Peak(s):  14er Finisher!
Date Posted:  09/13/2015
Modified:  09/18/2015
Date Climbed:   09/09/2015
Author:  BirdMan
 Thoughts on Finishing the 14ers   

So, sure Andrew Hamilton just did all the 14ers in 10 days but it took me 10 years to complete them all...

When I started hiking the 14ers it was never my intention to do them all. Gradually, as their numbers began to increase, the thought of finishing them all came to the forefront of my mind. But as I began to really think about doing them all I had to question - could I do them all?

I mean there's Pyramid with its leap of faith, the green wall and general steepness. There's Capitol with K2, the knife edge and steep, loose rock. There's North Maroon, Little Bear and countless other risks to be taken on other peaks. I suppose sometimes you just need to set yourself big goals and push yourself to see if you can accomplish them.

Looking back there have been some memorable moments and beautiful scenery captured.

Getting close to the summit of my 1st winter 14er, Quandary Peak. I believe with wind chill it was something like negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heading up Castle Peak mid-week after a few day snowstorm and deciding at the last minute to go for the couloir between Castle Peak and Conundrum.

Looking down the couloir I had come up - yipes!

Going for Torreys and Grays with my wife - brrr...

Lucking out with a beautiful sunny October day to get the summits of Kit Carson and Challenger.
Crestone Peak and Needle to the right. Humboldt to the left.

Five San Juan peaks in six days found me on top of aptly named, Redcloud.

Heading up Handies.

A "fixer-upper" in the area.

Great shots from Wetterhorn when I wasn't even going to take a single picture.


Camping at Snowmass Lake in mid-June.

Mountain goat encounter on Pyramid.

Misty mountain hop in the Chicago Basin.


Reaching the top of Mount Whitney after a long, long struggle.

Wetting our whistles after El Diente and Wilson Peak.

Getting North Maroon route information from an unlikely source.

Anyway, having completed all of the 14ers it feels like a chapter coming to a close. If that's the case then I'll try to summon some inspiration from my last 14er, North Eolus, named for the God of Winds (or is it hot air?) and take a few moments to write an epilogue for this incredible journey.

When asked the most basic question, "Why do you do it?" I found I'd struggle with the answer. However, when the question was asked another way, "What do you get out of it?" I found the answers were a lot more forthcoming. It was great to:

  • Enjoy the camaraderie of friends or folks I met on the trail but also to learn the self-reliance needed when I went solo.
  • Rely on your team mates when things got dicey and also to be there for others when they needed help.
  • Take in the sheer physical beauty of nature on a grand scale and be reminded of our own relative insignificance.
  • Travel all over this great state of ours - Colorado!

In the interest of full disclosure, I would say the times you learn the most aren't when things go right, but when they go wrong, such as:

  • Attempting the Crestones when I was both physically tired from working too much and hadn't taken the time to research the route.
  • Attempting Mount Lindsey at the end of April and getting slammed by the strongest wind and snow storm I've even been in.
  • Attempting to go for Wetterhorn (last minute decision) with almost no food or water after a long day of doing Uncompahgre.
  • Attempting North Maroon too early in the season and making our own "traverse" after getting off trail instead of simply backtracking to the last known point.

So, a 10 year project has come to a close. Over the years there's been good and bad times. The latter being the passing of my father-in-law.
My small tribute the year he passed.

Finally, a note of thanks.

  • Thanks to my extended and immediate family - more than anyone else you've made me who I am today.
  • Thanks to my two very different but amazing daughters who put up with me being gone while chasing this dream. I only hope my selfish pursuit of getting myself to the top of Colorado's highest peaks will inspire you to set out and accomplish your own goals - however varied they may be. Thanks also for the good luck charms you gave me. I'm convinced they kept me safe over the years.

  • Thanks to my lovely wife without whom none of this would have been possible. For being patient, understanding my need to get out and for trusting my judgment in the mountains (or was it luck?) especially as the risks began to increase.
  • Thanks to my three most consistent climbing partners:
    o Tom - The starter of this all with an invite to go with him first on Pikes Peak and then later on Longs Peak.

    o Jared - The amazing product of hard-work, enthusiasm and a great outlook. Remember, "A brain is a dangerous weapon."

    o Steve - The smartest and best climber I've been lucky enough to pair up with.

  • From a resource perspective, thanks to Gerry Roach for his excellent guidebooks and Bill Middlebrook for running the site. Bill's site provides community, information, a source of advice and encouragement and we should all be especially indebted to him because he could turn the whole site over for a profit but chooses his labor of love over monetary gain.

For those of you who are more numbers oriented you may enjoy the following:

  • Number of Official 14ers: 54
  • Number of Unofficial 14ers: 4
  • Number of 14ers Done in Winter: 2
  • Approximate Feet of Elevation Gained: 204,000
  • Approximate Miles Covered On-Foot: 505
  • Approximate Miles Driven to Trail Heads: 11,500
  • Number of Cars Damaged Getting to Trail Heads: 2 (Sorry again Grandpa Bill!)
  • Number of Years to Complete: 10
  • Pairs of Hiking Boots Used: 5
  • Jolly Ranchers Eaten and Advil Taken: Immeasurable
  • Number of Cuts and Scrapes on My Shins from Staggering Around Up High: Also Immeasurable
  • Number of Doctor's Visits Caused by 14ers: 0
  • Number of Doctor's Visits Prevented by 14ers: No way to know for sure, but it has to have helped.
  • Number of Trip Reports I Created on 25
  • Number of Viewers to My 14er Trip Reports (As of September 2015): 100,992

Oh, and one last comment on why I keep going back to the mountains? A friend and co-worker made this observation, and admittedly this is an unfair comparison, but he said, "You know, you just look a whole lot happier in the mountains than you do at work."

Babo says good-bye...

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
09/13/2015 15:37
nice summary of a great accomplishment! I especially like your 3rd bullet on "What do you get out of it?". Congrats!

09/13/2015 20:42
Awesome accomplishment, man! I really appreciated your reflection... it’s always interesting reading about how the 14er journey is different for everyone. Nicely done!

Your thoughts...
09/14/2015 09:38
...resonate with many of us. Thanks for sharing them and congratulations on this accomplishment! Good luck on your next quest, whatever it might be...

Nice, Brad
09/14/2015 09:55
A very well thought out report. Congrats!

its a lot more than just climbing a mountain!
09/14/2015 18:50
The rewards are immeasurable. Fantastic report, Congratulations!!!

09/15/2015 07:27
...for the kind words everybody! It certainly was great getting this done – though of course there’s always the Centennial peaks, the 13ers, doing the 14ers via different routes / in different seasons, etc. etc... In other words, I suppose there’s always another challenge awaiting us. Thanks again

09/15/2015 11:30
Funny, I read this post two days shy of my one year anniversary of finishing the 58 14ers. I remember climbing North Maroon as my finisher in a very melancholy way in the middle of the week where I saw one other person. Everyone was asking me "what’s next" and I said "no more lists" and I would probably get into road biking. Then the long winter hits and you realize what an amazing journey it was –– and once the season started again, I found myself taking friends out on 14ers. This summer I’ve done about 25, way more than I thought I ever would, and call this the "reunion tour." It seems easier the second time around. But mostly I realize just how much I love the grandness of the mountains, and seeing things that a photo can not fully capture. And the agony of the super long hikes, especially between 13,000 and 14,000 feet. Good luck on your next quest, whatever it is. And a very big congrats!

09/15/2015 14:38
Awesome accomplishment Brad!!! Congratulations!

Thanks Again...
09/16/2015 17:08
...everyone! Otis – we must have parallel lives or something! Right I was thinking that road biking may be my next challenge – I’ve done Elephant Rock (62 miler) and Copper Triangle the last few years and really enjoyed them – but I’ve also really enjoyed taking my older daughter and friend up a 14er this past summer and was thinking about leading a larger group of girls (and their parents) up some 14ers next summer. Spooky...

Daniel Joder
Love it!
09/19/2015 09:43
What a great summary. I am a good way down the same road, but with a ways yet to go. I have always wondered what the emotions might be when I get to the end...or is it just a start on the way to the centennials, the top 200, all the 13ers––it goes on forever!

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