On August 3, 2019 Kent Beverly made climbing history by becoming the fifth Grand Junction native to climb all 637 thirteeners in Colorado.
The last one on his list was Dome Mountain which was 13,370 feet in elevation, which put the cherry on top to his 45 years of climbing.
It was very exciting and one of the happiest days of my life. I’ll remember it forever.”Kent Beverly
“There were a lot of challenges and there were times where I thought, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get this done.’ But you just keep going at it and eventually you get it done,” Beverly added.
Kent also said that it is somewhat of a relief that he is done, because now he can go explore other mountain ranges.
Luckily, Kent had a lot of support. In the last 13er to cross off the insanely long list, he had friends and family to support him, along with his climbing partner of over 20 years, Mark Schmalz, to be there for his special moment.
“He was working on the 13ers, so I went with him and he finished about seven years ago,” Beverly said. “Around that time I was down to about 100 left and I thought I can finish in a few years.”
Mark joined the ‘637’ club in 2011, as he started ‘the list’ in 1980. During their partnership, Mark and Kent have climbed over 200 peaks together and have created an everlasting bond.
“A lot of backpacks, hard trips, and long long days,” Schmalz said. “You really bond when you’re on a beautiful peak and you’re seeing country very few people have seen.”
Although Mark climbed the ‘637’ first, Kent was actually climbing peaks before, but wasn’t tackling the list.
“I didn’t start working on that specific list until around 10 years ago.” Beverly said.
Through the years, the two have conquered some of the most challenging and beautiful mountains the Centennial state has to offer. But, they both like climbing for their own reasons.
“I enjoyed the challenge. That was the biggest thing,” Kent said. “You set yourself a goal, keep working towards it, and eventually you get it accomplished.”
“I always wanted to see the view on that peak and that peak,” Mark said. “As soon as you start viewing some of these remote places you start looking at new mountains and you go, ‘Wow, I wonder what it’s like from over there.’ That’s part of it, the beauty is unsurpassed.”
There’s no question that these two have an obsession and love for the mountains. For both, the spark was partially started by their fathers.
Mark didn’t start getting into serious climbing until he was 18-years-old. However, his dad was a mailman for Red Mountain Pass for over 30 years which sparked the passion.
“I rode over Red Mountain Pass hundreds of times and I knew by the time I was five or six I wanted to climb that mountain and that mountain and that mountain.”
Kent has been climbing with his dad ever since he was old enough. The first peak he climbed was Ruby Peak (12,644 feet) when he was just seven-years-old with his dad.
“He grew up in Steamboat Springs, he started backpacking when he was a teenager,” Kent said. “He and his brother made backpacks out of canvas and wood. They would sow two blankets together for sleeping bags.”
In 1950 Kent’s father founded the Westernslope group of the Colorado Mountain club to help spread his love of the mountains with everyone.
“He had a real strong love of climbing and to present that to other people and take them along,” Beverly added. “He led dozens, maybe hundreds of trips in the mountains. That’s when I fell in love with the mountains.”
Kent climbed his first 14er (Mt. Sneffels 14,150 feet) with his dad when he was 12. It’s obvious that he’s had the climbing bug since he was young and that only grew.
What people might not know is that 98 percent of the 13ers in Colorado don’t have a trail. Thus, making the experience more dangerous, but the accomplishment that much more rewarding. That’s why there have only been about 38 total people to climb all 637 13ers.
Kent: “When people ask me that question I ask them, ‘what’s the best movie you’ve ever seen?’ It’s hard for me to pick out my favorite 13er. I guess if I had to I would have to say Pigeon Peak.”
Mark: “I would say Golden Horn over by Silverton because it was my boyhood dream to climb it. It’s not a hard climb, but it looks spectacular and it’s been a goal since I was small.”
Most Dangerous 13er?
Kent: “I would have to say Lizard Head Peak. it’s considered to be the hardest peak over 13,000 feet in the state. It’s a technical climb, it takes ropes and it’s rated 5A for climbers.”
Mark: “I think everyone would say Lizard Head. It’s a major backpack to get into. It’s a day or two away from any help if something should go wrong.”
Why Grand Junction is the Best for Climbing?
Kent: “It’s one of the best, cause it’s really good access. 262 peaks above 13,000 feet just in the San Juan Mountains, which is more than a third in the entire state, so we live in a great area.”