Spotlight on Rex Headd!

Congratulations to our latest Grand Slam finishers Rex Headd! We had the opportunity of asking Rex a few quick questions.

Q:  What was your first fourteener, and when did you climb it?
What got me into climbing was the U.S. 50 Highpoints. I came down to Colorado in July of 2001 to find a place to live after taking a job in Boulder after college. After a day of apartment shopping, I headed up to Leadville to climb Mt. Elbert. We were successful and I thought I had experienced the best Colorado had to offer, boy was I wrong.  

Q:  At what point did you commit to finishing them all?
It wasn't until I moved to Boulder in October 2001 that I learned that Colorado had many more 14ers than just Mt. Elbert. I was immediately committed to climbing them all. I thought it was a good way to keep me in the mountains while living in Colorado and keep me in shape for the Western Highpoints. I spent the winter asking and talking to anybody at work that knew anything about the 14ers. When summer finally came around I climbed almost 30 my first summer in Colorado. 

Q:  What is your favorite fourteener route?
It is hard to pick just one, a few come to mind. Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak, and the Dead Dog on Torreys Peak were very enjoyable as well as Capitol Peak. I would have to rate Capitol as my favorite, the approach was beautiful, Capitol's North Face from Capitol Lake is quite imposing, and the Pierre Lakes Basin just blew me away. Oh yah, the Knife Edge and the scrambling to the summit was a blast as well.

Q:  What was your most delightful moment on a 14er?
Several come to mind again on this one. Summitting Capitol Peak and taking in the surrounding beauty from the summit was quite spectacular. Both my trips into the Chicago Basin were some of my favorite days in the mountains. The top of the list would have to be spreading my dear friend Lindsey's ashes from the summit of Mt. Lindsey. Her sister Kelly was with us as well as several other of my and Lindsey's good friends. It was a very special moment and we were honored the family bestowed the privilege on us.

Q:  What was your most terrifying moment on a 14er?
Up until last weekend I didn't really have an answer for this question. The only really close call I had personally was a rock had my name all over it while we were climbing the Dead Dog Couloir this May. I was able to move to the side and the rock missed me by a mere 3 feet. But last weekend while we were climbing Wilson Peak, near the broken cliffs section just after the Gladstone saddle, I heard Amy scream out and yell for help. I thought for sure she had taken a fall. She was climbing a cliff section and grabbed a large rock to pull herself up when it slid down on her. She was holding it up with her chest and I was able to hold it just long enough for her to get out of the way before I had to let it crash down the slopes. It was definitely the closest call we ever had on a 14er.

Q:  Do you have any plans for future mountain lists?
Well I'm still working on those pesky Western Highpoints, they took a back seat to the 14ers the last few years. I just need Granite Peak in Montana, Rainier in Washington, and then hopefully Denali in a year or two. As for Colorado, we don't have any formal lists planned. I've made a mental list of some of the more interesting lesser peaks in Colorado and we'll go climb peaks just because they sound fun. There are a lot of peaks up in Wyoming that I want to climb, many of the 13ers up there. Anybody that has browsed my website knows that the Wind River Range in Wyoming will always be my "home range" and I definitely have lots and lots of peaks to climb up there.

Q:  What 14er did you climb last?  Did you intentionally save it for last or is it a 14er that previously eluded you?
El Diente was our last peak. I didn't intentionally save it for last, but when Amy and I were down to just the Wilson Group, I made a plan that would allow us to finish on El Diente and complete the 14ers on the same peak. I read a lot of accounts of people having to make multiple trips to close out the Wilson Group so I feel fortunate we were able to climb all three this past weekend.

Q:  What is the single most important piece of advice that you would give someone just starting out?
I'll offer a few that have been extremely helpful to our high success rate on the 14ers. First of all, get fit and stay fit. Bike, hike, run, and lift weights during the week, whatever you prefer. It makes the 14ers so much more enjoyable when you're not stopping to catch your breath every 100 feet. It also helps when you really need to cover some ground quickly to beat a storm, climb multiple peaks, etc. Also leave early for the summit. I prefer getting to the trailhead the night before so all we have to do in the morning is wake up and start hiking. I used to drive up to the trailheads the morning of the hike and found I'd be half wore out from the drive to the trailhead. We leave extremely early for the summit from the trailheads, 3 a.m., 4 a.m, 5 a.m. depending on the length of the hike. We try to be on the summit by 8 or 9 a.m. In all of our 14er hikes, we never had to experience our hair standing on end or our trekking poles buzzing because we leave for the summit so early. An added bonus is that you'll have the ascent and the summit to yourself. :-) Lastly, remember to stop and soak in the scenery. The summit is only one point on every high country excursion, enjoy the forests, flowers, lakes, and critters. Even the marmots... except when they are eating your gear or food stash. :-)