Tackling one tough piece of real estate
Special to the Post Independent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Piper Fairbanks is convinced her mom leads a double life.
Her mother, Mogli Fairbanks, is known around Glenwood Springs as a businesswoman, community servant and mom. But that’s not all she is, said Piper.
“Everyone sees her as very professional,” said Piper. “And no one sees the outdoorsy, dedicated person she is.”
Mogli Fairbanks recently summited 22,841-foot Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, and most people who know her are none the wiser, said Piper.
“She’s not one to come out and say, ‘Oh, do you want to see my slides of the hike?'” said Piper, a 20-year-old student in Fort Collins. “She just says she’s out of town; she doesn’t say that she’s climbing a mountain.”
Fairbanks is modest about her mountaineering accomplishments.
“A 20-year-old kid thinks her mother did something outrageous ” can you believe it?” she said.
A modest mountaineer
In January, Fairbanks went to Argentina to climb Aconcagua to mark her 50th birthday.
“It was my 50th birthday present to myself,” she said. “It was now or never.”
Fairbanks has been in Glenwood Springs since 1976 and is a partner in The Property Shop on Grand Avenue.
Fairbanks first started taking big mountaineering and hiking trips in the early 1990s. In the past 14 years she has hiked across the Alps from east to west, climbed 19,340-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, trekked through the country of Bhutan in Asia, and made a previous attempt on Aconcagua.
Fairbanks’ first try on the mountain was unsuccessful because she and her group were turned back by weather.
Her most recent attempt was quite a challenge. She went on the trip through a guide service and took a different, longer route up the mountain.
The Guanacos Valley Route has a 35-mile approach. For the first week of the 16-day climb Aconcagua is not even visible, said Fairbanks.
When she finally saw the mountain for the first time she thought, “My God! You must be nuts if you think I am going up this thing.”
“It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my whole life,” Fairbanks said.
‘When it mattered, I was perfect’
Fairbanks trained for four months to get ready for the climb, and a week before she left, it looked as if all Fairbanks’ training might go to waste.
Fairbanks became sick and was diagnosed with a form of asthma just before she was scheduled to leave.
She went to see a doctor, and “they pumped me up with everything they had.”
Then when Fairbanks arrived in Argentina she found that the airline had lost her luggage. She started the trek with just the jeans, jacket, and a pair of clogs she had worn on the plane.
Fairbanks rented a sleeping bag for the first three days of the trip and relied on fellow climbers for clothes.
Despite the asthma and lost baggage, she said “when it mattered, I was perfect.” She made the summit.
From 22,841 feet
From the last camp to the summit is an eight-hour, round-trip climb that includes 3,000 vertical feet of climbing. The final climb to the summit involves “the most grueling hours,” said Fairbanks.
At the summit Fairbanks called her daughter, Piper, from a satellite phone and left a message on the answering machine. She also called her son, Tate, and got to talk to him.
“At that point you are very emotional; at least I was,” said Fairbanks. “And I cried.”
Of the nine climbers on Fairbanks’ trip, only four made the summit. And of those four, three were over 50, she said. The five climbers who didn’t make the summit were all 30 to 42 years old.
“The young ones are exuberant at the beginning of the trip, and it got the better of them,” said Fairbanks.
Despite the joy of reaching the summit and sense of accomplishment, Fairbanks compared the climb to giving birth. She swears she doesn’t want to climb another mountain any time soon.
“I was at the end of my rope after two weeks in a tent,” she said.
For now Fairbanks jokes about enjoying the benefits of joining AARP instead of climbing mountains.
“You get all those discounts at hotels and things.”
Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 534
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