PCT Winter Traverse by Justin (Trauma) Lichter & Shawn (Pepper) Forry
On March 1st 2015, Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter accomplished a feat that has not only never been done, but has only been attempted once before. They hiked the entire 2,560 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, from Canada to Mexico, in winter! Trail Designs was proud to support their amazing achievement with our Sidewinder Stove system, and we join the following voices in congratulating them on this "first" in long distance hiking!
News Articles (post hike)
"Perhaps it feels a little self-indulgent to celebrate two guys who took a long walk. But what a walk! Like the 4-minute mile or the free climb of the Dawn Wall at Yosemite, this is something that seemed beyond human capacity — and then humans did it."
— Nicholas Kristof
“What Shawn and Justin have done is really remarkable,” said Jack Haskel, trail information specialist for the PCTA. It’s not just their willpower that is impressive. The outdoor skill and planning involved in such a feat push Forry and Lichter into the upper echelon of long-distance hikers.
— Shelby Carpenter
Justin “Trauma” Lichter and Shawn “Pepper” Forry completed a winter thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail today…. They started their hike on October 21, 2014 and finished March 1, 2015 for a total of 132 days. That's a remarkably fast hike considering the conditions and the fact that they took time off around Christmas.
— Jack "Found" Haskel
"Plenty of hikers have completed the Pacific Crest Trail, the 2,650-mile route stretching from the California-Mexico border to the Washington-Canada border. None, however, had dared attempted it in winter, when sub-freezing temperatures and deep snowdrifts complicate an already-difficult endeavor."
— Nick Elges
" Most people don't think you can use alcohol stoves in the winter, but with the Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri Stove System, Justin "Trauma" Lichter and his partner Shawn "Pepper" Forry were able to sustain their 131-day [winter PCT traverse] trek on denatured alcohol, even in temps well below 0° F"
"Masochism comes in many colors, and for Justin Lichter and Shawn Forry that color is white — the color of snow. As if trekking the entire Pacific Crest Trail wasn’t daunting enough, these two California-based ordealists just complete the first-ever winter thru hike of the PCT."
— Chris Emery
"We thoroughly tested and researched all of our gear before the trip,” Lichter said. “As a result we greatly minimized our gear failures. We went into the trip with a good feeling that our equipment would succeed. We had two failures and they were both because of our oversight."
"It's definitely a personal journey," says Forry. "Just being able to dream up ideas like this and go out and live it." — Shawn Forry
It takes heaps of fortitude to tackle the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in its entirety. But to hike the length of the continental U.S. from border to border in the dead of winter… takes something else entirely.
"I was filled with a cocktail of wonder and worry that would loom over me for the next 2,660 miles. Had we considered every variable? Had we calculated every risk? Had we honestly assessed our own level of skill and delusion? Only time would tell. "
— Shawn Forry
"After spending the day hiking a demanding route in cold weather the ability to make a warm meal is critical for physical and mental well-being. Lichter and Forry used the [Sidewinder Ti-Tri] by Trail Designs. "
— Benjamin Spillman
"Plenty of people have hiked the 2,650 miles Pacific Crest Trail, from British Columbia to the Mexican border, but no one’s ever done it in winter. Until now. "
— Vanda Gyuris
"Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter, experienced hikers and outdoorsmen, accomplished something that nobody has ever done before, what some people said amounted to a death sentence. They completed a hike-thru of the Pacific Crest Trail in the dead of winter."
— David Strege
"Before their start date October 21 Forry told friends he calculated their odds of succeeding at 17 percent. But those odds took a sharp jump for the better a few weeks ago when the duo descended from the High Sierra tired, hungry but otherwise unscathed. For people in the hiking community who track accomplishments on the Pacific Crest Trail the successful culmination of a wintertime hike is considered a monumental accomplishment."
— Benjamin Spillman
"When I saw that Trauma and Pepper had completed the hike, I knew I wanted to get their insights and thoughts right away. I had been thinking about doing adventure-related interviews on my blog. So without much thought, I fired off a few questions to Trauma and this is the result."
— Eric Larsen
"Think completing a spring/summer/fall thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail is amazing? (It is!) Then check this out: Justin "Trauma" Lichter and Shawn "Pepper" Forry completed the first known winter traverse of this 2,650-mile trail, where lingering deep snow conditions can sometimes shut down determined, experienced hikers even in the summer."
— Lisa Maloney
"Never mind that they took time off the trail at Christmas and were blessed with an extremely low snowpack in the Cascades and Sierras this season: Shawn Forry, 33, of Midpines, Calif., and Justin Lichter, 34, of Truckee, Calif., still had to slog through snow and slush, skirt cornices and avalanche danger and endure bitter cold and frostbite in their carefully chosen ultra-light clothing and gear totaling about 18 pounds apiece.."
— Rich Landers
"It’s tough to do an adventure that no one else has done. Plenty have climbed Mt. Everest or Mt. Whitney, biked or walked across the U.S., hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, run through Death Valley, yo-yo’d the Pacific Crest Trail. But Justin "Trauma" Lichter and Shawn "Pepper" Forry recently did something no one else had ever done, and they found it right here on the West Coast."
— Ed Zieralski
NPR NW News Network's Tom Banse did an article at the completion of the trip that was picked up by a few NPR outlets. Below are links to that article
- Here and Now (Boston) - Hikers Make History On Pacific Crest Trail
- Boise State Public Radio— Adventurers Complete First-Ever Winter Thru-Hike Of Pacific Crest Trail
- NW News Network - Adventurers Complete First-Ever Winter Thru-Hike Of Pacific Crest Trail
- KUOW.org (Seattle)— Adventurers Complete First-Ever Winter Thru-Hike Of Pacific Crest Trail
On the completion of Pepper and Trauma's record setting winter traverse of the PCT, the Associated Press distributed an RGJ Benjamin Spillman article that was picked up by a number of news outlets. Click on the links below to see the individual stories from around the world.
- The Star Malaysia— Duo Who Went The Extra Mile
- Herald and News (Klamath Falls OR) - Duo completes first winter hike on PCT from Canada to Mexico
- The Oregonian - Pacific Crest Trail hiked in entirety for first time in winter
- The Daily News (Lower Columbia)— Duo completes first winter hike on PCT from Canada to Mexico
- CBS SF Bay Area -Truckee Duo Completes 1st Winter Hike On Pacific Crest Trail From Canada To Mexico
- The Chronicle (Lewis Co. Wash.) - Duo Completes First Winter Hike on Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico
- The Argus Observer (Ontario OR)— Canada to Mexico
- Reno Gazette-Journal— Breaking barriers on the Pacific Crest Trail
Shawn and Justin's Blog Posts
Shawn's Blog Posts
Justin's Blog Posts
- Justin's frequent trip updates begin here
- Gear List for Winter PCT Hike (pdf)
- Winter PCT Traverse Completed— 3/2/15
- A Tale of Two Trips – Recap of the First Winter PCT Traverse - 3/11/15
If you can only watch one video, this is it! Highly produced, fantastic summary of Justin and Shawn's adventure!
Part of the "This Happened Here" series by Seeker Stories
Excellent interview of Trauma by Michelle Shea going over his food and stove options during the winter traverse of the PCT.
Post hike audio interview with Justin and Shawn. Wide ranging 11 minute interview with Boyd Matson.
Mar 23, 2015
During hike video comments with both Justin and Shawn near the end in Idyllwild CA.
Feb 24, 2015— Idyllwild CA
180 miles to go
Post hike video interview with Justin Lichter discussing impact of winter on trip planning and execution.
Mar 18, 2015— Trukee CA
During hike interview with both Justin and Shawn. Questions generated by 5th to 8th graders.
Feb 11, 2015— Tehachapi CA
550 miles to go
KUNR Reno Public Radio's Anh Gray does a post hike interview with Justin and Shawn with emphasis on gear.
Mar 18, 2015— Reno NV
GREAT footage by Reno Gazette Journal's Jason Bean & Benjamin Spillman of Shawn and Justin's arrival at the PCT southern terminus.
Mar 1, 2015— Campo CA
Hikers Make History On Pacific Crest Trail
Here & Now Contributors Network, Tom Banse talks with Justin and Shawn following their hike.
Mar 3, 2015
Picked up by:
Shawn and Justin break the sad news we all were afraid to hear. They will not yo-yo.
Mar 1, 2015— Campo CA
News Articles (pre/during hike)
"This guy is asking for a death sentence," Tibbits said. "I simply don't have the faith he is going to have a safe and successful venture. If we have even a normal winter he is going to have trouble."
"Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter are doing a winter thru-hike on the PCT this year. As you read this they are nearing Lake Tahoe, making their way towards Mexico. They’ve walked so far that the metal on their snowshoes is wearing thin. Soon, they’ll switch to skis."
— Jack "Found" Haskel
"What Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter are doing is unheard of. Forry, 33 and Lichter, 34, are hiking the PCT from north to south, and they’re doing it during the coldest months of the year. They started at the Canadian border in late October and expect to make it to the Mexican border around March 1. No other hikers are known to have accomplished this before."
"Justin Lichter and Shawn Forry are 180 miles from the Mexican border and the completion of their remarkable winter thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. They started in October and have been snowshoeing, skiing and hiking ever since."
— Jack "Found" Haskel
Two gentlemen this year are attempting a thru-hike during the winter months. Some might say they are crazy but if they complete the hike it will be a monumental achievement. To date, their is no data that suggests that anybody has ever tried to thru-hike the PCT in the winter months.
— Adam Keeney
The high Sierra may be one of the most challenging portions of their journey due to the inaccessibility of the entire stretch, making it difficult to obtain provisions and for assistance in the case of an emergency. This may be the only winter attempt of this stretch of high Sierra.
"We've been thinking about this trip for five years," said Lichter, 34, of Truckee, during a recent interview.
"If it is a weak winter it increases our odds," added Forry, 33, of Midpines, Calif. "But it also takes a little away from it."
NPR NW News Network's Tom Banse did an article half way through the trip that was picked up by a few NPR outlets. Below are links to that article
- Northwest Public Radio— Adventurers Attempt Winter Thru-Hike Of Pacific Crest Trail
- NW News Network - Adventurers Attempt Winter Thru-Hike Of Pacific Crest Trail
- KUOW.org (Seattle)— Adventurers Attempt Winter Thru-Hike Of Pacific Crest Trail
About 2 months into the hike, Justin and Shawn did an interview during a few "zero days" in Truckee. This story ran in a few different outlets. Click on the links below to read the interview.
- The Oregonian— 2 hikers attempting to be first to finish Pacific Crest Trail in winter
- Reno Gazette-Journal — Fighting frostbite to make Pacific Crest Trail history
- Great Falls Tribune - Fighting frostbite to make Pacific Crest Trail history
"The Trail Designs stoves are so efficient we were able to use them on the entire winter traverse of the Pacific Crest Trail! In fact it was great to have the versatility of the stove in case we decided to start using it as a twiggy stove too."
"What started as just a lofty dream five years ago is now another notch on Lichter’s belt of ultra-hiking accomplishments. FITS® is proud to support inspiring athletes such as Justin and we commend him on this historic accomplishment."
“Often the trail tread will be buried under 15 feet of snow. Gear is a very important part of their travels – not only does it have to be lightweight for backpacking, but it also has to perform well. Icebreaker is stoked that we were able to outfit Justin in merino baselayers.”
"… with over 55,000 miles of trail experience between them, Lichter and Forry were able to meet the conditions with safety and confidence. Detailed packing and preparation also played a major role in the safety of their trek, and Lichter and Forry are pros at packing the best ultralight gear. On the trail, Lichter and Forry carried various Granite Gear backpacks and stuff sacks.
All pictures taken on the trail courtesy of
Justin Lichter and Shawn Forry