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Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 27, 2006 - 01:06pm PT
Oh Charlie, I guess we should have expected this. You rolled the dice sooo many times without coming up snake eyes. Perhaps it can delude one into thinking that one CAN always be the master of one's own fate.
But if anyone was YOU were.

I started this thread so people can relate and remember stories of Charlie Fowler and fifty-two years of life well lived.
I'll see if I can come up with some photos and stories later. When Charlie moved out west in September '75 his friend from Virginia, Bob Dodds, and I had just put up Pervertical Sanctuary on the Diamond so, being the same age as Charlie, we've been friends for our entire adult life.

But now I have to call up Layton.
scuffy b

The town that Nature forgot to hate
Dec 27, 2006 - 01:27pm PT
I never knew him. I had climbed 7 pitches of DNB and retreated
due to sickness. Soon after, news got around that he had done
the climb, 3rd class, on sight. I was shaken to my toes.
He always has seemed somehow bigger than most everyone else.
If I were looking for a hero to worship, he would have been a
good candidate.
RIP Charlie.
Wild Bill

Dec 27, 2006 - 01:33pm PT
Onward and'll be missed.
goatboy smellz

boulder county
Dec 27, 2006 - 01:35pm PT
Damn this hurts!

chris & charlie buku love, peace & inspiration!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 27, 2006 - 02:14pm PT
OK maybe its not rags but he should answer his mail.

Anyway Layton is busy, so I'll go on a bit...

Charlie came over to my place at Table Mesa with Misa Geisey and we looked at some slides from Bob and my climb. I remember being quite unimpressed and thinking, gee! this guy is no bigger than ME and with that nasally voice,... he's probably not much of a climber...

I would hope that my ability to judge character has improved but evidence probably supports otherwise.

Anyway it wasn't long before remarkable reports started filtering in.
Charlie was opening people's eyes....

Social climber
The West
Dec 27, 2006 - 02:19pm PT
I met Charlie a long time ago in the valley, but didn't climb with him until shortly before the turn of the century, in Indian Creek.

One time that stands out was I think the spring (fall?) after he lost his toes. We'd all drive out to somewhere to climb and Charlie would start the approach first 'cause it was going to take him longest than the rest of us. Imagine walking up a steep trail with a desert rack in your pack and not being able to stabalize your balance with your toes! Then he'd get on some toprope we had running and since he couldn't wear climbing shoes he'd lay back in five ten guide shoes. I remember him almost pulling off T-bones tonight (?) that way.

"I'm gonna write the Euro-guide to Indian creek," he said, with a laugh.

Later at camp, Bill Keys asked, "Charlie, can we see 'em?"
"You really want to?"
He laughed and pulled down his sock to display his puffy, almost toeless feet.
"Pretty gross, eh?" he laughed.

Six months later, I found myself with he usual crew in Indian creek. I sat with Charlie at the campfire and asked him how things were.

"Jay, you wouldn't believe how far I've come since last time I saw you. I thought I might not really climb again, back then."

We went out the next day,and he had the approach technique and climbing shoe thing dialed.
I climbed with him several more times after that and never thought about his 'problem' he was just another climber with enviable jamming skills, with a unique look on life.

Whenever I go to Indian creek, especially The superbowl/Rancho relaxo I will be looking for his goofy smile and idiosyncratic elocution.

Trad climber
Sierra foothills, CA
Dec 27, 2006 - 02:41pm PT

I don't have any stories about Charlie, but my deepest sympathies to all who knew and loved them. People like him, inspire people like me. He and Christine will be missed.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Dec 27, 2006 - 02:44pm PT
I didn't know Charlie well, but would see him at Kopeland's house in Moab ......last time I spoke with him, I called Kyle's house and Charlie answered the phone....I said , " This is Todd Gordon, can I speak with Kyle?".....Charlie said," Todd Gordon?...don't bother coming to Moab;...this town aint' big enough for the both of us.".....World Traveler, desert tower climber, and friend;... R I P.....
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 27, 2006 - 02:48pm PT
Sorry rags. Already said I was wrong but I had emailed you twice. Perhaps I'm a bit upset now.

Anyway Jay, yeah he said the same thing when he showed me his "toes" in Telluride in May '99. I guess he felt a bit self-conscious which seemed at the time to be a bit out of character.
He seemed a bit pleased when I showed him my missing fingertip, something he hadn't known about.

I just got off the phone with Layton. We had been reminiscing about a time we had been together at Red Rocks with Charlie, Randy Grandstaff, and Greg Smith only to realize that just two of us are left.

I guess we become so engrossed in day to day life that its easy to overlook just how valuable and precious it is.
We need to squeeze more out of it.

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Dec 27, 2006 - 03:02pm PT
I was another of the clan moving west from the DC/VA/MD area
in the '70's, and shared a house with Charlie in '78. I wasn't anywhere on the same earth with his abilities, but he was always
a great guy and wouldn't hesitate to give advice or say hello and
chat for a while. He will be missed.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Goleta, California
Dec 27, 2006 - 03:12pm PT
McNamera, I hate your f*#king website.

Only time I find myself here is when a friend gets killed.

Third time this year.

Trad climber
love the eastern sierras
Dec 27, 2006 - 03:37pm PT
Ron, friends and family sorry to hear of your loss.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 27, 2006 - 03:50pm PT

There's no rush now. And the safety of the rescuers concerns me; its winter now.
But I am still anxious about the details. I hope they didn' suffer and that they ARE roped.

Mountain climber
Dec 27, 2006 - 04:08pm PT
hi ron,it,s that foul mouthed scottish guy here.that,s two of my guides and best buddies gone.randall and charlie.they got me up stuff i had dreamed about since i was a kid.charlie was a total original.a simple guy in the best sense.he still saw the world as a child,with wonder.he would climb anywhere anytime.he was many times with me in scotland which was one of his favourite places to go.i spent a week with him in the desert,just before he went to china.i,m gonna miss him,buster.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Dec 27, 2006 - 04:13pm PT
It was back in 1987 and I had gotten permission from Jim Erickson who did the FA of Hair City in Eldorado to move the first bolt down and left so you could clip it while standing on the mantle shelf (Jim admitted he put it in on the wrong place on rappel). So, I go up there and drill the new bolt and put it in. Unfortunately, someone else had just recently replaced Erickson's old 1/4"er with a new 3/8" Star Dryvin in the old location (no FHRC back then). I was not prepared to get a Star Dryvin out and after much fiddling had to leave it. Due to other commitments, I couldn't get back up there right away to get the old bolt out.

Needless to say, even with Jim Erickson's permission, this caused a bit of stir in Boulder and my leaving (even temporarily) the Star Dryvin in added fuel to the flames. Charlie just went up there and took the Star Dryvin out and difused the whole situation.

Godspeed Charlie and Christine!


Social climber
No Ut
Dec 27, 2006 - 04:16pm PT
Ron- I probably met Charlie about the same time I first met you, back in the early 70's, in Eldo. The first day Charlie and I climbed together, we did half-a-dozen Eldo routes. The first climb was easy 5.10, and Charlie seemed to struggle a bit with it. He already had a bit of a rep, and I was surprised to see him having trouble on such moderate ground. As the day wore on, though, and we kept pushing the difficulty up to hard 5.11, Charlie always looked the same, and of course as shaky as he appeared, he never fell. Charlie was one of those climbers who always rose to the challenge.

In the late 70's through the mid-80's, Charlie was a truly great partner on a number of classic first ascents, including the Route Canal (ice) on the North Face of the Grand Teton, Black Elk and Feather Buttress on Warbonnet in the Winds, and Birdbrain Boulevard (mixed), in Ouray, among a number of others. I'll hunt up some of the old photos. Charlie will always be a climber's climber--an example of the best the mountains can foster. I can't believe what a great loss this is.

I didn't know Christine, but she obviously was a perfect match for Charlie. To both families I offer my deepest sympathies and heartfelt best wishes.

-Jeff Lowe

Dec 27, 2006 - 04:27pm PT
I met Charlie just once, bouldering on a horizontal cliffband above the road into Telluride (called Society Turn).

I used to go there and traverse for hours, usually alone, just climbing in peace.

So I was surprised to arrive one day and run into a legend. He was thin and looked weathered. He looked like a man who had spent his life climbing. I resisted the urge to ask him about one of his stunning feats (i.e. soloing The Flakes).

A lot of things have changed for me since my time in Telluride, but I still leaf through his chicken-scratch guidebooks to both San Juan Ice and Telluride Rock... and now those books will carry another layer of nostalgia.

As Charlie said in one of those guides: "Ratings don't mean sh#t. Climbing is dangerous."

Good luck, everyone.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 27, 2006 - 04:36pm PT
was going to call you. Guess we'll make plans soon.

my first time up Hair City was with Jim and I remember him confiding about the bolt. Sort of nice the way that worked out. Thanks again Charlie.

thats right! I didn't realize. The three of us each met each other within weeks!
YOU certainly saw more of what Charlie was capable of on difficult ground than me though.
I remember him discussing a climb he did with you in a sort of wistful manner where I sensed that he had felt both really challenged but at the same time inspired by climbing with you.
Yet I seem to recall him saying that his toughest climb was that thing he did in RMNP with Dan.

Where the hell is McGee anyway?

Mountain climber
Dec 27, 2006 - 04:53pm PT
hi ron,you can get me at 519 538 2367,usually after 9pm est.i,ll always remeber the weekend randall and i had in toqerville.charlie was a piece of work.never saw anybody that could put the grub down like he could.we had a couple of exitic trips last couple of years, cuba,where they embraced him like a bro,even though he was giving the finger to che...charlie and i did have diferring political views....and vietnam where we hung out on halong bay and did the apocolypse thing on the mekong.he was a quiet one but could party like a rock star,buster.
Jerry Dodrill

Bodega, CA
Dec 27, 2006 - 05:00pm PT

These two photos stuck in my head so long ago. I never met Charlie, but that cover shot is just unforgettable -the look says it all.
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