This post was written and submitted by SnowBrains reader Jordan Lipp
Not many people can claim that they started skiing 14,000’ mountains when they were children, let alone before they started fourth grade. But on Saturday, June 5, 2021, Keira Lipp of Golden, Colorado, who just recently turned nine, completed skiing her first 14er.
Keira and her father ascended the 14,265’ Quandary Peak south of Breckenridge, Colorado, from the trailhead at 10,800’. Keira then skied from the summit down to the bottom of the snow at 11,700’ before hiking back down to the trailhead.
Keira’s decision to ski a 14er (a peak over 14,000’ tall) came from her hiking a 14er the year before. During the summer of 2020, at age eight, Keira decided that she wanted to climb a 14er. After training on some lower peaks, she accomplished that goal in September 2020 with her father, summitting Mount Sherman, 14,036’. Already a backcountry skier, when Keira realized that people ski 14ers in the springtime, she decided that she wanted to attempt skiing a 14er in the spring of 2021. So her father, who has previously skied several Colorado’s 14ers, took Keira on many backcountry spring ski days in Colorado – such as at Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park and to the summit of Hocus Peak near Butler Gulch – to prepare for the rigors of ascending and making a ski descent of a 14,000’ mountain.
On June 5, 2021, after waking up at 4 am to head to the trailhead, Keira and her dad began their climb at 6 am. They ascended first through the forest, then on intermittent rocks and snow above treeline, and eventually on all snow above 13,000’. While most other peak baggers that day steadily passed them during the first part of the ascent, Keira seemed to thrive as she got higher on the mountain. From 13,000’ to the summit, Keira’s pace sped up to the point where she passed as many adults who were ascending as were passing her.
After a break on the summit for dried mango, beef jerky, and candy, Keira skied down the spring corn snow of Quandary’s east face. Although a few short rock patches required walking, the snow was mostly continuous from the summit to just below treeline at 11,700’. From there, she hiked back to the trailhead, tired though excited to celebrate with pizza and ice cream in Breckenridge, before heading home to brag to her mom and younger brother about her accomplishment. After all, who says one has to be an adult to be a true ski mountaineer?