Steve had some time to mull over his final requests. One of these was regarding a memorial service. He requested that his friends hold a “traditional ‘climber death’ gathering in Eldorado State Park on the first convenient warm Sunday.”
This event is to be on the 6th April, 5 pm, at the picnic area near the visitor center.
All are welcome.
What exactly is a traditional climber death gathering?
Well, Steve has left us, but there remain the usual great memories and stories.
And the artwork; beautiful paintings, capturing the best of his favorite places. The wonderful paintings he left us are a reflection of a creative and observant intelligence. An intelligence that, in advocating a traditional approach to climbing could be combative and demanding at times. But an intelligence that understood that the essence of climbing is that the more serious the effort and risk, the bigger the reward.
A life and legacy worth celebrating.
Plans for this event include readings of a few of his written pieces, and an invitation for anyone to tell stories about Steve.
Also, as the light fades, showings of some of his slide collection, which includes many climbing slides, but also portraits, landscapes and many slides of his own artwork.
I am the other chess player/climber on top of Castleton Tower with Steve in the photo above. Damian Nash, formerly of Boulder and Moab, Utah. Steve and I were equally-matched chess players who enjoyed coffee-shop games together every Wednesday afternoon at the Trident on Pearl Street in Boulder. That was in the late 1980s when I was in grad school there, but I knew Steve since his very first chess tournament. We played some long, grueling games at Norlin Library when I was an undergrad at Boulder in the early 1980s.
We both went on to become USCF Expert ("Candidate Master") level tournament players. I took the Utah state title twice before I moved to Hawaii.
I will be back in Colorado for most of June 2017 and have organized a fun, quick-chess tournament in Steve's Honor. Details at the link above. US Chess Federation membership is required. Steve was a friendly, strong, amusing and committed member of our group as well as the climber group. Many of us still remember him fondly.
About the photo: Steve came out to play in the Rocky Mountain Chess Rendezvous in Grand Junction in 1995, but only on the condition that I would climb Castleton Tower with him afterward. I was an amateur climber living in Castle Valley, below the tower, so why not? The first day we finished the first pitch of the Korr-Engels route before we turned back because of lightening. The second day we made the top and his very pretty climber girlfriend took pictures of us playing a game. (The opening was called the Stonewall Defense.) A few months later my Chess Life magazine comes in the mail (Sept, 1994). Lo and behold - we are on the cover!
As a tournament organizer and director, I keep thinking about an adventure chess tournament, in Steve's honor. First round on top of the tower. Second round on a river trip, etc. Remote places, physical prowess required to get there. Maybe one day I will. In the mean time, we will just have a small event in Denver to remember him.
I had the pleasure of working with Steve on a home in Colorado. This house had a staircase that was roughly 300k. Steve was a craftsman not only with climbing but his woodworking too. Strapo was there and there's another character to write stories about.
It was around the time that Steve and Christian were battling over grid bolting. Steve showed me some removal tools. Talked a lot about climbing. One of the things he would do he said was this: If he saw a team of climbers going to a trade route he was also going to climb he would ask them " Have you been on *** since the flake pulled from what ever pitch? I heard it's a grade harder!"
He pointed out the psychology of climbers minds: most would back away since the route was now more unknown, harder, changed in quality.... In reality there was no flake that disappeared. Just the team who was ahead of him wanting to climb the same trade route.
He also pointed out that there were no lines/waits on the routes that he typically climbed.
It was a pleasure working with Steve. He was a meticulous craftsman: thoughtful, methodical, genuine.
Never had the pleasure to climb with him, but had the pleasure building a masterpiece of a home.