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Jim, Tyler Powell climb every 14er in Colorado PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Accomplishing a rare feat on Monday, July 28, Jim Powell of Yuma and his son Tyler Powell of Fort Collins climbed North Maroon Peak near Aspen to mark the end of a 24-year journey of climbing every 14er in the state of Colorado.

A 14er is a mountain that is above the elevation of 14,000 feet. While there is some debate as to how many official 14ers are in Colorado, the number Jim Powell looks at is 54.

An official 14er must rise more than 300 feet from its connecting saddle to a taller peak. Some sources indicate North Maroon Peak is not an official 14er because of its proximity to Maroon Peak.

However, the Powells were not about to say they had climbed every 14er in Colorado before they accomplished North Maroon Peak.

Jim Powell, at left, and his son Tyler are pictured atop North Maroon Peak near Aspen Monday, July 28, when they completed a 24-year venture of climbing every official 14er in the state of Colorado.

They had attempted the climb once before, last fall, but turned back. Jim said their first attempt was three days after a major snow. They got to the first headwall. Tyler made it over, but Jim fell three times, and they decided that was not the day for North Maroon Peak.

With rain forecast for early afternoon Monday, July 28, the Powells got an early 1 a.m. start on their final 14er. Jim said they have been at 14,000 feet twice when there was lightning. “It’s not a place to be,” he emphasized.

“When you hear sizzle across the rocks, it’s probably the scariest thing you’ll ever hear in your life,” he added. “There’s nowhere to hide.”

They projected a 13-hour climb to the summit and back down last week. Jim said they added a little extra time for his bum ankle. A track and field coach for the past 24 years, Jim injured his ankle doing landing drills with the track team last spring.

As a result, he couldn’t train hard, as everything he did agitated the ankle. He had an X-ray to confirm there wasn’t a fracture and proceeded with the final 14er venture.

“Believe it or not, by the time we were done, there was no problem at all,” said Jim. “Miraculously, my ankle was much better.”

They beat their own projection by two hours—finishing the climb and descent in just under 11 hours.

Touted as one of the top five most difficult mountains in Colorado, North Maroon Peak has two headwalls with just two creases to go up. “So it’s pretty tough,” said Jim.

The father-son duo got to the first headwall at sunup. Jim said they had planned it so that it would be light when they reached the most dangerous point, 600 feet below the summit.

It was an emotional moment at the top when Tyler waited just 5 feet below the summit for his dad. Etched in a forever memory, Jim noted Tyler said, “Let’s do this together, Dad. We’ve done it!”


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Holyoke Enterprise Aug. 7, 2014