My 37th 14er was Crestone Peak. We hiked in with a purpose - to scatter the ashes of fellow climber Patrick Niedringhaus, who had lost his life in an avalanche on the approach to Kelso Ridge, December 22, 2005.
Patrick was just 18, a high school senior. I had been introduced to him by Spencer Swanger and we'd done a number of 14ers together - Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn, Bierstadt. We did Sherman in a blizzard and summited in a complete white-out. Patrick's training ground was nearby Blodgett Peak, an unranked 9er with miles of trails here in northwest Colorado Springs. I can see the peak from my window and every time I hike up there I think of him. Patrick was a really special guy: humble, quiet, and a quick learner. He was usually the youngest and the fastest in the group, but like Spencer, he always put the safety of everyone else ahead of his own adventures. Whenever I get in a dicey situation, I think of him too, and remember how unforgiving the mountains can be.
Our group did the memorial trip to Crestone Peak on September 2nd, 2006. We did the Needle on the 3rd and Humboldt on the 4th. It was a somber weekend, but magical too. When we summited, there were sundogs in the sky, and a jet's contrails in the shape of a cross.
I have a lot of photos here, including a few summit shots. I don't remember all the names, but off the top of my head, that's (left to right) me, Unknown, Spence, Diedre, and Dave in the first photo and Suzie, Spence, Diedre, Rhonda, Unknown, Dave, Lisa, and me in the second photo. Dave's holding a photo of Patrick. Some climbs are more memorable than others. That one, I won't forget.