Piper Musmanno’s been exploring Colorado’s fourteeners for several years now, and she’s just about summited them all. Piper’s not one to go up the easy way, either. She chooses the exciting routes. Piper recently completed the traverse between the Maroon Bells. Well known for its extreme beauty as well as its challenging terrain, this route in the Elk range offers a scenic , steep snow climb followed by some tricky route finding up fourth class rock to the first summit. At this point the fun is only part way through. The traverse offers exposure and more route finding followed by continuing to stitch one’s way down through more challenging rocky geometry back down to the finale of a beautiful alpine meadow.
While Piper is a strong mountaineer and climber, she has faced a few of her own challenges to reaching her climbing goals. Last — Piper took a lead fall resulting in a badly broken leg. The injury might’ve delayed her progress, but it did not deter her spirit. As many of us know, the steepest terrain does not always present in the geographical topography, but often, surmounting our own emotional hurdles offers the greatest challenge.” Overcoming the mental aspect has been the hardest part of my recovery. I am slowly gaining confidence back in myself and my body.”
Mental fortitude goes a long way in climbing and mountaineering. One must have the ability to stare down her fears as well as retain an unerring belief that her body will see her through the rough spots. Consistent work on technique is also a given, but the ability to believe in one’s own strength can (and will) save the day. After Piper’s hip gave out, leading to having her hip resurfaced in June 2007, Piper faced a steady, long road to physical recovery. Following this up with a lead fall and subsequent broken leg has forced Piper to be more mindful than ever as she recovers her physical and mental strength. “I can no longer just run all night if I need to get out of bad situations… I’ve gotten much more skilled and better w/ maps, decision making and general mountain skills to keep myself from getting in bad spots.”
Knowing what it’s taken for Piper to continue to reach her climbing goals is inspirational. When you meet Piper climbing with Chicks, you’d think she’s just like you- and she is- (with an exceptional amount of mental fortitude) as well as a few extra metal pieces helping to hold her together.