| A mother/daugther summit to remember
The summer has ended, and soon enough, so will another climbing year. As I look back I see that 2012 has been filled with many success, failures, and life changing moments. I never knew Rob Jansen but know that his death affected many of us. Despite the fact that I was never fortunate enough to know him, I can say that the news of his death changed my life and I have thought of him often in my weekend trips to the mountains. I think my love for Rob started when I read the trip report he wrote on his summit of Holy Cross with his father. It revealed a lot about the kind of person he was. It really made me think about how lucky I am to have the family that I do. So I have decided to share with you a trip report of my summit of Bierstadt with my mom. Although I know that I can’t write half as good as Rob did, here is my attempt to honour my oldest, strongest and favourite climbing partner – my mother.
My mother (and father) introduced hiking to my brother and I from a young age. Growing up in Ontario, Canada, there were no mountains nearby like we have here in Colorado. However, we were always encouraged to be outdoors and made trips regularly to Arizona to see my grandparents. We’ve hiked so many places together in the south western United States, and have hiked the grand canyon a total of around 6 times together (and are hiking it again in December!). For those of you that know me, you also know that I possess a great passion for skiing. Something else I owe to my darling mother who taught us how to shred on the icy slopes of the east.
Skiing Tremblant with mom
Since moving from Canada to Colorado in 2007, my love of the mountains has grown into a passion. My life revolves around this playground that God has created and provided for me in my backyard. My mom often reminds me of Psalm 16:6 – “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Every work week is spent planning and gearing up for the weekend in which I will head for the hills. My mother and I have had the opportunity to share many special moments together over the last few years. I feel so blessed that not only am I able to share this with my mom, but that I want to. I know I am lucky to have the relationship I do with my mother.
Skiing Breck with my mom
Descending Quandary with mom
Pikes Peak descent
A cold day on Mt. Sherman
Denali National Park
My mother arrived in Denver on Thursday after completing the 24h drive from Kingston, Ontario on her own. Even that in itself is impressive! The weather was not great for the mountains on Friday or Saturday so we planned to hike Sunday. We decided on Mt. Bierstadt. We had attempted this peak twice before and were unsuccessful due to weather. We knew that there would be snow on the peak, but thought we’d try for it anyway. She has completed Pikes, Sherman, Quandary, and Grays Peak over the last few years. We were excited to add another to her list.
We were not in a huge rush to head out Sunday morning. One of the nice things about fall hiking is not having to worry about thunder storms. We stepped off from the trailhead at around 9:00am.
Mt. Bierstadt trailhead
Looking up at the peak, we could see that there was going to be a fair amount of snow. My mom was never worried about that at all. Her only concern was the altitude. She’d only arrived from sea level a couple of days prior. Then she mentioned what a beautiful day it was, and how pretty the mountains were. Before I could respond to her concern about the altitude she turned and started hiking quickly towards the peak. The mountain’s beauty had won her over.
There was a fair amount of snow on the trail right from the beginning. Although, not as much as I had hoped to see. I’m insanely excited for this ski season. PLEASE let it bring more snow than the last.
One of the things I like about the standard route up this peak is the gradual increase in difficulty from the trailhead to the summit. The trail begins with a slight downhill, is then flat for a while, and then gradually increases in steepness as it approaches the summit. It makes for a great trail for acclimatization. By the time you reach the steepest sections at the top your legs have had a chance to adjust. A perfect climb for my mom coming from low elevation.
Mom staring the ascent
Me looking pretty ridiculous in my hiking skirt/gaiter combo. Definitely a bad clothing decision on my part
About 2/3 of the way up I told my mom I was going to take her picture. She spread her arms open wide and smiled a big smile. You could just tell that she was loving it. There is no question when you are with her that she is in love with the outdoors.
I love the mountains!
Above 13,000ft there was more snow & wind, and the high altitude was taking its toll. Mom slowed a little and took lots of short little breaks. We were in no rush, and I encouraged her to take the time she needed. Sometimes that lack of oxygen can make your legs feel pretty heavy. However, we kept on going and slowly approached the summit ridge.
My hardcore mom
Feeling the elevation
As soon as we reached the summit ridge it became a lot more windy and cold. There was a fair amount of snow throughout the boulder rock on the final push to the summit. This made for some slow hiking since it was difficult to see where to put your feet. I was worried about sinking through the snow and twisting an ankle. Some of the rocks were also pretty slippery.
Finding our way through the boulders
The summit ridge
All of a sudden we were on the summit and it was FREEZING! My mom celebrated her 60th birthday this year and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. My mom is amazing! I can only hope that I’m able to continue enjoying the mountains like this when I’m her age. We didn’t linger on the peak for too long. My hands were freezing as I snapped a picture of us as fast as I could, we threw on our micro spikes, and we headed back down. Eager to find a place out of the wind where we might be able stop for a break.
Mom on the summit
Our quickly taken summit photo. Definitely not one of my best.
On the way back down I was passing a group of hikers as a guy yelled out to me asking where I’d gotten the purple carabiner on my pack. I said that I’d gotten it at the Rob Jansen memorial a few weeks ago. He showed me that he also had one. It turned out to be BenfromtheEast. I remembered meeting him briefly at the Rob Jansen memorial happy hour and I recalled that he had been a close friend of Rob’s. We only spoke briefly and my mom and I continued our journey to the car. It was only a small moment we shared in remembrance, but it was amazing to me that something as small as a carabiner could bring to mind our fallen friend. Rob Jansen was with us both that day as I’m sure he was with many others this weekend. Thanks for saying hi Ben!
Back at the trailhead with Bierstadt behind
Mom and I arrived back at the car at about 2:30 which put us at about 5.5h round trip. I know that Bierstadt is probably considered to be the easiest 14er by most, myself included. Even Rob Jansen adds at the end of his trip report on Holy Cross that they “strolled up Bierstadt on Sunday before winding our way back to Denver”. However, I can honestly say I enjoyed this climb and felt just as much a sense of pride in the summit as I have on any of the other 48 I’ve climbed up until this point. This beautiful day served as a reminder to me that it’s not just about adding another peak to the list, but about taking the time to enjoy the company of the people you’re with. I cherish the summits I’ve shard with my mom and look forward to those I’ll share in the future. Thank you Rob Jansen for reminding me to treasure the climbing partner I have in my mother.
Thanks Mom for always being there as a mother, and as a friend.
My first and most treasured climbing partners - my mom and dad
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