Carrie Besnette Hauser considers her position as President of Colorado Mountain College a dream job.
“I described it as a confluence, using a river term,” says the longtime running enthusiast. “It’s in Colorado, which I love. It’s the mountain, and it’s the university.
Hauser adopted the three words on behalf of Colorado Mountain College, which spans much of the state’s central mountainous region, including Garfield, Pitkin, and Eagle counties.
This summer, however, she celebrated a particular achievement regarding that middle word, “mountain,” taking a new step in her vocation as a mountaineer by reaching the iconic, glacial peak of Mount Rainier 14,410 feet high in the mountains. Washington State.
It follows other climbing successes including the summit of 56 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and 19,340-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest point. She also hiked to Mount Everest Base Camp, some 17,600 feet in Nepal.
Meanwhile, Hauser has recently risen to the prominence of another guy, voted by the Colorado Wildlife Commission to chair it until 2023. His new post comes at a particularly crucial time for the commission and CPW as they are working to implement a measure approved by the voters. last year, demanding that wolves be re-established in western Colorado from late 2023 at the latest.
“As much as this is a significant time commitment, I got the impression that during this year it was important for the West Slope to have a person from the West Slope chair the commission”, a- she declared.
Hauser has also been at the forefront of another notable statewide issue, having been involved in efforts to bring the Olympics to Colorado.
It is yet another reflection of someone who has long been interested in the outdoors and sports and brings those passions to his professional life and to community service.
Enraged by the rapids
Even before Hauser became a high school gym rat as a serious basketball and volleyball player, she was a river rat on the Colorado River. When she grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, her father took her on hikes in the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River.
“Then he took me on a river trip when I was about 12, and I was totally hooked,” she said.
She then began working for Hatch River Expeditions, a Grand Canyon river operation, as a swimmer, a junior employee who cooked, tended food, led hikes and occasionally rowed. or drove boats.
“I just wanted to be in the Grand. It was all I wanted to do, ”said Hauser.
Later, however, she embarked on a professional career which took her to Front Range, where one of her jobs was with the Daniels Fund. There she served as a loan executive whose job included time on the board of directors of the Metro Denver Sports Commission to attract major sporting events. She co-chaired the NCAA Final Four Women’s Basketball Tournament in Denver.
“As a former basketball player, I thought I was dead and going to heaven,” Hauser said.
As for the Olympics, Hauser was part of an exploratory committee that traveled to the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, as Denver sought to host the 2018 Winter Games.
She went on to participate in Denver’s bid for the 2030 Winter Games. Neither effort was successful, due to various factors.
It doesn’t help that Denver won the 1976 Games, but state voters refused to keep them in Colorado due to concerns about costs and environmental impacts.
“It’s hard to overcome in the Olympic movement,” Hauser said.
“Historical” wolf work
Hauser became president of Colorado Mountain College in 2013. She recalls the advice she received around that time from Russell George, the Rifle resident who held positions such as speaker of the state House of Representatives, director of what was then the State Wildlife Division, executive director of the state departments of natural resources and transportation, and president of Colorado Northwestern Community College.
“He said, ‘Say yes to everything,’” Hauser said.
The point was that becoming a member of state boards is a way for the Western Slope to get a seat at the table, and Hauser considered that agreeing to serve on the parks and wildlife commission of the Colorado was one way to do it.
She sees the wolf reintroduction situation as one where it is important that all interested Coloradans sit down at the table to express their views, from breeders concerned about what the reintroduction will mean for their operations to residents of the Front Range. excited by science suggesting wolves can help balance ecosystems.
“Either way (the reintroduction) will be a very historic thing for Colorado, and I hope we do it right,” Hauser said.
In her day job, Hauser has been involved in initiatives such as increasing the representation of Latinos in the CMC student body to better reflect the proportion in public schools in the college district.
This year, the federal government designated the CMC as an institution serving Hispanics after efforts that increased its Latin American representation to over 25%.
A Sueños Fund (Dream) program allows DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students who are not eligible for other financial aid to borrow money from CMC to pay for their college education.
Recipients then return the money without interest under a revenue sharing agreement, and the money returned is used for other program participants.
Hauser also created a President’s Scholarship Program, whereby every high school student graduating from the CMC district is offered $ 1,000 to attend the open enrollment school, provided they agree to attend full-time. and apply for financial assistance. Hauser said full-time students are much more likely to complete their education, and students are leaving money on the table by not asking for financial aid. These are problems that the stock market helps to solve.
For anyone counting the peaks – as Colorado’s Fourteen climbers tend to obsessively do – 24 of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks can be found in the CMC District. Hauser has climbed some of the State Fourteeners with her husband Jeff, including a particularly memorable Challenger Peak 12 years ago.
When they reached the top, Jeff Hauser asked Carrie to sit for a minute, then asked her to marry him.
“The question he asked me was, ‘Are you up for life challenges?’ », She remembers.
On Rainier, his climbing partner was Jon Kedrowski, a geographer, assistant professor at the CMC and also a mountain guide who also climbed Mount Everest for the second time this year.
Memories of the Rainier challenges and the mountain itself are plentiful for Hauser, such as ominously hearing rocks and ice falling at night as she tried to sleep in a camp during the ascent.
But Hauser was particularly struck by a chance encounter on the way down when she and Kedrowski started talking with another climber they met, Don Nguyen.
They learned he was a mountain guide who co-founded a nonprofit called Climbers of Color – and was a student in the CMC’s Outdoor Recreation Leadership Program at its Leadville campus.
“His first comment to Jon and I was, ‘I would never be a professional guide without CMC.’ Um – OK, job done, drop the mic, ”Hauser laughed. “It was pretty cool.”
George is impressed with Hauser’s contribution to the CMC and is happy that she is chairing the wildlife commission, not just because of the wolf issue, although he believes she is well placed to play a leadership role. strong in this area.
“She’s one of my absolute favorite people. I value her as much as anyone else. She’s brilliant, she’s dedicated, she wants to do well and she has the qualities to do it. “, did he declare.
This article first appeared in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and is reprinted with permission in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.