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Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues, May 20-23, 2017 B-7 The Park Record Elsie Weiss climbs and skis Colorado peak with help from her school’s mentor program AUSTIN COLBERT Aspen Times Weekly BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — The temperature at the trailhead was colder than 11-year-old Elsie Weiss thought it would be. According to her journal, it was about 20 degrees at 7:20 a.m. on a late April morning as she and her three companions set off in search of the 14,265-foot summit of Quandary Peak, near Breckenridge. The group hiked in for about a mile before beginning to skin up the highest peak in the Tenmile Range. About 200 feet later, they were above the tree line, and later, after a ﬁnal, grueling 1,000-foot climb, the sixth-grader at Aspen Middle School accomplished what few her age have: She summited one of Colorado’s infamous 14ers on skis. “It seemed like the mountain kept growing and growing and we’d never get to the top, but we ﬁnally did,” Elsie wrote in her journal. Finding a mentor While the ascent of Quandary took Elsie about three and a half hours, the real journey to the top began almost a year prior. Like any Aspen sixth-grader, Elsie was to take part in the school’s mentor program, which pairs a student with an adult mentor in a ﬁeld of the mentee’s choosing. Elsie, a quiet but adventurous girl, wanted to learn about ski mountaineering. And who better to turn to than Aspen’s own Christy Mahon. “The mountains are kind of that common element that bring people together with so much joy and awe and respect. I think that’s gotten into Elsie’s blood a little bit,” said Elsie’s mother, Rebecca Weiss. Mahon and her husband, Ted Mahon, are two of the valley’s most accomplished ski mountaineers. Among her accomplishments is being credited as the ﬁrst woman to ski each of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. Ski mountaineering is no small project, and not anyone can successfully navigate an 11-year-old up a 14,000-foot mountain. But Mahon isn’t anyone. Getting a head start Many students don’t ﬁnd a mentor until the fall of their sixthgrade year. Elsie approached Mahon in May 2016. By June 3, the two had successfully climbed and skied one of Colorado’s 13,000foot peaks as practice. Being in the mountains wasn’t new to Elsie. She had hiked a handful of 14ers during the summer. Mahon and Elsie continued to train during the summer and fall. In September, they summited Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia — both 14ers in the Sawatch Range just northwest of Buena Vista — in one go. As Rebecca put it, “When you do something with Christy, you don’t just go and do it. You really do it.” “We wanted to pick something that was one step beyond and that would be good training up at altitude for a long day, knowing that’s what ski mountaineering is,” Mahon said. “Elsie did great. A lot of what we’ve been practicing is doing something that really pushes you and then ﬁguring out that you can do anything you want to put your mind to.” The overachievers The mentor program requires students to put in 30 hours toward the project. When Elsie submitted her ﬁnal log earlier this month, she had recorded 96.25 hours over nearly 12 months. Few can keep up with Mahon’s own overachieving mentality, but she might have met her match with Elsie. Training for Quandary — which was the ﬁnal exam, so to speak, of their project — went beyond ﬁtness. Elsie and Mahon met with Greg Shaffran, a member of Mountain Rescue Aspen, and learned about avalanche safety. They’d go early to Buttermilk and practice using crampons and ice axes. Elsie became familiar with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and would read the daily snow reports. She read “Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills,” assigned to her by Mahon, a book considered to be the go-to source for learning the ins and outs of ski mountaineering. Elsie said she learned two major concepts from Mahon: To always “be prepared” and to “always go.” Both were important to successfully reach the top of Quandary. One last test On April 22, Austin Weiss, Elsie and Mahon traveled to Breckenridge, where they stayed with an acquaintance who decided to become the fourth member of the crew as they set out to get Elsie up Quandary. One of the ﬁrst 14ers Mahon skied was Quandary, which she did in 2000 with Ted Mahon, then just her boyfriend. She said it “opened up her world,” and it was an experience she wanted Elsie to have, as well. “It’s almost like these little cycles of life,” Mahon said. “Being able to show Elsie that the beneﬁts come from sometimes really pushing yourself.” Elsie was more than prepared to conquer her ﬁrst 14er on skis. The foursome got up and then skied down Quandary in less than ﬁve hours, although Elsie admitted it wasn’t easy. “There was one big climb, then a bench, and then the ﬁnal climb of 1,000 feet,” Elsie wrote in her journal. “The slope was steep and we had to make switchbacks. The wind was cranking on the ridge. “I remember Christy telling me that when she isn’t sure she feels like doing an adventure, she tells herself, ‘Always go!’And she never regrets that she went. I felt like that with Quandary, too. My key to success is ‘the motivation of the other side.’ You cannot see what is on the other side of the peak, so if you keep wondering what is on the other side, it keeps you going.” Just the beginning The program ofﬁcially wrapped up Tuesday with the mentorship fair, where the students tried to summarize their experience on a large piece of trifold cardboard. This was almost more difﬁcult for Elsie than skiing Quandary, as the program gave her more than she could have ever wanted. But more than making a major impression on Elsie’s young life, it’s something Mahon won’t easily forget, either. “This mentorship was really fun for me to almost put on a different hat where I was able to share what I’ve been able to learn and what the mountains and my mentors have been teaching me,” Mahon said. “You see this mentorship snowballing and touching everybody. What starts as a small school assignment turns life changing for everyone involved.” The two plan to ski at least one 14er together a year until Elsie graduates from high school, but it’s a friendship that is likely to last a lifetime. “I just really like Christy,” Elsie said. “She is always smiling and laughing and is really fun to be around.” 4200 North 400 West Oakley, UT 84055 435-783-5575 SOME OF THE PETS AT NUZZLES & CO. LOOKING FOR LOVE These animals are available to be seen at the Nuzzles & Co. Adoption Center and Rescue Ranch. Our Adoption Center is open Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is located in the Tanger Outlets in Kimball Junction. Our Rescue Ranch is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 pm., and closed Sunday. The Rescue Ranch is located at 6466 N. Highview Road in Peoa. Sandy Goggles Liesl Sophie Sandy is a sweet 3-year-old female pit bull terrier mix. She has lots of love to give. Sandy would do best in a moderately active household. She needs some basic obedience training and reinforcement but is eager to learn and eager to please. Goggles is a very sweet 4-yearold Great Pyrenees mix. He may be a little shy when he ﬁrst meets someone but warms up quickly. He would be great as the only pet in the home. He’s dog selective, so a proper introduction with other dogs is essential. Liesl is a friendly 18-month-old pit bull terrier mix who is looking for an active home where she can let loose and have fun. She is young, energetic and smart. She loves to play. Liesl will need a conﬁdent owner who is willing to continue training with her. Sophie is a 7-year-old lab mix who loves to spend time with people. She enjoys going for walks and loves to be outside. She may be a senior by dog standards, but is energetic and has a zest for life. Sophie would be a wonderful addition to an active family. ZigZag Snuffy Batman Samurai ZigZag is a friendly and snuggly 3-year-old domestic shorthair. This handsome tabby and white boy loves to love. He gets along well with other cats and loves to groom and cuddle. He loves warm laps and naps in the sun. ZigZag is a total sweetheart. Snuffy is a handsome, loving tabby and white domestic shorthair. He’s about 11 years old, and would love to ﬁnd a forever home where he can be someone’s best friend. He loves attention and is happiest wherever his people are. This sweet boy is a total lovebug. Say hello to our resident superhero! Batman is a dark, handsome 4-year-old domestic shorthair. Luckily, he doesn’t have the same brooding personality as his namesake; he’s very friendly and loves to relax in the sun. He also gets along with other cats. Samurai is a sweet and curious 1-year-old domestic shorthair. She has a gorgeous patch tabby and white coat, and sparkling green eyes. Samurai would be happiest as the only pet in her home, but she promises to love you as much as 10 pets would. Searching for new things to do? WANTED: VOLUNTEERS These organizations are looking for volunteers. If you would like to include your group in this section, please email information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please limit your entry to no more than 75 words. The Christian Center of Park City The Christian Center is looking for volunteers with a passion for helping the community. Open six days a week, the center needs volunteers (ages 16 and older) to help in the food pantry, boutique store and thrift store, and with seasonal events throughout the year. Fill out an online volunteer application at www.ccofpc.org or contact the center’s volunteer coordinator at 435-649-2260, ext. 15. EATS Park City EATS Park City is dedicated to working with the school district and community to improve the school lunch program using education as the foundation for change. School volunteers are needed to help with programs such as lunchtime taste tests, cooking classes and community events. Give an hour a week or a few hours a month to support interesting and fun ways to increase Park City children’s healthy habits. Contact email@example.com to get involved. Girl Scouts As a volunteer with a Girl Scout troop, you’ll introduce girls to new experiences that make every day feel like the best day ever. At every turn you’ll be their cheerleader, guide and mentor, helping them develop the skills and conﬁdence that will last long after the meetings are over. For information, visit http://www.gsutah.org/en/ volunteer-role-model.html or call Heather Smith at 801-716-5109. Guide Dogs for the Blind Guide Dogs for the Blind needs puppy raisers and sitters. Volunteers provide a nurturing, well-rounded social environment for puppies 8 weeks old to 15 months. Guide Dogs for the Blind supports raisers and sitters with organized weekly training and socialization meetings. Basic equipment and complete veterinary care is provided for puppies while with their raisers. Meetings are Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Park City/Heber areas. Contact Stefanie at 435-657-0760 for meeting locations or questions. You can also visit Facebook/SummitGuideDogs or www.guidedogs.com. Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties Habitat for Humanity invites you to build sustainable, healthy and affordable housing as a ReStore volunteer. Do you love to tinker and ﬁx things? Find treasures? Are you looking for a regular volunteer opportunity that is fun and makes a lasting difference for local families? Immediate opportunities include cashier, merchandising and customer ambassador roles. For information, call 435-658-1400 or visit habitat-utah.org. For a full list of volunteer opportunities visit parkrecord.com/volunteers. You don’t have to work this hard. Check out the calendar in Scene for local music, events and more!