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Monday, April 25, 2011


Yesterday was the sixteenth anniversary of the death of two young men who were very important to me (and to many other people), and of a third, whom I didn't know, who left behind a widow and two small boys.

My boys, my young men, were climbers. Fraternity brothers, climbing partners, and friends. Theirs was a yin-yang friendship. They were opposites with a shared passion for rocks, fear, and accomplishment, and admiration for one another. Hard to know one of them without knowing at least something of the other; impossible to know either without loving him.

These guys, so much younger than I am now, with their third partner, made their assent. Details elude me: name of mountain, for example. But the point was, it was a first assent of the north face of an Alaskan peak. They travelled a bit late in the season, aware that the changing temperature made avalanches a greater than usual risk. They made it to the top, called home, spoke to family, then started down. They never made it.

Great guys, great young men. I am thinking of you, and of your siblings and widows, parents and children.


  1. Hope,

    I remember when this tragedy occurred. You had their photos up on the wall of your room at Oxford and you talked about them all the time. I still think of them often especially after reading a ton of Krakauer adventure books. I believe you told me that they had attempted it once, but it was tougher than they could manage, came down to re-plan their next attempt, carefully studying the terrain, etc., and then climbed it again.

    It's a terrible loss.


  2. Thank you Hope. Nicely written... After 16 years I've hardened over a bit, but you managed to squeeze a tear out of me again. I welcome it.

  3. Losses incorporated into viable lives - still losses.

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  5. I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!