Mountaineering Weekend: Special Guest Speakers - YMCA of the Rockies Blog | Colorado
The Latest From
Our Blog
YMCA of the Rockies
YMCA of the Rockies

Check Availability


Check In


Check Out



Adults Per (13+)

Children Per


Lodging Type

Mountaineering Weekend: Special Guest Speakers

This special guest presentation will be free and open to the public on Saturday, February 16th at 7pm and Sunday, February 17th at 7pm at the Ponder Chapel at the YMCA of the Rockies.

Dr. Ulyana Horodyskyj:  Ulyana is the founder and owner of Science in the Wild, an adventure citizen science company that leads immersive and educational expeditions around the world. She is also a visiting assistant professor at Colorado College, teaching courses on climate and the environment. At 6 years old, Ulyana saw mountains for the first time – the Swiss Alps – and was hooked. At age 13, she started working on a science fair project on how to travel in space without fuel (using solar sails instead), which earned her enough scholarships to attend college. Ulyana meshed her interests in the outdoors and science as a geology major at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

By the time she turned 23, she had traveled to and worked on all the continents. Ulyana crafted a PhD project on glacial lakes in the Himalaya and funded her work through a combination of small grants and crowd fundraisers at the University of Colorado Boulder. During a Fulbright fellowship to Nepal in 2013/14, she was able to immerse herself in the culture and countryside, as well as grow The Sherpa-Scientist Initiative, to educate the locals on their changing climate. These days, through a new project called “Summits, Songs, and Science”, Ulyana and Ricardo, her fiancé, aim to “inspire and connect people around the world while promoting the joys and benefits of mountaineering, music and science” by climbing peaks around home in Colorado, the US and around the world.

During the YMCA of the Rockies Mountaineering Weekend, on Saturday, February 16th at 7pm  in Ponder Chapel, she will present: 

“Science and Summits”

In this keynote, Ulyana takes the audience on a journey to high altitudes, in the Himalaya of Nepal, and high latitudes, on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, exploring how these fragile environments are being impacted by a changing climate. In the Himalaya, glaciers are quickly melting, creating lakes on their surfaces and increasing flood risks to villagers living down-valley. In the high altitudes and latitudes, snow and ice on glaciers can collect contaminants like black carbon (pollution from cars and factories), causing them to melt faster. Find out how! Ulyana will speak about how she has blended her passions – science and climbing – into a career as a scientist, educator and mountaineer, while showing photographs from her research expeditions and telling stories of life in the field as a climbing scientist.


Mr. Ricardo Peña: Ricardo is a professional musician and mountaineer. His music training began at the age of five in Mexico City, where he grew up. Ricardo is the leader of two bands: Milestone (rock) and Los Bohemios (Latin) which play concerts, private parties and weddings. Ricardo won 1st place at the 2011 International Blues Challenge, the largest blues band competition in the world, as a member of the Lionel Young Band. He started a guiding company, Alpine Expeditions, in 2004. Ricardo has guided and climbed extensively throughout Colorado, the Argentinean, Chilean and Bolivian Andes, the Alaska Range, Mt. Elbrus and the Caucasus mountain range in Russia, the Khumbu region in the Himalaya, in Kilimanjaro and Mexico. He has climbed all the Colorado 14ers and is currently finishing the 100 highest peaks in the state. Ricardo also has summited 46 of the 50 state highpoints and is planning on finishing these in 2019.

On February 12, 2005, Ricardo discovered the coat, wallet and documents of Andes Survivor Eduardo Strauch while climbing near the impact point of the famous plane crash popularized in the book and movie “Alive”. This discovery led to an amazing friendship with Eduardo Strauch which led to Ricardo guiding many expeditions to the historic site, appearing on many documentaries, appearing in the book written by the 16 survivors, and leading two expeditions for National Geographic. This includes the December 2005 expedition in which Ricardo and his team re-traced and documented, for the first time ever, the historic escape across the Andes done by survivors Roberto Canessa and Nando Parrado in 1972.

During the YMCA of the Rockies Mountaineering Weekend, Sunday, February 17th at 7pm at the Ponder Chapel he will present: 

The Andes Survivors and High Peaks Around the World

In this keynote, Ricardo will be speaking about his very special connection to one of the greatest survival stories of all time: The Andes Survivors. A discovery he made in the Andes in 2005 led him to meet all the survivors, lead expeditions for National Geographic, appear in many documentaries and books about the survivors and bring people from around the world to the historic site in annual expeditions he guides with survivor Eduardo Strauch. He will also talk about his expeditions to the highest peaks on each continent including Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro and Elbrus and his experiences climbing the 50 State highpoints (he only has 6 more to go!), as well as Colorado’s 100 highest peaks (only 12 to go!). The list of 100 highest peaks in Colorado includes all the famous 14ers and all the 13ers above 13,808′.

All Mountaineering Weekend activities are free for guests staying in lodge rooms or cabins. Booking & advanced registration is required for weekend activities through this link.  Day passes for guests staying off-grounds are also available for $25 per person, per day.

YMCA’s Super Value rates are valid for lodge rooms and value rates for private cabins. Guests can participate in the weekend for as low as $84 per night for a lodge room or $159 per night for a two-bedroom cabin.

About The Author

Send and Share

Colorado Conference Center Website Screenshot

You Are About to Be Redirected

In 10 seconds, you will be redirected to our Conference Center Site.

Send Me Now