Laura Hadar wants to be first woman to ride all of Colorado’s fourteeners
When Aspen’s Laura Hadar retired from her life as a professional snowboarder three winters ago, it left a void she didn’t know how to fill. The local groomers weren’t as satisfying as the big mountains she became famous for riding, and her mental state took a serious nosedive.
Then she met fellow Aspenite Nikolas Anastas on the bowl at Aspen Highlands, discovered Aspen’s plethora of big-mountain backcountry options, and everything kind of fell into place.
“It was probably one of the hardest springs of my entire life. Right before I met him I was not doing so hot,” the 32-year-old Hadar said. “When you get that far out in the wilderness and you push yourself beyond a place you thought you could be, it kind of changes the way you see everything.”
Hadar’s relationship with Anastas evolved into something serious when the duo climbed Castle Peak a few winters ago. As it turned out, that became their first fourteener in a project the couple will discuss at 7 p.m. Wednesday inside the Ute Mountaineer (210 S. Galena St.). The free “Shred the 14ers” slideshow and talk is about Hadar’s quest to become the first woman to snowboard all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks.
It’s been done on skis numerous times — Aspen’s Christy Mahon was the first woman to do so — but according to Hadar, only three have ever done so on a snowboard, all of them being men. As far as anyone can tell, no woman has accomplished what Hadar is trying to do on a snowboard.
“I sort of have a grasp on girls who are out killing it,” Hadar said. “If she has done it, she has not been claiming about it on any social media platform. She is backwoods, so she can come out and put me in my place if I’m not the first.”
Unlike competitive riding, this project has turned into more of an inward journey for Hadar after hitting a low point after retirement.
“It feels like this is for me,” Hadar said. “Even though we are trying to get sponsors and lure people into helping put gas in the gas tank, it really feels like there is no pressure.”
Anastas — a 29-year-old telemark skier — is Hadar’s partner throughout the project. The duo has successfully completed 21 of the 54 ascents and descents, knocking 16 of them off their list last spring alone. They don’t have a timetable to finish the remaining 33, but hope to cross a good chunk more off the list this spring.
Snow conditions will play a major factor in what they can get to. Among the mountains still to ride is Capitol Peak near Aspen, a fourteener known for being among the most dangerous in Colorado.
With an anxious mother and sister keeping tabs, Hadar doesn’t plan to do anything crazy.
“For us, it’s about doing it safely and having fun,” Hadar said.
Wednesday’s talk will include beer courtesy of Capitol Creek Brewery and a presentation by Aspen Strong about mental health awareness. Hadar and Anastas will be present to answer questions.
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Tejay van Garderen has long been one of the country’s top professional cyclists, having spent 12 seasons on the World Tour with various teams. His career came to an end in June when the 32-year-old announced his retirement.