Reflections on My Tenure as Chair

In looking back at my involvement with the CMC, which started about 10 years ago upon my full retirement from Colorado State University (CSU), I realize that this transition was the perfect match for my interests. I have always loved the outdoors and nearly all the forms of recreation to be had in our mountains.

I have always enjoyed sharing mountain adventures with like-minded folks.

So within a year of joining CMC, I found myself becoming a trip leader, taking the Basic Mountaineering Course, and hiking with more experienced trip leaders. Within a few more years, I got to know some of the Group’s most experienced mountaineers, such as Steve Martin, Gordan Thibedeau, Kevin Willey, John Raich, and a few others. These gentlemen became, in effect, my mentors. Largely through them, my knowledge and confidence increased to the point of finding interest in helping with courses, clinics, and leading more adventuresome trips. Then, almost 4 years ago, I was asked about serving as Chair.

Becoming Chair of our Group felt surprisingly comfortable, perhaps in part because I experienced four years as a Department Chair at CSU. In retrospect though, I think it was mostly the quality of the people who served on the Council during my tenure. They did most of the required work in their respective areas of responsibility, and they did so with passion and competence. Don Carpenter, the Past Chair, helped me a great deal, especially in the earlier part of my journey. Not surprisingly, these people virtually all became solid friends, not only with me, but also with my wife April. She was always there to help host the Council meetings, all of which were held at our home (we have quiet, and a big table!).

Our Group Council’s efforts during the past three years were mostly focused on trying to serve the Fort Collins membership.

This involved a survey to better-understand what members most value & expect from the club, training new leaders, encouraging trips in all seasons, offering relevant courses & clinics on outdoor information/skills, improving communications, and offering programs of interest. I believe that we were reasonably successful in each of these areas, and I felt good about the specifics that we were able to report at each of our three annual reports to the membership. Our Group has been able to maintain a reasonable cushion in our bank account and to maintain our membership of about 300 individuals. I’m pleased to note my strong belief that our Group has earned increased visibility with CMC at the State level. We have worked, especially with Scott Robson, Executive Director, and other professional CMC staff to address various issues that affect all groups. I was quite surprised and pleased that Matt Biscan, CMC President, took the time to attend our Annual Dinner Program last November.

Perhaps my greatest single joys as Chair were our successful nominations of two of our more senior Group members, John Raich and Steve Martin, for the two highest awards offered by the CMC.

In 2016, John Raich received the Carl Blaurock Silver Piton Award for Volunteerism. John has a very long and active record of giving his time and extensive mountaineering knowledge to others, which for over 50 years he has and continues to do. Then, in 2017, Steve Martin received the Albert Ellingwood Golden Ice Axe Award for Mountaineering Achievement. Steve has successfully climbed lists upon lists of mountain summits all over the U.S. and around the world, and has led & mentored many others in their mountaineering quests. What a thrill this was for two close friends & mentors to be so-recognized. To my knowledge, these awards represent a “first” for our Group.

Challenges remain for our Group, but I’m totally confident that our new Chair, Gordan Thibedeau, and the 2018 Council will meet them head-on and successfully lead us into the next chapter. I believe Gordan is the perfect person for our Chair at this time because of his extensive experience in mountaineering, administration, proven leadership ability, and who he is as a person. Of course, things like maintaining membership, offering more trips, meeting needs for educational offerings on mountain knowledge/skills, generating high-quality programs, and using resources wisely, always remain as our basic needs. Emerging challenges for all the groups of CMC are questions involving competency & wilderness first aid certifications for leaders & instructors, fees for courses, and permits to teach courses on public lands. Such issues are becoming more complex & demanding, and due partly to liability risks, rapid growth of Colorado’s population, increasing pressures for outdoor recreation, and funding shortages facing public lands agencies such as the National Forest Service and the National Parks.

I want to finish by sincerely thanking all those who contributed to our successes during the past three years, including council members, trip leaders, course & program directors and instructors.

 

Photo © April Whicker

Ward is a trip leader with, and the past chair of, the Fort Collins group and a contributor to the newsletter.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. you will be missed as our fearless leader. Thanks for sharing your wonderful, cozy cabin in the mountains with the club over the years. Jeanne Patton

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