I remember meeting Art in Joshua Tree in 02' . I thought at the time he was a typical armchair climber / sprayer / poser , but then I saw him climb and he definitely knew what he was doing on the rock . I remember being surprised and making a mental note not to draw too many conclusions about climbers based on their mouth , or size ... he was pretty short . Sad to hear he has died .
I randomly ran into Art climbing in Josh about 5 years ago. He rolled solo into HV campground and crashed at my site. The next day we had climbed together with a group of friends before we realized that we had conversed on rockclimbing.com before. It was one of the more entertaining days of climbing I've ever had the pleasure of sharing with friends.
I didn't know Art well, and only had the pleasure of climbing with him that once, but I know he will be missed.
I first met Art when I started doing some rockclimbing with a group of people I met through the Outdoorsclub 10+ years ago. Eric O'rafferty, Steve Powell, many others...and Art. I was a mountaineer, and had little experience doing technical rock. All were gracious in showing me the subtleties, and I learned enough not to be dangerous.
I wasn't a serious rock climber, but on my occasional trips to Josh, Art was always there, and was unfailingly courteous and kind, and I always enjoyed seeing him. Art took great joy in climbing, and he clearly was not just a person who climbed, but was a devotee of the climbing lifestyle: he was a climber, in the sense of the old camp 4 climbers. You couldn't quite imagine him in another context.
I always liked this group's emphasis on safety practices. I always learned. There was a reason for doing something, and it could be explained.
I climbed with others, and particularly when I watched what went on around me outside of my group, I was appalled at the safety practices. Just unbelievable.(not to this audience)
I thought about it for quite awhile, and decided that I could either bitch about it, or I could do something about it. So I started teaching free classes in climbing technique and introductory classes, mainly through the Outdoorsclub. Mostly at Stoney. Mainly, I was teaching safety practices.
I think I introduced something like 350 people to climbing over a couple of years, and one day I ran into Art out at Josh. We got to talking, and he told me that he thought that when I started doing the classes, that I was totally off-base, because I was no top-level climber (no sh*t!) with credentials to justify my showing others.
But then he actually ran into people who had learned from me, who wanted to know about the history of the ropes they were climbing on, who wanted to inspect anchors, who were anal about inspecting partner's setups and harnesses, and if they got attitude about safety, they walked away. He told me that he was wrong, and that I had made a difference in what he was seeing happen on the rocks, and the good practices were infectious.
That Art would have bothered to have said that meant the world to me. I'd obviously never known what he'd thought before, but he thought it was important that I should know, and that he had changed his position.
That was the kind of guy he was. He might seem tough and rowdy, but that was to cover that he was sensitive and caring about those around him.
Art was an ambassador for our sport, and those who encountered him came away knowing someone who made them smile and think well of climbers.
A few months after I met Art, October of 2003, we decided to go climb Human Fright to Angel's Fright at Tahquitz. It was my second time on a multipitch climb.
That day changed my life and my climbing forever. After what happened that day, Art and I were climbing partners and dear friends. He was my mentor. I met him when I was a complete beginner, and he taught me so much.
Art taught me to place gear. He taught me to lead climb. He taught me to build anchors. He taught me rescue systems. He taught me to be skeptical of climbing partners, to ask questions, to make sure I was climbing with safe people. He taught me how to cook on a camp stove. He taught me how to stay calm when lost in the desert in the dark with no headlamp.
Every Thursday night for a long time, he would call me and ask, "What are we climbing this weekend?" He was the best climbing partner life has ever given me.
Falling out of touch with Art will probably always be one of the biggest regrets of my life. I'm so sorry for these years we wasted, and I'm so sorry I didn't get to say goodbye and the thing I really want to say.
I have to find my picture of Art in front of Art's Bar in Santa Barbara.
Art and I were good friends in the 80's, roaming around from Rosarito Beach to Goleta. From his zebra painted mail-delivery jeep to his passion for the beach, to his great way to spin humor in to our daily lives - Art was that friend that we all like to have.
Art - the memories will last forever. Adios Amigo - you're missed.