This is more of a short trip report dedicated to my Family.
Mom and I on a family camping trip
Ever since I was a kid, I always looked up to my Dad. I remember watching him pack everything the night before and just wishing I could go out with my Dad. I didn’t care where. He had climbed all the 14’ers. He had so many stories and frightening stories from hair standing up and lightning striking 50 feet away to being hypothermic and getting hit by avalanches. I just thought it was so cool. Not the bad stories but he was living life! I had always stayed with playing basketball though and it was not until the first time we went that I fell so much in love with the sport. Somehow I knew though that getting involved with this so heavily, I would have my own stories. I would try my hardest to avoid them but with experience, they came and good stories they weren’t.
More Camping (My sisters are going to kill for including this one)
I always went on family camping trips. They always ended in horror from my Mom stepping on a bee hive to me slipping and falling in the water with no extra change of clothes. Somehow I still loved it. My first 14’er attempt was Mt. Beirstadt at about age 5 or 6 and I got up to 13,000 ft. before weather turned us around. I thought I did well. I wanted to impress my Dad so I could go up with him again. My Dad never pressured me into anything and he thought I would never be interested in it.
My first 14'er attempt
A few years later, we gave Quandary Peak a go. At this point I had gained a lot of weight and was severely out of shape. That may surprise some of you that know me because I am quite skinny but I struggled. We turned around again due to weather. The lightning and hail was going crazy. My Dad made sure I was not wet. That’s another thing I have always admired. He is a true climbing partner and best friend to me. One I trust my life with. He made sure I was okay before worrying about him self. We pitched a tent and went to bed only for me to be really worried because I was down right scared of bears.
First 14'er summit
Finally my Dad took me on my first summit, Wetterhorn Peak. I thought it would be a walk up and a little bit of scrambling but of course I had not done any of that. I wanted to be a “rock climber” and not just walk up. I went slowly and the old man was kicking my butt. Soon I got to the crux headwall scared. My Dad went up and then I followed. I looked down and knew a fall would be fatal. I asked my Dad “What would happen if I fell?” He simply stated “You would die.” But I overcame it and soon was on the summit of my first 14’er at 12 years old. I felt like I was on top of the world.
Dad, me, and Brother-In-Law on the summit of Mount Massive
From then on it has been a growing passion and learning experience in every single way. I always went up with my Dad along with my Uncle and racked up the experience and learned. I researched every mountain out there it seemed, routes, just about everything it seemed, especially with the tallest mountains in the world. I became a bit obsessed.
The hard thing was that my parents would not let me go out heavily or without my Dad because they were worried. My dreams were big and they didn’t want an accident to happen. It was frustrating to see other young ones conquering Everest with there parents paying for it all from Jordan Romero to Johnny Collinson. Here I was on Mount Massive. I did enjoy it of course, I just felt like I needed to be training on way harder stuff. When I racked up some experience with rock climbing, I started soloing the 2nd Flatiron a lot which is only 5.0 or something like that and a few hundred feet tall. That’s when Kevin and I decided to go for the Maroon Bells traverse.
Myself in the picture starting the traverse with Kevin
Kevin on the summit of South Maroon about to commit to the traverse
This is me after taking a 50 foot fall on the left cliffs. Somehow landed in a snow patch, self arrested with my elbows pretty close to a big drop.
That didn’t work out well when he fell 600 feet, I was hypothermic, and had also taken a fall. Rescued was called and Kevin had to be rescued while I somehow staggered to the bottom. We were both lucky to make it out of that alive. Only a year later, a similar accident happened in the Bell Chord but this time with fatalities. That summer I also took a 50 foot vertical fall and somehow survived. As well as an unplanned bivy on El Diente after a climbing the North Buttress in dangerous fall snow conditions that took 12 hours or so on route due to how scary it was. My parents were about to call rescue on that one.
Very scary sugar snow conditions with a big drop below me
Rapping off El Diente
I was then grounded from mountain climbing. I don’t blame my parents. I was scaring the crap out of a lot of people in my life. Kevin stopped climbing with me as he felt every time we climbed together, something major went wrong. I just focused on rock climbing and soon ice climbing. I was not grounded from those. I would be deceptive and try to sneak a winter ascent of the Notch Couloir on Longs or the Martha Couloir saying I would not go to the summit and just climb the “route.”
On broadway on a winter attempt of the Notch Couloir on Longs
Better stay on the ice for now.....
Looking back at it was silly. My parents just were helping me out and I didn’t realize it. After High School and ever since I have been trying to get out everyday to get closer to my dreams. My Mom has always worried but that’s just what Mom’s do. I understand that and respect that by being as safe as I can possibly be.
Whenever my Dad and I get out, it’s a memory to treasure. It’s simply priceless. He is going for his second time around now while for me, goals have shifted elsewhere and I don’t know if I’ll ever finish them.
When we climbed La Plata Peak a week or so ago, it reminded me just how privileged I am. I could not imagine better parents that have cared and been there so much for me.
We also made good time by getting to the top in about 3 hours. Oh yeah, I failed to mention, while getting off trail and crossing a creek, he slipped and fell in the water. 8)
The summit of La Plata Peak