Peter Terbush


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Trad climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 16, 2008 - 11:21pm PT
I am cross-posting this from another thread, because I want to see if anyone else out there remembers Peter.

The 1999 Glacier Point rockfall claimed the life of my friend Peter Terbush. When the rocks started falling Peter held the belay and saved his partner, Kerry Pyle. It took them a week to dig his body out, and when they found him he was still holding the belay.

Peter and I met when I was 14, and had just moved to Singapore. He pretty much taught me how to climb.

Climbing in Hindhede Quarry (scene of many early adventures!), 1996

Goofing around near Bukit Timah

A rainy day at the Quarry

Leading a new route at Dairy Farm -- this picture taken shortly before a rock broke and Peter took a 20 footer, leaving skid marks down the wall and hitting me with the rock (I still have a scar).

Mt Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo -- my first climbing trip! It rained a lot and we only had 1 book (an Elmore Leonard novel). We tore it in half, and Peter had to read the second half first. Unfortunately he was a much faster reader than me, so I had to keep tearing pieces off my 1/2 so he had something to keep reading. By the end of the trip the book was in 20 pieces.

First attempt on the Dragon's Horns, Tioman Island, Malaysia. We pretty much got swatted down the first attempt, but had a great time. I was 14, Peter was 18. I recall Peter didn't have any underwear on the climb (after swimming he had left it to dry on a rock, and forgotten it). And somehow he ripped a hole in the crotch of his pants. As he was leading a pitch, he shouted down for me to "watch him". Looking up, I was greeted with a very direct view of his balls. Gross!

The Dragon's Horns.

HDB Tyrolean. We got in a little hot water for this one.

I know there has been some controversy regarding the family's lawsuit against the NPS, but I don't think that should diminish his memory.

We miss you Peter.

Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
up Yonder (the edge of Treason)
Sep 16, 2008 - 11:31pm PT

Desolation Basin, Calif.
Sep 17, 2008 - 12:20am PT
I never met that fine young fellow, but I do remember his story. IMHO, he is one of the greatest heroes in the history of climbing. When I teach a beginner about the importance of the belay, and the seriousness of those words, "Belay on", I tell his story.


Trad climber
So. Cal.
Sep 17, 2008 - 12:25am PT
I remember Peter!

ALWAYS keep your brake-hand on the rope when belaying. It's your job.

Peter died with his brake-hand on the rope.

Sep 17, 2008 - 12:32am PT
I remember him.

We ran into ground zero and grabbed him and ran with him back out hoping we wouldn't get nailed by a rouge loose piece of rock with our number on it that may have still been sitting around up there.

Must have been a terrible feeling for him to be trapped like that.
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Sep 17, 2008 - 12:34am PT
Scott - Thank you for putting a face to Peter. It's too bad the resulting litigation stole some of the
spotlight from what was surely a heroic and highly honorable action on his part. May he rest in peace.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 17, 2008 - 12:37am PT
I think of him every time I'm out on the Apron.
Now I will see his youthful face too.
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, Ca
Sep 17, 2008 - 12:56am PT
Interesting article:
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 17, 2008 - 01:04am PT
Yeah Ed, I also think of him and his holding on to his belay. I never knew him but understand the circumstances surrounding that hideous event. Wanted always to know who he was. Thanks tons, Scott. What a rare, freak occurrence too.

Sep 17, 2008 - 01:16am PT
I was in the Curry lot when the rockfall that killed Peter let loose. The parking lot was complete pandemonium as everyone in Curry ran frantically for safety in the meadows. I vividly remember a mom running at full speed, grasping her kid's arm and trailing him behind her. It was a scene straight out of a Godzilla movie.

Everyone ran for safety but Peter. It must have taken amazing strength and courage to hold tight. If I remember correctly, there were a couple of other climbers around the base of the Apron adjacent to Peter. They ran and survived. Peter held the belay. A true climbing hero if ever there was one.

Oakland: what's not to love?
Sep 17, 2008 - 03:41am PT

I've thought about Peter a lot after hearing the story. Thanks for sharing your memories. Got any more?

From a poster at


Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sep 17, 2008 - 10:32am PT
I met a friend of Peter's out in Crested Butte once and she told me the story. Then I heard more details of it later.

Trad climber
Indiana (the other Mideast)
Sep 17, 2008 - 10:39am PT
That's truly an amazing story. Thanks for the insight Scott. RIP Peter!

climber's near nevada...
Sep 17, 2008 - 11:51am PT
I never had the honor to meet the man, but I think of him as a Hero - plain and simple. He saved his friend.

Trad climber
San Diego
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 17, 2008 - 11:56am PT
More random memories of Peter:

Peter opened my eyes to what is possible. During Christmas break of my freshmen (high school) year, while I was doing traditional family stuff, Peter jetted off to New Zealand, solo.

After arriving in Christchurch he hitchhiked to Mt Cook Village. There he picked up a partner and after sitting out a lot of bad weather they went up and bagged "The Footstool", a New Zealand Grade 3+ alpine route.

I remember Peter missed the first week of school, and I was worried sick that something had happened. When he finally showed up the next week, he casually recounted his trip to me. I was so incredulous, I had never known anybody who had done such a thing before. My first reaction was, "You can you that???".

Jetting off by oneself to another country, hitch hiking, picking up climbing partners (strangers) -- these concepts were completely foreign to me, I hadn't even considered them a possibility. But Peter showed me that you are the master of your own destiny, and the possibilities are only limited your imagination.

I guess it was what you would call a "paradigm shift".

Sep 17, 2008 - 11:59am PT
Thanks Scott for posting up the pictures and memories of Peter.

Trad climber
San Diego
Sep 17, 2008 - 02:36pm PT
Great post Scotty. Believe it or not, a lot of what you describe in Peter I see in you. It looks like you kept a large part of him with you.
Tahoe climber

Trad climber
a dark-green forester out west
Sep 17, 2008 - 03:53pm PT
All I can say is "let his spirit - and bravery - live on through the rest of us as we try to live up to his example."


Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Oct 8, 2008 - 10:38pm PT
Wow, I missed this the first time around.

Peter died a hero in a sacred place doing what he loved...and he did it right. It's just a shame that his life was taken.

May God bless him. We still think of you, bro.

And Scott, thanks for posting this stuff, it must be hard.

Social climber
Oct 8, 2008 - 10:40pm PT
hey there scott and bruce... just now found a link for this, from the new curry-rockslide, oct, 8, 2008 post:

thank you for loving your dear friend peter-james to share this story of what real love for others will do...

thanks for sharing the picture of the memorial, and letting his deed of love and courage to not be forgotten...

you know, thats what friends are for.....
god bless....

he is a part of yosemite that should never be forgotten...

edit: i was just thinking... one never knows when ones whole life-duties may be building up strenth, stamina, love and courage to oneday save another...
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