You can watch "Land of the Lost River Range" at https://video.idahoptv.org/video/land-of-the-lost-river-range-8d1pff/
When I first heard about Kelly Lance and his accomplishment, I was blown away. I consider myself a storyteller of mountain climbers and peak baggers, so I had good reason to be impressed.
9/03/2017... Kelly rests on Mt. Breitenbach summit, at 12,140 feet.
Over the years I’ve done several stories about these crazy people who punish their bodies just to gain a nosebleed view of Idaho. I’ve even put my own body through the ringer many times to follow these people up various mountains in pursuit of a story.
So, when I heard about Kelly, my heart went thump. Somebody consecutively climbed all nine of Idaho’s 12,000 foot peaks, affectionately known by peak baggers as the Twelvers, without any transportation between the three different ranges of mountains that they dominate? You mean he ran between mountain ranges? And he did it in 78 hours? How is that even possible?
9/02/2017... A fresh Kelly with wife Michelle and daughters Robbee and Charlee at the trailhead of Diamond Peak, his first peak.
Kelly’s story was followed by friends and family and Tom Lopez, the guru of Idaho mountain climbing and author of “Idaho: A Climbing Guide.” Tom turned out an article about Kelly’s feat that, for those of us who follow the sport, was nothing short of an epic adventure story. And then when I heard that Kelly took a GoPro camera along to record his adventure, I was even more intrigued.
9/03/2017... Lost River Mountain summit register -- his first 12er in the Lost River Range.
Over the years I’ve reviewed hours and hours of bad GoPro footage from well-intentioned adventurers, so I was a bit skeptical about the content and quality of what Kelly may have shot. But when I finally got to see what he managed to record of his adventure, I just knew I had to try to make a story out of it for Outdoor Idaho.
9/04/2017... Kelly takes a selfie on Mt. Borah approach, with bighorn sheep in the background.
It was almost as if he had been coached on how to shoot and speak to the camera for a documentary. Instead of just letting the camera roll and roll with no particular angle in sight, like most amateurs, Kelly would start the camera to give an update and then turn it off, or he would only turn it on during a rough or interesting part of the journey for a short period of time. It wasn’t perfect, but it told a story. And since I knew that no professional photographer in my world would ever have been able to follow Kelly on his trip, it felt like we had hit the jackpot with this footage. All I had to do was sort through the hours of content and whittle it into seven minutes. No problem.
09/04/2017... Kelly's family greets him at the Mt. Borah trailhead. One more peak to go.
When I reached out to Kelly to see if he would let me tell his story for our upcoming show on the Lost River Range, I found him to be very humble and even a little endearing. He agreed to let me use the footage he recorded only because his family had been so much a part of the effort, and he felt he owed it to them to let the world see their sacrifice, not his. His wife Michelle and two daughters Charlee and Robbee helped him through almost two years of training, and then gave support during the actual three day adventure by setting up aid stations at several points along the route. He knows he couldn’t have done it without their support and motivation.
9/05/2017... Hyndman Peak summit register -- the last peak of the 12ers.
As I sorted through the footage, I came to know this family, and I learned a lot about Kelly Lance and the type of man he is. Sometimes, it felt a little voyeuristic, having a front row seat to his ups and downs along the way. He turned on the camera at some very vulnerable points of his journey – times when he was so weary he couldn’t hold back tears of defeat, and other times of elation and joy when he made it to the next peak or met up with his family and friends for a rest.
9/05/2017... Kelly and Michelle celebrate his 78 hour epic triumph.
I decided to help Kelly tell his story as it was recorded, without any added narration from me. With the exception of a few maps and a few descriptive texts to fill in some information about the trip, all the content was produced and shot by Kelly. So much of the adventure had to be edited out in order to fit the time slot, that I worried about the integrity of the story. But, the end result is seven minutes of raw reality TV, shot for posterity purposes only. I did add some music for effect. Once an editor … always an editor!
(Cover photo by Terry Lee.)