Mary Cronin, 1893-1982

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Woman Category: SportsWoman Tags: Athlete

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    Mary Cronin, 1893-1982

    The first woman to summit all of Colorado’s Fourteeners.

    Cronin was born in Denver, Colorado, to a working-class family. After graduating high school at 16, she began to work as an accounting clerk at Western Union, a job she held until her retirement. At the age of 27, she was bored and seeking new experiences, so on April 24, 1921, she joined a hiking trip of the Colorado Mountain Club to Beaver Brook Trail. Afterward, she became a regular guest of the CMC and soon became a member. Only four months after her first hike, she climbed her first Fourteener – Longs Peak at 14,259 feet. It was led by Agnes Vaille, an experienced climber and one of the early members of the CMC. From this day on, the two paired up to accomplish the mission of becoming members of the 14,000-Footers Club – an exclusive list of people who climbed all of Colorado’s fourteeners. In the following years, the two climbers traveled throughout the state, summiting one peak after another, and by the age of 31, Cronin had reached the summits of more than 23 fourteeners.
    On January 12, 1925, Agnes Vaille climbed the east face of Longs Peak and froze to death during a surprise snowstorm. Cronin’s response to her friend’s tragic death was to dedicate her life to accomplish Vaille’s dream to become the first woman to climb all of Colorado fourteeners. In that same year, she reached five new peaks, getting closer and closer to her goal. A year later, she elected as a member of the CMC Board of Directors, and between reaching one fourteener after another, she led CMC hiking trips. On Labor Day Weekend, 1934, she summited the peaks of Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford, and by that, 41-year-old Cronin became the first woman to summit all of Colorado’s fourteeners and achieving the goal her friend set a decade earlier.
    She remained a climber and an active member of the CMC until she had to relocate to Nebraska and then to Texas due to her job. With no many mountains in those states, she had to give up her passion, and she climbed only on rare occasions. After she retired from her job, she moved to live near her sister in Seattle. She died at the age of 88.

    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She was the first woman to reach El Diente Peak summit in the San Miguel Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains at 14,165 feet.
    • She was the first woman to reach Lone Eagle Peak at 11,946 feet.
    • She was the fourth person to climb all the Colorado’s fourteeners.
    • She wrote a poem titled “Fifty Mountain Camp,” in which she describes her experiences as a Fourteener.
    • We did not find any records of marriage or children.
    • The Cronin Peak in the Sawatch Range of Colorado is named in her honor.
  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Mary Cronin, 1893-1982

    Woman Tags: Athlete

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