Ellen had always been an athlete. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, worked as a county clerk and went on to become a professional firefighter. Still the athlete, she ran competitively and began working on her goal of climbing all the major peaks in California, starting with Mt. Whitney. Her idea of fun was to get up at 3 a.m. and drive from the Bay Area to Yosemite to run up El Capitan with friends.
On December 19, 2004, she overdosed on alcohol and a prescription of Vicodin she had received for a broken arm. She was found in the driveway of her home by her two youngest daughters, aged 10 and 7.
In June of the following year, her oldest daughter, niece, two sisters, brother-in-law and two fellow firefighters climbed Mt. Shasta and scattered her ashes, giving her a final climb to another summit.
Ellen’s sisters, Maggie and Carolyn