Climber Using Wheelchair Summits Mt. Elbert

Adaptive Athlete Climbs Mt. Elbert in a Wheelchair with the Lockwood Foundation

On September 10, 2023, Chris Layne, an adaptive athlete who was paralyzed nine years ago, successfully summited Mount Elbert, which stands at an impressive elevation of 14,438 feet. This feat was made possible through the dedicated efforts of The Lockwood Foundation and its team of approximately 50 volunteers, along with several family members.

Prior to her life-changing injury in 2016, Layne was an active hiker who had summited two of Colorado’s famed 14ers. However, her life took a drastic turn during a hike with her son just outside of Golden, Colorado. A fall of 80 feet down a canyon resulted in a T6 fracture and spinal cord injury, paralyzing her from the chest down.

Undeterred by her injury, Layne continued to nurture her love for the mountains. With the assistance of The Lockwood Foundation—a community organization focused on trail accessibility for those with limited mobility— and more than 50 volunteer hikers and climbers, Layne was able to reach the summit of Colorado’s highest peak. This makes her the fourth mobility-impaired person to achieve such an extraordinary accomplishment with the Foundation.

“This expedition was an expression of hope through community,” said the Foundation’s Founder Jeff Lockwood, an experienced Colorado climber and backcountry guide. “It showed our team and the broader community what we are capable of together. We are always looking for hiking volunteers to support our adaptive trail opportunities so we can continue to facilitate access and inclusion in the mountains.”

You can hear directly from Chris about her accomplishment in the documentary below, as she sits on the summit of Mt. Elbert with her support team and friends looking on. 

ABOUT THE LOCKWOOD FOUNDATION

Founded in January 2018 by Jeffrey Lockwood, The Lockwood Foundation emerged with the aim of creating a sustainable, adaptive hiking program for wheelchair users. Initially offering 4×4 adventures and fundraisers for an adaptive trail chair, the foundation rapidly expanded its capabilities.

By early 2019, sufficient funds were raised to purchase the first human-powered Trailrider chair, designed to travel on a single wheel. This technological innovation, paired with community support, allows individuals to access trails previously deemed inaccessible or even impossible.

After narrowly missing the summit of Quandary Peak in 2019 due to inclement weather, The Lockwood Foundation successfully aided Zara in reaching Mount Elbert’s peak in 2020, marking her as the first wheelchair user to do so. In 2021, the foundation repeated this historical accomplishment with another participant, Christine, followed by another success in 2022 with Bev Davis.

GET INVOLVED!

Today, The Lockwood Foundation hosts adaptive hikes not only in the Denver/Boulder area but also in locations such as Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Canon City. As a registered 501(c)(3) organization, The Lockwood Foundation continues to break barriers and redefine what is possible for people with limited mobility, one summit at a time. You can learn more or get involved as a volunteer by visiting their website or Facebook page.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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