| My 14er Finisher!!!!- Mt. Elbert
Those most interested in the pictures feel free to scroll down. Those who will indulge me with a bit of reflection on my journey can read on..
I climbed my first 14er in August of 2004. Now 8 years later that goal/quest has finally been realized. Many people achieve this goal much faster than I have, but my journey has been my own and I appreciate the time I allowed to plan and anticipate every climb. I was able to take in the experiences of each mountain, and to reflect on them before tackling the next one. While climbing does not define who I am, it has helped defined who I have become.
My journey has not just been about experiences in the mountains but about how they interrelate with the rest of my life. The mountains have seen me find lost friendships. They have also seen me lose good friends. They have seen me grow as a person, husband and a father. They have helped me form an unbreakable bond with my son. They have given me a focus to stay healthy and an excuse to visit some of the most spectacular places on earth.
My 14er Quest has produced some memorable adventures with catchy tags such as “summit at all costs”, “Shafer’s trench” and “LaPuka”. Some don’t have tags but are memorable none the less as they involve lighting, blizzards, torrential downpours, and even the Jefferson County Sheriff.
I look back on pictures from my first 14er and I see cotton everywhere. I remember wearing my heavy firefighting boots and wondering where my next breath was going to come from. But I also remember hitting the summit and the feeling of accomplishment. Oh and you can’t forget about the views from the “Top of the Rockies”. I have to say I was immediately “hooked”. I found 14ers.com and signed up as alanb to begin what was the first of hundreds of hours of research and dreaming of what peak I would climb next. Looking at the “hard” peaks and wondering if I would every have the skills to tackle them.
Those of you who remember the site back then, it was not the fine-tuned machine that Bill has created today. Trip reports were scarce and you had to put them in a forum post (10 pic max). Bill only had about 1/3 of the 14er routes up. The community was small, maybe 500 registered users or less. For my first 20ish summits I would diligently put together a trip report and check more and more summits off my list. I remember Culebra finally opening up to the general public and signing up for (I believe) the first organized 14ers.com Culebra hike.
Shortly after that circumstances in my life would take me away from climbing for over a year. I wondered at that time if the goal was lost. But life is funny and a passion never dies. I was able to return to climbing and return to 14ers.com, but with the necessity of a bit more anonymity so I signed up under the handle summitbound. The need for new trip reports has diminished and the wealth of knowledge from other members saw me fade from trip reports and post counts. But the goal was never out of sight.
My “peaks checked” list was also an evolution of my skill level. I found a partner whose skill level is light years beyond mine. The confidence I gained on each of our summits allowed me to expand beyond the normal summer time frame and traditional routes. No longer was the check box the goal, but rather the experience. I sought out non-standard routes and wanted to avoid the crowds, to make my own mark by hitting a summit every month of the year, which I was able to complete. I learned winter climbing is a different world from summer. I love the solitude and the beauty of the 14ers in this magical season. I also learned defeat and how to turn back when condition were just not right. I learned persistence in going back over and over again to reach that one missed summit. I found that snow climbs are one of my favorite things.
On the personal side of my journey I gained an appreciation for the impact climbing has on my family. The time spent away from home, the worry when I don’t check in on time, and they read about the accidents and fatalities on the very peaks they know I am on. Despite all this they remained unwavering in their support. I watched my son grow into a solid outdoorsman. I remember watching him struggle as a small 7 year old attempting Culebra with bronchitis and a broken arm all the way to where he is now- a 13 year old Eagle Scout with 20 summits under his belt including Mt Wilson, the Chicago Basin, and Snowmass.
On my final 14er I saw the culmination of that support from both family and friends. Friends and coworkers flew in from out of state, family drove across the county, hiking partners who had long since moved beyond the 14er list came back to share my final 14er summit with me. My wife planned an amazing finishing party. It was a great day with a great group of people. A huge thanks to all who have contributed to helping me complete "the list"
Thanks for allowing me to share this with you all.
A few selected photo's
My family and friends on the summit with me.
My son on his first 14er
January Summit of Ellingwood at night and in a blizzard.
The Bell Cord
Y Couloir on Pikes Peak
Near the summit of Maroon Peak
precarious ice slope on the Bells
me surveying the Sawtooth
hero shot on North Massive
The diving board on Pyramid
The gully on Wetterhorn
Princeton from Grouse Creek TH
The Prow on Kit Carson
Traverse with El Diente behind
Down Climbing std route Maroon Peak
Traverse from Needle to Peak
Yale in a January snowstorm
Columbia West Ridge in Feb
Hourglass on Little Bear
Blanca with Ellingwood behind
Sunlight summit block- (The top is the top right?)
My son on Mt. Wilson
Father and son on Snowmass
Capitol in May- My all time favorite mountain
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):