Bill Forrest RIP


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Hobart, Australia
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 27, 2012 - 09:18pm PT

An amazing inventor, climber, and positive person. Sad news.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:23pm PT
"Asked in April what climbing gave him, Forrest was quick to answer. 'Just a lifetime of adventure, tremendous friends and a lot of self-knowledge,' he said. 'Climbing for me is the finest sport in the world. It's a beautiful thing.'"

And he designed and made a lot of functional and innovative gear.

Trad climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:25pm PT
RIP. I used his z-chocks and belay plate for years. Well, maybe not the chocks; never could quite figure out how to mitigate the "spring" effect of them, but loved the belay plate.

Edit: Tired and misplacing memory, the z-chocks were from Leeper. But the belay plate was from Forrest. It was great.

Social climber
Right outside of Delacroix
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:34pm PT
A life well lived.

Dec 27, 2012 - 09:35pm PT
**And he designed and made a lot of functional and innovative gear.

Boy, did he ever.


Northern Mexico
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:38pm PT
RIP Mr.Forrest.

A life well lived indeed.
The Larry

Moab, UT
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:40pm PT
Cheers Bill Forrest! You were a true pioneer.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:46pm PT
I talked with him some on the phone, while ordering climbing gear from him in the 1970's.

He was a pleasant man, who was an innovator, and a good climber.

I still have some of his Copperheads, but his 70’s gear slings were “the fashion-bomb.”

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 27, 2012 - 09:47pm PT
Sad news.

Anybody want a Forrest wall hammock I took up the Diamond a couple times?

Trad climber
Ridgway, CO
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:02pm PT
Another legend gone . . . thanks Bill.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:04pm PT

A sad day.
But he died outdoors on an adventure, so he was in his element.
Rest in peace.

Mountain climber
San Diego
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:06pm PT
RIP Bill.

I stopped by Forrest store in Denver off the freeway back in the 70s and got gear. Had his swami and eventually a full harness, gear sling, and more. Great quality equipment.

They seemed far ahead of their time on this climb in my opinion. Visionary.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:14pm PT
My first bivy was in a Forrest hammock.

Just got his wall hammer after searching for years.

Such quality...

Rip Bill.

Social climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:20pm PT
hey there say, deuce4, and all...

still have so many of these great guys to learn about..

very sad to hear the news...
my condolences to his family and loved ones...
and prayers for them....

thanks for sharing, i'd not have known much
about him, otherwise...

Trad climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:26pm PT
Thank you for the harness I purchased after retiring the ball buster Whillans........much more comfy although not padded.

Dec 27, 2012 - 10:28pm PT
He cut a wide swath and did a lot of good things while he was here. Soon, all too soon, we all will follow him into the unknown. RIP.

@60L Forrest Haul pack. The straps would tuck or pull out fast and it was ready to haul.

Cilogear is making an updated version now called a Hauly close to Ray Olsens Big Wally, but this was way ahead of it's time.

Dec 27, 2012 - 10:29pm PT
An adventurous spirit. RIP, Bill.
Captain...or Skully

'Tards must Die, There is no Alternative
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:30pm PT

Trad climber
Nedsterdam CO
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:32pm PT
RIP Bill. And Thanks.

A long way from where I started
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:37pm PT
Still use one of his hammers and a small haulbag.

Wish I'd known him.

Mountain climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:39pm PT
Still use one of his ice-axes. I did meet him once, when he gave a talk in Vancouver. A good person.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:43pm PT
His name was one of the first things I learned about climbing.

We need more of him.

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:44pm PT
Respect indeed. RIP Bill, sorry to see you go, but going out on a mountain at 73, I'd be happy with that.

Sympathies to friends and family.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:45pm PT
Bill was the real deal and always went out of his way to be helpful whenever I spoke with him - glad to see he was at it until the end.

climber's near nevada...
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:46pm PT
was just about to write the same froodish - outside and in the snow...lucky bastard ;-)

My condolences to the family and friends - sounds like one hell of a person to have spent time with, which is really all that matters...


Trad climber
Fresno CA
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:49pm PT
Sad news for the climbing community. I still have a couple of Titons somewhere in my stash of antique gear (although I considered it state of the art when I got them).

Sorry I never met him personally, because everyone I know who did liked and respected him.

Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:53pm PT
RIP Bill... thanks for the innovative products.

Trad climber
Spokane, WA
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:54pm PT
A brilliant mind and a great man. RIP Bill.

Eric Barrett
Spokane, WA
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Dec 27, 2012 - 10:59pm PT
Sigh. And the Forrest hardware sling that Bridwell gave me back in 71 is still with me today. It will have new powerful meaning now with Bill gone and while we all wish we could still hang on to him. This passing is certainly a big milestone for climbers.
steve s

Trad climber
Dec 27, 2012 - 11:07pm PT
A very creative life indeed. Had a bunch of his gear over the years especially the grade 4 haul pack. Thing was awesome. Still use the wall hammer. Rest in peace Bill. Steve s.

Dec 27, 2012 - 11:42pm PT
'Had the pleasure of meeting him after a rare slideshow he did in B-Town BITD. I could tell that it made his visit more interesting that some of us recognized some his desert slides (only if you had been there), because he really wanted to mix it up with us after the show. Bill was a great innovator and adventurer who inspired many of us. RIP...

Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Dec 28, 2012 - 12:12am PT

RIP and condolences to family and friends. My first hammock was Forrest and I had a Mjolnir and some of his other gear.

Dec 28, 2012 - 12:46am PT
Thank you for all you brought to climbing. I grew up on your gear.

Peace to you and your family


Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 28, 2012 - 12:50am PT
He made a positive impact on gear. My first swami with leg loops was made by Forrest. Modern harnesses look exactly the same.

I thought Titons were kind of crappy, but I loved his hammers. He also made an aid rack called the "Pin Bin," and I loved it on the one El Cap route that I got to use it on.
Bruce Morris

Social climber
Belmont, California
Dec 28, 2012 - 12:52am PT
I think he made some outdoor clothing too. At least, I still have a long sleeve green smock shirt of his still hanging in my closet with the Forest logo on front. In fact, I wore it again just last week. His gear slings were comfy and functional too. RIP: Bill Forest!

I seem to recall during the 70s that Ray Jardine used to live at Bill Forest's house in Denver at the time he was designing and constructing 'Friends'. So Bill Forest, directly or indirectly, had a major influence on the evolution of our sport.

Anyone else remember that?

between the flat part and the blue wobbly thing
Dec 28, 2012 - 01:14am PT
I couldn't afford two Terrors so I used a Terror and a Forrest tool. The Forrest was a little bouncy in hard ice but hey, it got me up a few things.

Dec 28, 2012 - 01:26am PT
RIP, Mr. Forrest. You made some beautiful tools.


Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Dec 28, 2012 - 02:27am PT
I had a Forrest Moljinor hammer and wanted to replace the handle style. I went down to Forrest Mountaineering in Denver and Bill told me everything I needed to know including using a hair dryer to loosen up the epoxy glue holding the head to the shaft. You obviously can't tell it by looking at the hammer head, but Bill put some small protrusions on the inside of the bonding surface so that if the glue ever loosened the head wouldn't just come flying off. He thought of everything.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Dec 28, 2012 - 02:32am PT
Forrest blue. Titons too. What'll we do? Say adieu, as I went to do.

For you, I had a brew or two, with a fellow named Warrren (how fitting).

We drank some Snowshoe Brown Ale.

Chicken Skinner, you still have the Forrest ax I gave you at Facelift? It's vintage, like 1973/4. Hang on to it.

Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Dec 28, 2012 - 04:08am PT
Bill, I have your Christmas card in front of me… with your very kind handwritten wishes… and I discover the very sad news here this morning.
You enjoyed my passion for the history of climbing equipment and always demonstrated a sincere interest in my work on the Nuts’ Story.
Rosa, I wish you a lot of courage in this painful time.
I will never forget Bill Forrest.


Ice climber
Los Alamos, NM
Dec 28, 2012 - 10:34am PT

My first harness back in the late 80's was a Forest Ultimate (IIRC). Way more comfortable than most things on the market then.

Westminster Colorado
Dec 28, 2012 - 10:56am PT
The first aid climb I ever did was Forrest Roof on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 28, 2012 - 11:05am PT
Climbing legend Bill Forrest dies snowshoeing near Monarch Pass

By William Porter
The Denver Post

Bill Forrest, a Colorado climbing legend who also made notable innovations in mountaineering equipment, died Dec. 21 while snowshoeing near Monarch Pass. He was 73.

A Salida resident who summited peaks and put up new climbing routes around the world, Forrest was remembered by friends as an indomitable spirit in the mountains who was also generous with advice to novices in his sport.

"He was the best climber that I ever teamed up with," said Kris Walker, who in 1972 partnered with Forrest for the first ascent of the treacherous Painted Wall in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. The 2,500-foot climb on sheer granite that took nine days. "No matter how difficult or improbable the obstacle, he never quit. That word was not part of his vocabulary.

"Bill was the only climbing partner I had that could stand by that achievement," said Walker, who lives in Bow, Wash.

In an April interview with The Denver Post, Forrest said at times he was "nearly petrified" by his sport's risks. But he loved the challenge of pioneering routes; his 1970 climb on Longs Peak's east face was the first solo ascent of the Diamond.

"I owned one guidebook, but didn't like reading it," he said. "I liked to scout my own routes."

William Edwin Forrest was born in Glendale, Calif. His family moved to Aurora when he was 6 years old. By the time Forrest was 8, his father, a surveyor with the Bureau of Land Management, was taking him into the field. Forrest ran trap lines as a child, and first summited Longs Peak at age 12 with his Boy Scout troop.

He began climbing in the Army, honing his skills while stationed in Germany. After the military, he spent time as a graduate student in English at Arizona State University.

But the mountains called, and Forrest answered.

As founder of Forrest Mountaineering, he pioneered the original "Friends" active cam-nut protection system, a climbing aid. He was also behind the Mjolnir, the first rock-and-ice hammer with interchangeable picks. It is on display in the Smithsonian's "Tools of Man" collection.

He held 17 U.S. patents.

After moving to Salida in 1998, he created state-of-the-art snowshoes along with the Cascade Designs/MSR team.

He was snowshoeing with his wife, Rosa, when he collapsed. Other hikers performed CPR on him, but he died at the scene.

Forrest, who topped all of Colorado's 54 fourteeners, stopped technical climbing in 1993 after an attempt to summit Mount Everest. During the trip he came down with amoebic dysentery. It nearly killed him, and the aftereffects plagued him for years.

Forrest mentored a generation of climbers, offering tips on everything from technique to fine-tuning gear.

"I would always ask him to do a gear check before a backpack or fourteener ascent," recalled Michael Rosenberg, an attorney and veteran climber. "If he found something on which he thought I could improve he would say so politely and often make a modification to my equipment in his shop."

Asked in April what climbing gave him, Forrest was quick to answer. "Just a lifetime of adventure, tremendous friends and a lot of self-knowledge," he said. "Climbing for me is the finest sport in the world. It's a beautiful thing."

A memorial service will be held Jan. 13 at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Salida.

William Porter: 303-954-1877, or

Read more: Climbing legend Bill Forrest dies snowshoeing near Monarch Pass - The Denver Post
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _

"I owned one guidebook, but didn't like reading it," he said. "I liked to scout my own routes."


Trad climber
Dec 28, 2012 - 11:14am PT

I've used a bunch of his stuff over the years including single-point hammock, harness, cleaning tool, verglass axe, lifetime axe and hammer set, and a Moljinor. Still have a haul bag and the Moljinor. And besides all the cool gear I understand he climbed too.
rick d

ol pueblo, az
Dec 28, 2012 - 11:18am PT
I interviewed Bill a little over 15 years ago for the AZ history project. A fine climber with similar thoughts to mine. Jim Waugh said of him that "he could build a solid belay on a scree slope" (Waugh had the honor of doing the second ascent of the Bandito route on the totem pole with him). Bill certainly had a long impact on Phoenix climbing history and climbing on the navajolands. My first sit harness was a Forrest ultimate which I have good memories of except the price which was almost out of my budget.

adios Bill.

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Dec 28, 2012 - 11:29am PT
Rest in Peace Bill Forrest. You were a beacon for my climber's life. Your big routes were my siren song. Thanks for all the gear and inspiration. A great man who will be greatly missed.

Trad climber
Dec 28, 2012 - 11:50am PT
I never knew him, but he was such a huge name when I first started climbing. My first non-Whillans harness was a Forrest, and I thought I'd been to the mountaintop (anyone who's used a Whillans would understand the radical difference).

I've always admired him and his accomplishments, and always got sort of a thrill driving through Denver, and seeing the building with his company's name painted on the side.

RIP, Bill.

Hebrews 1:3
Dec 28, 2012 - 12:39pm PT
Great Pack!

Went out still doing stuff, RIP Bill!

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Dec 28, 2012 - 02:20pm PT

Sad news for us.

R.I.P Mr. Forrest

I still have a hammock, legs loops, a cpl ice tools and chocks.

I still use my Mjolnir hammer for climbing and rigging jobs.

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Dec 28, 2012 - 11:48pm PT
A BRILLIANT innovator.

An INSPIRING climber.

I wish I still had all my Forrest gear. Each piece was so cool, built like a ton of granite, and never failed to be useful.

I am still longing to get a Forrest gear sling again...

Have fun up there Bill!

Dec 29, 2012 - 12:06am PT
You are in good company Mr. Forrest. Rest in Peace and my deepest Condolences to your family, especially to your dear wife.

Trad climber
Dec 29, 2012 - 12:33am PT
Total visionary....a life well lived. RIP

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Dec 29, 2012 - 12:36am PT
I hope that some of his partners will post up some stories.

Mountain climber
Eden, Utah
Dec 29, 2012 - 03:37am PT
What an inspiration! He knew how to live and love it. I loved all my forrest gear - sling, swami and leg loops were my standard for years. Gone too soon like so many...

Condolences to his family and friends. RIP.

Connie Self

Trad climber
47N 122W
Jan 4, 2013 - 09:59pm PT
My dad, Doug Black and Bill did several FA's in Central Arizona back in the 1960's, esp. at Camelback Mountain, in Phoenix. They both helped to form the Arizona Mountaineering Club (AMC) back in the early 1960's. Bill was one of my dad's best climbing buddies from that era. Lot's of history there. I still have one of his "plastic" foxheads on my "Pin Bin" rack.

I am saddened to hear of his passing.

R.I.P. Bill.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jan 4, 2013 - 10:07pm PT
Only met Bill once or twice, but I was always aware, and often in awe, of his accomplishments.

Big Wall climber
Jan 4, 2013 - 11:36pm PT
i never met bill Forrest but i still use the haulbag and the aiders. good quality gear.

State of Mine
Jan 4, 2013 - 11:52pm PT
I still have some of his Copperheads, but his 70’s gear slings were “the fashion-bomb.”

i had one of those.....i might still have it. while i only found a few placements for his TITONS i really appreciate his attempt at technology for climbing at a time when it was not easy.

i had one of his haulbags, gear slings, iceclimbing gloves, TITONS, and i think i still have one of his hammocks.

i also used his copperheads and foxheads sometimes.

sad to hear of this and want his family to know how appreciated his innovations were.

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Jan 5, 2013 - 01:23am PT
Rest well Bill Forrest

Some of my first gear included some Titons that I have to this day. My uncle handed them down to me. They are cherished pieces.

The gear slings I've seen a couple. They are superb pieces.

I'm surprised there aren't more gear sling makers out there making swanky gear slings like those. I think Russ is only one doing something with his pesca-vaca patterns.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 5, 2013 - 04:45pm PT
I have been trying to process this loss over the last couple of days and still can't believe Bill is gone. Damn!

I came into climbing in 1970 right as Forrest Mountaineering was taking off. Bill was a brilliant and thorough climber/designer and every new offering was a delight to put to use.

After learning some aid technique my introduction to wall climbing came on Bill and George Hurley's Spring Route on the wildly overhanging east face of Baboquvari Peak an hours drive from home.

Lots of room and solitude for a fine desert adventure. Just the sort of outing that Bill really liked I suspect. Doing that route back in high school set the stage for my best climbing and gave me an early connection to what Bill Forrest was about.

I am really sad that I wasn't able to sit down with Bill and pick his brains for tales and technical knowhow. He was a great guy by all accounts and my sincerest condolences to his wife, family and friends. He was a subtle giant with much to admire.

The X-mas break summit shot from WBITD. Note the Pinbins, ironmongery and other extraneous funk! LOL

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
Jan 5, 2013 - 06:42pm PT
RIP Bill....Thanks for my first ice tools that hang proudley on my wall to this day...You had a good ride and went out the way I want to. Cond. to friends and family....

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 6, 2013 - 02:28pm PT
Here is a taste of Bill's brilliance from the 1983 Forrest Mountaineering catalog.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 13, 2013 - 01:13pm PT
A rimshot of Bill and Kris Walker with the Painted Wall in the background.

Photo from Climb.

A stellar effort which produced a bolt-less Grade VI if memory serves.

Jan 13, 2013 - 01:37pm PT

I use(d) a pair of Forrest aiders, handed down from my mom with a vintage pin rack.

Trad climber
South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
Feb 7, 2013 - 09:06pm PT
I was given this Forrest Ice Ax as a gift from a retired or smart Mountaineer. Thx Bill Forrest. You made good stuff!

I call it my Moss Ax. Sturdy for sure.

According to the 1983 Forrest Mountaineering catalog the twisted adze was revolutionary and was for greater pick strength.

I know that is has hauled me up some scary mossy junk. A real confidence booster knowing it will get the job done.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 23, 2013 - 12:53am PT
I finally found my old Forrest gear sling while digging through ski gear for the weekend. It's been modified - a long time ago - padding and daisy chain on top have been added. Sorry, it blocks the view of the Pasley!

Straight outta Squampton
Feb 23, 2013 - 01:19am PT
Most Forrest gear was gone as I was entering climbing in the early 1990's, but I have clear memories of meeting others in upstate New York with racks of Titons, and wondering about their use. One of my earliest ice climbing partners still climbed on a pair of blue Forrest axes, and swore by them.

One of my favorite items in my little book colection is this Forrest catolog from 1974. It expanded on many of the teachings from the massively influential Chouinard catalog from a couple of years previous.


Trad climber
Feb 23, 2013 - 01:42am PT
Used a Forrest haul on my first wall. Still have a gear sling and leg loops
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 23, 2013 - 02:26am PT
The classic Forrest account of the first ascent of the Spring Route on Baboquivari Peak from Summit magazine.


Trad climber
47N 122W
Feb 23, 2013 - 03:17am PT
What a great Story ... Babo is rad.

Social climber
Feb 25, 2013 - 11:37pm PT
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Feb 28, 2013 - 04:37pm PT
There's a very good photo of Bill Forrest in the latest Issue of Rock & Ice, and it's a very nice issue for him to be in. Those guys seem to be doing a good job with the magazine. There are some cool new styles of photos in there.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Mar 10, 2013 - 06:34am PT

Trad climber
Cali Hodad, surfing the galactic plane ~:~
Mar 10, 2013 - 09:03am PT
When I started climbing in the Spring of '71 at Tahquitz, the transition to clean climbing was taking place. I recall having a free climbing rack of about about 7 chocks of small to large Chouinard hexcentric's and stoppers with one Forrest Foxhead. Forest made three metal Foxheads in a stopper shape and the largest one came in/with a choice of metal or a blue plastic. I recall buying six Chouinard's nuts (3 hex & 3 stoppers) and, for some reason, I decided to buy the largest FM Foxhead in plastic. I was a bit wary of it at first, but I took my first lead fall on it and it held. I fell in love with that nut and it became my favorite. Whenever & whatever pitch I was leading, my first thought & primary objective was to get that nut placed. Thanks Bill...
Scott McNamara

Tucson, Arizona
Mar 10, 2013 - 10:35am PT
Thanks for the Babo article, Steve!

I had never read it before. A wonderful bit of history.

Wasn't that picture of you (with the Pin Bin) taken after you topped out on The Spring route?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 10, 2013 - 01:34pm PT
You are welcome Scott!

My first grade VI thanks to Bill and George.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Mar 10, 2013 - 04:42pm PT
Uh,.. well,.. I had lived in Colorado but had already moved to Utah.

As I recall Bill topped out but had a lot of drag. He saw me sitting by a tree and I asked him if he would like me to tie his rope to it.

I wasn't wearing anything to ID me as a climber so I took pains to tie a figure 8 that he could visually inspect from his perch, so he asked me if I had done any climbing in Zion.

I said "a few things", and he asked what, so I pointed to Monkeyfinger, Space Shot and Cerberus.

And I seem to recall sharing both items (he doesn't exactly deny it).

Curiously, their route and Sheer Lunacy saw simultaneous second ascents. The guys that repeated the MF Chimney claimed to have done a new variant, but were likely mistaken by an off route sling.

Trad climber
47N 122W
Mar 16, 2013 - 02:08am PT
As Bill was a good climbing buddy of my father, and I grew up around that ... I am glad to hold many fond memories of Bill from the early 70's (a decade after he and my dad were climbing together).

In 1971, while on a family vacation, we went to his factory in Denver, and he said "These are seconds, take what you want."

I scored a Wall Womb, Pin Bin, Plastic Foxheads, Metal Foxheads, Forrest Legloops and Swami Belt, a Forrest Rucksack (which has been up El Cap), Copperheads, Alumiheads. I wish I could have scored a Hammer.

On the same trip, my dad and he went to do an ascent of Hallet's Peak.
(photo 2011-DSC00236)

One of those Metal Foxheads later, in 1984, saved my bacon on a lead fall on Catchy Corner, Cookie Cliff. I was lucky to survive with only a broken heel, while the head held.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 25, 2013 - 02:15pm PT
Bump for Bill...Much respect!
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