Peak(s):  Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
Date Posted:  08/18/2007
Modified:  08/22/2008
Date Climbed:   08/08/2007
Author:  jeffro
 After over 10 years...our 14er Finale!  

I've waited a bit to file this trip report because it was Debby's and my finale and because we've been working on it for so long. Many have asked questions like "How's it feel?" or "What're ya gonna do now?" and I wanted to let my feelings catch up with me and to sort them out a bit. The result? Nothing seriously profound but I have learned a few things.

On Tuesday, August 7th we boarded the train and headed up the Animas River gorge to Needleton where we loaded up and started the hike in to Chicago Basin…

We were accompanied by members del_sur and Jeff_F as well as by my good friend Jim. After hiking about a half mile, it started to rain. After hiking about a mile, it started raining really hard. It continued to rain heavily for the next 3 hours. Oh well, it kept us cool on our hike in. It did stop raining as we reached our camp site and eventually revealed a beautiful sunset…

Although we didn't know it at the time, that would be the last rain we'd see for four days. We need to convey a special "Thank You!" to USAKeller, her father and her whole group. My friend Jim was carrying an immense load...

He did not get up to Chicago Basin until 2 hours after we did and the first camp he ran into was theirs. They looked after him, helped him get warm and dry and let him camp in their site for the night. Thanks guys…it sure meant a lot to us!

The next morning, Jeff_F, del_sur, Debby and I set out in perfect weather for Mr. Eolus. With a steady, but leisurely pace, the "Sidewalk in the Sky" catwalk was soon upon us…

Shortly after that, we set foot on the summit and were congratulated by all members of a group that was up there. We felt tremendously blessed to have the weather we did (especially for the Chicago Basin peaks) and were able to spend almost an hour enjoying the summit...

After descending back across the catwalk, we decided to do the quick jaunt up North Eolus where we enjoyed the best rock quality of the entire trip.

While we had others plans for this trip as well, we decided to take the next day (Thursday) as a rest day. Jeff_F and del_sur went up Sunlight and Windom. Great job guys…this has been a huge season for both of you. That afternoon, we were enjoying doing as little as possible when Debby spotted member Aubrey and his wife Jen coming up the trail in to Chicago Basin. We had been expecting them and had joked about how they'd be the first to arrive in CB of that day's train riders. The next hikers didn't show up for almost another hour!

On Friday, del_sur and Jeff_F headed out, while Aubrey and Jen went up to climb Sunlight and Windom. We ran into them coming off of Sunlight as we were approaching our other objective…Sunlight Spire…"that little 5.10 sliver in your side" as Skasgaard so nicely put it (I think "needle" would be a more appropriate word than sliver, Kiefer). I'll have a link to more info on that climb soon.

On Saturday, Aubrey and Jen ran up Eolus and North Eolus in the morning and got back to camp while we were packing up to head out to catch the train. They sure made quick work of the 4 CB peaks. You guys have been on an absolute tear this year! Back down at Needleton while waiting for the train, we had the privilege to meet Bill Middlebrook himself and on the very day of his finale on Eolus. As I approach half a century in this life I am still amazed at how things happen.

This trip represented a bit of a transition for us. Debby and I have learned throughout the years to make our 14er adventures more than just "peak bagging" trips. We've tried to take the time to learn about the history of the mountains and the towns which they surround. By today's standards, we've never been notably prolific…I think somewhere around 8 or 10 was the most new 14ers we ever climbed in a season. On this trip however, we planned 4 nights and 4 days for less than what most people do in two. We thoroughly enjoyed our "rest time" and often thought of going backpacking just to go backpacking or to go fishing or panning for gold. The talk was about the quality of the next adventure, not the check mark on a list.

Just some more CB scenery…

I've learned that climbing 14ers or any mountains with a list as a goal is a very personal endeavor. This is an activity that is really not mainstream. has created a wonderful community of supportive members who share the same interest. Out in the "real world" however, most people either don't understand it or just don't care. There is no trophy awaiting you after your completion other than the one you fabricate in your mind.

More importantly, I've learned that like with any goal, the importance of the experiences you accumulate along the way far outweighs the importance of achieving the goal. It's about the journey…not the destination. In fact any time I try with intent to revel in my success, my mind quickly wanders back to some great climb I had along the way. Then I just get excited and want to get back out there again.

One of those who call Chicago Basin home…

Up until this climb, we'd pretty much done all of the 14ers alone…just the two of us. Together, we've developed a very functional and efficient climbing style. On this trip however, we thoroughly enjoyed the company of others…both at camp and on the summit. I've only personally met a small handful of members but I seem to have either been incredibly lucky or have a remarkable talent for picking friends.

As I write this report, I find myself at a loss to come up with a worthy picture of Aubrey and Jen so I'll have to do my best with words. On the train ride out, Aubrey riled up a bunch of 14er enthusiasts by telling them he'd climbed 49 (or thereabouts) of Colorado's high peaks. As I walked through the car, he emphatically proclaimed "Here's the guy you really want to talk to…he's climbed all of them!" Thanks, Brutha! Debby and I have now shared both climbs and camps with him and Jen and feel blessed and fortunate to have done so. After the adventure, he and Jen treated Debby, Jim and me to beers and a wonderful dinner at Gazpacho in Durango. His congratulatory post to Debby and me is a testament to who he is.

Although Matt (del_sur) is over 10 years my junior, he has shown me many inspired paths on and off the mountain in the short time I've known him. Anyone would be privileged to call him "climbing partner" or even more so, "friend". ¡A muchos mas cumbres, mi amigo! Here he is enjoying a solo moment on North Eolus…

My most important choice however, was the one I made almost 20 years ago in my life's partner who unknowingly at the time, also became my climbing partner. Neither one of us could have done this (this?...the 14ers?!!) without the other. It is my most sincere wish that everyone finds this kind of happiness in life!

Debby in her element…

So after all is said and done, the best I can do is…..

"How's it feel?"…Great!

"What're ya gonna do now?"…Keep on playin!


 Comments or Questions

02/05/2011 00:22
Such a great place to finish the 14ers. Now you'll have to just climb them all again, and again. It was great to meet both of you and I hope to see you out there again someday. Keep on playin!


Another congrats!
11/30/2010 17:28
Again, it was really nice to meet you there. Jim was really nice and I hope he had a great time with you there! Great trip report- I took that same photo of the waterfall and it's just gorgeous!


11/30/2010 17:28
Excellent report, Jeffro and a HUGE congrats to you and your wife! An ending worthy of 10 years of journeying.
Out in the "real world" however.... This was an excellent sentiment! I keep nodding my head up and down in agreement, smiling.

I didn't want to spill the beans...per se, until you actually said something yourself. I'm looking forward to this particular trip report.
Nice job! 8)

Chicago Transplant

Congrats... and nice hat!
11/30/2010 17:28
Congrats on finishing the 14ers! I liked your descriptions of the feeling of finishing. Even though I still have 10 to go, I can't help but agree with your thoughts. Everyone at work asks me on Monday, ”what did you climb?” and ”can I see your pictures”, but I still can't get them out there!

I am thoroughly enjoying the journey, don't think of finishing as a destination, just a rest stop on an even longer journey

PS - I like Debby's hat 8)


Exemplary TR...well, exemplary, period.
01/19/2011 03:38
That's the kind of TR that can only come with great experience and perspective. The only thing missing is a picture of the Flashflight frisbee...
If someone ever writes a book about living well and sharing so that other people can too, it better be about you and Debby.
I don't meet many people I respect as much as you two. Thanks again for the inspiration. See you on some moguls this winter, if not before!!


08/20/2007 01:31
Very heartfelt and sincere. I have completely enjoyed reading this trip report. I wish I could have been there to help congratulate you!

new england kid

11/30/2010 17:28
I love this trip report. Thank you so much for sharing.

I think, for many people, hiking and climbing peaks is an intensely personal endeavor. It certainly has been for me. We may feel personal satisfaction and accomplishment from any number of outdoor ventures, but the 14ers enable many of us to turn those ventures into a tangible goal. And isn't it nice to have goals in life? I am climbing 14ers at about your same pace – 8-10 a year – and look forward to the satisfaction in completing them all. Of course, I imagine there will be some bittersweet feelings at the end, but I hope I'll be able to cast them aside with the notion that there will always be more places to play outside.


Thanks so much everyone!
11/30/2010 17:28
I can't thank you all enough for the nice comments on this report. How many times does one get to write a trip report for their finale? I'm very happy that you all enjoyed the report and the support from the community means the world to Debby and me.



08/21/2007 20:07
Great Job and congrats to both of you!

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2017®, 14ers Inc.