MUIR Athlete Travis Soares Climbed 247 Peaks in 117 Days – Here's How

Travis Soares, MUIR Energy’s newest athlete, just earned the Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the Sierra Peaks Section – a list of 247 peaks, the completion of which is a lifelong endeavor.

Travis sat down with MUIR Energy content editor Lauren MacLeod to talk about epic bivys, barefoot racing, food advocacy, and the role MUIR gels play in his nutrition.

 



Travis Soares stood at a large, brightly-lit table in the back of a coffee shop in Mammoth Lakes, California, ready to share the tale of his recent outdoor adventures.

I suppose you become accustomed to standing when you’ve just run and climbed 247 mountains in 117 days.

Travis is a self-proclaimed “oddity”; he once ran a marathon, but ran half of it barefoot and came in 7th place off the couch. Now, he’s gained recognition for earning the Sierra Peaks Section Fastest Known Time – and MUIR Energy came along for every trail and traverse.

 

What is the Sierra Peaks Section?

The Sierra Peaks Section (SPS) encompasses 247 classic peaks in the Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada. Normally a lifelong accomplishment, there wasn’t even a known record of completing the route in a single year – until it happened twice this year.

Nathan Longhurst, an accomplished mountaineer, completed it in just 138 days, 14 hours, and 1 minute, skiing 70 of the peaks until April and ultimately finishing in July. Just one month after Nathan’s feat, Travis completed the SPS in 117 days, 8 hours, 34 minutes. That’s an average of 2 peaks per day, every day, for almost 4 months.


A background in speed

Travis is no stranger to speed; he holds 17 FKTs throughout California, Arizona, and Nevada, including the Cathedral Peak, Tenaya Peak, and the Matthes Crest Traverse in Yosemite National Park– The “Tuolumne Triple Crown” – all in one push.

When asked how he feels about focusing on speed in the mountains, Soares remarked, “a lot of people think you’re missing out if you’re moving fast…but I feel like having to be hyper aware of surroundings makes me feel more present.”


The “why” behind the FKT

For Travis, completing the SPS wasn’t about titles or notoriety; his goal has always been to bring awareness to issues facing the outdoor industry. Take his social media for example– to him, it’s a tool for raising awareness about food waste.

 
“I feel like the two are connected, and I wanted to show that to more people,” he says.

That’s why he chose to use the SPS effort to raise money for the Bishop Paiute Food Sovereignty Program, an organization that connects indigenous people to their culture through community-grown food. It was paramount for his project to benefit the indigenous people of the Eastern Sierra.

“I was really intimidated at first. I’m a white man, and [the outdoors] can be a sensitive topic…I presented in front of the whole tribal council and they gave me their blessing.”

Nathan Longhurst, the first person to complete the SPS in a calendar year, joined Travis in raising money for the program. They partnered to complete many of these peaks together.


Twenty-one hours, five summits, and one epic bivy

Even so, there were plenty of opportunities for type 2 fun along the route. 

On one particularly exhausting occasion, Nathan and Travis “shiver(ed) in the Palisades together after a 21-hour day traversing the five southern peaks of the range,” returned to the car, napped near a creek, then saddled up for a 7-peak adventure on the north section.

Soares recalled: “It was a bold plan, but what the heck? Might as well give it a go!”


Travis’s nutrition plan

Nourishing himself to finish each day without bonking was no easy task. 

While on the snack hunt, Travis stumbled upon MUIR Energy on the shelves of the Mammoth Gear Exchange in Bishop, California.

“I wanted to have a whole food option that was easy to digest,” and MUIR Energy gels fit the bill.

It was no easy task to eat enough: “If you think you’ve packed enough [food], pack more,” he said through chuckles. Travis often turned to MUIR gels to ensure he was getting enough nutrients, even when his appetite disappeared.

“I hiked 1800 miles and climbed 700,000 feet of vertical gain and was quite pleased at how well MUIR kept me going,” he remarked casually. 

However, gels alone couldn’t replace his incredible daily energy expenditure. Travis also brought along his fair share of “junk food,” with oreos as the choice delicacy.

Hey, carbs are queen for endurance athletes. 


Getting in the right mindset for over 200 peaks

The length of most ultras is enough to drive runners to throw in the towel. While 200s require enough mental fortitude for three days, how did Travis maintain his momentum for over a hundred?

“It’s a lot to think about climbing 247 peaks…you just have to think of one peak at a time,” says Travis. Even if his objective included three peaks in one day, Travis kept his mind on the peak in front of him.

He also focused on the privilege of living among the mountains for months and months: “some people have it much worse, and some people are suffering everyday or feel stuck somewhere they don’t want to be.”


What’s next?

Travis spends most of his time on the Eastside between Yosemite, Mammoth and Bishop. He has his eyes set on snatching more FKTs in Tuolumne, plus some bigger objectives in the coming years – but he’s keeping those to himself for now.

What does Travis say is the true secret to his FKT success? 

“It was the oreos.”