In the pantheon of outdoor websites and blogs, 14erSkiers.com is often overlooked. A collection of trip reports, gear reviews, maps, and guides based in Colorado, 14erSkiers.com is the passion project of Crested Butte locals Frank and Brittany Konsella. It is also one of the few places to consistently find fresh ski content in months of June and July, when the North American season is winding down and the Southern Hemisphere has yet to kick off.
In many ways, the Konsellas are the quintessential grown-up ski bum couple. Frank moved to Crested Butte "for a season" in the '90s, and though he left to finish his degree at CU Boulder, he soon returned for good. After working through the standard gamut of ski town jobs—construction and waiting tables—he now sells real estate. Brittany, meanwhile, has a degree in chemistry (also from CU), but, in Frank's words, "is doing the typical CB thing." In other words, she's working a bunch of different jobs while skiing and biking her ass off. Both are members of an elite group who have skied from the peak of all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks.
I managed to get Frank and Brittany to answer a few emails in between work shifts and backcountry missions to learn more about their story and get the background on the blog they've been running since 2008.
How did you two meet?
Brittany: We met in 2006, shortly after I began my 14er skiing project. I had one or two backcountry skiing partners that could help me accomplish some of the more difficult 14ers. I knew I needed more solid partners who could help me during my project.
Frank: Basically, Brittany had already decided that she wanted to ski the 14ers. My friends and I had just skied Pyramid and there was a little blurb on WildSnow.com. Brittany thought, “Maybe one of these guys would make a good ski partner," and looked me up.
Brittany: By “looked me up” he means I cyber-stalked him. I found his contact info on the TGR ski forum.
What inspired you to start the website?
Frank: We were doing trip reports on TGR, and then we were asked to do blogs on a website for a film company I was working with (Thrillhead Creations). When they stopped running, we wanted to save all the work we had done there, and 14erSkiers.com was born.
Are there other blogs and websites that you try to emulate? I see some similarities to the late Steve Romeo's TetonAT.com.
Frank: That’s an honor that you would say that; Teton AT was a great site. Steve was pretty straight up with his trip reports, and would talk about mistakes and challenges. We’re not afraid of that either.
Brittany: Lou Dawson’s site, WildSnow.com is a site we like to emulate, but we have a different style. We started our blog originally just to share our 14er skiing experiences but it has morphed into so much more. We like to focus largely on trip reports and motivating people to get into the outdoors—not just for skiing but for biking and hiking, too. We have a wide range of resources for backcountry skiers for routes throughout the entire state and beyond. But we also have in-depth guides and other resources for biking and hiking in the Crested Butte area. Many of the larger blogs we admire focus only on biking or hiking or skiing. We focus on all three. I feel that makes us unique.
You got married shortly after Brittany completed her 14er project. Wouldn't that take the punch out of something mundane like a wedding ceremony?
Frank: Actually it was awesome. Lou Dawson was our officiant. The tables were named for different 14ers, and the whole wedding had a ski mountaineering theme. Even the kitchen manager got into the act, bringing a sign with a picture of crampons that said, “Please remove before entering."
Brittany: Everything was such good timing. To have a long-term goal wrap up around the same time as marrying someone I met because of that goal was simply amazing. To top it off, the winter and spring had fantastic snow and I was actually able to ski on Mount Crested Butte the morning of our wedding on June 18th.
Obviously Aspen has a few pretty famous 14er skiers themselves. Which side of the Elks has the best skiing?
Frank: I’m obviously biased after 20 years in Crested Butte. I certainly wouldn’t trade the inbounds skiing here for Aspen—there’s nothing close to the North Face anywhere in Colorado. And I honestly think we have better backcountry in mid-winter. We just get so much snow in our backcountry. But in the springtime, I have to give it to Aspen—that’s where the big lines are.
You both have jobs. How do you find time for all the high-alpine adventures?
Frank: As a real estate agent I have a fair amount of flexibility, especially in April and May when it’s a bit slower. Brittany has taken her experience developing 14erSkiers.com and now develops websites for others, so she also has a lot of flexibility.
Brittany: I was a secondary teacher of math and science during the entirety of my 14er skiing project and had very little flexibility. So, finding time to ski all the 14ers then was difficult. I am much happier now with more flexible hours. Our newest project would not be possible if we didn’t have some flexibility in our jobs. It’s important to note, though, as much as we talk about playing on our blog, we work even more.
What is that new project?
Frank: We were contacted by Mountaineer Books to write a guidebook for Colorado backcountry skiing (not just the 14ers), so we are working on that. It’s been fun travelling the state again, and skiing all these lines that we were looking at when we were skiing 14ers. Colorado has so many diverse mountain ranges. We love our backyard, but it’s fun getting out and exploring again.