It's a long way to go...
Setting goals gives a Colorado boy like me something to live for. My goal is to climb (and sometimes ski when it is sane) every peak over 13,580 feet in my fair state, a total of 200 benchmarks. I think I’m young at just under thirty-three, but my knee tinges with every upward step I take in the mountains. Yet I persist toward my goal, as long as there is open space in the mountains, there is sanity.
My original goal was set in stone; 1991 on the summit of 14,150 foot Mount Sneffels . My elder brother Dirk and I swore to summit all fifty-four of Colorado ’s 14,000’ peaks together. There were five-hundred Coloradoans to accomplish the feet in that time. I thought it would take forever. I was right and I love it! Every peak has been reached ceremoniously together; our toes on the highest rock topped with a jubilant high five. It’s serious stuff.
Since the birth of our goal Dirk gradually took on a real world existence…escalating corporate job, faithful wife, challenging children, otherwise known as American standardization; accompanied by less time for adventure with little brother Sephie.
Don’t get me wrong, Dirk is my inspiration for the my mountain goals and even my entrepreneurial foray into outdoor business with Loki Outerwear. Dirk is a patented inventor is a business success, reliable around the house, everyone in our family is proud of Dirk.
The Anderson duo have climbed their share of interesting peaks and learned some ropes outside of our homeland; Mount Rainier, the Grand Teton, Pico de Orizaba in Mexico , and Denali in Alaska among them. But, we have had six of Colorado ’s fourteeners left to climb for nearly as many years. Some intensely athletic folks have climbed all of the fourteeners in less than two weeks. I’m not interested in that kind of torture. The mountains have come to be my main source of exercise and mental release, I must climb on...
Around the turn of the century, when Dirk couldn’t escape as much, I sought to maintain my mountain rambles. I began repeating fourteeners in order to not break the “brothers first” rule. Grand Junction locals and friends Tom Ela and Chuck Bodie finished their fourteeners and introduced me to the Martin and Garrett “Green Book” by that guides the way to climbing the highest 200 peaks of Colorado.
The 166 peaks that populate Colorado ’s “other” high grounds have the unlucky distinction of being at thirteen thousand feet. There are many that are uneventful in profile, but the ascent is almost always a lung and leg buster. Sublime beauty mixes with exhaustion for a special intoxication that some like me crave. Afternoon thunderstorms in the summer and near perpetual winter darkness keep forays in the high peaks excitingly brief.
There are thrilling names on the list that make the peak bagger and photographer swoon; The Wham Ridge of Vestal, North Face of Arrow, Pigeon and Turret, Jagged Peak, Ice Mountain and the Apostles, Thunder Pyramid, Cathedral, and many more prizes to eye. Due do their isolation, lack of trails and limited visitation, the climbing effort is often greater to reach these summits.
These same difficulties make the goal more intriguing and enhanced understanding of Colorado ’s geography. Clean thin air and rare aesthetic beauty are the bonus. Due to low air pressure, climbing at altitude forces ones body to purify and streamline movements and function to the essential. One misconception I witness in climbing is that conquering a mountain is part of the equation. Having been denied as many as four times by one mountain, summiting is not about conquering anything but your own expectations, and hopefully a bit of beer gut a few weekends a year.
I am nearly a third of the way to reaching my Colorado goal. I’ve rehearsed the elevation, distance, and relative difficulty of many of the peaks I’ve yet to climb. Before anyone claims greatness on my part for merely setting high goals, let it be known that many have achieved higher and more numerous mountain goals. As I understand the Koontz couple of Grand Junction had summated Colorado ’s 200 highest peaks in the early nineties, usually with heavy leather boots. Guide book author Jennifer Roach just comleted all points in Colorado over 13,000 feet. Mike Garret and Bob Martin , authors of the “Guide to Colorado ’s highest 200 Peaks” have reportedly climbed every "independent point in Colorado over 12,000 feet, along with many high points in Arizona and the contiguous U.S.
Do I recommend this grand a goal to others? As much as I love braggin, but it’s mostly just hiking, a lot of time and money, tire and boot tread, and lately a lot of gas. On second thought, perhaps I could use some weekend carpooling and save this young fossil some fuel…So all welcome! For dinner, I’m gluten intolerant so how do rice noodles sound on the camp stove? See you at 4 A.M.?
To the Top!!!
To date, no brothers have completed the seven summits. A pair of Russian brothers are attempting the goal as we speak. The Famenko brothers have climbed Mount Elbrus in Europe as well as Denali . American competitiveness dictates that we must Sputnik their efforts. In the immortal words of Bon Scott of ACDC; “It’s a long way to the top, if you want to rock and roll!!” Wish America some luck on the long haul!