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All Peak

An Interview with Brittney Woodrum: The Fourteeners Project

An Interview with Brittney Woodrum: The Fourteeners Project

Figure 1: Bert atop final summit Crestone Needle with All Peak stickers on ShelterBox

Every once in a while, you meet someone you are wholly impressed with and think, “that person is going to go places”. Brittney Woodrum (or Bert to her friends) is one of those people. She’s a special mix of elite athlete, modern-day adventurer and erudite defender of the less fortunate.

I discovered Bert in an article I read earlier in the year. The article described a Kentucky-native who set-out to summit all 58 of Colorado’s 14ers (peaks above 14,000 feet) in a single summer to raise awareness and money for families affected by disasters - specifically, a non-profit named ShelterBox. The charity is based in the UK and provides emergency shelter and other aid items to global families who have lost their homes to disaster or conflict. 

ShelterBox aid contents

Figure 2: ShelterBox aid contents

As a ShelterBox ambassador, Bert already had a thorough understanding of the organization's mission and the growing need as a result of COVID. Therefore, when she was looking for her next big challenge, ShelterBox was a natural fit. ShelterBox ships relief items to affected areas/families in a cooler-like box colored seafoam green, like grandma’s family Jell-O. To call attention to the cause, Bert committed to strapping a box to her back for each mountain ascent.

 ShelterBox atop 14er with All Peak logo sticker

Figure 3: ShelterBox with All Peak logo sticker atop a 14er

I caught up with Bert via phone for a little Q&A after she completed her Fourteeners Project. First a little background. At 27, Bert is currently studying for a degree in Humanitarian Assistance at the University of Denver. Prior to coming to Colorado, the Kentucky-native studied non-profit administration and Spanish and graduated from the University of Kentucky.

While most people look for a job after graduating from college, Bert’s wanderlust ignited a passion for tough physical challenges, travel, and cultural exposure. She completed the Fourteeners Project, on September 26th, 2020 by knocking off the summit of Crestone Needle. In under 80 days, Bert climbed 58 peaks, racking up 232,300 feet of elevation, 540 miles and raised approximately $85,000 for ShelterBox. Did I mention she had never climbed a 14er before she started the Fourteener Project? 

Q: When were you first bitten by the wanderlust bug?

A: I have always been a student of learning. It’s been the core of my DNA. Life is no greater teacher. Growing up, my father’s job took him to lots of countries and although I never went with, he brought home exotic things. My parents were supportive of my dreams. “If you can support yourself, then we support you”, they would say. Studying a language (Spanish) was a catalyst that opened so many doors for me. I loved learning languages and in my free time I’d spend it studying a language. It’s a puzzle. Once you’ve cracked a code, you have this incredible tool to communicate with others in an intimate and unique way. This inspired me to go to new corners of the world, a desire to learn about places.

Q: How did you come to be nicknamed Bert from Brittney?

A: It’s just a quick switch of the letters from Britt to Bert. In hiking culture people love to give you nicknames. Last year I joined Habit for Humanity cycling across the country. My box had Bert on it and…it stuck.

Q: You’ve hiked the AT (Appalachian Trail), Camino de Santiago and now all the Colorado 14ers. Which trek was the hardest and why?

A: Between the AT and the Fourteeners Project, it’s hard to say. There was more effort on a daily basis for the Fourteeners Project. It was logistically harder. With the AT, all you have to do is follow the white blazes. However, I didn’t have to carry nearly as much weight. Also, the Fourteeners Project, I [was able to come back] to the car end of day - with access to more resources. The AT was in the forest for 4 1/2 months. I had a lot of mental fatigue with both trails, but especially on the AT. You get a lot of scenery change. I missed human contact [on the AT], but got to chat with friends and family online with the Fourteeners Project. I would do the Fourteeners Project again. The AT would be hard.  

Q: You’re going to take some well-deserved rest. What’s next for Brittney Woodrum after that? When do you hear about the Rotary Peace Fellowship and if you were accepted?

A: Yeah [laughing], I’m tired. I will find out in about a month [about the Fellowship], early to mid-November. My goal is to be of service in the world to people who have lost something at no fault of their own. I spent a lot of time in Myanmar. The people I met there were special to me. I would like to focus a lot on that part of the world. I’m currently getting my Certification of Humanitarian Assistance from the University of Denver. I like to fix problems at the root. The Fellowship is very competitive. If I do get it, it would start 2022. 

We wish her luck! Bert’s new home for the moment is Leadville, Colorado. She fell in love the area during her trek through the 14ers. Leadville will be a basecamp to save up, rest, plan her next project, and be in the mountains in a different season.

Her next project may include the CDT (Continental Divide Trail), the tallest 100 mountains or the White Mountain 4k’s. She’s confident she’ll do more summits and likely see that seafoam green ShelterBox again.

 Bert Woodrum atop Castle Peak

Figure 4: Bert atop Castle Peak

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Inside the Design: Mt Bierstadt

Inside the Design: Mt Bierstadt

Arguably one of the most popular and well-trekked Colorado 14ers, Mount Bierstadt is visited by over 40,000 people a year. It is easily accessible from Denver and has a beautiful approach. It is also one of our favorite designs. For avid 14er fans, this design is both playful and memorable.

For the design, we wanted to give it a beer label feel. In a state that ranks 2nd behind California with the number of breweries, beer is serious stuff! It should come as no surprise then, that the first thing people think of when they hear the name Bierstadt, is beer!

Bierstadt translates to “Beer City” in German. Interestingly, the peak’s namesake has nothing to do with this sudsy libation. Rather, the peak is named for a famous American landscape painter Albert Bierstadt. He visited Mount Evans in 1863 and, it is thought, climbed a nearby peak (possibly Bierstadt). The mountain was officially named after him in 1914.

Regardless, the beer theme is what we were going for in our design. You could slap our sticker on a beer bottle, stein, can or growler of your choice and it would look like it belonged there. The size and shape are reminiscent of Old-World beer brands. The round scalloped edges should remind you of a bottle cap. The large keg in the center confirms the theme and the umlaut over the stylized Bavarian letters add to the authenticity.  

Finally, there’s a nod to a feature found at the beginning of the trail – the willows. Two willow branches hug the keg design from both sides. The willows are a prominent and unique part of the Bierstadt trail. The common route at Guanella Pass starts above treeline and takes you through the largest willow bog in Colorado.

Anyone that has hiked the trail before 2011 can recall the arduous trek through the dreaded willows. Hikers would get “bogged-down” in the mud, scratched-up, and often end up trailblazing new routes. The construction of a raised wooden boardwalk eliminated these problems and helps preserve the willows from being trampled.

We hope you enjoy your Mount Bierstadt design responsibly!

Side Note: A shout-out to our All Peak Designer Amanda Hamilton, who created the Bierstadt design. Amanda’s originality and artistic aptitude have their fingerprints throughout our catalog.

Sources:

USDA, Forest Service https://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/cs/recarea?ss=110308&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=FSE_003738&navid=110240000000000&pnavid=110000000000000&position=generalinfo&recid=28386&ttype=recarea&pname=Bierstadt%20Trailhead

Colorado Fourteeners Initiative https://www.14ers.org/2018-colorado-14er-hiking-use-estimates/

Armchair Mountaineer https://armchairmountaineer.com/mt-bierstadt

 

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Fireworks O’er America’s Peak

Fireworks O’er America’s Peak

There are many ways to celebrate the New Year around the world. And…there are a surprising number of similarities – family and friends, good food, fireworks, reflection, etc.

In East Asia, many celebrate hope and renewal by watching the sunrise on New Year’s Day. This is typically done in large groups on mountaintops, beaches or scenic valleys.

In Japan (and other mountainous countries of East Asia), large groups will endure the bitter cold to summit a mountain and greet the rising sun. It is called Hatsuhinode, and is Japanese for the welcoming of the first sunrise of the New Year.

 Fuji sunrise

A group around Colorado Springs in southwest Colorado has a similar practice of enduring the cold to hike to the top of a mountain. The group is called the AdAmAn Club (http://adaman.org). Rather than watch the sunrise, the group’s purpose is to light fireworks at the summit at midnight.

The AdAmAn Club was formed in 1923 after a group of 5 men dubbed “The Frozen Five” decided to hike to the top of Pikes Peak to set off fireworks on New Year’s Eve. The five men were Fred and Ed Morath, Fred Barr, Willis Magee and Harry Standley.

So it was, that on December 31st, 1922, the Frozen Five created “fire on the mountaintop” that could be seen for miles around and created quite a stir. Two of the original five, brothers Fred and Ed Morath suggested the name “AdAmAn” for a rule that only one new member could be added each year. The tradition has lasted for over 90 years and the club gets bigger.

Pikes Peak is “America’s Mountain”, one of the 53 Colorado 14ers (peaks above 14,000 feet) and tallest of the southern Front Range at 14,115 feet.  Pikes is named from explorer/adventurer Zebulon Pike, who interestingly enough, did not summit the peak. (Side note: This author thinks Zebulon is such a cool name, that if he had another son, he’d seriously consider naming him Zebulon.)

The summit is accessible by a cog railway, a paved road and Barr hiking trail. Pikes Peak is only one of two 14ers accessible by paved road. The other is Mount Evans.

Pikes Peak earns the moniker “America’s Mountain” from its’ sheer popularity - hosting tourists, climbers, researchers and racing fans. The Pikes Peak road is famous for the International Pikes Peak Hill Climb motor race, USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships and Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb.

The icy Barr Trail is the eastern route the AdAmAn Club takes to reach the top and is accessible to the public for climbing most of the year. Fireworks in the splendor that is America’s Mountain celebrates the majesty of our great country and gives fitting backdrop to occasion. Happy New Year!

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Mount Elbert, I Do

Mount Elbert, I Do

We were sitting on a couple of small boulders on the edge of the trail, just past the first true false summit on the trek up Mt Elbert, pausing for just a moment to catch our breath.  This was becoming a trend - hike up 20 feet, stop, catch our breath, repeat. Josh said it best, Mt Elbert is a rollercoaster of emotions, luckily we tended to ebb at different points of the climb, so one of us was always feeling okay.   

Little did I know I was climbing for more than just the views. 

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Quit Your Job and Crush Peaks

Quit Your Job and Crush Peaks

It was July. From my office window, I could see the impossibly blue Texas sky and imagine how hot it was outside the comforts of air conditioning. The high was 99 for the day – a typical summer. On days like this, I pine for the cooler alpine climes.   

That’s when I got an email from Spencer Madden (http://mountainobsession.com). It read, “Hey Sherpa Bill! Spence from Mountain Obsession here. I am starting an adventure after quitting my corporate job. I will be down in Sept crushing 14ers.”   Spence did what many of us only wish we have the courage to do. He quit his corporate job and set off on an adventure of a lifetime.  

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Minding Our Trails: A Conversation with Colorado Fourteeners Initiative’s Executive Director

Minding Our Trails: A Conversation with Colorado Fourteeners Initiative’s Executive Director

Twenty-one years ago, when CFI just came into being, there were only two planned trails – Pikes Peak and the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak. Now the organization plans to raise approximately $30 million to keep all 14er trails maintained/restored.   

So when I had the chance to sit down with Lloyd Athearn, CFI’s Executive Director and man in charge for the past 6 years, I took it. Here’s what I learned. 

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Gratitude for Mountain SAR (From the Author of "Exposed: Tragedy & Triumph in Mountain Climbing")

Gratitude for Mountain SAR (From the Author of

With Labor Day now behind us, many Colorado 14er hikers will be hanging up their hiking boots for the year. The summer hiking season has satisfied their urge to connect with nature while challenging their tired legs to again carry them up to the summit of one of Colorado’s 58 14,000 foot peaks. This is also a good time to express our gratitude to a tireless group of volunteers on our various Search and Rescue (SAR) teams across the state.

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Top 10 Reasons to Use a Vacation Home Rental For Your Next Fourteener Trip

Top 10 Reasons to Use a Vacation Home Rental For Your Next Fourteener Trip

I had my first vacation home rental experience when I visited San Francisco for work last year. The experience opened my eyes to the many benefits of renting a vacation home instead of staying in a hotel.  My Hilton Honors will surely dwindle as a result.  

First, the full disclosure…I am not being compensated one iota for my opinions.   HomeAway.com is mentioned below and they were a client of mine in a past life.  I have used their service and think they offer a great selection – as do other similar businesses. I do have friends that now own vacation home rentals, but they aren’t featured here, and I’ll gladly stay at their places anytime they ask me too!  

After countless trips to Colorado from my home turf in Texas, I could kick myself for never considering staying at a rental home before.  The concept is perfect when planning a group trip.  HomeAway.com lists over 9,080 “mountain” home rentals in Colorado alone.  In true Letterman fashion, here are the Top 10 reasons why you want to rent a vacation home the next time you set out on a mountain adventure:  

10. Get a little closer to the mountain or trailhead.  

9.   Home cooked meals:  You can save money by buying and cooking your own food, but someone has to do the dishes.  

8.   You can launder those smelly, damp trail clothes so your buddies don’t have to smell you the rest of the trip.    Most homes have a washer and dryer with detergent available to use.  

7.   Free parking and no extra fees.  You normally have to leave a deposit though, which is fully refundable.  

6.   Tranquility:  No need to battle with the wedding party down the hall for sleep.  A vacation home rental can be tucked away, deep down a mountain road, letting you extend your bond with nature by opening the windows at night and listening to the sounds of the forest.  You may have to contend with snoring from your buddies, but it is a great trade off.  

5.   Amenities:  Often times you can find a vacation home rental with a breathtaking view, fire pit out back or hot tub ready to soothe those achy muscles.  

4.   Praise:  If, as the planner of this group outing, you manage to make it all happen, you may get a pat on the back and hear the following, “Wow, this place is awesome. What a great idea!”  

3.   More room to relax. Vacation homes average 2,000 square feet, while hotels average 400 square feet. ‘Nuff said!  

2.   Price!  When you split the cost of a vacation home rental between a group, you can greatly reduce your cost per person.  

1.   You can store a ton more beer in a full-size fridge than that tiny ice bucket from your hotel room. Colorado has more micro-brews per capita than anywhere else and it would be a sin to not enjoy the multitude of brands and styles.

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Mountain Mommas and Country Roads: Three Hike and Spa Combinations For Mom

Mountain Mommas and Country Roads: Three Hike and Spa Combinations For Mom

What better way to say “thank you” to mom for all she does than to treat her to a spa package.  Although that never gets old, you can change it up a little with a back to nature trip.  Take a country road to a far off mountain trail and plan to soothe those tired bones in natural hot springs.  

Before $200 spa treatments, our ancestors since time-forgotten, found healing and tranquility in natural hot springs…and maybe the occasional mud bath.  There’s something alluring about hot springs. Maybe it’s the raw connection to the earth’s molten core or the airy views of towering mountains that make our personal concerns seem so small in comparison.  Whatever the case, these places occupy a special place in my memory.  

Here are three low budget options to consider...

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