Family conquers Colorado’s 14ers
Linsay and Ryan Shirley are always up for an adventure, whether it is traveling the world, riding roller coasters at amusement parks, or hiking and camping near Colorado’s high peaks. Shortly after getting married in 1998, Linsay’s dad, Steve Williams, took the newlyweds to hike Mount Sherman, one of Colorado’s 58 mountains more than 14,000 feet in elevation (commonly known as 14ers.) “That got us hooked,” recalled Ryan. “That started this whole thing.”
In the first few years of their marriage, the couple was able to complete several 14ers along the Front Range. Sometimes, they even summited multiple mountains in the same day.
“Ryan’s goal was to finish all the 14ers before we started a family. My clock was ticking,” explained Linsay Shirley. “We weren’t going to finish them all before I got pregnant.”
Linsay took a break when she was expecting their daughter, Jaidyn, who is now 17 years old. Ryan climbed a few mountains without Linsay, but he went back and repeated them when Linsay was ready to get back at it.
“He did them again so I could be on track with him. We have always completed the 14ers together,” Linsay shared.
When she was young, Jaidyn would stay with her grandparents for the weekend when Ryan and Linsay traveled. This year, Jaidyn joined her parents and completed her first 14er at Culebra Peak, which is the only one in Colorado on private land and requires reservations.
“We agree that might have been our favorite to date just because all three of us did it together,” said Linsay. This summer, the Shirleys traveled to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro before returning home to reach another milestone. “We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and finished our 50th 14er to cap off the end of a cool summer of high peaks,” Linsay said.
“Now we are at 50 and only have eight left. The goal is in sight,” said Ryan. “Pikes Peak will be our last one. We will celebrate with family up there. I think Linsay will be like, ‘we’re finally done.’”
Aside from hiking, the family enjoys playing tennis and pickleball. Ryan also plays soccer.
The Shirleys have lived in The Village at Castle Pines for more than 10 years.
“We would not trade living in Castle Pines for anything. It is beautiful. We love our street, we love our neighbors and all the amenities. I cannot say anything negative about this area,” Linsay said.
Ryan is a partner at a CPA and consulting firm. Linsay works from home doing chemical sales with her father-in-law. Jaidyn is a senior at Rock Canyon High School and is the varsity cheer captain and on the tennis team.
As Ryan and Linsay get closer to reaching their goal of climbing all of Colorado’s 14ers, Ryan jokes with Linsay that her dad is to be blame for sparking his interest in hiking.
“Your dad started all of this. It’s all his fault,” laughed Ryan.
All kidding aside, the couple has created lifelong memories exploring parts of Colorado they would not have seen otherwise, and they have learned a few things along the way.
“It takes a lot of effort to get up that mountain. That’s no different than in life. You have to keep pushing forward to get to the top,” concluded Ryan.
By Mindy Stone, photos courtesy of Linsay and Ryan Shirley