When two trails diverge, Kyle Richardson doesn’t take either. He scurries up the rocks next to them. That’s because the 24-year-old is a burgeoning star of rock scrambling, a cross between trail running and vertical climbing done mostly without the aid of a harness or ropes. Richardson, a longtime runner, first encountered the niche sport while a student at the University of Colorado Boulder. The college town had become an epicenter for scramblers thanks to the preponderance of climber-friendly, 50-degree-angled slabs in the Flatirons. After mastering the precise footwork and handholds needed to escape precarious positions, Richardson started setting speed records on experts-only scrambling routes across the state. His most impressive feats have come on his home turf, though, where in fall 2019 he achieved the fastest round trips on the First Flatiron (30 minutes, 19 seconds) and Third Flatiron (30 minutes, 27 seconds). Although Richardson’s ultimate goal, as it has been from the start, is to experience nature in unexplored ways, “it’s cool to set records,” he says. This summer, he hopes to make marks on other routes less taken, including the entire ridge of the Gore Range, from where it begins near Silverthorne all the way to Copper Mountain.