Pursuing a Higher Elevation
Mines graduate student Ali Smith, who is pursuing her masterâ€™s in geochemistry, spent this past summer climbing mountains. With her friend, Aric Snellstrom, Smith summited all the 14ersâ€”peaks that rise more than 14,000 feet above sea levelâ€”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 Coloradoâ€™s 14ersâ€”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. â€œI realized only a handful of peopleâ€”fewer than 20â€”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.â€
â€œMy 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,â€ Smith said. â€œI expected many of the 14ers to blend togetherâ€”especially in Colorado since so many are so close togetherâ€”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.â€
The photo above shows Smith crossing a crevasse on Mt. Rainier in Washington.