This is the title of an inspiring book by Laura Clark. Laura, a single mother in her late thirties (at the start of the book), living in the Colorado Springs area, started out hiking or climbing Colorado’s 58 “Fourteeners” (peaks of altitude above 14,000 feet). She did it all on her own. I thought there were 53, turns out there are 53 “official” and 5 “unofficial”, as described here. Unofficials have peaks over 14,000 feet, but the peaks do not rise at least 300 feet from the nearest saddle. I lived in Colorado in the early 1980s, and I made 3 Fourteeners in three years. She made the 58 in just over a year. She then went on, over the next two years, to climb the 200 highest peaks in the state, all over 13,000 feet, again solo.
It’s an incredible feat from a simple logistical standpoint, Colorado is a big state and these spikes are spread all over the place. Laura had to take a lot of long car trips and settle for little sleep to fit these adventures into her schedule, between work and taking care of her children. And it’s an incredible endurance challenge, with many miles of hiking and thousands of feet of elevation gain. Many of these peaks can be reached simply by hiking with perhaps some scrambling over more rugged terrain. I still remember the challenge of traversing the boulder fields on Long’s Peak and finding a route looking for bullseye on the rocks after crossing the keyhole. It’s quite hard. But a considerable number of these peaks require technical climbing skills, including some above cgirl 5. Laura therefore also had to learn these skills in a climbing gym and perfect them by training outside with experienced climbing friends. It’s amazing what someone can accomplish when they are passionate about what they do.