Exposed: Brad McQueen on tragedy and triumph in the mountains

WE TALK to Brad McQueen, author of Exposed, on what readers can expect from the book and what it is about mountains that make him tick.



Brad McQueen.

Brad McQueen is the author of ‘Exposed’.

BRAD McQUEEN’s passion for hiking and climbing started as a child and he has gone on to climb all of Colarado’s 14,000 foot peaks along with other mountains in the US and abroad.


In this exclusive interview he talks to us about balancing work life with his passion for climbing as well as the tragedy that went on to inspire his book. 


When did you first get into hiking and climbing and were there any early influences that encouraged you into the sports?


I was about six the first time my parents took me on a bigger hike. They started calling me a mountain goat then and it kind of stuck. My Dad and I did our first 14,000 foot peak in Colorado together in 1998 and we were both hooked.



Brad and Melissa McQueen pictured with their dog Malcom.


What are some of the peaks and mountains you have climbed and how much does your local environment allow you to pursue your passions?


I have done all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountains with a number of duplicates (217 total Colorado 14,000 foot peak summits as of today). 


I have also summited Mt. Rainier (Washington State USA), the Grand Teton (Wyoming USA), El Pico de Orizaba (Mexico), Cotopaxi (Ecuador), Antisana (Ecuador) and Kilimanjaro (Africa). 


Living in Denver, Colorado and working as an accountant gives me great access to Colorado’s high peaks. My work busy season is January to April, leaving me with lots of flexibility through the spring and summer climbing seasons.


Could you tell us more about Exposed and what readers can expect from the book?


In 2001, my wife, my father and I were stranded in a late-May blizzard on Mt. Evans, a Colorado 14,000 foot peak. Melissa (my wife) suffered severe frostbite and lost eight of her toes as a result. The book tells the whole story of that accident and the physical and mental recovery afterwards, including Melissa’s decision to climb again (she reached the summit of Kilimanjaro with me – we joke that she holds the informal speed record for a two-toed ascent).



Melissa’s frostbite left her with only two toes. Here she is pictured before surgery.


What’s it like being able to share your love of your hobbies with your partner?


It was very hard having Melissa severely injured on a hike when I made so many mistakes. She has never blamed me or resented the errors I made that day. We have had a wonderful time since 2008 when she made the decision that she wanted to get out and hike and climb again. It is awesome to be able to share that with her. She is one tough woman.


How do you manage to combine your working life with your adventures in the mountains?


In my profession, it is tough to be a skier (a winter hobby during accounting busy season), but since I’m not a skier, it is actually pretty easy to balance my spring/summer/fall work schedule with my desire to get outside and into the mountains.


6.4 - walker at home

Brad pictured with Melissa at home.


What is it about climbing and hiking that fulfil you as a person and what advice would you give to someone thinking of taking their first steps into either?


For me, it is setting challenging goals for myself, then working slowly and meticulously to achieve them. I really enjoy the challenge of climbing mountains and it is also an amazing way for me to see some of the most beautiful views in the world. 


In terms of advice for beginners – first and foremost is safety, respect and preparedness. It is critical to respect the mountains and enter them prepared for sudden shifts in weather. Doing hikes or climbs that are within your skill-set (or going with more experienced friends or even guides is a great way to expand your skills) is another important element of respect and preparation.


Once the safety stuff is covered, just have fun, enjoy the views and recognize that the tortoise always wins the race over the hare. Slow and steady gets you up mountains amazingly effectively.


hiking with dog

Melissa pictured with Malcom on the road.

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