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Mt. Cosgriff christened

Brief by Central Staff

Geography – November 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Mt. Cosgriff should be somewhere in this picture, since 14,433-foot Mt. Elbert is on the right. But we’re not sure which peak is Cosgriff.

In July, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names approved designation of a subpeak of Elbert, highest summit in all 3,000 miles of Rocky Mountains, as Mount Cosgriff, to honor long-time Leadville lawyer Peter Cosgriff.

Mt. Elbert on right
Mt. Elbert on right

Cosgriff, who died in 1996, was influential in Lake County as well as adjoining areas of Eagle and Summit counties. Born in Salt Lake City, he grew up in Denver, and after going to prep school and college in the East, he earned a law degree from the University of Denver. He practiced law in Denver for several years, but in 1962 established his own practice in Leadville.

In Leadville, he had a variety of individual, municipal, and corporate clients. He handled divorces, defended murderers, and in the 1960s even helped disincorporate a town, Kokomo, so that it could be covered by the spent ore from the Climax Molybdenum Co. He also had offices in Eagle, Vail, and Breckenridge.

Cosgriff also actively enjoyed the mountains. He bicycled annually between Leadville and Aspen and had climbed all of Colorado 14ers. He also had journeyed abroad to climb Africa’s Kilimanjaro and Europe’s Blanc.

He and companions were well up toward the summit of Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, when forced to turn back because younger companions were suffering from altitude sickness.

Other adventures were closer to home. He was involved in the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association, and in fact, helped site the first two huts, McNamara and Margy’s.

Before either huts or a new generation of ski equipment made backcountry travel much easier, he and companions skied from the fish hatchery in Lake County across Hagerman Pass to the Diamond J Ranch on the Fryingpan River, returning the next day by the same strenuous route.

–Allen Best