Weekend study breaks and 14ers: Meet Chris Aguirre

IMG_4621Chris Aguirre

Hometown: Chandler, AZ

Undergrad: Arizona State University

Fun fact: I can eat an entire Costco pizza faster than I can run a mile.

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When I first moved to Colorado, I was overwhelmed with how many new things this state had to offer and couldn’t wait to start trying things. Top of my bucket list: to summit one of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners.

I was born and raised in the hot-basking blaze of Phoenix, Arizona where the highest peak in the valley is an enormous 2,610 feet. Just imagining being over 14,000 feet above sea level has a certain “aww” factor to it. So, one October weekend some of us 2018ers headed out to the wilderness (just outside of Breckenridge) to camp out and then climb Quandary’s peak.

Our trek began around 8am and the steep ascent began almost immediately. The path was well traveled and very easy to follow up; with the little hiking experience I had, I began thinking that if the whole way up was like this, I was in for an easy morning! The sun was shining, the temperature was awesome, tall green pines surrounded me, and my brand new hiking boots were feeling great. This feeling lasted for about 30 minutes. The elevation quickly got to me and I found myself feeling out-of-breath like the out-of-shape college grad I was.

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All morning, our classmate, Paul, had been leading the group super fast. It was pretty perfect that we started calling Paul a mountain goat and, after we reached the saddle, we saw an actual mountain goat chilling on the mountain.IMG_4627

The great thing about being so high up was that the view kept becoming more and more unbelievable as we continued. This meant many “scenic breaks” and I was a-okay with that—it gave me a chance to catch my breath.

As we ascended above the tree line level the trail became very rocky. The wind had also started to pick up; it was getting pretty cold and hard to climb. We reached the saddle and all gathered around to talk about if we should continue with the hike. There were numerous people coming back down from the summit who were saying the winds at the top were 60+ mph and pretty dangerous. None of us really wanted to end our first 14er early, though, so we continued trekking.

The last 300 feet to the summit was difficult, but as soon as we reached the top, the view was remarkable…remarkably cold and windy. We quickly jumped into a divot surrounded by rocks to try and break some of the wind around us and avoid being blown off the mountain. Luckily, there were two other people at the summit who were nice enough to take the typical candid picture of our group at the top.

We almost immediately started to descend back down the mountain after a few great pictures so we could escape the wind and start to feel our faces again. On the way down it dawned on me that we had just made it to 14,265 feet!  We got back down to our cars and then—of course—had to stop for celebratory pizza and beer on the way home.

It is so surreal that these gigantic mountains are now right in my backyard. I think the coolest part about moving to Colorado (besides the great PT program, classmates, and faculty) is how many different places there are too explore.

What makes it even better is having classmates who share similar interests in and outside of the classroom and are always excited to try new things. Good luck to all of you on your interviews! Relax, be yourself, and hope to see you next year!

 

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