Sue Graham Photo Member #: 79
Member Year: 1997
Sue Graham
Bio Summary
Community Activity Summary
Sue Graham's involvement in community activities has been extensive, primarily in Manitou Springs, where she has lived since 1980. She was active in programs at Elementary School and at the Public Library there. She served two terms on the Manitou Arts Center board and serves on the Mineral Springs Foundation. Prior contributions have also been on the Manitou Springs Open Space Coalition, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church choir, Cub Scout Pack 18 and Boy Scout Troop 18 as an adult volunteer.
Occupation Summary
Sue Graham had a career in Medical Technology for over three decades, most of that time with Centura Health, Colorado Springs.
AdAmAn Service
Served as unofficial spokesperson for the club as the first woman member of the club. She was interviewed for numerous newspaper articles and broadcast programs, representing the club ably and positively during a time of strong public interest. Active participant in Club activities, including sand-sacking, fireworks preparation, and the like.
Sue's foremost interest has always been her family. She was always heavily involved with her sons, Jeffrey (born Aug. 20, 1984) and Joseph (born Sept. 24, 1987). They are her proudest achievements. Her hobbies include: Travel, music (singing, performance as a trumpeter, percussionist and pianist), reading, gardening, home improvement projects, hiking, camping, backpacking, skiing, both cross country and downhill, bicycling, and sailing. Volunteer work on various city boards.
Climbing Experience Summary
Ascents of 19 Colorado 14ers and numerous lesser peaks Hiking, backpacking and backcountry cross country ski trips throughout Colorado


Bio Detail
Community Activity Detail

Sue Graham's involvement in community activities has been extensive, primarily in Manitou Springs, where she has lived since 1980. 

She was a very active volunteer at Manitou Springs Elementary School, including various classroom assistance efforts and, more significantly, as sponsor and mentor of the school's Odyssey of Mind team for several years. 

She served at the Manitou Springs Public Library, both as Chair of the Library's Advisory Board and as the President of the Friends of the Manitou Springs Library. She oversaw renovations to the interior of the library building and enhancement of services the library offered. She was a volunteer mentor for the Library's Math Tutoring program.

She served two terms on the Board of the Business of Arts Center, now the Manitou Arts Center, and was fervently involved in fundraising and program development for the facility. She belonged to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church choir.  

Prior civic contributions have also been on the Manitou Springs Open Space Coalition. She was an adult volunteer for Cub Scout Park 18 and Boy Scout Troop 18.

Sue continues to serve on the Manitou Springs Mineral Springs Foundation board.  

She is a member of the Front Porch Singers, a four-women a capella choir, which performs locally.

She ran the full Pikes Peak Marathon three times, ranking as the third place woman finisher in her age category and eighth overall woman finisher in 1979.

Sue has performed with the New Horizons Band, both as a trumpeter and a percussionist.

Occupation Detail

Sue Graham completed the five-year program in Medical Technology at St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs, in conjunction with prepartory course work at Adams State College in Alamosa. Her professional career was spent primarily with Centura Health, although she also worked at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. She was a certified Medical Technologist and a member of, the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

A generalist technologist, her professional duties involved the full specturm of testing in a hospital's pathology laboratory.  


Climbing Experience Detail

Ascents of 19 Colorado 14ers

Pikes Peak ascents with AdAmAn Club and three via the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Numberous backpacking trips in Colorado.


Memories From First Climb

Prior to being selected, I had applied several times, although no woman had every been included in the climbing party. In December 1983, that changed and I was invited to make the climb. This was a revoultionary moment and there was quite a bit of media coverage about this. I was in the limelight -- something that I don't really welcome -- quite a bit. The announcement was made in early December and several weeks later I learned I was pregnant with my first child. This became awkward -- I had received too much exposure to back out. How would that have looked? Imagine the headline: "Woman can't make the climb because she is pregnant!" 

Still, I had a lot of concern for the baby. I consulted my doctor, who had some reservations about me making the climb but reluctantly said OK. I decided to stick with the plan and go. I told my husband, John, who was already a member of the Club on Christmas Eve Day, and I decided just to keep things quiet otherwise. We did tell the Club President, Dr. Bob Stafford, about this at Barr Camp, on the morning of the second day. The first day had gone well and I was optimistic but we felt Dr. Stafford should know. He was flabbergasted but kept our secret.

I reached the summit without any problems, other than the usual fatigue and cold that comes with that climb. After everyone had gotten a chance to warm up and relax a bit in the Summit House, I began to let out the secret. My son Jeff, was born the following August. I did not climb the following year in order to stay with him, but returned to making the climb after that.

The other climbers were really very considerate. The AdAmAn Club is something like a family and I think the others were relieved to finally have a woman included. I hadn't been concerned at all about breaking the gender barrier, I just wanted to have the experience of making the winter climb and enjoying the company of the climbers.

Memories From First Member Year

Having been the first woman to make the climb as a guest in 1983, I had been exposed to publicity, although all that attention wasn't something I really liked. Consequently, when I was voted in as the first woman member in 1997, I was better prepared to deal with the media. There was a lot of attention.

I had been climbing continuously except for two years, each time after one of my sons was born. I was pretty familiar with all of the people and the club traditions. I think I was a good fit and I think the Club members felt so also. Many of them commented on this and congratulated me, saying they were pleased to add a woman who fit well into the Club's culture. I was a little surprised by the reactions I got from the wives and daughters of some of the members. They congratulated me and thanked me for breaking the all-male tradition without breaking the club's spirit and culture. Several of them told me "We knew someone would have to do it, and we are glad it was you. You've really fit in." 

By that time two other women had climbed as guests, Peggy Parr and Cindy Bowles, and attitudes had changed. Elsewhere, a lot of women who were trying to break into all-male circles were quite aggressive, very pushy. I think the club dreaded that and the members were happy to gradually work me into the mix over time.

There was a fair amount of snow that year, but nothing too burdensome. Ed Kirches was close behind me on the second day as I was leading the climbers. Ed kept telling me to "Slow down, slow down," so I guess my pace was a bit too ambitious.

We had a tradition of playing games on the summit to pass the time and I enjoyed them. Especially "Hearts," which can be a game of ruthlessness and spite. I loved beating the others, particularly Phil Pierce and Mike Reeder, who were such great sports. 

Of course, one of the great highlights was the fireworks show. By then, the club had traded out the old school business of lighting the shells by hand and was using a electrical system where a single person sets off the fireworks. I got to be the "lighter" and set off all of the fireworks shells! Sixty-shells, welcome in the New Year -- that's quite a thrill.

Memories of Family

My father-in-law, Joseph R. Graham, became a member in 1938. He had a number of experiences from his climbs that he shared. Memories are included in his section.

My parents lived in Canon City and would come to visit and watch our sons while John and I were making the climb. This became a family tradition that the boys came to take for granted -- nothing unusual about Mom and Dad running off in a blizzard to shot fireworks.

Favorite Memories from Climbing Fourteeners
I have many fond memories of the members and guests.
Memories from Favorite Mountain Climb
That would be Pikes Peak, having lived at its base for more than 40 years, well within easy access of Barr and other trails.
Memories of Favorite Gear
My gear has always served me well but most of all I liked my cell phone. I was able to call our sons and give them a progress report.
Memories of Worst Gear Failure
I never had a serious problem with any piece of equipment on the AdAmAn Climb.