Former LCHS Student Climbs To New Heights
Lake County is full of mountaineers. The majestic Rocky Mountains seem to call out, beckoning climbers to take on the challenge of these 14,000 foot skyscrapers. But even in a town full of peak performers, this next story is likely to give pause.
On January 29, former Lake County High School (LCHS) student Colton Carlson summited Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere at 22,837 feet. Now, before you start thinking about all the Leadville residents who have done exactly the same thing (and there’s a few of you now), think about doing it as a double leg amputee.
Because that’s exactly what United States Marine Lance Cpl. Colton Carlson did. He did it with the same drive and determination as when he first signed up to serve his country, just like his grandfather did. And he summited with same courage that he held onto that day in May 8, 2012 that forever changed his life. That day he stepped on an IED and lost both of his legs.
Carlson went to LCHS his freshman and sophomore year (2004-05), eventually enlisting in the USMC where he went on to serve in Afghanistan. It was Carlson’s former classmate and Leadville Today reader, Nubia Nubes Galindo, who suggested doing a story about his incredible feat.
Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), one of the nation’s largest sport organizations for people with disabilities, put together the expedition, which began January 17. The end goal for the Warfighter Sports and Mountain Professionals Team was the summit of Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, the world’s highest mountain outside of Asia at 22,837 feet.
The purpose of the climb is to inspire and motivate fellow wounded warriors and others, who are facing the challenge of rehabilitation after severe injury, to realize that they can lead active, fulfilling lives with their disabilities. The long, arduous step by step process of rehabilitation is very similar to climbing mountains. Both require dedication, persistence, planning and executing fitness programs, and, finally, “taking one step at a time” to the thousands that it takes to reach the goal of rehabilitation and summiting.
Here is an excerpt from their summit journal:
After Colton´s super human effort (actually 19 hours after we recalibrated) and what Doc described as his single most demanding one day climb he has ever made (and as I said before he has climbed one of the toughest Denali) we had to prepare to climb down the next day. Alf was a marvelous support all the way despite the fact that he was totally drained on a roughly 14 hour climb and descent to Cholera Camp at 20,000 (just under)
Colton said he was never so tired in his life, starting at 4 AM and returning at 11:17 PM. He literally fell asleep climbing and ended up flat on his face. His right eye hit the sun, started an aura and then he could no longer see on that side until it got dark and his eye recovered. He was in a state where he was “there but not there” at about hour 14. Coming down the toughest part of the climb, he passed out (or fell asleep again) and had to be carried to a cave about 150 yards to recuperate. Remember that an above knee/below knee amputee expends about 200% more energy so he did the equivalent of a 28 hour climb at 23,000 feet.
Eventually seven of ten of the Warfighter Sports and Mountain Professionals team summited Aconcagua on January 29, 2015, including Colton Carlson, the double leg amputee Marine and former LCHS student! And they did it without any altitude medications or supplemental oxygen. It really is quite a story, read the entire summit journal HERE.
Leadville’s Bill Honored in a Salomon Running
Most locals might know him as “the guy who walks around town,” or he can be seen walking up around Leadville’s east side mining district. But for those involved in ultra running, Bill Dooper is a lot more than that.
So much so, that the Salomon Running company did a short film in tribute to this “Ultimate Fan.” Dooper has been at every Leadville Trail 100 Run since 1988 and is a well-known mainstay at most other ultra running events throughout the region. Oh, and Dooper has never run an Ultra himself.
Here’s his story, thanks to the Salomon Running folks. Thanks Bill, for being the Ultra cheerleader and for representing the Leadville community so wonderfully!
Salomon Running Film on The Ultimate Fan: Bill Dooper
Dr. Yeakel, Team Raise Funds with “Epic” Challenge
While most medical doctors can tell all you about the benefits – and pitfalls – of epic racing, most are just as likely to be seen at the start line of a epic race. They just can’t resist the challenge.
And so it is for Leadville’s Dr. Doug Yeakel as he prepares to take on his latest challenges, with Lake County youth benefiting from the feat. The Cape Epic is an endurance mountain bike race: 8 days of racing, covering 459 miles and 52,493 vertical feet of climbing. It is staged in South Africa in March 15 – 22. This challenge is known at the “Untamed African Mountain Bike Race.”
“I’m taking on a major personal and philanthropic challenge in support of the nonprofit organization: Kids in the Game (KITG), promoting childhood sports and fitness participation,” explained Dr. Yeakel.
The Leadville doctor has spent the past 8 months training with racing partner Dr. Chip Woodland. They are on a quest to finish this race and help fight childhood obesity! Their fund raising goal: $52,493 — not some random number, but the amount of the total accumulated vertical feet of climbing over the 8-day race (i.e. a $1 for 1 foot!). And 100% of every donation goes to KITG as the doctors will personally be covering all associated costs (registration fees, air, hotel, post race cold beer!) You can contribute to the cause, knowing that half the funds will remain in Lake County, at LINK.
Learn more about the Cape Epic Race at their website. Or you can follow Dr. Yeakel’s journey via social media: 10KSportMed Facebook Page or on Twitter: @10KSportMed (#CapeEpicForKids)
What is Cape Epic?