Written by Joshua Baruch for Urban Conversion, April 2016
2016 celebrates the 100th anniversary of one of America’s greatest inventions: The formation of the National Park System. Many countries around the world used the idea of national parks, first started in the US, to preserve wild areas around the globe. National parks help protect unique biome communities and wildlife areas for generations to come. As the world’s population continues to rise each year, wild and intact outdoor areas will only become more scarce, valuable and important in the next 100 years.
The national park service celebrates its centennial birthday on August 25th, 2016 and everyone can take part in the celebration! I, Joshua Baruch, owner of Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides (CWRAG)– which in 2016 – CWRAG was awarded one of the new technical climbing, mountaineering, skiing, and education concessionaires for Rocky Mountain National Park by the National Park Service, will help celebrate the 100 year anniversary by doing something that has never been done in Colorado history; climb the 100 highest peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park in one year – 2016.
The idea was born in the summer of 2015, but actually had been in motion for the past 5 years as I have been pursuing challenges closer to home (Colorado). I used to travel the world but family, changing priorities and work severely shifted my availability for large global outdoor objectives. Turning 40 in 2015, I wanted a goal that would require commitment, be a journey rather than a destination and where the outcome was uncertain, but I would have the opportunity for success. After studying many lofty objectives and wanting to keep it in my home state, (like rafting of the Colorado River from source to sea), one idea rose above the rest that not only fit my criteria, but also would bring attention to something that meant a great deal to me – the preservation and understanding of the outdoors and how time spent outdoors improves our lives in so many ways. Thus, the idea of the “100 for 100” was born.
How about climbing the 100 highest peaks in my backyard: Rocky Mountain National Park?
Being a goal orientated person there is something rewarding about creating a project that is possible but would still require a certain amount of good fortune to succeed in addition to fortitude. I would be able to sleep in my own bed (a plus), but it would also be a journey where success is not guaranteed and I would need luck and good weather conditions at the right times to be successful. After a few months of studying maps, creating a timeline, talking to the national park service about their needs, I created a plan for accomplishing the goal of climbing the 100 highest peaks in RMNP in 2016 – the centennial anniversary, as a way to celebrate this national achievement.
In late December and early January I took my mother to Vietnam, for her 70th birthday, as she was a nurse during the Vietnam War, between 1967 – 1969. Upon returning to the US, it was time to start my journey to climb the 100 peaks which began on the mostly full moon night of January 27th, 2016 at 2 am.
After 1:15 hour drive and 5 plus hours of post-holing in 3 feet of sugary faceted snow (a.k.a. depth hoar), we were rewarded with our first success on this journey – the summit of Bighorn Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. What could be a more fitting way to begin this journey than to climb a peak named in honor of Colorado’s state animal – Bighorn Sheep.
Now I challenge you to come celebrate the centennial birthday of the National Park Service and do something big or small that honors this great American invention. Please follow me on my blog on http://www.coloradowildernessridesandguides.com
The NPS 100 for 100 Blog will be up in mid April, 2016 – when our new website is live. Also search for #NPS100for100 or #climbrmnp on twitter, Facebook, and instragram to follow my journey.
Joshua Baruch atop his first summit in Rocky Mountain National Park for 2016
Other articles written by Joshua Baruch: In the Footsteps of our Fathers