L'CHAIM (FALL) MAGAZINE
AS Allan Striker reminisces about his years as a mountain climber, high clouds swirl in his eyes. You can see his spirit leap up from the couch of his Cherry Creek home and fly over transcendent peaks and plunging valleys.
Striker, now 73, didnt venture where most people fear to tread until he was 52. And Id do it all over again, he smiles. His wife Helena, a beautiful woman who enjoys trekking through Colorado with her husband, shakes her head and whispers, No!
I was born with an adventurous love of the outdoors, Striker says. I had this passion at a very young age. But when I finished college and started a career, I just didnt have time for those things. My work consumed every hour of every day.
After his successful tenure at Deloitte Touche, he opened Safesport Manufacturing Co. in 1979 and came into contact with avid climbers. Striker inhaled their stories like a kid in a candy store. Visions of mountains danced in his imagination. But he was still land-locked by the demands of work.
After I sold the company in 1992, I thought I could do all the things Ive dreamt about my whole life, he says. Running marathons. Climbing mountains. Marrying Helena (Aug. 25, 1998).
He planned to summit Mt. Everest in 1996. It never happened, which may have been a blessing in disguise. Thats the year eight people died in the worst climbing disaster in the mountains history. The tragedy inspired the book Into Thin Air.
But in 1992, Striker had no idea the masters excursion to Everest wouldnt pan out. He spoke to the organizers, who said, If you can climb huge mountains and make it to the top and prove that you can oxygenate properly and that your body is strong enough, well put you on a team with eight men.
Striker commenced his training in earnest. I had climbed mountains in Colorado but not the big ones like Mt. McKinley, he says. I started by running up Colorados Mt. Bierstadt about two dozen times to get in shape.
The guidebook says its a four-hour up, two-hour back trip. He managed to accomplish the entire feat in three-and-a-half hours.
Striker told his son Doug Striker that if he perfected his climbing technique, he could accompany his dad to Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya in Africa. A guide from Boulder Mountaineering whipped them both into shape.
We learned the basic techniques of climbing rock, and it was a wonderful experience, Striker says.