Canadian–American relationship reaches new heights

Worsening weather conditions did not stop LGen Christopher Coates and fellow hikers
Worsening weather conditions did not stop LGen Christopher Coates and fellow hikers in the Pikes Peak AdAmAn Club from continuing their ascent of Pikes Peak on December 31, 2018. Photo: Pikes Peak AdAmAn Club

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For more than 60 years, Canadian military members and their families have been in southern Colorado, typically stationed at the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). This recent New Year’s Eve presented a first-of-a-kind opportunity for one member of the group.

Lieutenant-General Christopher Coates, Deputy Commander of NORAD, received an invitation to participate in the annual AdAmAn Club ascent of Pikes Peak. This was the first time a Canadian, or any international climber, has been invited for the two-day climb which culminates with the lighting of New Year’s Eve fireworks from the summit of Pikes Peak.

The Pikes Peak AdAmAn (add a man) tradition started in December 1922, when a group of five men from Colorado Springs, seeking an adventurous way to celebrate the New Year, decided to climb Pikes Peak in the dead of winter. Following their astonishing feat, they resolved to repeat the climb, adding one person to the group each year.

“While I have summited all [58] of the 14,000 peaks in Colorado, in a variety of conditions in both summer and winter, it was incredibly special to join this group for such a remarkable tradition,” remarked LGen Coates.

The ascent was difficult for the original group, given the challenging conditions and the clothing and equipment at their disposal. Nonetheless, the frozen five, as they became known, attained the summit and proceeded to light fireworks and create a bonfire, much to the concern and amazement of the surprised residents of the town 8000 feet below.

Dan Stuart, President of the AdAmAn Club said, “Celebrating the New Year in this way is a tradition that the entire Pikes Peak Region enjoys. Having LGen Coates join us this year was an honor for all of us. An especially memorable part of this year’s adventure for the club was singing “O Canada” in his honor at 14,000 feet.”

For more than 90 years, the AdAmAn Club has perpetuated the tradition of the original frozen five. The 101st member was added to the club in 2018, and nearly 400 guest climbers have completed the summit with the group over the years.

Image gallery

  • Lieutenant-General Christopher Coates and members of the Pikes Peak AdAmAn Club pose for a picture at Barr Trailhead
  • Worsening weather conditions did not stop LGen Christopher Coates and fellow hikers
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