No Present Like Time: The 14ers Project
Connor Koch recently completed his 3-year No Barriers Pledge. A member of Erik Weihenmayer’s team at Touch the Top, Connor hopes to inspire others to make a pledge toward living a No Barriers Life.
“On June 9th, 2018, I stood on the summit of Mt. Wilson — my last of the 58 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado, marking the completion of my 3-year No Barriers pledge.”
“The 14ers project taught me a lot — about my new home state, about moving efficiently and quickly in the alpine, about follow-through. Mostly, the journey taught me about myself and my capabilities.”
“Through the toil and the mileage and the thin air, I grew stronger, faster, more confident. Surrounded with panoramic, breathtaking vistas, I found myself looking inward, searching for something intangible and indefinable. I like to think I found it sometimes, in fleeting moments near the summit of each peak, or in the desperately golden light of a sunset in the high country. It took a labor of love to see this project to completion, and I’m proud of that.”
“I could list some stats: ~400 miles on foot (and many, many more in the car), ~150k of vertical gain, but these don’t really matter, not at the end. More important were the innumerable and unforgettable times I had with friends, loved ones, and complete strangers on these wondrous peaks.”
“The early starts, nights under the stars, camp meals, summit views, Almond Snickers, wildlife encounters, cold beers, dehydration, snow glissades, brutal wind, ski descents, lightning storms, car breakdowns, car accidents, and long, bumpy dirt roads in the most remote reaches of the state.”
“I’ve run, walked, climbed, stumbled, napped, cried, smiled, and laughed at 14,000 feet. Many of these summits and experiences were shared with Jackson Schmidt and Jonny Morsicato — thank you, friends, from the bottom of my heart.”
“This morning, I came across a twist on an old adage: ‘There’s no present like time.’ A reminder, I suppose, to live intensely, to love big, for nothing is promised. And it must be true: this project was time well spent, and it has certainly been a gift.”
A Note From Erik Weihenmayer:
“No Barriers is more than a message: it is a movement that means action. We encourage this by asking people to take a pledge and commit to doing something that helps shape their No Barriers Life. For some, this means losing weight or quitting smoking, for others it is graduating from high school or pursuing an advanced degree. For my team member, Connor Koch, who has worked with me for three years, it was to climb all 58 of Colorado’s 14ers – peaks that stand over 14,000 feet.”
“Most who endeavor on this adventure spend decades or a lifetime on the task, ticking off a few peaks each year, but Connor completed the list in under three years, despite the barriers the project presents. Many of the hardest peaks are in the remote San Juan mountains of southwest Colorado, with long drives and challenging weather. On top of that, Connor moved to Colorado from coastal California, with no experience in the mountains. But, over the last several years, he has honed his climbing, running, skiing, and backcountry skills to swiftly and safely move though the mountains. We nicknamed him “The Squirrel” for the speed and tenacity with which he moves through life. And so, young Squirrel, we wish you safe travels and fun adventures to come.”
Are you ready to join our movement?