For more than 60 Years Canadian military members and their families have been present in southern Colorado, typically stationed at the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and this recent New Year’s Eve presented a first-of-a-kind opportunity for one member of the group.
Canadian Forces Lt. Gen. Christopher Coates, deputy commander of NORAD, received one of a few invitations to participate in the annual AdAmAn Club ascent of Pikes Peak, which was the first time a Canadian, or any international climber has been included in the climb. The two-day climb 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 late December 1922 when a group of five men from Colorado Springs, seeking a novel, adventurous way to celebrate the New Year, decided it would be interesting to attempt 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  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 Coates.
The ascent was difficult for the original group, given relatively 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 8,000 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 Lt. Gen. 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.