Beth Leleck has climbed every one of the “14ers” in Colorado - those are mountains with elevations of at least 14-thousand feet. There are 58 of them! 

She accomplished this remarkable feat despite an underlying challenge. “The mountain in my own life is multiple sclerosis. I was diagnosed 14 years ago. I had not climbed a 14er prior to being diagnosed with MS,” shares Beth. 

Early on she was told she might very well need “mobility assistance” within ten years if the disease took hold. That got her thinking hard about ways to stay active and as healthy as possible. When a friend asked Beth if she’d like to “go hike a mountain,” she replied, “sure.” They climbed Mount Bierstadt, elevation 14,065 feet. “Got to the top and the scenery was amazing. The challenge of getting to the top of one of the taller mountains in Colorado was really exciting and I quickly discovered that there was a whole list of these mountains that people climb” and before too long she made plans to hike another one. This year Beth hiked her final 14er - Mount Evans - on June 29th.

The elevation of Mount Evans is 14,265-feet, Beth added a few more
[Photo Credit: Beth Leleck] The elevation of Mount Evans is 14,265-feet, Beth added a few more 'air feet' as she reached the top

Multiple sclerosis can present a wide variety of symptoms including numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, loss of feeling, loss of eyesight, loss of hearing, cognitive challenges – some come and go. “It can really run the gamut and it varies from one person to the next.” For Beth, the first sign of multiple sclerosis was “I woke up one morning and couldn’t hear out of my right ear.” She had to go to “quite a few doctors” until it was determined she was experiencing MS. 

Beth is a hiker, a fighter, and an encourager. “I’ve had the opportunity over time to talk to others who have been newly diagnosed. That’s probably the most terrifying moment because there’s just so much uncertainty - you don’t really necessarily know what you’re facing.” That allows Beth to “give back” to the MS community and help someone who’s newly diagnosed to “find that hope for themselves – and find the realization that ‘okay, my life isn’t over.’ Beth notes some lifestyle things may need to be changed, but people can often “go on living and thrive with this disease.” 

There are a couple different types of MS. In our complete interview podcast just below, Beth shares the type she’s dealing with, how the symptoms affect her, and the ways she copes with the challenge. Beth is also active raising awareness and donations to fight MS.

Beth on Little Bear Peak
[Photo Credit: Beth Leleck] Beth on Little Bear Peak
Beth and friend on Sawtooth Ridge
[Photo Credit: Beth Leleck] Beth and friend on Sawtooth Ridge