KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — When you think about mountain climbing records, you probably think of someone from Colorado. As it turns out, the real mountain man is from here in West Michigan.
Josh Sanders, 36, of Kalamazoo, owns two mountain climbing records after he successfully climbed 10 14,000-foot Colorado peaks in one day last week.
“I’m the fastest person to ever climb 10 peaks,” Sanders explained. “I did 10 peaks in 24 hours.”
Previously, he scaled the highest mountain in each of the contiguous states in 19 days, 7 hours.
Sanders competes in what’s known as “fastest known times” challenges, or FKTs. But when your goal is to conquer mountains in record time, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado can be unforgiving.
“Running down, I fell twice,” Sanders said. “A few bumps and bruises.”
But he has proven he’s up to the challenge.
“I love the mountains,” he said. “I’m very competitive and I don’t have a lot of time.”
To pull off his speedy hikes, his training is often intense.
“A lot of times I’ll do a three-hour training run, get in 22, 23 miles, then head to the gym for 30 minutes of steep incline walking,” Sanders said.
He said the lessons he learns in competing aren’t about his body, they’re about life. He learned one of those lessons last year when he attempted the 10-peak FKT challenge and didn’t make it.
“You can look at last year as a failure, but I think a lot of the success of this year was having gone through the process the previous year and just gotten stronger with route finding, with training, with what you’re eating,” he said. “So it was definitely a great learning experience more than anything else.”
In his most recent effort, Sanders was on the ninth peak when the struggle began. Darkness was setting in and he was losing energy. He began to wonder whether he would make it.
Ultimately, he did, and he managed it with 27 minutes to spare. He climbed and descended the last peak at 11:33 p.m.
“That’s what I was most proud of, is just kind of getting through that moment of doubt and rolling through it,” he said.
If you think Sanders is going to rest on his laurels, think again. He’s attempting the speed record for crossing the Grand Canyon this fall.