I just got a text saying that a friend committed suicide yesterday. I climbed Mt. Rainier in Washington with him two years ago. The two of us were in the best shape out of our small group, and so we shared a rope together. This is a picture of him resting high on the mountain:
I hadn’t really talked to him or been in contact with him much since we came back from the trip. Climbing is funny that way. You share such intense experiences with someone but at the end of the day, climbing is still an intensely personal thing. Apart from life, it’s the loneliest team sport there is.
When we were climbing Rainier, he had to sit down and rest every few hundred feet. The altitude was getting to him and his rented plastic mountaineering boots were rubbing his heels raw. It was rough. After he’d been resting for a few minutes, I’d tug on the rope to wake him up and get him moving again. He’d then get up and keep going until he had to sit and rest again. It was during those rests that I took the above photo.
I was on Facebook last week and saw that it was his birthday. I didn’t bother wishing him a happy one; I’m not super social on Facebook, even with my close friends. But who knows, maybe that would have been enough of a tug on his rope to get him up and keep moving, if only for a little bit longer.