Delmar resident Nola Royce sits on top of North Maroon Peak in Colorado with hiking buddies Bill Michels and Mark Cole. Royce recently completed summitting all 54 of Colorado’s peaks taller than 14,000 feet above sea level.
When Mark Cole, whom I’d met in Alaska, came down from Boulder and my friend Ann Parry, whom I’d met in the Pamir, came in from Idaho, I brought Bill with us to go up Longs Peak. Our trip would take us through the famous keyhole route, over the peak and down to Meeker Peak via a rocky traverse and then down to level land via some rock slides.
It was challenging, exposed and wonderful. At the key hole, Bill was a bit tentative but was a good sport and came along. After that hike, he was hooked. Bill’s been my hiking buddy for a long time now and I thoroughly appreciate his support in accompanying me on so many of my climbs of the 54 “14ers.”
Following my first hike up Pikes Peak in 1994, which I did with my lean-to companion, Randy Moore, from Denver, I left the country and went to the Karakoram to climb for about two and a half months. The following summer, I was still making up time at work and didn’t take much vacation time all through the next year, except to go to Colorado and ski with Randy.
Then, in January of 1996, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost a summer to treatment and recovery. In 1997, I went to Colorado to visit Craig with my friend, Kefira, who was an avid rock and ice climber. We climbed some great rock routes and began to hike many of the “14ers” within easy access of Craig’s home. These hikes were our aerobic “rest days” from technical climbing. Originally, I had no intention of doing all the peaks, but that’s always how this stuff starts. Plus, I had a base camp at Craig’s home.
In 1998, I had a recurrence and lost another summer to surgery and recovery. After that, I spent as many summer vacations as I could hiking and climbing in Colorado. The only years I didn’t go out were when I was out of the country to go up Kilimanjaro in Africa, and then to trek and climb in South America, in 2004 and 2006, respectively.