Kent Beverly recently completed his quest to climb all 637 13,000 plus foot mountains in Colorado and spoke with CBS4 about the experience.
SILVERTON, Colo. (CBS4) – He stood on the last of them, victorious. 637 peaks and he’d climbed every last one of them.
“I’ll remember it forever,” said Kent Beverly. “Because there (were) a lot of challenges and … times when I thought I don’t know if I’m going to get this done or not, you know.”
Beverly was surrounded by friends and family as he reached the 13,370 foot summit of Dome Mountain. It was a good day, and it took over three decades to reach.
“We have a group of friends, a small group and a larger group we’ve gone with and we have some very experienced, very talented climbers. Some pretty amazing people,” Beverly said.
Beverly told his story to CBS4 alongside climbing partner Mark Schmalz. They’ve done about 200 of the 637 together.
“Beautiful peaks. And you really bond when you’re on a beautiful peak and you’re seeing country that very few people see,” he said.
Schmalz finished his quest to do all the 13ers seven years ago.
“As soon as you start exploring some of these remote places, you start looking at new mountains and you think, ‘Wow, what is it like from over there?” said Schmalz.
The two are members of a very elite club. Only about three dozen people in all are known to have climbed all of Colorado’s 13ers. As people have begun to overrun the fifty-odd 14ers, climbers have sought more solitude on the 13ers. Only a few of the mountains have well defined trails.
“Many of the 14ers, the easier 14ers, you’ll see more people in one day than we may have seen in 10 or 12 years in all of the climbing we’ve done on the 13ers,” said Schmalz.
Beverly started climbing young. Raised in the Steamboat Springs area, his father was a well-known mountaineer who guided many into Colorado’s mountains.
“He started backpacking when he was a teenager. He and his brother, my uncle, made their own backpacks out of canvas and wood. Sewed two blankets together for sleeping bags.”
As Beverly got older, his father took him along.
“He always considered them to be revered, and I feel that way too. You can’t take them for granted,” he said.
On the 13ers, they have found challenges and danger. Some peaks are miles from roads and routes out in an emergency. Many times they turned around, not feeling up to it, or in the face of bad weather. The most difficult, said Beverly, was Lizard Head Peak in the San Miguel Mountains southwest of Telluride.
“I’d have to say Lizard Head Peak because it’s considered to be the hardest peak over 13,000 feet in the state.”
Like the infamous killers at over 14,000 feet, Capitol Peak and Maroon Bells, its rock is loose. But Lizard Head, with its cathedral spire-looking upper reaches, is long and difficult. And panic inducing.
“We pulled off pieces that you would not want to land on you,” said Schmalz.
For beauty, Beverly points to Pigeon Peak, Schmalz to Golden Horn. Both are in the San Juans, where 262 of Colorado’s 637 13ers are located.
But those are the kinds of questions that are difficult to answer with so much beauty in the Colorado mountains. It’s the peaks and the people.
“Part of the joy is certainly the peak but the people you go with make it even better,” said Beverly.
His respect for the mountains is enhanced by years at their summits.
“Some people don’t treat the mountains with the respect that they deserve. … You can’t treat them like you treat your backyard or your street out in front of your house.”
The mountains, it seems, waited for him to reach all of the 13er summits.
“The thing is those mountains have been there for millions of years, they’ll be there next weekend or next month, so you have to be patient and do it when the time’s right.”