to cover all of them.

Unfortunately, while he had grand ambitions for climbing the peaks, the idea stagnated as he returned to everyday life for a bit. The Coronavirus pandemic hit Eli just as he was enrolling in Dartmouth college, but this disaster turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Since most of his classes were now delivered online, he would have weekends free to explore his love of hiking and mountain climbing. The stars were starting to line up in his favor.

Setting Out to Conquer the Peaks

While 36 peaks sound daunting to a person who isn't into mountain climbing, it's not really that massive. Colorado, by comparison, has over 500 elevations above the 1300-foot range. Most climbers in the forum Eli posted his quest drew the consensus that Wyoming has the best alpine climbing climate in the lower 48 states. The start wasn't promising, with Eli encountering severe snowfall and making little progress. Eventually, he managed it, but it taught him to expect the unexpected.

Each Climb an Adventure

From that first learning experience, Eli started to plan hikes to summit multiple peaks together. This approach wasn't crazy since a few mountains stood together in close enough proximity to allow him to get a few of them in a single climb. June 27th saw Eli tag eight peaks in a single day. Eli kept at it, even braving storms and relying on his family's support to motivate him. His satellite texting device also helped to keep him connected to others, allowing him to "ping" his family below every so often so they'd know he wasn't stuck in difficulties.

The Final Day

On August 5th, Eli submitted the final peak, becoming one of the prestigious climbers to cover all thirty-six peaks over thirteen thousand feet in the state. What's more, his record for the time he took to do so seems superhuman. Eli noted that another climber from Washington completed the trek in a mere sixteen days, but he wasn't bothered by that fact. He only wanted to complete the task because it was there and doesn't mind being an asterisk in the history books. Eli has his entire life ahead of him, and whether he decides to keep climbing or finish his education and set up aWyoming LLC remains to be seen. In any case, he's managed to finish something that others can only dream about.

Hey, that’s me, thanks for the write-up! More of the story (and lots of pictures/beta) can be found at my site: https://sunlitsummit.com/trip-reports/wyoming/wyoming-13ers/

It is really awesome that someone who is so young is doing such amazing things. I am really inspired by reading this article. I would like to visit the area as well. What would be the best mountains to climb in wyoming?

Tony | real estate photographer

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