Alan Nelson, RIP (?)


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Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 16, 2008 - 11:47am PT
If true, see you in the next one. Condolences to those left behind. Bummer....

From Mountain Project:
John Simpson
From Golden, CO
A friend of my recently told me that Alan Nelson, a man who put up literally hundreds of routes in Colorado, died about 3 months ago from cancer.

I did not know Alan personally but nearly every guide book that I have for Colorado has him listed in it in some way or the other. He put up many routes in Clear Creek Canyon and North Table Mountain. He contributed a lot to the climbing community in Colorado and the surrounding states. He will be missed.

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Apr 16, 2008 - 12:20pm PT
wow, wow. so sad if true.

alan, me, watusi, off white, and a host of others (you guessed it, "the scumbags") all learned how to climb together back in high school. i've tried to contact alan off and on over the years, with no luck. his mom and dad got divorced decades ago and so i lost touch with them as well. alan had malignant melanoma in the mid-80's but it was treated successfully. does anyone else out there know more about this? hope its a false alarm, but it sounds pretty real....
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Apr 16, 2008 - 12:20pm PT
If this is true, my deepest condolences. Last I saw Alan was a few years back while on a short trip to Colorado. He was off to So Platte new routing and seemed pretty happy.

Alan was a long time So Cal climber and highly motivated. Alan was very active in Josh and Tuolumne in the 70s and early 80s, establishing quite a few new routes, including some very run out face climbs.

Alan compiled one of the first Tuolumne guidebooks -- hand drawn topos, xeroxed -- before the area had one. I still treasure my copies.

Rest in Peace Alan.

R. Vogel

Truckee, CA
Apr 16, 2008 - 12:38pm PT
It would be nice to get a solid confirmation of this sad news. BITD I knew him pretty well from his time in Tuolumne and the Valley late 70's early 80's, he was a great character amongst the rest of us "characters". Have not seen or heard of him in many years, he will be missed.


Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Apr 16, 2008 - 01:29pm PT
No definite indicator, but according to, his last visit to the site was back in September 2007.

Condolences if this turns out to be true.
the kid

Trad climber
fayetteville, wv
Apr 16, 2008 - 03:40pm PT
if this is true then a real bummer!
Alan had a big heart and a ton of motivation and a great eye for lines. He may not have climbed the "hardest" but he always had the best attitude.
I got to climb with Alan a bunch in the early 90's in Colorado when we were the first to go into clear creek with the bosch and make it happen.
He will be missed in my eyes and another one who followed the dream and did not let the bullshit get in the way!

Apr 16, 2008 - 03:49pm PT
Wow: That sucks, and it means that the rest of use have to inevitably take one more inexorable step closer to the cliff edge as well.

Lat/Lon: 35.64 -117.66
Apr 16, 2008 - 03:50pm PT
Sorry to read this, Alan was a geat person.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Apr 16, 2008 - 03:52pm PT
Appears that this has been confirmed...

Bummer. Always sad to lose someone to the big C. Nasty stuff.
Sounds like he lived a lifetime in the years that he had.

right here, right now
Apr 16, 2008 - 03:55pm PT
I last saw Alan in 2004 at a Lumpy Ridge volunteer community trail maintenance gig.
I hadn't seen him in many years; we talked a bit and life looked good for him -- he said he was in Denver.
Sadly I didn't get his contact, because we had been trying to find him for these last two Joshua Tree reunions.

We all had nicknames for each other back in the bad old days; one of his was the "The Spaced Ranger". He was a unique fellow, always smiling, in some ways different from the rest of us to the degree that he really followed his personal instincts as opposed to those of the group, and perhaps partly due to this, Alan was a very productive climber.

Another prime player in our old school tribe.
So sorry to hear of his passing.

'cross the great divide
Apr 16, 2008 - 03:58pm PT
This is certainly no confirmation, but a friend of mine who has been trying to get in touch with Alan recently, told me that his phone number had been disconnected. My friend apparently had reason to believe that the number had not been changed or temporarily disconnected. This is the friend who told me last fall that Alan had cancer, and was not doing well at all. Both of us thought the disconnected phone was significant somehow, although who knows?

I did not know Alan at all, but was certainly aware of the fact that he was a very prolific new-router in CO and CA. I climbed with him once, and had a lot of fun. I think he was living in Ft. Collins last fall. I don't want to say RIP until it is appropriate, but it seems this could be the second prolific Front Range climber who has lost a battle with cancer in the last few weeks.

Edit: just saw the above posts. RIP Alan.

Mountain climber
Anchorage, AK
Apr 16, 2008 - 04:01pm PT
Sad news, I still have Alanís Tuolumne guidebook in my collection.
Best wishes to Alanís family and friends (too young)

Gym climber
Apr 16, 2008 - 04:03pm PT
Alan, author of my favorite topo annotation: Eat rat poision here.

On to the big climbfest in the sky, Amigo.

Apr 16, 2008 - 04:32pm PT
I had some encounters with Alan during my brief tenure in YV and TM. I recall the fall he soloed Magic Mushroom (or was it Mescalito? or the Trip?) and a route to the right of Yosemite Falls.

I bought a haul bag that he sewed. I think he was branding them "Rainbow Whales". All I know that it sucked because it was so big that I could fit too much inside it resulting it a major unwieldy pig.

Remember him in life...

Here's an AAJ article the he wrote on B-Y that I recall him telling me about.

right here, right now
Apr 16, 2008 - 04:35pm PT

Sport climber
Apr 16, 2008 - 04:55pm PT
bummer--rest in peace al. climbed a lot with alan in the early 80ís. we bagged the 2nd of Ďyou asked for ití and were the first u.s. team to have a go on the BY. held me on the obligatory 50+ footer when i popped a knob after he lead through the 1st in fine style. remember spending a week in the valley where we did day ascents of the rostrum, half dome, astroman, west face of cap and mother earth on middle. alan had a brush with cancer back then as well but it was removed without relapse. lost contact with al after his move to colorado, but heard he was happy and doing well. miss you buddy...

right here, right now
Apr 16, 2008 - 05:04pm PT
Hi Rob,
Good to see you here on the Taco.

I just read Alan's account of your shared ascent of You Asked for It. Those were good years and Alan was in the thick of it. You two shared some good times, that's for sure.


Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Apr 16, 2008 - 05:12pm PT
if i recall correctly alan also bagged the second or third of "baby apes" at josh.

i remember right around that time, he'd been climbing and training so much that he'd gone from being a pretty scrawny dude to being pretty damn swole -- except he still had his pointy little poindexter head perched on this massive torso of muscle. i laughed out loud after not seeing him for a year or so. i've got some great old shots from the early 70's, guess i'll have to get my scanner working...alan was pure motivation, pure psych, and while he could be pretty darn sarcastic it was always with a laugh and a smile.

Trad climber
Apr 16, 2008 - 10:39pm PT
Alf's Arete, Pumping Ego, 29 Palms, and many more...

Thanks for some fine routes Alan Nelson. RIP.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Apr 16, 2008 - 10:57pm PT
Alan was a true dedicated climber; a strong desire for the new route, and just climbed his ass off. Out at J.Tree, he did so many First ascents;......he knew where the virgin rock was, and he went for it...........He was just an ordinary climber like everyone else, but his dedication and focus took him to the next level of WAY good climber;......(while most of the rest of us settled into the easy chair of 5.10/5.11-).........then he moved to Colorado and kept on keeping on..........A sad day for the climbing world indeed.
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