Pursuing a Higher Elevation
Mines graduate student Ali Smith, who is pursuing her master’s in geochemistry, spent this past summer climbing mountains. With her friend, Aric Snellstrom, Smith summited all the 14ers—peaks that rise more than 14,000 feet above sea level—in the lower 48 states.
Her journey began when she climbed her first 14er, Mt. Sherman, during a family vacation to Colorado when she was eight years old. She climbed two others on future vacations, but the challenge of climbing all 53 of Colorado’s 14ers—and eventually the remaining 16 in the lower 48 states) began about 4 years ago. Originally from Houston, Smith said she fell in love with the recreational community when she moved to Colorado five years ago. “I realized only a handful of people—fewer than 20—have ever reported completing all these mountains, and if I were to complete them, I would become the youngest reported finisher. This realization paired with my love for mountains inspired this challenge.”
“My favorite part of climbing every mountain is the moment when I approach the summit and realize I am on one of the highest points in the lower 48 states, all under my own power,” Smith said. “I expected many of the 14ers to blend together—especially in Colorado since so many are so close together—but each one offers a different perspective and provides a different challenge. Because of this, I distinctly remember each and every mountain, and all the details from each trip. These memories will be something I will always appreciate.”
The photo above shows Smith crossing a crevasse on Mt. Rainier in Washington.