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Meet Our Ambassadors: Kate Gress

Kate Gress, 14er conqueror, Akinz ambassador. Kate climbed her first 14er in 2013, and just completed 58/58 of Colorado’s 14,000 ft mountains at the end of August, 2020! We’re inspired by her motivation and dedication to finish her long-time goal. She brings the same passion in helping us spread the Akinz motto in her every day life.

I was born, raised and currently reside in Fort Collins, Colo. I spent my first year out of high school in Winter Park CO, and a handful of my college years in Seattle WA, but Fort Collins will always be home. ❤️

Q. What’s your spirit animal?

A. “Oh this is a tough one! My favorite animal is without a doubt a buffalo, but given the amount of time I spend in the mountains, I suppose it makes most sense to liken myself to a mountain goat — something shifts in me the second I get to the scramble-y part of a mountain. It’s second nature and I feel at home, I feel like I belong there. Mountain goats live in the places I am happiest and most myself.”

My personal resolution for summer 2018 was to hike one 14er a week regardless of my ability to find company.

One Memorable Moment

“Mount Yale was my first solo-hiking (plus the pup) experience. I set off for the trailhead in May 2018. My personal resolution for summer 2018 was to hike one 14er a week regardless of my ability to find company. I tried desperately to find someone to accompany me on Mount Yale, but my last minute planning put my resolution to the test.

Trailhead

So, I put my car in drive, arrived at the trailhead late-evening and slept in the back of my car with my dog. I admittedly didn’t even own my own tent at the time. I set off in the dark and combatted my discomfort by listening to an audiobook as loudly as my phone speaker would play (my rational being any unwelcome nearby animal or person, would hear voices and leave me alone).

The Summit

When I arrived at the summit a few hours later, I met three fellow solo-hikers. We spent nearly an hour up there together and I’ve since hiked multiple mountains with each of them and kept in touch with all three of them to this day. I count them amongst my closest friends. That trip pushed me out of my comfort zone. It challenged me mentally, emotionally and physically. It brought me three of my favorite adventure companions and it taught me to be okay with solo-adventure — something that will never be my first choice given my extroverted nature, but something that I’ve learned to be thankful I’m okay with.

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Akinz Ambassador Kate Gress’ Goals and Dreams

  • One of my current, biggest, endeavors is summiting all of Colorado’s mountains over 14,000ft “14ers”. Kate achieved this earlier this year, congratulations, Kate! 🎉
    • Some sub-goals surrounding that big goal are to finish all four of the “grand traverses” and to summit a 14er every month of the year — currently missing April.
  • I’ve dabbled a bit in thru-hiking and have a few bigger thru-hikes on my radar for the upcoming years.
  • I’d also love to become more well-versed in avalanche preparation / knowledge and winter mountaineering, potentially join a ski-patrol team someday, especially given my paramedic background. We’ll see where all of that leads. 🙃
  • Oh and obtaining my fixed-wing pilots license and learning to surf are dreams of mine, too. Bring it on!!

Thank you, Kate!

We’re so proud of your determination and love for the outdoors! We can’t wait to see what challenge you take on next.