A Climber We Lost: Anna Laila Leikvold
Each January we post a farewell tribute to those members of our community lost in the year just past. Some of the people you may have heard of, some not. All are part of our community and contributed to climbing.
You can read the full tribute to Climbers We Lost in 2022 here.
Anna Laila Leikvold, 22, July 9
On July 9, 2022, Anna Laila Leikvold, originally from Minnesota but based in Fort Collins, Colorado, died due to a rockfall accident at the Wizard’s Gate crag on Twin Sisters Peak, south of Estes Park, Colorado. Leikvold, who was wearing a helmet, was at the base of the cliff in a party of three getting ready to climb when a football-sized rock dislodged from high above on the four-pitch route The Arrival struck her. (The Arrival climbed directly above multiple single-pitch climbs, and had the existing route Wizard’s Path as its first pitch.)
The two dozen climbers at the cliff—a popular respite from Colorado’s summer heat, with alpine gneiss of varying quality at an elevation of 10,000-plus feet—called 911 and rallied to save Leikvold. Rescuers quickly arrived to evacuate her on a litter, but she passed away before they reached the road. One of the first ascentionists of The Arrival, Bob Siegrist, returned later that month and removed the bolts from the upper three pitches of the climb, to prevent future such accidents.
At the time of her passing, Leikvold was enrolled to attend graduate school, to study sustainability and green farming; she’d earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where she’d studied journalism, sociology, and English literature. Per her obituary, Leikvold was a a singular soul, “committed to using her skills, knowledge, and intellect to find the way to make the world a better place. She was outspoken on many topics, and would stand, in the face of disapproval, speaking her truth, eloquently and passionately.” Not surprisingly, Leikvold worked with various nonprofits as a research analyst in the areas of women’s reproductive rights, increased voter access/registration, and racial justice. A seasoned world traveler, she was also passionate about the outdoors, including camping, hiking, and climbing.
As her boyfriend, Mike Stroh, also a climber, recalled at her memorial, Leikvold had a quirky and inquisitive sense of humor that often expressed itself in her posing “Would you rather?” questions. Option A, he said, would be some complex, ridiculous, in-depth scenario, but then Option B would always be, “Or would you rather have a bird beak?” Said Stroh, “We spent an absurd amount of time discussing the pros and cons of having a beak. She made me laugh every single day that I knew her.” He also praised her calming presence and the way that she brought out the best in everyone who knew her.
As Stroh recalled one of the many climbers who assisted in the rescue telling him after that terrible day, “As long as we hold Anna in our hearts forever, she will never truly die.”