Hiking a "14er" (hiker slang for a mountain rising 14,000 feet above sea level) is a fairly daunting task for all but the fittest and most experienced of mountaineers. The air is thinner, the climb is steeper and the conditions have to be ideal to reach the top safely. So climbing 13 of them in a single summer? It's going to be a tough task for Kate Curtis, 25, Elana Rabin, 28, and Sierra Voss, 23, three Boulder, Colorado-based professionals who plan to do just that.
"Fourteeners are such a classic and iconic part of what defines Colorado," says Rabin of the trio's mountaineering project, dubbed "13-14-15" (13 14ers in 2015). "We wanted to pay homage to something unique about our state. There are 54 total 14er peaks in Colorado and we are just scratching the surface of what is possible in our state. This is what we want everyone to think, feel and experience."
The catch? The trio plans to fit in all 13 peaks on the weekends between their full-time jobs to prove you don't have to ditch your professional life to appease your adventurous side.
"It's just a matter of priorities and organization," Voss says, saying the team had to account for weddings, work trips and concerts they couldn't miss during the summer. "It definitely takes some coordination. We just made the choice that instead of staying around town most weekends and spending money going out to eat or drink, we wanted to be experiencing Colorado's natural beauty. We really look at this project as a means to sustain our full-time jobs, not add more stress to them."
The potential pitfall of having to wait for the weekend is the threat of poor weather, says Curtis. "We've had record rain and snowfall this year, and besides the risk of avalanches on any and all 14ers, a thunder-and-lightning storm could force us to turn around at any moment."
Regardless of whether Voss, Rabin and Curtis bag 13 successful summits, they'll be raising money for three Colorado-based organizations: Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, Leave No Trace and The Women's Wilderness Institute. At the end of the project, the trio will be hosting a day of volunteering to help maintain hiking trails in the region.
"Hiking is something our team loves to do, and really, anyone can do it," says Rabin. "Something like skiing a number of peaks or kayaking the Colorado River requires much more gear and technique. We wanted a project that could inspire those with less of a gear closet to just put on a pair of hiking shoes and go."
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