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A Colorado Springs Tradition Lives On

AdAmAn club members and guests savor the view high above Colorado Springs as they near the summit of Pikes Peak for the traditional New Year’s Eve

AdAmAn club members and guests savor the view high above Colorado Springs as they near the summit of Pikes Peak for the traditional New Year’s Eve

The AdAmAn Club, aptly named because only one new member (ad a man) is admitted into the club each year, was formed in December 1922 when a group of five men chose to forego the boring social events of New Year’s Eve and instead climb America’s Mountain in the dead of winter. And at the stroke of midnight, would celebrate by lighting fireworks for all of Colorado Springs to see. “The Frozen Five,” as they became known, included Fred Barr of Barr Trail fame, Fred and Ed Morath, Willis Magee and Harry Standley.

The tradition is alive and well today with a total of 93 members having been admitted over the years, including three women. “It weighs heavy on us to carry on the tradition each year,” says Don Sanborn, president of the club. “Some might say we’re a little crazy but it’s a great group. We all get along and enjoy this time together.”

Guest climbers are invited each year based on the number of slots available. Sanborn says a typical climb consists of about 30 people, so based on the number of members planning to attend an appropriate number of invitations are extended to guests. Most individuals will have made the climb for seven to 10 years before being admitted. “We have our annual meeting on the first Saturday of December and that is when the new member is announced,” Sanborn says. “It’s a huge honor because you have climbed for so many years, and every year you come to the dinner and wonder if this is the year you will become a member.”

And there are other traditions that are upheld along the way. A breakfast kicks off the climb with a group hike to Barr Camp the first day. The following day, climbers use mirrors to flash signals to the Colorado Springs community as a way of communicating with friends and family. Upon arrival at the summit, the work begins preparing for the fireworks show at midnight. “We set up the fireworks and always shoot five fireworks at 9 p.m. in honor of the ‘Frozen Five’,” Sanborn says.

What has changed over the years is technology. Sanborn says the club has switched from doing radio interviews during the climb to posting on Facebook and Twitter. “It’s great to have that back and forth conversation with the Colorado Springs community,” he says.

For more information, visit their website at adaman.org.