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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

View from a mountain top

When I was in college, over the summer of 1953 I attended the University of Colorado with my older sister, a school teacher working for extra education credits. I studied Shakespeare's plays, contemporary poetry and square dancing (PE credit). At that time they had a wonderful Department of Mountain Recreation that sponsored mid-week hikes up Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder and weekend mountain climbing for novices and amateur climbers. The guides were experienced climbers and also experts in botany (wildflowers), geology (rock formations) and more, an interesting mix of people of all ages and walks of life. My sister had a boyfriend, so I got into the mountaineering, one of the greatest experiences of my young life. I went on many trail hikes and climbed three mountains by the easier routes: first Sawtooth (12,303 feet, then Neva (12,814) (I'm at left in the photo) and Jasper (12,923), which are connected by a ridge. On Jasper we experienced a hail storm with thunder and lightning, the scariest thing I had ever experienced. To descend, we jumped off a cliff sliding down a rope until we landed on a huge snow field. Then we "skied" on our feet to the bottom of the snow field and continued our hike to base camp. Everything about the trip was awesome, but especially the feeling at the summit when I looked out over the majestic Rockies instead of up at them. My little Everest.

Our youngest son loved the Colorado mountains passionately because of our frequent visits to my parents, who had retired to Boulder. We registered him for a survival course with Colorado Outward Bound the summer he was sixteen. My Ohio friends were aghast that we would let him climb mountains at such a young age. I wanted him to experience that feeling I had on top of the mountain and he was thrilled to go. It was a life-changing adventure for him. He eventually went to Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs and finished his degree at Fort Lewis College in Durango, where he now lives.

Along the way, he kept on climbing mountains--too many to name here--and eventually became a part-time instructor, then a course director for Outward Bound Wilderness in Colorado. Recently he was asked to teach courses in rock and mountain climbing at Fort Lewis College. Talk about a dream job....

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

what wonderful memories ... climbing and trail hikes are not in my repertoire but I can appreciate how wonderful it must be for those who do.

Nita I feel that I have known you a long time ... isn't that strange? I have tagged you HERE! Hope you will come out to play!

9:46 PM  
Blogger Ruth Steinfatt said...

I am enjoying your blog so much. Full of art ideas and life changing adventures.

8:23 PM  
Blogger Annette Bush said...

Still in a dream job yourself, aren't you, Nita? So cool that you could instill the spirit of adventure and love of challenges in your son. A

7:36 AM  
Blogger Nita said...

Lesly-- It's awesome to have a friend more than 10,000 miles away! I'm afraid I can't come out to play now, though, because I'm too involved in writing a new book. Thanks for the invitation.

Ruth and Annette--Glad you enjoyed the mountain climbing blog. I have a few more adventures that I might write about when I get a chance.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Casey Klahn said...

Hi, Nita. I found you via Lesly.
I sometimes make analogies of my art philosophy and my life as a climber. You may be one of the few who can understand these strange ideas of mine!
Glad I have found your blog.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Nita said...

Hey, Casey--
Do you have a blog for your strange ideas?

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We too raised Colorado kids in love with nature & mtns. I'm back to painting again. Betsy

6:05 PM  

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