News about Mead Hargis


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Anne-Marie Rizzi

Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 22, 2007 - 08:32pm PT

I am forwarding portions of a message I received today about Mead Hargis. Many of you probably remember him. The author of the below note is George Durkee. If you would like contact info for Mead and his wife Connie, please send me a private email.



Some of you may have heard that Mead Hargis' health has not been
good. I'm writing to update those of you I've got addresses for on how he's doing. Please pass this on to others I may have missed.

A few years ago, Mead was having memory problems and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. For a couple of years, he was doing really well, though he had to retire from his Forest Service job. He was still active and involved with his kids and (now) grandkids. At the very early stages he and I took a couple of ski trips and there were few signs of memory problems. Last spring he and his wife, Connie, took a trip down the east side of the Sierra and through Yosemite so he could show her his former hangouts. It was a good trip for both of them.

Late last fall, Mead showed a marked and rapid decline in both his mental and physical abilities such that it was impossible for him to be home alone. Connie found a really nice care home in nearby Kamas, Utah. It has great views of the valley and mountains and a caring staff. Unfortunately, he was only there a few months before his continued decline forced another move to a home that could take better medical care of him. He's now in Salt Lake and under Hospice care.

Although there's little obvious recognition of friends or even,
sometimes, family at this point, there's indications that,
internally, he's reliving some of his past. Tina (aka Christina
Vojta), Heather and Laurel (aka George) have all been to visit
several times in the last few months. The whole thing is pretty grim but there's some comfort that he's in relative peace. Connie sees him every day and there's photos of his Yosemite days and family in his room.

So. So.... .

I was thinking that, if some of you have time, a short note to Connie with a shared memory of past times she could read to Mead would be a welcome. Connie didn't know Mead in his Yosemite days, so a few stories from then would be nice to fill in a past as well as maybe perk some memories for Mead, distant though he may be from the rest of us.

I'm sure the same would be appreciated by his daughters, Heather and Laurel, telling them what a fine person their father is and maybe a story about the grand old Yosemite days, which they were too young to remember.

Jun 22, 2007 - 10:53pm PT

He came walking through the yard with John Dill last winter while I was working on a vehicle and recognized me right away.

He did look very old at first from a distance. Bent body like high sierra tree.

I did not know he was ill.

I hope he gets better.

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Jun 22, 2007 - 10:55pm PT
yes, and Anne - I still have not run into Mort Hempel here in Boulder but have your contact info w/ me if I do.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 23, 2007 - 01:25am PT
I never met Mead, but my high school math teacher knew him from the late 60s from climbing in Washington state. And I remember his article in Summit magazine about doing an early ascent of the North American Wall. My math teacher speculated that he used such a fancy vocabulary to possibly suggest that he had gone to college? :-) No matter what, it was a pretty unique style of writing for climbing!

Jun 23, 2007 - 01:35am PT

I think that was fall of 71. I was on the Nose and Mead and Roskelly were over there on the NA smokin up that thing in 2 1/2 days with just pins. No cams, no copperheads no nuts except weird ones.

Every time I looked over there, their haul bag was moving up another pitch, while we were slugging it out with our shoulder bruising loads for pin racks.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 23, 2007 - 08:29am PT
Hey Werner, who was the guy who was Mead's main climbing partner? He was also from Washington. About the same height and skinny like Mead. I can picture him but cannot recall his name.

Scared Silly

Trad climber
Jun 23, 2007 - 10:33am PT
Roger, would it be Dave Jenkins? He and Mead did some stuff around Eastern Oregon years ago. I talked to Dave about their routes when I was working on an article about climbing in da Blues some 20 years ago (that is the Blue Mtns of Eastern Oregon). I later worked with Mead on the climbing management plan for the City of Rocks.

Given that I am here in SLC, I have asked Anne-Marie to put me in touch with Mead's wife and I will see if I can not arrange a visit or two.

BTW another from that generation who is also starting to suffer from a similar fate is Pete Sinclair. Pete was a long time Teton Ranger and did the first ascent of the West Rib on Denali along with Breitenbach, Buckingham, and Corbet. Some Teton friends did a similar trip with Pete but instead of visiting Yosemite they headed up to Rainier.

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 23, 2007 - 12:46pm PT
Mead Hargis was a phenomenal talent. I'm deeply saddened but glad to hear he's in a peaceful place. He's seems very young to have this disease (which claimed my own mother). It's very hard to watch so my thoughts go out to his family and friends.


Truckee, CA
Jun 23, 2007 - 03:27pm PT
Thanks for the update Anne-Marie. Very sad, my thoughts go out to him and his family for which this must be so difficult. I was too young to know Mead in his climbing heyday but always enjoyed conversing with him during his ranger phase, and he regularly stopped by to visit us at YMS in Tuolumne when he lived in Mono City.

and partner

Trad climber
Leavenworth, WA
Jun 24, 2007 - 10:05am PT
I new Mead since high school, the skinny guy referred to above was Jim Langdon (still living in Sandpoint, Idaho). Mead's cousin Tom lives in Jackson Wy, now. Mead and John went up the NA wall after a failed attempt of John's and Andy Embick's (who used a lot of copperheads and took a couple big whippers). They teamed up, climbed Meatgrinder- then flashed up the NA. I was there. Pretty cool. Mead was a really great guy.. I was just thinking of him, as I was at Lower Town Wall aid climbing last week- he did a horrific A4 climb of the blasted part of the quarry there, years ago. The last I saw him, was when he really helped me, settling a fight between the local LEO's and the rescue service over who would haul me to the hospital from Tuolumne (I fell on Third Pillar, ripping out my calf muscle- two day crawl, then a fire patrol chopper saw me...another story). I was wasting away while these guys fought over the issues... he sent me straight to the Valley Hosp- then to Stanford Hosp. Mead was ALWAYS a good guy, and tremendously talented. Many of us from that era looked up to him, both literally and figuratively. He had vision, strength, humor, and gentleness toward others. ---this saddens me. Dave Dailey

Trad climber
Jun 24, 2007 - 10:49am PT
Mead was the only person I ever knew that got out of the draft (Vietnam) because he was too skinny.

Anne-Marie Rizzi

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 2, 2007 - 11:28pm PT
Think it's time to bump this. Does anyone else have anything to say about Mead?

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 2, 2007 - 11:43pm PT
This is sad news, but thanks for passing it on.

I didn't know Mead, but knew of him, through too much reading of journals. I met him once, in Yosemite in June 1974, and he was quite kind.

At that time, Mead was a ranger, and lived in Camp 4, in a big tent. He was more or less responsible for Camp 4 - it had settled down a bit, and had become a walk in campground, but was still a bit of a zoo, especially in the summer, when schools got out. He had to ride herd on a bunch of orangutans, but seemed to do well at it.

There was a one week limit then, but you could get permission to stay longer if you asked. Somehow I think that climbers were more likely to get permission... Anyway, we eventually got up the nerve to talk with Mead, and he very kindly said OK.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 2, 2007 - 11:58pm PT
Yosemite Valley FA's of Mead Hargis

Chopper 5.10c Three Brothers Middle Brother Camp 4 Wall, Far Left FA 1971 Mead Hargis, Rick Sylvester
Cristina 5.11b Three Brothers Middle Brother Camp 4 Wall, Center FA 1971 Mead Hargis, Dave Davis FFA John Long
Peter Left 5.10c El Capitan West Buttress, Base FA 1971 Mead Hargis, Kim Schmitz


Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jul 3, 2007 - 12:44am PT
jesus. oh well. tom and mead were local legends at my alma mater, the evergreen state college.

tonight, i spin the prayer wheel for him and all those who love him.

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 3, 2007 - 04:07am PT
Mead Hargis is and was one of the good and grand souls of the Valley, a soul with whom I climbed more than once. He seemed so brilliant and fast on rock, so ready, so beautiful. Before I got into karate, he was studying a bit, and he showed me a side-thrust kick, right to my shin. Ouch. I had only the best thoughts about him. He told me he was from Washington, and that didn't matter, because actually he and I were from some other place of the soul from which people venture out into the world and then are destined to meet up. We climbed Meat Grinder together one day, and he fired up that steep endurance crux pitch with one or two points of protection, not even breaking a sweat. Somehow in the chaos of my own life I lost touch with this friend. Reading his story now, I find I am in shock. Bitter tears have been falling down like rain that sometimes falls in those sunlit realms of light one can only remember as Yosemite, that mystical place where Mead and I once got to know one another. To that place, to those times, to Mead, and forever...

Will someone post information for writing his wife and family?

Pat Ament
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Jul 3, 2007 - 09:18am PT
Kevin, I was with my high school climbing buddy Steve and two guys from SoCal in C4 (must have been early-mid 1974) with a similar story, Mead walked up and we had this small bong lit up and we freaked but he said something about being careful with fire and walked on.

I didn't know him well but he was a very nice guy.

Alzheimer's is a horrible disease and like John I lost my mother this January to it (and two aunts with a third not looking good from the disease).

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 7, 2007 - 02:55am PT
Life touches us only sometimes.
Sun will cast its strength on one's face and eyes.
A light in afternoon will shine across a rock.
A friend will be there.
A friend will not.
A year will be there.
A year will not.
Decades will pass, like starlight.
And then sun again will cast its strength
on that friend's face and eyes,
that soul's light still there
among the mysteries and beauty.
Stars follow,
and they pass.
Talbot Bielefeldt

Social climber
Eugene, OR
Sep 7, 2007 - 01:57pm PT
The "other skinny guy" from Washington would be Del Young, with whom I believe Mead set some speed records for walls in the valley. Del, Dave Jensen, Mead and I all guided for Lute Jerstad in Oregon in the mid-70's.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 1, 2007 - 12:21am PT
I finally tracked this one down. It should kick up a memory or two and one of my favorite Sheridan cartoons to boot.

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