John Graham, at that time the president of the Club, encouraged me
to apply for my first climb in 1990. I was sponsored by Ed Kirches. I
recall being welcomed by the group like an old friend. I especially
enjoyed climbing with the older members of the club, feeling just two or three
degrees of separation from the Frozen Five. Watching Jim Bates, hike back
and forth with his camera, covering twice as much ground as the rest of us, was
a lesson in preparation and endurance.
When we reached the A-Frame, Ralph Sanchez, a
friendly, talkative guest, slipped and fell hard on the ice, cracking a couple
of his ribs. In much pain, he was evacuated. That evening, in the
summit house, Ryer Hitchcock presided over skits and songs. Someone’s bright idea was to have Ed Kirches,
Jack Donley, Hank Worley, and me, the four lawyers along that year, present a skit
imagining what Ralph’s lawsuit against the club would be like. I played
Ralph in a wheelchair. I was glad he hadn’t stayed around that evening to
get any ideas.
I recall my first venture outside after dark on the
summit. Not only was it crystal clear, but a blue moon had risen over
Colorado Springs, making that day feel all the more special. I walked to the north end of the COG tracks and was surprised
at how close the lights of Denver appeared. It was spectacular.
Just before the climb in 2000, my brother-in-law, Ben Kuckel,
presented me with a painting that he’d done of fireworks over Pikes Peak. When I became president of the club, I
started presenting it each year as a “traveling trophy” to the new member.
More recently, when we began fundraising for our centennial projects, Ben presented the Club with a substantial matching gift in memory of my sister, Raynelle. His gift really helped encourage other donors.
This club celebrates family.
Every annual dinner and send-off breakfast feels like a large family
gathering. Having my family turn out for
those events has always been special.
I’ve been very fortunate to climb with both of my sons. My son, Tyler, started climbing at age 19 and became the new member in 2019. His involvement probably kept me going years longer than I might have otherwise. It was another treat when my
son, David, was able to climb with us in 2014.