VHM-2014-2015-lores - page 47

Mount of the
Holy Cross,
March, 2011.
And so the work began. Kamper is a strong skier, but he
had to hone his mountaineering skills. He studied maps,
guidebooks and blogs, and eventually mastered skills like
rappelling with his skis on. By April 2009, he skied his first
14er: Quandary Peak. That spring, he bagged 14 peaks.
But not every ascent and descent went as smoothly as
that first spring. Several peaks took multiple attempts
to ski — bad weather or adverse conditions, including
higher-than-expected avalanche danger, impeded progress.
Crestone Needle took three attempts: Time ran out on
the first attempt; the snow never softened and remained
a sheet of glass on the second; and finally, on the third
try, “we were not going to be denied,” Kamper says.
A highlight of the journey was skiing with partners,
some of whom he met through 14er forums or met on
the trails. “One of the best things are the people you
meet along the way,” he says. “Anytime you take on a
difficult project with somebody, you form a bond.”
One of his partners, Jordan White, was the youngest
to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers, at age 23. Kamper still holds
the record as the eleventh person to ski all of the 14ers.
He is also the oldest, finishing at age 52. “Age didn’t get
in the way at all,” he says. “The great thing about do-
ing this, is, it really is a team sport. Everybody you go
out with brings a different set of skills and strengths.”
Kamper is a confident skier and navigator — and his
partners appreciated him hauling heavy first aid kits
up and down the mountain, even though he never
had to use them. His partners often brought better
mountaineering skills, such as technical roping.
Though Kamper never had to pull out his first aid kit
for his partners, his knowledge came in handy on Cam-
eron Point (an unofficial 14er — even official counts
of Colorado’s 14ers differ, varying from 53 to 54). Kam-
per hesitates to call it an avalanche, but he fell and
slid with a bunch of snow at 10 a.m. He knew he tore
the ligament in his left thumb, so he called into the
medical center and scheduled surgery at 6 p.m. Dr. Viola
pinned his thumb joint internally and molded a splint
so that Kamper was conquering 14ers within a week.
And skier’s thumb wasn’t the only major glitch Kam-
per ran up against during his four-year journey.
“This kind of endeavor can be really hard on relation-
ships,” he says, adding that his girlfriend was “extremely
patient” and even joined him on a couple of trips.
Some peaks, like Capitol, which Kamper describes
as the scariest because it required a long traverse on a
steep slope above a cliff, also demanded nearly 24 hours
of physical exertion; Kamper started climbing Capitol
at 11 p.m. and finished the following day at 8 p.m.
Despite the challenges, Kamper wouldn’t trade
his self-prescribed “treatment” for anything.
“My passion for skiing, and for being outdoors in gen-
eral, is a fabulous gift that I received from my parents,
and this project brought me to realize just how profound
and valuable that gift really is,” Kamper says. “I am work-
ing on conveying it to my children and look forward to
hearing about their adventures when they're older.”
Always carry avalanche
equipment, including
avalanche transceiver,
probe and shovel
Stay alert, and con-
stantly be on the lookout
for anything that indicates
the potential for a slide.
Cross potential
avalanche slopes one at
a time — each person
should be 100+ yards
from the next person.
Avoid traveling in
the backcountry alone
or leaving the group.
Don't assume a
slope is safe because
there are tracks going
across it. Wind, sun and
temperature changes
are constantly altering
snowpack stability.
Never travel in the
backcountry on the day
after a big storm. Allow
the snowpack to settle
for at least 24 hours.
Don't hesitate to voice
concerns or fears.
Above info from the National Ski Patrol,
Other resources:
Colorado Avalanche Information Center: avalanche.state.co.us/
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