Mountaineers establish ‘Trifecta’ speed record

June 18, 2005

Two endurance athletes from Boulder, Colo. recently accomplished a local feat never before documented. Buzz Burnell, 53, and Peter Bakwin, 43 completed back-to-back summit climbs of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount Hood. The two completed the "Cascade Trifecta" in a record time of 28 hours 1 minute, which is a new mountaineering speed record.

The climbers tackled 42,000 feet of elevation change— 21,000 feet as ascending— and over 36 miles on foot in their trek, which started at 2:40 a.m. on June 9 and finished at 6:43 a.m. June 10. They drove by car between each of the three climbs.

The climbs were not without incident. Poor weather and snow conditions on Rainier and Adams slowed the climbers at length in Washington. In a pivotal instance, Brunell actually fell into a crevasse on Mount Rainier due to the collapse of a snow bridge. The two experienced mountaineers were well-prepared, however, and Brunell extracted himself from the crevasse under belay of Bakwin.

"The trip was especially rewarding for me, since I had never set foot on any of these beautiful mountains before," Bakwin said. "We had hoped to go under 24 hours but we know that would be very hard, and conditions were not optimal, especially on Rainier where we had to move slowly to stay safe."

The new record was documented and verified by a Portland based production company called Uncage the Soul Productions. The Uncage the Soul team of 11 videographers and photographers was staged in advance at each of the tree peaks to verify departure and summit times and to take photographs and video footage.

Uncage the Soul Productions organizer John Waller commented on Brunell and Bakwin's accomplishment: "Even though they had this goal of doing the Trifecta as fast as they could, you never got the impression that this was their top priority. It was to have fun, and enjoy the experience. These two things would not be compromised for the sake of shaving off a couple of minutes from their overall time. They were very interactive and social with our team, stopping frequently to talk, snap photos, and express their appreciation for our efforts."

Photos of the Trifecta and other Uncage the Soul adventures can be viewed at:

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