Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 15, 2005 - 07:54pm PT
My friend Gina's uncle was a climber in the 80's who died in the Sierras some time ago, I thought the name sounded familiar, but could not find him in any of the guides as a first ascentionist or anything. Any of you crusty valley locals remember A Bob Simmons?
Oh man...You folks are really tearing me up this week. Bob was my best friend for a few years. We got into the most amazing and deep personal conversations. He was also a good friend to Walt Shipley and a group of us hung together quite a bit. This was at the time that Walt was with Nancy Kaplan. Also Lydia Pankyher was climbing with us, or Bob and I with them.
Bob had an interresting history. Though we were close, I can only provide a glimps. He grew up in Reedley (southeast of Fresno). At some point he got involved in a business deal involving altered weapons. Bob had the skill to do the altering, but they were caught and Bob did time. I think in a halfway house. As part of the deal he had to do psychotherapy and did that with the same guy that I later used.
So we had that in common, but it was also notable in that this therapist used a body therapy that focused on posture, breathing, emotional expression and emotional movement in such a way that I always got worked harder and faster than if I was climbing. Weird as it may seem, a few months working with this guy, and no climbing, changed me from struggling with 5.9 to climbing solid 10.b. I assume that Bob had a similar experience. But definitely Bob was not afraid to bring up any subject, though he was a totally mellow and supportive person.
One time we wanted to climb up to El Cap towers for a day climb.
We fired up to Sickle Ledge pretty fast, but stopped to there nibble. Soon enough we were sitting on the edge, leaning back, basking in the sun, shoes off, toes dangling in space. Talking about life, perfectly content to sit there and enjoy that one spot.
We spent the entire afternoon there and it was one of the most pleasant of the many pleasant days I have ever spent in Yosemite.
In 1986 or 87, Bob attempted a solo ski trip to Triple Divide Peak out of Lodgepole in Sequoia Park. A big storm caught him about two days in. He died, hunkered down in his sleeping bag and in his bivy sack. He was out on top of a lake, safe from avelanche, but perhaps he got too wet and hypothermia got him, or perhaps the snowfall was to fast and heavy for him to keep clear and he suffocated. He was found in the late summer or early fall when a backpacker found a sleeping pad on the shore of the lake. A helicopter crew spotted Bob's body on the bottom of the lake, still in the sleeping bag.
We have each other for such a short time. Perhaps as Werner says, it is all illusion. But it seems a worthwhile illusion to me. I am very grateful for my time with Bob, though I often wish I still had his counsel.