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  • Mt. Bierstadt Group Summit - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest before the summit push on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Broken Ankle + 6 Miles = Tired
  • The classic San Juan approach - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Overlooking Noname Basin from Twin Thumbs Pass - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Upper Noname Basin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing Noname Cabin - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Twin Thumbs Twins - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Nearing the summit of Pt. 13,736 - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Blustery day on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Morning snow at 15k, Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada
  • Artesonraju from the summit of Nevado Pisco - Cordillera Blanca, Peru
  • February crowds on Gray's Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • Kicking steps on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Final traverse to the summit of Wheeler Mountain - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • The long walk to Pachanta - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Afternoon at 17k on Cerro Ramada - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    The final ridge on Iowa Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Summer summit on Longs Peak - Front Range, Colorado
  • A rest day at the Pachanta Hot Springs - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Mind over matter on Mt. Parnassas - Front Range, Colorado
  • Rest stop on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Post nap surprise on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Summit on Cerro Lliani - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Ridge walking on Grizzly Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Enroute the summit via the West Ridge on Pacific Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Mule train bound for Chilca - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Taking in the view from Fletcher Peak - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
  • Hiking on Silverheels - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Traversing! Gladstone Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
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    The best of times at Willow Lake - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
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    High Altitude Cerebral Edema? - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Bound for Chilca - Vilcanota Range, Peru
  • Going alpine light, Holy Cross Ridge - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Cumbre! Campa I - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
  • Roadside lunch with the best of company - Cordillera Vilcanota, Peru
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    Long ridge walk to the summit of California Peak - Sangre de Christo Range, Colorado
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    Crossing el Rio Colorado . . . in the afternoon - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    Dealing with Fall snows high on Casco Peak - Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Moonrise over Mercedario - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
  • Still climbing at 20,900 on Cerro Ramada - Cordiller Ramada, Argentina
  • Talus on Halo Ridge, Mt. of the Holy Cross - Sawatch Range, Colorado
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    Deteriorating conditions on Mt. Arkansas - Ten Mile Range, Colorado
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    After the climb - Cordillera Ramada, Argentina
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    Taking in the view from the summit of Crystal Peak - Tenmile Range, Colorado
  • Topping out on Mt. Arkansas' North Couloir - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Glissade on Mt. Arkansas - Mosquito Range, Colorado
  • Hard snow morning on Teakettle Mountain - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Spring snow announces the start of the climb on Dallas Peak - San Juan Range, Colorado
  • Crossing the Eolus Catwalk - San Juan Range, Colorado

54 Peaks in 19 Years – A Climber's Perspective


I came to Colorado in 1979 as a freshman at the Colorado School of Mines. I'd been to Colorado as a kid on vacation and took a liking to the outdoors when my former reading teacher, a fellow by the name of Ed Lough, turned outdoor store owner and sold me an external frame pack and what may still have been the best pair of boots I ever owned. The pump was primed . . .

I began intentionally climbing the 14’ers, as compared to general hiking, strictly by accident in 1983.  My roommate needed to go scope out a mining operation on Mt. Lincoln for a senior project at the Colorado School of Mines and I tagged along.  Twenty-five years later, I stepped atop the summit of Culebra Peak, a different kind of climber in more ways than one.

My first trip was as a rank Cottoneer (climbing equivalent of a Touron) and nothing else, ignorant of mountain weather, staying off the tundra and oh so many other facets of climbing knowledge.  We wore tennis shoes, jeans, and Carhart sweatshirts and believe it or not, did not even know Democrat was there, not to mention that it too was a 14,000 foot peak!  Time, however, passed, and a buddy and I did Antero, with a map, climbing from the hard road far below, to the summit and back, because we lacked a vehicle that could cut off any of the distance (Dan had a maroon AMC Pacer)  A few years later, and with much other hiking under our belt, we flew to Colorado from sea level for a longish weekend and scored Tabeguache, Shavano, and Yale in two days.  We were getting better, hiking boots, a pack with rain gear, and the knowledge to hustle when those thunderheads started coming our way on the summit of Mt. Yale. Years passed without another 14’er, in fact ten years before I again set foot in Colorado for the purpose of climbing.  The mining industry had finally dropped me back “in range,” this time in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and I was determined to complete the climbing of the 54.  I also was no longer the college kid and I could afford some decent gear, Gore-Tex had arrived, and I had well over a decade of hiking, climbing and like activities in my experience.  I started climbing the peaks again and I added the skills that were needed to do it right.  I took an avalanche course to learn to recognize and avoid that hazard so particular to the Colorado brand of snowpack.  I also took an Alpine skills course and learned how to travel across snow in order to expand my climbing season and take on more challenging routes.  Most importantly, I climbed, with my eyes open, starting with the walk-ups and progressing to the tougher routes, learning something new with every climb as I routinely screw up, forget and ultimately discover new things.

If nothing else, climbing the 54 was a fairly comprehensive course in mountaineering, the end point of which provided me with both a wonderful accomplishment and the body of knowledge needed to be a decent intermediate climber.  I also grew to appreciate the peaks not as ticks on a list but individual challenges.  I know that I certainly progressed from the awed beginner with 3 peaks to his credit to the bagger with 20 peaks and counting.  Later as I neared the goal, I wanted to finish but I had put the bagger’s routes aside and started looking at snow routes, winter climbs, and seeking the tougher peaks with the confidence of an experienced climber.

For me the 14’ers are done, but not done.  There are many snow and rock routes left to do on peaks climbed earlier, ridges to traverse and friends to accompany in their pursuit of the goal.  There are hapless Cottoneers to pump water for, share maps with, and mention that those black clouds above can mean big trouble.  There are good solid climbers to meet and chat with on tougher routes and friends with whom to camp and enjoy meals cooked over the campfire.  For we all learn, sooner or later, that there is more to climbing than just getting to the top of them all.

In closing, thanks go to Roger for the first peak, to Dan for the half a dozen that followed, to Gary, Di and Eric S. for taking most of the solo out of climbing, and to all those folks on other peaks with whom I climbed for the day . . . the ministers on Pikes, the two guys on Snowmass, the lawyers on Capitol, the couple on the Needle, and, at the end, Aaron, Eric and the Daves for being the best of company for the climb of the "last" 14'er, Culebra Peak.

Finally, and most importantly, thanks go to my wife, Debbie, who does more than tolerate my weekends in the mountains, she truly understands.