Being in the mountains has special meaning for many people.  For me, it is the joy of witnessing things and experiencing moments that I would never have without leaving the flatlands. Here are a few:

  • Clouds were forming at my feet on the climb of Challenger Point. To the west, it was clear that a blanket of cloud obscured the valley to the east.
  • Mountain goats were tripping on our tent strings throughout the night in Chicago Basin below Eolus, Sunlight, and Windom.
  • Intense winds on the ridge climbing to the summit of Columbia, calm winds at the summit, and fierce winds back on the descent.
  • Watching the sunrise from the top of Mount Massive above a valley of fog blanketing Leadville. The fog swayed back and forth, gently rising and receding a few hundred feet below me.
  • Marmots and pikas were chirping in the early morning crisp air on almost every mountain.
  • Accidentally hiking upon a black bear and her cub on the approach to North Maroon.
  • Observing flowers – such as Sky Pilot – that only grow in high alpine environments.
  • Sitting patiently as a marmot did a full scan of my boots.
  • Starting an early morning climb using only the brilliant moonlight to light my way on Pyramid Peak.
  • Summiting Pikes Peak as an intense thunderstorm swallowed the mountain. Continuous lightning, hail, and a complete whiteout in thick clouds. Thankfully the visitor center was only a few minutes away!
  • I was reaching Crestone Peak’s summit in the clouds, and they were so thick that I needed to use a compass to verify which direction and ridge to descend.
  • Saving my dog – who jumped down to a small sloping ledge in search of snow – as she held on above a several-hundred-foot cliff.
  • Enjoying San Luis Peak’s gentle slopes on a clear summer day, laying in the high alpine meadows on the way down.
  • Taking the time just to sit and witness the vast world from the vantage point of any summit. Rarely do we take the time to just stare at the world.
  • Ritualistically splashing my face with the icy waters of an alpine stream.
  • Enjoying a beer after a climb that was stashed in a snowfield on the way up.
  • Enjoying the fatigue and sense of accomplishment after spending several hours doing a physically demanding activity—a reward on its own.
  • Sharing climbs with numerous friends over the years – a fantastic way to bond.

I hope this creates inspiration and excitement as the summer climbing season approaches!

by S.J.