Jay Willmott has set his goals pretty high. He has been climbing his way to the top of at least 23 peaks around Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet.
“It just became like the obvious goal (to) try and climb them,” Willmott said.
Willmott calls what he does mountaineering. There are 58 peaks in Colorado he wants to climb before he ventures out climbing others in the lower 48, he said.
“It’s definitely a unique brand of hiking,” Willmott said.
Of the many climbs Willmott has ventured on, his favorite, he says, is the first mountain he climbed in 2016, Longs Peak (14,259 feet). Willmott said this is the deadliest mountain in Colorado.
“That was really my introduction to this whole scene,” he said. “I had been working for search and rescue at the national parks in California and was on my way back to Kentucky. Stopped off in Colorado and heard about this giant mountain. So I ended up spending two days on it. The last day being a 20-hour day and summited it. And then after that I came back to Kentucky.”
Since 2018, Willmott has been with the Denver Fire Department. Now that he is there he has been “getting after it” with climbing the peaks in Colorado, he said.
Before a climb Willmott plans his routes in advance.
“My process, I’ll normally start researching a mountain about a week before I actually go climb it,” Willmott said. “That’s when you choose your route. There’s established routes on all these mountains that people have done before.”
He makes sure to check weather windows.
“You don’t want any lightening or anything cause you’re gonna be up really high,” he said. “You find your weather window.”
He has withstood lightning storms and snowstorms during climbs in August, he said.
What attracted Willmott to the mountains was the obvious goal of mountain climbing, he said.
“The goal is, you want to get on top,” Willmott said. “Very stated, that’s the goal. It’s very obvious once you’ve accomplished that.
“‘I’m on top of the mountain.’ The goal, each one seems very tangible. Just approaching it that way has been really good.
“‘I know what I’m here to do. I’m here to get on top of this thing. Now, let’s go make it happen.’”
Willmott hopes to eventually climb Mount Whitney (14,494 feet), the tallest mountain in the United States outside of Alaska and Hawaii, he said. He has already climbed Mount Elbert (14,433 feet), the second highest peak in the lower 48.
“I also have my eyes on a bunch of international mountains,” he said.
Mount Fuji (12,388 feet), in Japan and Mont Blanc (15,781 feet), in France top that list, he said.
James Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.