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Stewart Green

Dateline 1970: First Ascent of Colorado's Thunder Pyramid Peak

By October 23, 2012

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I did the first ascent of 13,932-foot-high Thunder Pyramid in Colorado's Elk Range with five other climbers on the first weekend of August in 1970 when I was 17 years old and had just graduated from high school. That rugged peak, then unnamed, was the last of Colorado's 100 highest peaks--the Centennial Peaks--to be climbed. Now, Carson Black, one of the other climbers, and myself are the only ones of that party that are still alive (not sure if a couple of the others are around) and are the only living climbers to have done the first ascent of one of the Centennials.

Last Saturday I gave a short lecture about the first ascent of Thunder Pyramid in Colorado Springs as part of the Colorado Mountain Club's 100-year centennial celebration. I expanded the talk into an article--1970: First Ascent of Thunder Pyramid--about this landmark ascent.

Even with all the routes I've done around the world and the hundreds of first ascents that I've made in my home state of Colorado, I feel fortunate to have been on that climb up Thunder Pyramid with my climbing mentor Spencer Swanger. Spence, who died two years ago in a tragic climbing accident in Italy's Dolomite Mountains, was the first climber to climb those hundred highest peaks.

Photograph above: Spencer Swanger, the first person to climb Colorado's 100 highest peaks, on top of Pigeon Peak in the San Juan Mountains. Photograph Spencer Swanger.

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