“Kristine & I met through a mutual friend back in 2003 upon my move to Vail, CO, and went on our first of many unofficial rock climbing dates shortly afterwards. After years as good friends and climbing partners, we were planning our 2007 Denali climb and realized we were more than just friends. We started officially dating before Denali and after that trip went off without a hitch, we realized if we can spend 12 days in a tent and on a big mountain together after the first few months dating, we could likely get through anything together! Loving to both travel and climb and having climbed Denali, we both set our sights on climbing the fabled 7 summits together as a couple. I had climbed South America’s highest mountain, Aconcagua in Argentina, in January 2006 with two good friends while Kristine was visiting her sister in New Zealand, so obviously I would be going back to do it again with her. In fact, we are heading back there this coming December 2012! In 2008, we climbed Europe’s highest mountain, Mt. Elbrus in Russia, with two good friends as well, and on the plane ride home over the Atlantic, we were already scheming how we would go about getting the necessary funds to climb Mt. Everest, which was seeminly the biggest hurdle by far in our 7 summits quest. In 2009, our good friends Caleb & Jennie Wray (www.calebwrayphotography.com) joined us on a European adventure through France while climbing Mont Blanc in the French Alps. Mont Blanc used to be considered Europe’s highest mountain and thus one of the 7 summits, though when Russia joined the European Union, Russia’s Elbrus which is almost 3,000′ higher than Mont Blanc, took the podium as Europe’s highest. Shortly after France, Kristine & I were married in Telluride, CO, on October 3, 2009 and had a wonderful celebration with friends & family in our favorite place on earth. 2010 was the big year in terms of making progress with the 7 summits because its the year we climbed Everest. Through wedding gifts, personal donations, and corporate sponsorships, we were able to raise enough capital for a fully supported yet unguided attempt at Everest from the south side in Nepal. We were so very fortunate to summit the highest mountain on earth on May 25, 2010. I organized a fun trek up Kilimanjaro in 2011 for Kristine, myself, and good friends of ours who were interested in joining us to the roof of Africa. Every member of our team summitted Kilimanjaro on August 14, 2011, on a cold yet splendid day. Kristine & I just returned from a wonderful trip to Australia where we were able to summit Australia’s highest mountain, Mt. Kosciuszko, on a rare sunny winter day. This puts me at 6 of the 7 summits and Kristine at 5. As previously mentioned, we are heading down to Argentina this December 2012 to climb Aconcagua together. The 7 summits finale will be on Mt. Vinson in Antarctica hopefully as early as Novemeber 2013; however, that totally depends on how much capital we can raise between the time we return from Argentina and the 10 months leading up to Antarctica. I’m hoping we will have a great team of friends including Caleb Wray, Rob Casserley, & Kevin Vann on this Antarctica trip with us.
Kristine and Brandon on the summit of Mt. Sneffels, CO (14,150′)
Aside from the 7 summits quest, Kristine & I just love adventuring & climbing in our local Colorado mountains and adjacent states. We’re always out trail running, climbing peaks, completing ridge traverses, rock climbing, mountaineering, and ski-mountaineering. Kristine completed climbing all of Colorado’s 55 14,000′ peaks, aka 14ers, on August 20, 2011 upon our return from Kilimanjaro – a feat I completed back on August 9, 2008. We’ve had climbing successes on numerous other continental US mountains such as Mt. Rainier, WA, via several routes, the Grand Teton, WY, via several routes, other Teton Range peaks, King’s Peak, Utah, Mt. Shasta, CA, Mt. Hood, OR, Mt. Adams, WA, Mt. Baker, WA, as well as El Pico de Orizaba in Mexico, North America’s 3rd highest peak.
As my good friend Caleb Wray said “blogs work well for people who do a lot of interesting things, and you guys fit that bill for sure.” I’ve never had a blog before, but feel it will be so fun not to tell people what we’re doing every day, but what adventures we’ve been up to as of late and future plans that may be in the works. Basically, up until now, we’ve just shared out adventures via emails and my picasa web albums. Now, it will be fun to relay our adventures first hand via the blog!”
- Brandon Chalk