The first person to climb all 846 peaks over 13,000 feet in the lower 48 states and Hawaii, as well as the first to climb all 2,311 peaks over 10,000 feet in Colorado.
Gergen was born in Denver, Colorado. Since her childhood, she was motivated by personal challenges and setting herself new goals. She attended the University of Colorado and earned a degree in mathematics. At the age of 21, she moved to LA, where she worked as a programmer for Hughes Aircraft and then at the University of Arizona as a programmer and system administrator. After ten years, she returned to Denver and worked as a library technician at The University of Colorado.
Her mountaineering career began when she was in her mid-thirties when a coworker asked her if she would like to climb a fourteener. After he explained it is climbing a mountain peak elevated above 14,000 feet, she accepted the new challenge. In only three years, she completed climbing the 53 Colorado fourteeners, and in the following seven years, she climbed the high point in every state but Alaska. She also climbed high-altitude peaks all over the world, including Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, and Nepal, and became the first person to climb all 2,311 peaks higher than 10,000 feet in Colorado.
By the age of 44, she has completed all 846 peaks over 13,000 feet but two – Norman Clyde and Palisade Crest. So, when she retired, she set her mind to finish the list. She spent the summers living in her car, backpacking, climbing peak after peak. After she reached the 13,854-foot top of Norman Clyde in only two days, she partnered with fellow mountaineers Alyson and John Kirk, and together they climbed to the top of Palisade Crest at 13,553-foot. At the age of 55, she became the first person to climb all 846 thirteeners in the lower 48 states plus Hawaii.
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
- The first time she planned to hike a fourteener, she accidentally climbed a nearby thirteener.
- She had a climbing accident, in which a large boulder fell on her and shattered her leg.