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The Last of the 14ers
By Bill Hoagland
I have written three prior columns in the Calhoun News-Herald about my friend, Tim Campbell, and his goal to climb all the mountains in Colorado that are higher than 14,000 feet. These mountains, numbering 58 at last count, are collectively referred to as “the 14ers.”
Tim, as many readers know, was born and bred in Calhoun County, but he eventually moved to Madison County after becoming a lawyer and more recently he has moved to Colorado. In my last column about Tim’s mission to climb all 58 mountains in Colorado higher than 14,000 feet, he only had one mountain to go – Pike’s Peak – and befitting Tim, he did this one with an impressive flair, as you will see in a minute.
Tim credits his early interest in mountaineering to his days growing up in Calhoun County, where he felt challenged to climb the bluffs, hills and yes, even rock quarries in Calhoun. But it wasn’t until Tim was 58 years old that he really focused on a goal of climbing the “14ers” in Colorado. This was no easy feat, particularly with Tim also having to deal with several personal tragedies in his family along the way, including the untimely deaths of Linda, his wife, and Bryan, his son.
But starting in 2017, at the ripe old age of 70, and having already climbed 32 of these mountains, Tim began climbing some of the more serious and risky “14ers.” Just to give you an idea of the effort, get on YouTube, click on “climbing the Knife Edge of Capitol Peak” and imagine yourself crossing the Knife Edge of Capitol Peak at 70 years of age. (Incidentally, six climbers died climbing Capitol Peak in 2017, the same year that Tim climbed it, including a young man that Tim met on the mountain the day before he died.) Or click on “climbing North Maroon Peak” or climbing the “catwalk” to Mount Eolus–two extremely dangerous climbs that Tim accomplished after age 70. None of it was easy, but in a way, he saved the best for last.
That’s because the plan to climb the last mountain, Pike’s Peak, evolved into a family affair, and included Tim’s son (Matthew), daughter (Christin), their respective spouses (Renae and Kane) and five grandchildren between the ages of 11 and 3: McCallister, Finley, Montgomery, Chase, and Parker. (See the attached photo of Tim’s grandkids taken during the trip.) The climb up Pike’s Peak, a distance of 13 miles, was a two day affair in July, 2021, with an overnight stay on the mountain at the famous Barr Cabin. And guess what— despite the hardships of climbing a 14,100 foot high mountain, the grandkids loved it; when asked after the climb what he thought about it, Montgomery, age 3, said “That is one big mountain.
I have no doubt these grandkids will never forget helping Grandpa Tim reach his goal and better yet, they may already appreciate the importance of having and keeping their own goals in life.
■ Bill Hoagland has practiced law in Alton for more than 50 years, but he has spent more than 70 years hunting, fishing and generally being in the great outdoors. His wife, Annie, shares his love of the outdoor life. Much of their spare time is spent on their farm in Calhoun County. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.