Meet the new GPS editor: Christopher Smith

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GPS Editor Chris Smith

Photo above courtesy of Christopher Smith.

Article by Rick Casey

A new CMC member, Christopher Smith, has volunteered to be the GPS editor. I asked Christopher if I could interview him for the Compass, and he graciously agreed; here’s the interview:

How did you come to find out about the Colorado Mountain Club, how long have you been a member, and what have you done with the CMC so far?

The Colorado Mountain Club played an instrumental part in a major life transformation for me in 2012.

As I contemplated changing my career, my home and my life focus about a year ago, I researched potential mountaineering education options.

I had a good NFL public relations job with the San Diego Chargers, a bit of financial stability and a serious girlfriend. But I wasn’t content. Something had been missing since my athletic career ended after three injury-filled years of Division I track in college. I missed my identity as an athlete and missed throwing myself into training, competition, goal-chasing and testing the limits of my mind and body.

I fell in love with the mountains during a nine-month internship with the Denver Broncos in ’07, and got to continue that relationship working for the Farmington Daily Times (about an hour south of Durango) in ’09. I felt a magnetic pull drawing me back to Colorado after the Chargers’ season ended in January. I e-mailed Karen Baldwin to inquire about the CMC and how it might help me reach my mountaineering goals if I decided to pursue them.

I made the leap, giving up my job in favor of juggling six or seven part-time gigs and managing a startup national website, losing financial footing and my girlfriend in the process.

Karen’s detailed and passionate response helped seal my decision to move to Denver in May and drew me to the Boulder group of the CMC.

I became a CMC member shortly after moving to Colorado. Including ice climbing and winter camping in January, I have taken seven courses with plans for more in the summer session. I also went on a CMC climbing trip to Eldo in November.

What are your current interests and goals in outdoor activities? How do you think the CMC can help you achieve them?

When I moved back here, my skills and knowledge limited me to Class 4, three-season stuff. I am a novice climber and winter mountaineer, but my CMC classes have helped me expand my repertoire in the mountains and my calendar options.

I’ve summited about one-third of the 14ers and I would like to finish them in the next 18 months. I want to start being more active outside the summer season. Long-term, I want to summit Rainier, Denali, Kilimanjaro and something in the Himalayas.

I would also like to improve as a climber.

My main obsession right now is breaking the unsupported speed record for the Colorado Trail set in August by Shawn Forry. I’m training with Push Performance out of Denver (best known for training Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas). After a scouting trip this summer, I’m aiming for a record attempt in July 2014. If I succeed, I’d love to take on more prominent speed records, such as the Appalachian Trail, which is held by fellow Samford University grad Jennifer Phar Davis.

What made you want to volunteer to be the GPS editor? What are your fears and expectations about this? Have you done anything like this before?

Along with an acute case of wanderlust, I’ve paced through a wide spectrum of jobs and volunteer duties as a writer and editor. Like many involved with the CMC, I want to find a way to give back to the organization and mountaineering community. I’ve worked or interned for three NFL teams and a number of newspapers, including the Washington Post. Eventually I would like to help teach, but with my current experience level and my professional background, I felt this was a great opportunity for me to contribute.

Is there anything else in your background that you’d like to share with the CMC members who will read this about your interests in outdoor activities?

I’m always looking for great stories. As a freelance writer, an avid consumer of local mountaineering narratives and GPS editor, I welcome any tale of adventure in the mountains or individual feats.

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