Events, hike honor Spencer Nelson, support Comp Center
Sky-Hi News Intern
Grand County, CO Colorado
On Aug. 14 last year, under a bluebird Colorado sky, Spencer Nelson lost his life while climbing the Maroon Bells near Aspen.
Though this Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of his death, the cliche holds true in the case of the 20-year old ski racer: He is gone, but certainly not forgotten.
Nelson’s legacy lives on through the now-faded bracelets worn in his memory, the triumphant win earned by his CU Buffs teammates at Nationals this year, and the sundry memorials adorning slalom gates, mountain peaks and ski tips around the world.
“Spencer is forever in our hearts,” says CU teammate Khyla Burrows. “Remembering his smile and his determination to succeed – that’s what gets our team through the toughest times.”
Nelson’s family will celebrate his unrivaled passion for life with the inaugural Memorial Hike for Spencer on Sunday at the Mary Jane Base.
The hike will benefit the Winter Park Ski Education Foundation – Spencer Nelson Memorial Fund, which supports local Competition Center skiers.
“The foundation itself is not new, but we are re-energizing it to include the Spencer Nelson Memorial Fund,” explains Spencer’s mom, Peggy Smith.
According to Smith, only 5 percent of the 850 skiers who participate in the Competition Center program hail from Grand County.
“Spencer was incredibly lucky in that he was able to travel and ski all over with his team, but in the current economy, the costs associated with competitive skiing can be hard to bear. We hope that the ‘Spencer Fund’ will make racing possible for more Grand County kids.”
Spencer’s tribute will kick off on Saturday at the Winter Park Beer Festival from noon-5 p.m. in Hideaway Park. All are invited to a camp out and bonfire at 8 p.m. in the C-Lot at Mary Jane.
On Sunday morning, hungry hikers will have the chance to dig into breakfast burritos sold by Back Bowl Soup before beginning their trek. The hike will include three routes ranging from beginner to advanced.
Late risers, fear not: Start times will be flexible, to say the least. Hikers just need to plan on returning to the base of Mary Jane by 1 p.m. for the barbecue lunch and musical performance by former U.S. Ski Team member Bryon Friedman.
The hike will offer Spencer’s family a chance to reconnect and reminisce; however, knowing Spencer during his lifetime is by no means a prerequisite for attending the memorial. Anyone interested in supporting the cause is invited to participate.
“Spencer loved life. The best way to honor him is to live well and to grant others the opportunity to do the same, and that’s what this hike is all about,” says Smith.
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Backcountry permits for the Indian Peaks Wilderness will go on sale online on later this month, according to the US Forest Service.