George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Please, no analysis or debate in this sub-forum. This is for memorial threads only.
Post Reply
gore galore
Posts: 73
Joined: 6/2/2012
14ers: List not added
Trip Reports (37)

George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Post by gore galore »

Most people on the 14er Forum probably do not know of or remember George Smith and his sons Flint, Quade, Cody and Tyle and the impact they made on Colorado fourteener speed climbing when they were known as The Climbing Smiths in the late 1960's and 1970's. George Nash Smith passed away this weekend at the age of 92.

George Smith climbed Longs Peak as his first fourteener in 1948 while a student at Colorado State University. In 1962 he began taking his sons mountain climbing. Dressed alike in blue windbreakers and caps the Smiths finished the fourteeners in 1968 when Tyle was eight and then the youngest person to complete them all. The Climbing Smiths were among the first one hundred persons to complete the Colorado fourteeners.

The following year in 1969 the Smiths became one of a small group of 19 climbers that had climbed all of the fourteeners in the 48 states by climbing those additional peaks in California and Washington. Five of those 19 climbers were named Smith.

In 1974 the Smiths repeated their experience by climbing all of the Colorado fourteeners in a then record 33 days followed by the West Coast fourteeners in 15 days then also a record time. Their total elapsed time for climbing all the fourteeners in the 48 states of 48 days has not yet been bettered.

Media coverage for the time was fairly extensive in the Denver Post, Empire Magazine and Sports Illustrated. The advance billing for their climbing was 68 Fourteeners in 68 days. The Climbing Smith's blitz of the fourteeners in 48 days in 1974 is one of the forerunner events of the increased popularity of climbing the fourteeners.

The Climbing Smiths were also the first to climb the 48 state fourteeners twice. Since then Flint has climbed them three times and Tyle four times. Their 1974 adventure was the last real climbing done by the full Smith family members together.

In 1990 Quade and Tyle Smith lowered the Colorado fourteener speed record to 16 days following the 3,000 foot Colorado rule that the Smiths established in 1974 for speed climbing on the fourteeners.

George Smith accomplished his mountain climbing feats and much more in life with a debilitating injury when he was four years old that left his right arm immobile for the rest of his life. His determination to succeed is attributed to his early boyhood accident. He would climb more than 400 fourteeners in his lifetime.

In 1971 the Smiths established the “Climbing Smiths School of Mountaineering” for teenagers in the Aspen area which lasted until 1978. The school was based on George Smith's philosophy of perseverance in the face of adversity stemming from his life experiences learned in overcoming his arm injury.

One of my earlier memories of climbing Colorado's fourteeners was reading the exploits of The Climbing Smiths from the cover article of the same in the long ago Empire Magazine of the Denver Post of December 8, 1974. It is a magazine that I still keep as part of fourteener history. And during their time on the Colorado fourteeners there was nobody quite like The Climbing Smiths.
User avatar
Posts: 893
Joined: 9/26/2012
14ers: 58 1
13ers: 413 1
Trip Reports (81)

Re: George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Post by Mtnman200 »

Thanks for sharing that. I always appreciate the history lessons!
"Adventure without risk is not possible." - Reinhold Messner
User avatar
Summit Stomper
Posts: 146
Joined: 11/1/2006
14ers: 40

Re: George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Post by Summit Stomper »

An amazing family of mountain goats! This is a really neat story. I looked them up on Google!
Teeth to the wind!
User avatar
Posts: 1885
Joined: 8/20/2009
14ers: 58 28
13ers: 117 9
Trip Reports (48)

Re: George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Post by SurfNTurf »

George Smith finished a memoir before his passing, entitled Bark of the Cony. I believe you can find it on Amazon right now, but it'll also be stocked on the Colorado Mountain Club online store in the next few weeks. Interesting read for anyone interested in 14er history.

Sending healing wishes to his sons, family, friends and climbing partners. Rest in peace, George.
“There are two kinds of climbers: those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.” - Alex Lowe

"There have been joys too great to describe in words, and there have been griefs upon which I cannot dare to dwell; and with those in mind I say, 'Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.'" - Edward Whymper
User avatar
Posts: 15
Joined: 9/26/2012
14ers: 21

Re: George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Post by DanRiley »

Thanks for the update. I always enjoy your historical perspective. In 1990 my son and I were climbing some of the easier 14ers and kept seeing the Smith family names in the registers. Turns out it was when Quade and Tyle were setting the new speed record.
Posts: 1201
Joined: 8/17/2018
14ers: 41
13ers: 4

Re: George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Post by nunns »

Mtnman200 wrote: Mon Nov 09, 2020 2:05 pm Thanks for sharing that. I always appreciate the history lessons!
+1. I remember the name Tyle Smith from Roach's mini-history of the CO 14ers in the front of his book. Always interesting to hear more of the story.

Sean Nunn
"Thy righteousness is like the great mountains." --Psalms 36:6
Posts: 469
Joined: 5/22/2019
14ers: 44 2 2
13ers: 51

Re: George Nash Smith, 1928-2020 of The Climbing Smiths

Post by ltlFish99 »

Cool story,
Thanks for posting this.
Post Reply