Last update: March 16, 2008
This webpage briefly describes several expeditions to, and the placing of a memorial plaque upon, Columbia Point, Colorado, 13980'+, in 2003. It also hyperlinks to photos and other websites of possible interest.
Columbia Point was officially named in June, 2003 for the space shuttle that burned up on re-entry February 1, following a naming proposal by astronaut Scott Parazynski (NASA bio page). The Point is located in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range of Colorado near the South Colony Lake, Great Sand Dunes National Monument, and the town of Westcliffe.
On July 19, 2003 six of us, including Scott, did a scouting and preparatory trip to the summit. We had crummy weather, and had to rush off the summit, although by then we were out of battery juice for the hammer drill, and out of sharp drill bits.
On August 7-9, 2003 we returned with many Columbia family members for a camping trip, dedication service, plaque installation, and F16 missing-man flyby (image, 95 Kb). The entire event was not publicized or covered in any media.
The latter trip included 15 4WD vehicles and 21 volunteers, mostly from northern Colorado -- amateur radio operators from the NCARC and members of the Larimer Mountaineers 4WD club -- who helped transport 34 NASA and NOLS people, including 14 family members and 10 astronauts, about five miles up and down the terrible South Colony Lakes Road. I was responsible for finding and coordinating these volunteers, and also for leading the placement of the plaque on the summit.
Unfortunately we had lousy weather during the August trip too. Only three of us made it back to Columbia Point, but in less than three hours we were able to finish installing the plaque, while most of the NASA folks visited the Humboldt saddle.
I got involved with this effort due in part to my leading the expedition that placed the Challenger Point plaque in 1987. Here's a small photo (39 Kb), taken July 19, 2003, 16 years to the day after installation, including apparent lightning strike to the "w". See also my "trip report" from that outing, and another for a later return to the Point.
See also my "trip report" on the expedition, which is mostly prose, while the current webpage is mostly images.
First visit, July 19, 2003: Scouting and plaque preparation.
Note: Dwight and Steve both raced over to Kit Carson and Challenger Point and back while I and the two astronauts did plaque preparation on Columbia Point.
Second visit, August 7-9, 2003: Family dedication climb, missing-man flyby, and plaque installation.