Every once in a while, you meet a guy who's so annoyingly Colorado that you might as well call him 'Rado. To merely say that this man possesses qualities characteristic of the Centennial State does not do him justice. Because that could also cover the ranchhand who screwed around a little bit on the rodeo circuit before realizing he was flamingly homosexual and retired to the Western Slope, where he tends herds and never looks anyone in the eye. Or the Tech Center worker bee who drives a Saab and has a penchant for Outback cuisine and fat secretaries. Both types abound in this square state. But 'Rado is a different breed. 'Rado is the guy you see sitting in a kayak in the Platte down by REI, feeling alive and outdoorsy as the city's fecal matter drifts past him. 'Rado is the guy who, after a long day of mountain-biking or out-of-bounds skiing (depending on the season), goes out for microbrews and talks to like-minded people and inevitably says things like "Moab" and "Whistler." 'Rado probably studied abroad in New Zealand, has a Native bumper-sticker regardless of his place of birth, and feels that heaven is Red Rocks on a cool summer evening, "Tripping Billies" shattering the night sky.
I'm in no way knocking those of you who enjoy Colorado's natural splendor. I know a few people who have a symbiotic relationship with the nature in this state that borders on religious. But those people are quiet and dignified about it; they're somber, unassuming types who will open up about their experience when pressed but would much rather hear about you. They're more comfortable in nature than they are talking about it. They're true Coloradans. And the exact opposite of what I was this weekend.
I was straight 'Rado, bro.
Why? Because I climbed a fourteener! Now, pass me that New Belgium Skinny Dip, broseph — it's Wednesday night, and I'm heading to the Front Porch!
As a native of this state, even I find it somewhat baffling that I made it to 28 years of age without actually climbing one of Colorado's towering mountains. I'd driven to the top of them, hiked around the base of them, but never before actually clambered up one on foot.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The name of this particular peak was Quandary, and the date was the Fourth of July. And though my lawyer sister and her lawyer fiancée tricked me into signing up for a wiki account with some of our mutual friends, going so far as to encode the registration so that by signing up I was legally surrendering the right to write about anyone in the group — read the fine print, they said when I cried bullshit — I will here reveal that I made the trek up the 14,271-foot peak with my sister Anna, her fiancée, Sam, and their two dogs, Belden and Charlotte. The whole experience was very Caucasian. And if I'm in violation writing that, I say fucking bring it to the courtroom. You know Daddy will defend my ass for pursuing my art, and he's a better lawyer than all y'all. Combined.
Here's the thing about climbing a fourteener that they don't tell you: It's no joke. Especially when the last 2,000 feet or so basically go straight up over rocks and then cruelly, almost comically, culminate in a field of snow. Fortunately, Charlotte is essentially a forty-pound freak gadget who pulled me to the top. And up there, the view was breathtaking (not that I had any breath left): mountain ranges for miles, crystal lakes down below, ravens soaring up above. Mountain goats trotted back and forth; marmots and pikas darted out from the rocks. The sight was stunning, and I vowed then and there to keep that little piece of tranquility for myself, to internalize it and learn from it and move on, stronger and better.
And then I went to a party that same night, and you know the only thing to come out of my mouth? Dude, I totally climbed a fourteener today! I couldn't shut up about it. I wanted everyone to know what time I started, how long it took, the pace I kept. I babbled on like an idiot to anyone who would listen to my day's adventure — and there were plenty of people who would not only listen, but who then shared their tales of similar exploits! There I was, straight 'Rado-ing out at a barbecue like a total asshole. And I realized that this is territory any novice must go through. 'Rado is just a stage en route to a better place, a place called Colorado. But for what it's worth, I'm getting my ass up another hill as soon as possible. The company in 'Rado fucking blows.