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My 14er tale

Have an interesting or epic climbing story? Post it here.
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My 14er tale

Postby Corn » Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:45 pm

Just to give a little background before the story: I am a retired soldier that was hurt in Iraq. I had one disc in my back replaced, another impending disc replacement surgery and arthritis in many of my major joints. The climb took place in july 2010...

Dreams are not meant to sit on a shelf, look at once in a while and say to yourself “someday”. Nobody is getting any younger and tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone. Today I got the chance to accomplish one of my goals in life. It was one of the main reasons we moved to Colorado... Mountains. I've always wanted to climb to the top of every mountain I have seen for as long as i can remember. You can call it juvenile but even as a kid I wanted to be at the top looking down. Whether it be a flag pole, barn silo or climbing rope in physical education I wanted to own it. Thanks to my girls for watching the boys and the support from my beautiful wife, today was the day I got my chance to stand atop the peak I have known for years. Over sized Pencils from Grandma, my own families trip to the top in a van, and now a picturesque view from our front yard made Pikes Peak the perfect choice.

My buddy Justin and I had been planning this climb for a week now and finally the day was here. Because of my excitement I only slept for a half an hour last night. We left early this morning and got to the trail head right before day break. As we set out, we were encircled by evergreens, rock formations and probably the greatest sound in the world, a cascading stream. Life was truly good. After only about a mile into the climb I felt a twinge in my back and hip and knew it was going to be a long, long day. As we climbed higher the pain spread like wild fire. At about two miles I questioned my ability to continue but kept moving, eyes wide with the beauty of God's country. 30 minutes later and only a half a mile further we started to get passed by old men, kids and couples all because of me. Even though I already have, I want to thank Justin for sticking by me, trying to motivate me and hiking at a snail’s pace even though he could have completed the round trip in less than five hours.

Every step felt worse and worse. Sometimes after as little as five steps I would have to stop or even find a rock to sit on for a couple of minutes. A few times Justin went ahead to stretch his legs and check out what was ahead of us. At 12,600 feet, after i finally caught up to Justin. He said the words I knew he was thinking for many hours now "let’s turn back". I must admit it was in my head the whole time as well. This was my out; I didn't bring it up so it wasn't on me, right? We had 1700 feet to go and 2600 feet back to the car. I actually thought about it, but with the peak staring me straight in the face, I couldn't turn back, no matter how tore up my body was. At this point the pain, on a scale of 1-10 was easily a nine. We had to cross the road to the top to regain the trail and I watched car after car (with open seats) pass by. I couldn’t do it, no matter how bad I wanted to I just couldn't bring myself to walk down to the road throw out a thumb and hitch a ride to the top. Justin and I decided that he would go on to the top at his pace turn around get some better exercise by running down to his car and pick me up from riding the cog railway down the mountain. After he took off I started getting passed by entire families, grandparents with their grandchildren, teen boys, teen girls, and dogs (most of the time while I was sitting on a rock). Soon wave after wave of people that had already passed me were making the decent from their visit to the top. Instead of talking down to me like I was inferior, everybody was so supportive and encouraging, it was kinda shocking. It wasn't about how fast you could get to the top or if this was your 1st or 54th 14er, everybody had the same goal and they wanted you to succeed as much as themselves.

The final climb to the top was the steepest and by far the most challenging of the day. With the thin air, excruciating pain and boulders all standing in my way, feet felt like miles. As I crossed the final road, the only thing that stood between me and my dream was about 75 feet of rock. Still having to stop and rest quite often and throwing up a few times, I took the final steps to the top.

I was physically and mentally drained. Because of what I was doing and the pain, this was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my 33 years on this earth. With an elevation gain of 4300 feet spread over 6.6 miles, Pikes Peak is far from the toughest 14er in Colorado but it owned me! Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. Could or will I ever do it again? Unfortunately, probably not. I stood at the top of my Everest and it didn’t matter how many cars, RV’s or motorcycles there were in the parking lot, I did it with determination and a pair of Salomon’s.

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby Timmy » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:12 pm

Congratulations and thank you for your service to our country. Your post was moving. Thank you! =D>

p.s. Wow, one helluva first post!
(RAH)² (AH)³ + [ROMA (1+MA)] + (GA)² + (OOH)(LA)²

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby Kapelmuur » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:14 pm

Totally inspiring!
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Re: My 14er tale

Postby anasarca76 » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:15 pm

Good work! I admire your drive despite the major back surgeries and the obvious pain you were in. I think that a lot of the time we take our health for granted so I want to thank you for the reminder, and even moreso, thank you for your service to our country! And congratulations on reaching your Everest! Its a wonderful feeling standing on top of any one of these mountains, we are truly blessed to have taken up such a pastime!

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby planet54 » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:17 pm

Welcome home!! Well done.
"The world is a great book,of which they that never stir from home read only a page." St. Augustine
"Climbing K2 or floating the Grand Canyon in an innertube;there are some things one would rather have done than do." Edward Abbey

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby big_red_pride » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:32 pm

Wow, that was a great story, thank you for sharing your experience! Thank you so much for serving our country and congrats on your summit of Pikes Peak. Sure Pikes Peak isn't the hardest 14er out there, but no 14er is easy. Your will power and courage to keep going through all of your pain is what inspires people to push past their limits to achieve their goals. Again thank you for sharing and take care!

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby Jay521 » Sun Jun 26, 2011 7:53 pm

Hoo-ya

From one vet to another - Well done! You have EVERY right to be proud! Thank you for your service to our country.
I take the mountain climber's approach to housekeeping - don't look down

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby 14erFred » Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:39 pm

Congratulations on reaching the summit of your dreams! Your lion-hearted spirit and your iron will to prevail conquered all. May it always be so. Keep the faith, and keep on reaching for the heights.
"Live as on a mountain." -- Marcus Aurelius

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby Shawnee Bob » Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:11 am

First off, thank you for you sacrifice and service! Most of us don't know how much our military folks sacrifice during their term of duty.

Second, a little perspective. It's really easy to read some of the gnarly adventures a lot of people on this forum undertake and discount your own accomplishments. Obviously, some of us aren't going to be free-soloing the Diamond on Longs or doing ski descents of Capitol. Kudos to those who do, they're inspiring and awesome! But the fact is this: Most healthy people, even most healthy Coloradoans, will not attempt a 14er. The special physical and mental challenge of a 14er, be it a walk-up or a technical ascent, is one of the toughest activities most of us will ever do. Considering your injuries and the pain you suffered through to reach Pike's summit, I'm stacking your achievement above all of mine combined, meager as they are. Great job. And I hope that somehow your body can heal and one day you can once again find your next Everest. Well done!
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Re: My 14er tale

Postby BobbyFinn » Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:27 am

Congratulations on your summit and thank you for your service!
"Mind what you have learned. Save you it can." - Yoda
"Rudeness is a weak person's imitation of strength." - Paul Arel

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby Aug_Dog » Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:02 am

Shawnee Bob wrote:First off, thank you for you sacrifice and service! Most of us don't know how much our military folks sacrifice during their term of duty.

Second, a little perspective. It's really easy to read some of the gnarly adventures a lot of people on this forum undertake and discount your own accomplishments. Obviously, some of us aren't going to be free-soloing the Diamond on Longs or doing ski descents of Capitol. Kudos to those who do, they're inspiring and awesome! But the fact is this: Most healthy people, even most healthy Coloradoans, will not attempt a 14er. The special physical and mental challenge of a 14er, be it a walk-up or a technical ascent, is one of the toughest activities most of us will ever do. Considering your injuries and the pain you suffered through to reach Pike's summit, I'm stacking your achievement above all of mine combined, meager as they are. Great job. And I hope that somehow your body can heal and one day you can once again find your next Everest. Well done!


Great post, Bob! I want to add to what he is saying by congratulating you on your summit of Pikes. My friend and I hiked Pikes on Saturday and I must say, I was impressed with how completely exhausted Pikes left me. I underestimated the hike. We made the Crags approach and the section leading up to the ridge just above treeline was grueling, to say the least. The final push up to the summit, where we found some light scrambling, left me totally exhausted. I would consider myself to be in pretty good shape and Pikes kicked my butt, so you should be very, very proud of yourself!

Thanks so much for your service!
Go get it

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Re: My 14er tale

Postby TheOtherIndian » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:43 am

A big hearty congrats!! This is really inspiring and just makes me feel how insignificant the minor niggles I complain about when getting down are. Once again CONGRATS!!!!
"There's only one thing I hate more than lying. Skim milk. Which is water that's lying about being milk" -Swanson, Ron

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