Erling Hansen's Tragic Completion of the Colorado Fourteeners, 1991

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Re: Erling Hansen's Tragic Completion of the Colorado Fourteeners, 1991

Post by Tornadoman » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:00 pm

Great post as always Gore Galore! Also thanks for your contributions Dan, pretty amazing that you found this thread to share your stories of your family friend.
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Re: Erling Hansen's Tragic Completion of the Colorado Fourteeners, 1991

Post by lbindc » Mon Jul 20, 2020 4:51 pm

Gore Galore, Dan Lynch, my heart is about to explode with gratitude and pride! A heartfelt thank you to you from Erling's entire family- I am his great-niece (his sister Margarethe was my grandmother) and I am thrilled to find this tribute to my bold, adventurous, energetic, passionate, wholehearted Great Uncle! That fateful weekend in September 1991 the entire family had planned a surprise celebration to toast his final 14er when he was reported missing. This was to be his final climb and an incredible accomplishment, to get to the top of each 14er before turning 70. I think he established that goal when he was 65. Erling Hansen died when I was in high school, and he was the first family loss I ever experienced. It had a profound effect on me, and launched my own passion for high peak experiences.

His memory continues to live on at the Columbine Chalet in Eldora Colorado, which the family has been making plans to restore. Erling Hansen was the youngest of 6 and the only boy. His parents were both Danish (hence the Danish traditions like Aebleskiver) and he was born in a small Scandinavian enclave in Iowa called Kimbalton but moved to Colorado when he was a child. Danish was his first language- my grandmother and her siblings would speak in Danish when they didn’t want us to understand. His father was a painter and died after falling off a high ladder. He had many cousins and relatives in Denmark. His parents passed down to their children a passion for music, Danish heritage and family, appreciation of crafty pranks and love of the mountains. He was a wonderful uncle, always making everyone laugh with his clumsy antics. He slammed fingers in car doors and loved to tell the story later in an animated way that would leave everyone crying they were laughing so hard. When Uncle Erling came to Christmas us kids could always expect from him a dramatic suggestion that present opening be postponed. This ornery streak and his flare for the dramatic often made him the object of family pranks and tricks, which he always took in stride. Uncle Erling was a passionate crusader against war and violence and a staunch champion of the social safety net at a time when those convictions weren't popular in our country. He was incredibly generous not only to his nieces and nephews but to strangers in need.
I recently ran across Erling’s photos of his many 14er climbs. On the back of one he wrote that he ran into some Danish Americans on the approach to the summit- those Hansens wore Danish pins on all their hats/bags/lapels/etc, and loved having conversations with strangers about Denmark, even on a strenuous hike up a peak! Here are some more photos of my Uncle Erling:
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Re: Erling Hansen's Tragic Completion of the Colorado Fourteeners, 1991

Post by gore galore » Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:57 pm

Thanks very much Ibindc as earlier to Dan Lynch for your words and pictures which add so much more to my original post on Erling Hansen. And I do notice in your pictures the red hat your Great Uncle wore on his 14er climbs. I only knew of Erling Hansen as a 14er climber but your wonderful memories add so much more to his story. Thanks again.
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Re: Erling Hansen's Tragic Completion of the Colorado Fourteeners, 1991

Post by petegee77 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:24 am

Thanks for sharing your memories of Erling Hansen. It was very nice to get to read about and know him better. As someone else pointed out...he died doing something that he loved to do.
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Re: Erling Hansen's Tragic Completion of the Colorado Fourteeners, 1991

Post by Jay521 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 8:43 am

I can't begin to verbalize how intense this thread is to me. Thanks to GG, Dan and lbindc for your input on this. What a compelling story about a very interesting man.
I take the mountain climber's approach to housekeeping - don't look down
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