2h30m – Jack Kuenzle Sets ‘Fastest Known Time’ For Ski Ascent/Descent of 14,162′ Mount Shasta, CA

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Jack Kuenzle, Mount Shasta, FKT
Jack Kuenzle ascending Shasta. Credit: Jack Kuenzle

On Friday, Jack Kuenzle of Roxbury, CT, set a Fastest Known Time (FKT) for ascending and descending Mount Shasta, CA, on skis.

Starting at Bunny Flats at 6,880′, the route featured 7,602′ of climbing over two and a half hours to the summit of 14,162 foot Mount Shasta. Kuenzle took two hours and four minutes to the summit and just 26 minutes to descend the same route.

“Shasta RT FKT. Call it 2:30:48. I couldn’t get my watch to stop. Such a great route. Conditions are so annoying here but so suitable for a skimo record. Wasn’t able to recce prior above 7400 ft, since I summited in Feb. Super firm conditions and then a lot of postholing to Red Banks headwall. Good news is there is now a bootpack 🤗. Misery is all rock also. Didn’t help. Was able to sneak around east face on descent and then run across the rocks. Still beat my up time from last Feb/the ski ascent record from Bunny by 60 seconds or so.

Didn’t really pay much attention to the splits going into this, so interesting that I PR’d the booter section over last year, despite postholing, and split the initial skinning about the same. I think it’s because the worst post holing was below the segment because I had to start booting so low. Last time I was like a demon from base of spring to Helen and then burned up. I had way more in the tank and paced much better this year, but got fucked by the conditions when the time came. Did the most technical edge skinning on steep windboard of my life below Helen. Then came very very close to turning around above Helen. Wind was ripping and it was so firm. Had to transition to booting much lower and then entered the postholing shit show for 2500 ft. Plus yesterday I hauled 50 pounds of race gear and camping gear up from mcbride 2500 ft to at the base of the gulch. Right after I arrived they opened the road. So annoying. And then my skins, which I had stuffed in my underwear, became incredibly glued to my skin and I literally almost tore my dick off trying to remove them.

Thank you to Chris Carr and Jason Koster for the photos! And thanks to them and Nick Meyers for helping with weather and conditions beta!”

Jack Kuenzle

In April 2022, Kuenzle set the FKT for ascending Mount Hood, OR, by any means and also for Mount Hood round trip by any means. From base to the summit was a lung-busting 5,380 feet over just under seven miles before he skied down for a total round trip time of 1h31m.

Jack Kuenzle, Mount Shasta, FKT
Credit: Jack Kuenzle

Kuenzle is no stranger to bagging FKTs, he has twenty worldwide. These range from the fastest ascent of Mt Shasta, CA, in the USA, the insane Bob Graham Round in the UK (where he beat Kilian Jornet’s FKT), to four round trips in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

February 2023: Drove 8 hours up from Mammoth to attempt Shasta RT. Horrible conditions above 12,000 due to recent high winds. Went back to Mammoth after a scouting lap.  

March 2023: Drove four hours to Tahoe, turned back on the way to attempt Shasta RT due to a forecast change 

April 2023: Shasta RT FKT 2:30:48, 2:04 uphill, :26 downhill. 7,300 ft. No time for scouting lap. Horrible surface conditions above 13,000, poor ascent conditions 11,000-13,000 (no time to put in boot pack prior). I came so so so close to turning back at 11,500, ripping wind and boot pen postholing. I just closed my eyes and told myself it was just going to be a long (painful) workout and then, all of a sudden, I was getting close to the Red Banks and it was too late to turn around. I also skinned up 2,500 ft the day before from the road closure with 50 lbs camping and racing equipment, set up my tent and immediately got a text the road was now plowed and open 🥴🥴🥴.  

I have managed to find the worst possible sport to try and be a perfectionist, I suppose that’s part of why I picked it but it doesn’t make it any more fun. The funny thing is, this wasn’t even an established/contested record before this. Shasta is such a beautiful mountain and the RT on skis is the most aesthetic record here, something about sliding up and down a big snow mound just makes sense. Yeah yeah I am happy with my effort but it deserves to be just a bit faster. I went down as fast I was comfortable, I ran down the summit plug due to rime ice and then I had to engage in a bit of shenanigans skiing the east face and then rock hopping in my carbon boots to get to the top of the Red Banks headwall. It’s just so so so hard to pick conditions on this mountain where something isn’t compromised. Probably the case with any 7,000+ ft ski effort. Just the way of the road, Bubs.  

Thank you to @shastaguide, @jkos220, and Nick Meyers at @shastaavalanche for helping me with weather and conditions beta!

Jack Kuenzle

Strava route.

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