The upper parts of "Childhood's End" on Big Rock Candy Mountain, Colorado.

Thursday Thought: The Storm Years

Note and apology: This Thursday Thought was supposed to come out last Thursday, January 21, 2010, but in my sick and sleep-deprived state, I hit “draft” instead of “publish”, and only noticed the error now. Sorry!

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The upper parts of "Childhood's End" on Big Rock Candy Mountain, Colorado.

The upper parts of “Childhood’s End” on Big Rock Candy Mountain, Colorado.

I opened the mail the other day to a pleasant surprise: Volume 3 of The Colorado College Alpine Journal (CCAJ). As usual, the articles and trip reports were wonderful, replete with accounts of local epics like “Childhood’s End III” on Big Rock Candy Mountain to “jungleneering” on the first ascent of “Nkhalango Khoswe” in Malawi.

But, what hit me immediately was the long legacy of climbing at my alma mater, Colorado College, and the new generation of climbers represented in the latest Alpine Journal.

From what I know, CC’s climbing legacy dates back to 1914-1919, when Albert Ellingwood was a professor there and took time to pioneer many classic routes in Colorado’s high country, including the famous Ellingwood Ridge on La Plata Peak and Ellingwood Ledges on Crestone Needle. While perhaps the first “named” climber at CC, Ellingwood was certainly not the last. Since his tenure, the ranks of climbing have been filled with Colorado College alums, including:

At any rate, reading the CCAJ and remembering my climbing days at CC brought to mind a classic quote by Geoffrey Winthrop Young, from his classic book Mountain Craft, speaking about the need to push ourselves in, as he calls them, “the storm years of our strength”. (Not coincidentally, this phrase is the subtitle of Ed Webster’s wonderful book Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest.) Here is today’s Thursday Thought:

A mountaineer may be satisfied to nurse his athletic infancy upon home rocks, and he may be happy to pass the later years of his experience among the more elusive impressions and more subtle romance of our old and quiet hills. But in the storm years of his strength he should test his powers, learn his craft and earn his triumphs in conflict with the abrupt youth and warlike habit of great glacial ranges.

And, for kicks, check out the video below – it’s a snippet of Chris Alstrin’s film Luxury Liner about the first ascent of the Indian Creek classic “Supercrack” in 1976 by Earl Wiggins, Ed Webster and Bryan Becker:


Jake Norton is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker from Colorado.

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    Yet another vote for dinner at Dad’s. The trade-off benefit for you could not only be more “quality” time at the end of the day, but have breakfast with them, which will be easier to pull off if they are not dragged out of bed in the morning. So if they go to bed earlier, they wake earlier. My husband often misses dinner during the week, but he eats breakfast with the kids 95% of the time and it’s a great experience for the family.

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