Kate Koons is racing this year for the Andy Tyson Memorial Fund. Andy was her friend. He and another friend AJ Linnell died in a plane crash this year. There is also an AJ memorial team. In honor of the adventurous spirit of Andy, in combination with her 40th birthday, Koons decided to test herself in the Grand Traverse.
“It’s totally a race that Andy would have done. And he wouldn't have told anybody about it and he probably would have won,” she said with a chuckle. “We won’t be winning.”
Koons is based in Victor, Idaho. She works for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and gets to train for the Grand Traverse through her professional work as a backcountry instructor.
Funds raised for the Andy Tyson Memorial Fund will go to scholarships for people in developing mountain nations to receive professional mountaineering training, such as a NOLS course.
Koons and her partner will be wearing Wonder Women outfits during their descent of Aspen Mountain — a gift from Andy’s wife Molly. The two have been on many adventures together, and Koons says they approach challenge in similar ways.
“Where we keep coming back to is we just share the same mindset,” Koons said. “If things aren’t going well it’s not like we are going to be really upset. We are doing this for fun and we are doing this in honor of Andy.”
About the organization: The Andy Tyson Memorial Fund serves mountain communities in the developing world through projects that promote the appreciation of their environment and opportunities for the development of outdoor skills. The goal of this fund is to provide these international outdoor leaders with resources for expeditions; training and access to relevant experts for the betterment of their communities. These activities are key to increasing opportunities for meaningful employment and involvement in their region’s development.
To find out more about the Andy Tyson Memorial Fund, click here.