52 Hike Challenge – Completed!

January 1 – December 31, 2021

Have you ever completed a major accomplishment, without realizing you did it? That was me and the 52 Hike Challenge!

Join the 52 Hike Challenge yourself!

My blogging buddy Linda at Wandering Canadians decided to do the 52 Week Challenge in 2020 as something to aim for during the Covid lock down. I avidly followed her adventures as week after week she pulled in hike after hike – getting it done!

I remember thinking that I could never do 52 hikes in one year. The most I had ever done was 35 hikes in one year, and that was with a few backpacks, and a trekking trip to Peru to beef up the numbers. I talked myself out of the challenge, telling myself that the hikes I was aiming for were long distances, with a lot of elevation gain. Many of the ‘hikes’ were actually scrambles and mountaineering climbs. Then there was the excuse that I ski all winter, so I would have to cram all my hikes into a short six month window.

Yeah, I know. Lots of excuses to not even try.

My first hike of 2021 was in Banff to Tunnel Mountain in late January. I should have known it was going to be a great year when I do TWO hikes that first day – Tunnel Mountain AND then Sulphur Mountain.

So, what happened?

A lot!

First, I was being ‘challenged’ by my friend Sonya. She started taking Fridays off work, and wanted to go play every week. Awesome! Except, Sonya doesn’t ski. This meant I had to find hiking trails that were doable in the winter, without using snowshoes (which I really, really do not like. If there’s enough snow to snowshoe, then I’m on skis). Some of these trails included Cox Hill, Indian Ridge and Mount McNab.

Second, 2021 was a low snow year. This meant I was forced to hike, as many of the ski routes just didn’t have any snow. This allowed me to get in some early season hikes like Coyote Hills, Junction Hill and Grass Pass.

Third, I did two major trips in Canada. I did the Alpine Club of Canada’s General Mountaineering Camp to Mummery Glacier. I climbed four major mountains (Gilgit, Karakel, Nanga Parbat, and Mountain Goat Mountain to Mt Helmer), as well as spending a day at the climbing crag.

I then went with the ACC Rocky Mountain Section to Tonquin Valley, which was another five days of hiking, with a great scramble up Mount Clitheroe.

My highest elevation gain of the year was at Mount Sparrowhawk, which I climbed solo to remember my two lovely daughters who left for university in September. It was an emotionally tough day.

Fourth, my road bike was falling apart and the new one was delayed due to Covid supply chain issues, and the massive run on bikes. The previous few years, I had spent a lot of time on my bike as it’s easier on my knees, and is super easy – just hop on and ride from my door. No trip to the mountains needed. This cuts into my summer hiking time, and it showed in my 2020 hiking totals. With no bike in 2021, I had more time to be hiking.

And finally, the fifth reason I was able to complete the 52 Week Challenge was a late September trip to Austria. I spent six days in the Tyrolean Alps hiking and climbing. The highlight was spending several days at the Innsbrucker Hutte, and summiting Habicht Mountain. While we had zero plans to summit this mountain, as soon as we found out about it, it became our #1 goal, as if it had been on our Tick List for years πŸ™‚ This also solidified Mike’s desire to ‘hike and fly’ with his paraglider, as we saw several people doing just that from the summit of Habicht.

When I got back to Canada, the snow still hadn’t set in, so I was able to get in one more hike to Mustang Hills, which officially gave me a grand total of 52 hikes in one year. Whew!

So how did I discover I had done 52 hikes in one year? When I wrote my 2021 Year in Review. When I originally wrote it, I only had 51 hikes. That’s because one of the hikes was not in Strava, and only in Gaia. It was when I wrote up the list of hikes that I realized I had missed one. I love to journal, and writing my annual Year in Review is one way that I can remember and relive these amazing moments in the mountains. Writing the Year in Review is an exercise I am glad I started in 2020.

My last hike of the year in November at Mustang Hills.

What did I learn?

Never underestimate the power of the subconscious. I really wanted that 52 Week Challenge! My conscious mind tried to talk me out of it, while my subconscious said no way! We are SO doing this. Mental preparation is half the battle, and if you want to up your mental game, read this.

Excuses suck. Every time I find myself putting up a lot of excuses, that usually means I really want something, but don’t feel I’m worthy enough, good enough, have enough experience, etc. You’d think I’d be uber confident about my abilities, but I suffer from self-doubt like crazy. I really need another Me to encourage myself more.

Physically, I found out that I DID have it in me to accomplish this goal. I honestly didn’t know if my knees and legs would hold up. When I look at the distances and elevation gains, it was not a slacker year! I really pushed myself. I hiked more than 218 hours, travelled over 550 km, and climbed 33,127 m of elevation gain!

Those darn doubts kept me from signing up for the challenge, yet several years worth of training, and tracking that training, had paid off. Want to know what I do? Read this for strong legs and lungs.

I also learned to really push myself with leading new routes. Of everything I climbed in 2021, I am most proud of two routes that I planned and led with all-women teams. The first was the Belmore Browne to Boundary Peak Traverse. I had never been in this area, so I had to plan and execute based on maps and third party reports.

Surveying my ‘domain’ on the Belmore Browne to Boundary Peak traverse πŸ™‚ I am SO darn happy to be here and to successfully plan and lead this trip with three amazing women.

Eiffel Peak was a major challenge. This is a great scramble, with a lot of distance on a VERY hot day. We were the only people on this mountain for the entire day, which is rare! I was so proud of my leading abilities, and of the team for trusting me to get them safely up and down the mountain. This is me, Erin and Sonya coming back down from the summit.

When leading a scramble, especially with people new to the mountains, it is ALL on your shoulders. This makes the route finding and decision making that much more intense. The more I do, the better I get.

By far the most technical mountain was Nanga Parbat. This mountain had it all. Crossing a broken glacier. Crossing a gaping bergschrund. Several steep snow pitches on rope. One pitch of ice climbing. A few pitches of rock scrambling. That was just to the summit. One rappel down ice, followed by an INTENSE rappel down the side of the glacier, including a traverse to a second anchor. Just as the last guide and guest came down, a rock came loose from above and followed our route down. If we’d been any slower, one of us could have died.

ACMG Lead Guide Paddy Jerome managing the rappel down the side of the glacier.

Would I do the 52 Hike Challenge again?

I am not sure I would specifically set out to accomplish 52 hikes in one year again. 2021 was the perfect storm in terms of less snow, both in the spring and a late snow start in the fall. Is that normal for where I live? Nope! Right now, we have a super large, record-setting snowpack that is refusing to melt. On top of that, we just had a major rainstorm that came down as snow in the mountains, creating avalanche danger in mid-June. Crazy!

I think just knowing that I have the legs and lungs to push myself is the real win. I already have 23 hikes under my belt this year, and it’s only mid-June. I’m going to the 2022 General Mountaineering Camp, and I am planning a four day trip to the Stanley Mitchell Hut, my most favourite place in the whole world. Can I get in another 52 hikes? Quite possibly. If I don’t, that’s okay too.

Knowing that I accomplished this goal, even after the fact, is a major boost of confidence. Setting and achieving goals is an important part of life. I’m glad I put this on my Wish List, even though it quietly lived in the back of my head.

What’s on your Wish List? Are you slowly working towards a goal? Is it a conscious or an unconscious goal? What is a major accomplishment you are proud of? I’d love to know so please share in the comments.


2021 Totals – Tracked on Gaia and Strava (Distance in KM, and Elevation in M)

HikeDateMountain or Trail NameTimeDistanceElevation
11/29/21Sulphur Mountain3:0013.32735
21/29/21Tunnel Mountain1:094.59235
32/02/21Mount McNab2:186.24266
42/18/21Barrier Fire Lookout3:2413:31557
53/05/21White Buddha Loop2:076.97331
63/19/21Junction Hill Reverse1:415.01408
73/19/21Grass Pass2:137.56447
83/24/21Coyote Hills Loop3:3610.62695
93/26/21Cox Hill4:2615.86729
104/09/21Indian Ridge to Willow Ridge2:378.48257
114/25/21White Buddha and Climb2:307:30650
124:30/21Mesa Butte2:148.38338
135/03/21Mount Yamnuska3:199.78798
145/14/21Junction Hill3:268.54719
155/17/21Grotto Mountain5:1011.561301
165/25/21Bertha Lake3:4112.43726
175/28/21Fullerton Loop1:547.56192
186/18/21C Level Cirque2:5810.78632
196/21/21Wind Tower / West Wind Pass3:4810.81874
206/25/21Lineham Ridge4:3014.72778
216/28/21Picklejar Lakes3:3011.98526
227/02/21Belmore Browne to Boundary4:1013.85735
237/07/21Stanley Glacier4:1314.761,000
247/09/21Eiffel Peak3:5713.991,077
257/13/21Chain Lakes2:303.4120
267/15/21Shunga-la-shi Scramble4:5816.791,052
277/19/21Rawson Lake Sarrail Ridge3:5313.77672
287/26/21Gilgit Mountain4:2614.011.001
297/27/21Mount Karakel3:009.52785
307/28/21Crag Climbing1:001.5047
317/29/21Nanga Parbat4:3217.061,112
327/30/21Mnt Goat to Helmer4:3913.441,233
338/06/21Cat Creek Hills Loop3:1010.18621
348/09/21Tent Ridge3:3411:21759
358/21/21The Fox via Ferrata2:153:30337
368/19/21Holy Cross Mountain4:5615:141,194
378/27/21Cory Pass to Mt Edith5:3319.431,264
389/06/21Mount Sparrowhawk3:5911.111,341
399/13/21Tonquin Valley – Amethyst5:1219.92646
409/14/21Tonquin Valley – Mt Clitheroe2:267.93704
419/15/21Tonquin Valley – Wates Gibson5:3218.00438
429/16/21Tonquin Valley – Majestic Ridge1:567.23169
439/17/21Tonquin Valley – Hike Out2:097.20169
449/18/21The Fox via Ferrata1:043.87300
459/19/21Coliseum Mountain3:4914.72751
469/28/21Tyrol – Innsbrucker Look out1:167:5113
479/29/21Tyrol – Inssbrucker Hutte3:059.821.011
489/30/21Tyrol – Panoramic Viewpoint3:5310.41587
4910/01/21Tyrol – Habicht Mountain2:497.31895
5010/02/21Tyrol – Ilmspitze, Kalkwand3:4013.88454
5110/03/21Tyrol – Sereles2:198.10246
5211/03/21Mustang Hills Loop2:266.90301

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Posted in Adventures, Hiking
31 comments on “52 Hike Challenge – Completed!
  1. love this and congratulations! “Never underestimate the power of the subconscious. I really wanted that 52 Week Challenge! My conscious mind tried to talk me out of it, wh” πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

  2. Congrats on completing the 52 Hike Challenge!! And you had an extra element of challenge from hiking in the mountains and having to deal with changes in elevation. You certainly started out strong by hiking Tunnel Mountain and Sulphur Mountain on the same day … and in the winter. It sounds like this challenge was meant to be. You completed some pretty amazing hikes and covered A LOT of distance (and elevation)!!

    • alisendopf says:

      Thank you so much Linda! I wouldn’t have done it without you completing YOUR 52 Hike Challenge first. There was more than a little bit of FOMO going on. Jealous??? That too πŸ˜…πŸ₯°

      Thanks for your kind words and your encouragement. I think seeing you successfully complete the challenge spured me on. You just never know how you’re going to inspire someone, so keep up your amazing hiking and storytelling πŸ’–πŸ₯°πŸ’–

  3. John Towers says:

    Congratulations Alisen! I enjoy reading your blog from the dry environs of Mexico.
    I get my foothills and mountains fix vicariously, thanks for that. πŸ™‚

    • alisendopf says:

      Thank you so much John for your kind words. I’m so glad I can share some amazing scenery from my beloved Rocky Mountains.

      I do love Mexico. I was lucky enough to visit Huatulco before Covid and it was lovely. We were the only Canadians there (only North Americans too) and everyone was giving us Spanish lessons. Are you on a coast or in the mountains?

      • John Towers says:

        I am on the Pacific coast, 500 m from the beach. I have a nice view of the Sierra Madre Occidentals, but being carless and with El Pandemico, not much of an opportunity to visit the mountains. I am planning a trip in January to visit Cerro Pelon to see the Monarchs. yay, coniferous forests! yay, elevation! 3000 m πŸ™‚

      • alisendopf says:

        Sounds like a great trip you have planned. Enjoy the forest πŸ₯°

  4. Tanooki says:

    Congrats for this major accomplishment! Wow 52 in a year…It’s unbelievable but you did itπŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

  5. You are truly amazing, and such an inspiration Alisen! And that is only the half of it … there’s all that skiing you do in the winter! I can’t believe you rappelled a glacier. I am in awe!!!

    • alisendopf says:

      That glacier was intense. It was a blind rappel too because I couldn’t see over the lip – just had to trust that there would be something down there. Plus the guy lowering me down couldn’t see me, so he had to go by feel as to where I was, and get instructions from Paddy down below on the radio. Major kudos to the guides and amateur leaders who worked really hard that day!

      When that boulder set loose and came down on top of our rappel route – man, that was just too much. Paddy (the lead guide) shut down the mountain for the rest of the week.

      • That sounds like the scariest experience ever!!! Glad you had such a wonderful guide. You were taking a huge risk the guy lowering you down. I’m very glad the guides were so skilled and attentive. Maybe a once in a lifetime experience???

      • alisendopf says:

        For the guides, it’s a day in the life. For me, it was an absolute thrill and I was so happy to be there. Yup, it’s scary but that’s all about pushing myself so I can lead the less scary stuff back home.

  6. Congratulations! A real achievement. Mel

  7. Wow. So impressive, Alisen. I love that you keep a journal and were able tally up hours, distance, and elevation gain. I just might copy that for my next trip. Love the photos and the can-do attitude, even through the moments of doubt. Here’s to another year in the mountains. πŸ™‚

    • alisendopf says:

      Awww… thank you so much πŸ’“ I keep all kinds of records, from a daily exercise log to my stats that I shared here. I need all kinds of motivation to keep me going. I have a hard time each fall when it starts getting cold but there isn’t snow for skiing. I turn into a couch potato and I have to dig deep to stay motivated.
      Yes! Here’s to another great year in the mountains!

  8. Widdershins says:

    ‘T’is impressive, it is! πŸ˜€

  9. Congratulations on completing your challenge! Bravo and well done.

  10. Alisen this is pure grit for 1. The commitment of 52 is huge. 2. You capturing your subconscious mind and making it half battle is not easy as it takes a lot of discipline.

    The only closer something I have done is 50 days of 5K run. Since I started in November there were many days of snow for us but I paid to get the indoor track in the local community center.

    • alisendopf says:

      Wow! 50 days of running??? That’s massive. How’s your body holding up?

      I am a huge fan of the 5 km run. It’s long enough to get the heart beat up, work up a sweat, but not so long that joint pain sets in.

      I’d love to hear how your body has changed since starting this challenge.

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