Altitude adjustment: The story behind the summit |

Altitude adjustment: The story behind the summit

Cassie Piper summits Mount Bierstadt with her sister Valerie Stafford and Stafford’s dog Darby.

Cassie Piper summits Mount Bierstadt with her sister Valerie Stafford and Stafford's dog Darby.

Everyone who has conquered 14,000-feet elevations has their reason — and their story — behind what brought motivated them to climb Colorado's tallest peaks.

And across Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley, it's not hard to find someone who has joined the 14er club.

Glenn and Corinne Sommerfeld's marriage has been shaped and defined by the 58 peaks in Colorado. They had their first date on a summit, with many more afterward.

"We climbed mountains together just so we could meet," Glenn said.

Their relationship took the big leap at 14,409 feet at the summit of Washington's Mount Rainier, where Glenn dropped to one knee and asked Corinne to marry him.

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Corinne said "yes" and has led the Sommerfelds' charge to the peaks in Colorado, beginning in 2006 with a goal to climb all of the state's 58 14ers.

The couple finished last year, completing as many as 22 in one summer.

The Sommerfelds' story is unique in its own right, but Routt County's borders are filled with many more.

Alpine Bank's Becky Statz has climbed 15 of Colorado's 14ers, trekking up with many hiking partners, including a host of first-timers.

Rebecca Smith has completed 13 summits but still considers herself a "newbie." Like most 14er regulars, Smith has found herself on a peak with a storm rolling through, once hiding out during a vicious lightning storm.

Doreen Young conquered Mount of the Holy Cross (14,005 feet) as her first 14er. Young instantly was hooked, she wrote in an email, planning her next ascent less than a week after her first climb.

Cassie Piper — who moved to Steamboat from Southern California's low elevation — has completed just three 14,000-foot peaks, an idea she took on as "the ultimate accomplishment."

Piper has snapped a photo at each summit with her husband — a more-than-common way to celebrate the climbs. The photos take on special meaning for her and her husband.

"Each photo we take above 14,000 feet is like a trophy," Piper wrote in an email.

And then there are the dead-serious climbers, like Brian Romig, who ascends 14ers as a hobby and a way of life.

Romig, the Routt County water commissioner, has climbed all 58 Colorado 14ers, documenting his journeys on spreadsheets, compiling data on elevation, distance traveled and time hiked.

Romig now has turned his attention to climbing the highest point in every state. He has completed 16 already.

But ascending all of Colorado's 58 gave Romig reason to celebrate in a special way.

At the top of his final ascent at Pikes Peak, one of the few Colorado 14ers that is extremely easy to get to by vehicle, his wife and son met him at the summit, and the family enjoyed a party for three at 14,110 feet. ▲

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