Despite being a Colorado native, Valerie Hawks’ life didn’t involve mountains much until about seven years ago. A self-proclaimed ‘city girl,’ Valerie rarely ventured from the concrete confines of downtown Denver. She was born and raised in the city, and came to love the hustle and bustle of it all. However, when she began hiking for fitness before her wedding in 2011, something struck a chord. Shortly after this early foray into the outdoors, Valerie found herself hiking her first winter Fourteener, and quickly realized she was underprepared. She turned to the Colorado Mountain Club for information on how to be safe in the mountains, finding the CMC’s Alpine Climbing School and a close group of friends in the process.
After joining the Club, Valerie quickly began to explore Colorado and try her hand at new hobbies. She found a knack for climbing: “I like climbing things. Anything. Rock. Ice. Mountains.” Hawks said. She also found that the CMC provided a perfect platform for her to improve her climbing ability. “The CMC and its top-notch volunteer instructors have given me…the skills and knowledge I need to safely explore and navigate the outdoors.”
After graduating from the Club’s Alpine Climbing and High Altitude Mountaineering Schools, Valerie decided to give back to the Club as a volunteer instructor. She now spends her time encouraging her fellow members to test their limits, but to do so safely. “To me, it’s as simple as trying new-to-you things. New is scary! It’s not necessarily about sending the hardest climb, or completing the scariest traverse. It’s about pushing yourself a little bit further than you have in the past, and further than you ever thought you could,” Valerie said.
For Valerie, it was easy to learn and grow in the CMC thanks to a welcoming cast of fellow members and volunteer instructors, many of whom are now some of her close friends and adventure buddies. “The Colorado Mountain Club is a social club, after all. Culture is key. We are a rapidly growing group of like-minded folks that choose to come together on a regular basis and spend our free time together doing rad things. That’s pretty awesome.”