“One of my goals in life is to go around the world three times and visit every mountain range twice. But whenever I have wandered other mountains, I have been homesick for the High Sierra. I am a hopeless romantic, and therefore my opinions cannot be regarded as objective. But how can I be objective while discussing the mountains I love?”
With RJ, it was all about mountains. He was on north side of Everest in 1986, one of the first trips there after China opened Tibet to climbing. He was on Cho Oyu a few years later. I remember trips to Alaska, several to South America (one of them with me) and the one we almost did to Ruwenzori Mountains in Congo. He loved the mountains more than anything. As someone said long time ago, he usually was "the sharpest person in the room" as well. The quote you mention describes the man perfectly.
Sorry to learn of RJ's passing. Did he suffer a second accident more recently? There seems to be a reference to that on a Sierra Club page.
International playboy indeed--but without the motor yacht overloaded with babes.
RJ's eccentricity extended to shabby mountaineering equipment. I wondered whether he was sometimes trying to see how little he could get away with in the mountains.
I admired his long-billed caps and often wondered where he procured them.
PhD in international relations? Now that's a surprise.
I should mention that he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1988, which nominated George H.W. Bush, and that he told me the highlight, for him, was sitting in a bar, I believe it was in Detroit, when Bush walked in with his entourage. But if RJ was political, he certainly managed to keep his opinions mum, as so much else about himself.
I wonder if he ever kissed any of those longtime girlfriends.
I don't think I've ever known a person who seemed so aloof and yet would come across with genuine warmth and friendliness.
RJ told me a rather amusing story about of his ascent of Mt. Aconcagua. He said that when he got to a certain point, he had a hallucination. He saw a Dairy Queen drive-in.
"I knew it was a hallucination because the Dairy Queen sign was green, and I knew Dairy Queen signs are red."
So he hiked on. As he approached the summit, he smelled strong, fresh coffee. He thought it was his mind playing another trick, but when he got to the top, he found a fellow making coffee on a small stove and giving a fresh cup to everyone who summitted that day.