Written by Rick Trujillo and edited by Cave Dog

The Rocky Mountains reach their highest elevations within the geographical area known today as Colorado.  In comparison to other great mountain ranges of the world, it is interesting that in Colorado there are no one or two dominant summits, but rather there are many hundreds of summits at elevations between 12,500 and 14,400 feet.  There are 55 specific summits that surpass the 14,000 foot elevation contour, and which are universally recognized as being fully accredited "Fourteeners".  In addition, a dozen or so lesser summits also surpass 14,000 feet, but are generally considered minor summits of their parent peaks.  Challenger Point, traditionally regarded as a minor summit of Kit Carson Peak, has become regarded as a true Fourteener in recent years.

As the highest, the Fourteeners are a natural attraction to those who feel the call of the mountains.  Climbing all of them has become an increasingly popular goal for mountaineers of all types.  The Fourteeners pose a variety of challenges.  Many are simple hikes along well defined trails, while for others the easiest routes are potentially dangerous semitechnical climbs.  Some have easy road access to their bases and even summits, while others are isolated, requiring hours of rough road driving and/or walking just to reach their bases.  One is usually accessed by train followed by a rigorous hike to a base camp.  Whatever their settings and slope profiles, all are real mountains with all that the term implies, including altitude and hostile changeable weather.

Human nature being what it is, if there are 55 Fourteeners in Colorado or anywhere else, there will be a speed record for climbing them and attempts will continuously be made to better that record.  This record has recently been dubbed "The Mighty Mountain Megamarathon(M 4 )".*

*Megamarathon is a continuous or series of ultramarathons where the course record exceeds five days.  This term has arisen both because of the physiological changes that one tends to experience after many days of incredibly intense exercise and the many more logistical requirements such as scheduling sleep and eating, running a support crew, route finding, or driving that do not have such a significant role in a race that lasts for one or two days.

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