After 24 months, 48 descents, and one avalanche scare, 26-year-old Sean Crossen is finally within striking distance of climbing and skiing all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks.
The Denver-based ski mountaineer had originally planned to take one year to complete what he calls "the Quest," a mission he kicked off in December 2001, but poor snow conditions and daunting organizational hurdles brought the mission back down to reality. "The logistics are exhausting," Crossen says. "I crash at a trailhead after work on Friday, sleep for four hours, hit a couple peaks, and get back home at dark. I couldn't do it if my wife wasn't psyched for me."
Not everyone is pulling for Crossen. Soon after Skiing first reported on the Quest ("The Infinite Yo-Yo," November, 2002), he split with his 25-year-old skiing cohort, Brandon Clifford. A scheduling argument cracked their partnership and at press time the two hadn't talked in months. Clifford has since fallen off of Crossen's pace and moved to San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Crossen hasn't lost a step, hammering away at 21 more summits with an impressive roster of top-notch freeskiers that includes Chris Davenport and Wendy Fisher. Now, only six descents away from joining Lou Dawson—who literally wrote the book on Colorado ski mountaineering—in the unofficial fourteener hall of fame, Crossen's Quest is almost in the bag. So far, his only stumble was a minor slide on 14,309-foot Uncompahgre while skiing with Fisher. But he still has one of America's toughest objectives in front of him: knife-edged, 60-degree Capital Peak. He plans to scout it for the second time this month. "I've climbed a lot of them three times," says Crossen. "You kind of have relationships with the mountains. I hope my wife's not jealous."