Natalie Lewis, owner of the local package and shipping business Mailboxes, has successfully summited all of Colorado’s 14ers. Beginning with Mount Yale in 1982, she just recently reached the top of the Maroon Bells peaks, completing all 53 of the climbs listed on 14ers.com along with several sub-peaks.

Lewis moved to Buena Vista in the early 1980s to work as a wrangler at a local summer camp. She started dating her future husband, Bobby, who accompanied her on her first summit.

“That was Yale, was her first when she came out to be a summer camp counselor. We started dating that year. I’ve been a mountain guide here locally since ‘82,” he said.

Over the next few summers, she hiked one or two peaks a year on days off as a fun way to spend time with friends. Somewhere along the way the climbing bug stuck and it became a desire to climb all of Colorado’s 14ers.

“It was sort of just a fun thing to do for a long time,” Lewis said.

She said it was really just in the past few summers that completing the collection occurred to her as a possibility and became a priority. Everything came together this season.

“We did the last four peaks this summer. Miraculously, I was able to peak each in one try,” she said.

Having gotten to the top of all of them, which stood out in her mind?

“Capital really stands out.”

Although Capital Peak ranks near the bottom in elevation among 14ers, the standard route is very difficult and exposed.

“It was a really remarkable experience to spend the day patiently working at something that was equally mental as it was physical. Just being patient, being thoughtful, being careful, being attentive, and then being successful. That was really a treasure.”

Lewis said patience, caution, and proper planning prevented her from ever experiencing major emergencies in the backcountry.

Part of the patience is knowing you won’t always get to summit, she said.

“Long ago I remember it took me three or four tries to peak Holy Cross.”

Other outdoor recreational highlights for Lewis were through-hiking the Continental Divide Trail with her kids in 2006 and paddling the Inside Passage from Puget Sound to Glacier Bay in 2017 and 2018.

Does she still hear the call of the mountains? Are 13ers next?

“Maybe. I mean certainly there’s the Centennial—the top 100 peaks in CO that include lots of the 13ers. I obviously have more than half of them already done. Some of those are pretty technical, so who knows?” she said.

Overall she said the summits and the checklists are secondary.

“It’s to be out in the backcountry—whether or not we’re successful on a peak—to be out in the beauty and grandeur of these wild spaces we have in this country.”

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