Jason Hardrath Completes FKT Infinity Loop of North America's Tallest Volcano
April 21, 20234 min read
Jason Hardrath, Swiftwick ambassador and accomplished athlete with over 100 Fastest Known Time completions, recently completed a 43-mile infinity loop FKT of the tallest volcano in North America (over 18,000ft of elevation gain) in less than 24 hours. The project, which was completed on March 29th, 2023, took him and his team 23 hours and 40 minutes.
Swiftwick had the opportunity to chat with Jason and learn about the inspiration for this trip, how he prepared physically and mentally, how he mapped out the route, his team, and to find out what's next on his list.
The ideation and inspiration for this attempt stemmed from Jason’s Journey to 100 FKTs and his completion of the Mt. Rainier Infinity Loop FKT (144 miles) in 2019. When speaking of Mt. Rainier, Jason said, “It was just this full-on amazing experience and a transformative experience on a personal athletic level. I would even call it borderline spiritual. I fell in love with the concept and the experience of going over a mountain twice, around each side of it, and seeing every angle.” His experience on Mt. Rainier set him on the trajectory to establish Infinity Loop FKTs on the Volcanic Seven Summits, the highest volcanos on each continent.
“Well, now or never, let's give it a go and see what happens. That's what kickstarted the whole project.”
Physical and Mental Preparation
With any big adventure, there usually are setbacks. Jason faced physical and mental blocks during training for this attempt. Physically, Jason began to struggle with training toward the end of 2022, and he knew something was wrong. After some blood testing, he found out that he had biomarkers that were way off. With the help of supplements and an improved diet, those biomarkers leveled off, and his body began to move back toward homeostasis.
Then it was time to take on the mental hurdles, especially after wondering, “Is it all over? Is my body used up?” from the tolls on his physical training. Jason was able to focus on why he wanted to make this attempt and why it was meaningful to him.
“The meaning [of this attempt] isn’t setting a perfect record that nobody ever breaks; it’s more of a field of dreams kind of thing. I need to go create this, and even if somebody goes and beats it, at least I had the opportunity to put the idea out there for them to want to chase.”
For those out there who geek out about training for attempts like these, Jason’s original training goal was to complete a minimum of the total vertical of the project every 3 to 4 days and to complete 1.5 to 2 times the total distance of the project for 8-10 weeks prior to the attempt.
Mapping Out The Route
Mapping out the route was a meticulous process for Jason. He used the CalTopo app consistently, along with his Coros watch, to look at the sections and build it from scratch. He also reached out to the community to ensure he had all the information needed to complete this daunting task.
“You build on the shoulders of the people who come before you. Nobody does this creative stuff and these endeavors without all of the people that came before. Whether those people were participating in the FKT culture, establishing routes on mountains, or building trails. It’s absolutely a product of the community.”
One of the coolest parts of the whole trip, according to Jason, was his team. His climbing partner on the FKT, Nathan Longhurst, is the Youngest Finisher of the Bulger List and has a slew of FKTs under his belt as well. Not only was Nathan completely bought in on the attempt, but the videographers and support team were equally invested, which made all the difference.
“The spirit of the thing matters. The way everyone [approached] the thing from the get-go and how much they believed in it matters.” The resounding belief in the project and commitment from the entire team “is one of the things that made the project so successful,” says Jason.
Jason and his whole team wore the FLITE XT® TRAIL socks during the entire FKT and said, “The socks performed well. They were exactly what was necessary to get the job done. I was very pleased that I could wear the same sock the whole time, with no extra worries about other transitions and no blisters. I’m stoked about how they worked!”
Jason's journey to completing the Pico De Orizaba Infinity Loop was a remarkable feat of strength, endurance, and perseverance. Jason’s charge to readers is, “There’s a whole world out there just waiting for you to apply your own creative and fitness juices to inspire people to think a whole different way about what can be done. The era of adventure isn’t completely over yet.”
As for what's next on his list, Jason plans to break to current record for the Rocky Mountain Grand Slam, which involves climbing 120 peaks in under 60 days, along with continuing to teach and inspire others to push themselves to their limits. The era of adventure is not over, and Jason is living proof of that.
We had the chance to sit down with Eric Hill, founder and president ofProject Echelon, a 501c3 veterans non-profit that engages, equips, educates, and empowers veterans and their families through physical activity and self-discovery.
In honor of Veterans Day, your purchases will help support Project Echelon.
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