Most of us know him for his deep backcountry skiing solo missions on the “Fifty Classic Ski Descents.” But what does Michael C Wirth do in the summertime, when there isn’t any snow? Well, he sets the fastest known times (FKT) on Colorado’s highest and most challenging alpine traverses, of course.
In this recent video, Wirth runs across a knife’s edge section of ridgeline known locally as the Maroon Bells Traverse. It’s part of the larger Elk Traverse, which connects seven 14,000-foot peaks over 55 miles, with 23,235 feet of elevation gain. Not only does Wirth hold the FKT for the north-to-south Maroon Bells Traverse, but this year he smashed the previous FKT time for the full Elk Traverse by 4 hours and 55 minutes.
It’s a wild accomplishment. And one that makes more sense when you see this video and realize just how fast Wirth is moving along this highly technical route. He is literally running, scrambling at speed, and even speed-climbing in some spots. And on both sides of him, all along the way, huge cliffs fall thousands of feet away from him. One wrong move, one mistake, and it could be the last he ever made.
But Michael C Wirth doesn’t trip, slip, or fall. Instead, he makes this death-defying run across a knife’s-edge ridge look like a casual jog in the park.