In honor of his 70th birthday, Chuck Cooper climbed Mount Elbert, which is not only the highest peak in Colorado but also the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains in North America. The climb itself took Chuck 13.5 hours and covered over 11 miles, and he did it after having both knees replaced.
“It was definitely my most grueling climb yet,” says Chuck. “But what a great feeling of accomplishment at the finish!”
Mount Elbert was Chuck’s 11th 14er, or mountain exceeding 14,000 feet in elevation. This was his fifth 14er since having both knees replaced in 2013 by Dr. Brian Blackwood, fellowship-trained hip and knee replacement specialist at BoulderCentre for Orthopedics.
“I can’t imagine being able to accomplish a fraction of what I have in the last five years without my new knees,” says Chuck. “They have been perfect.”
Chuck first started climbing 14ers in 2004 and was able to conquer six of them before his knee pain brought a halt to his climbing.
“I did my last climb on my old set of knees in 2012,” says Chuck. “I had been having knee problems for over 15 years, and my knees were just about shot. I made it to the top of Pikes Peak but ended up riding back down the mountain in a car with my wife.”
After his sixth 14er, he wasn’t able to climb another until 2013. That’s when he met Dr. Blackwood and chose to undergo a double knee replacement.
“I set a goal for myself of climbing a 14er 14 weeks after my second knee was replaced,” says Chuck. “It got me excited and motivated to put all my energy into my physical therapy and rehabilitation.”
Chuck’s determination and hard work paid off when he climbed Mount Evans 14 weeks after his last knee replacement. Now, four more 14,000-foot mountaintops later, Chuck is happy to say his new knees are still going strong.
For more information on knee replacements or BoulderCentre for Orthopedics, please call 303.449.2730.