Missing hiker on Mt Bierstadt/ Mt Evans

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Re: Missing hiker on Mt Bierstadt/ Mt Evans

Postby CSMDawgDoc » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:17 pm

This post is an amalgam of several posts and replies we have made in the past week, you may have read parts of it previously, but this is not simply a repost of another;

Clints family and friends wish to offer our profound gratitude for the work of the Alpine SAR, Clear Creek Sheriff's Dept. and others involved in the search and rescue operation. These brave volunteers put themselves in harms way conducting the initial search on the mountain into and throughout the dark of night. Their selfless efforts lead to the rapid location, recovery and return of my brother to our family, an act of such humanitarian kindness during his wife and parent’s grief stricken hours for which we will forever be grateful.

I realize speculation and comments over his death may serve to placate the fears of our own mortality and the capriciousness of life in letting one believe such a tragic accident could have only occurred because he was a transplant city boy from Chicago with no business in the mountains.

In response, I can only offer my brother was not a neophyte to the outdoors, or to the Colorado experience for that matter. An avid outdoors enthusiast since early in high school, he devoted much of his free time to hiking, climbing, and mountain biking, skiing, kayaking and nature photography among other outdoor pursuits. In college he had began a fascination with rock climbing but gave up this activity within a couple of years due to its "high risk" potential as he put it. Although their personal move to Colorado from Chicago was quite recent, his wife, Susan, is a native and both made frequent trips and took many vacations in the area over the past decade to enjoy the biking, hiking and skiing in the mountains. Their relocation to Denver was the realization of a promise of their future life to be able to spend even more time in touch with nature and one another.

My brother was keenly aware of the potential dangers in the pursuit of the activities he dearly loved, and made efforts towards proper preparation with exercise, monitoring of weather conditions and, yes, altitude conditioning. We had recently discussed these very issues when we were together for a family vacation at Kiawah Island just last month. As we were lying on the beach in the lapping of the tide, watching my children (his nieces and nephew) as they played in the low surf. He discussed me traveling out to Denver to do some trail hiking on the safer trails of the 14ers as his Birthday Present in September. I remarked that I could no longer take on anything with "that much risk anymore". He simply said we would only go on the popular trails where it was a test of fitness and the worst I might do was trip and twist an ankle or have to turn back out of fatigue before reaching an objective. We talked about other types of trails he hiked, and he said they did have risk and that sometimes people got lost misstep or had rock shale slide out from under them with fatal consequences. I made him promise me he would be careful, as his nieces and nephew adored him and I would be "so mad at him" if he made me have to tell my children he had an accident and left me as the only child having to deal with our parent's as they entered their senior years. I can only hope that in his final hour or minutes, he was unaware of his true risk and did not recall the details of this conversation.

We know his death was instantaneous with his impact. There is no question. For that, I am thankful, as he did not have to lay there suffering in agonizing pain for minutes or hours contemplating that he was likely to die. With that knowledge, I can comfort myself and my family with thoughts that he was enjoying his hike, perhaps even enjoying the challenge of a new trail and some interesting conditions adding to his outdoor experience. I try not to dwell on the possible negative thoughts of what he might have experienced in those last few minutes or hour before he fell.

His choice to hike alone on that day, one of many in his past, will undoubtedly tug on my thoughts for the remainder of my life. Whether it would have made a difference will forever be unanswered. It may have been unfamiliarity with the trail, or some altitude fatigue, or the pop-up storms with wind and rains reported in the area that afternoon or more likely some combination of these and other unknowns. I know he kept himself familiar with the weather patterns and current conditions, as local weather sites were still open on his laptop at home. After. He also followed 14ers blogs and forums, including this one – links to which dominated his favorites. SAR has retained his broken GPS in hopes of recovering data which may be of future value.

It was a very good visit at Kiawah last month. We played with the kids on the beach and in the surf. He played children's board games with them, my parents and I. (He was a board game enthusiast as well, having over 150 board games stacked up organized in a walk in closet in their guest room/office space). We spent a lot of time preparing dinner together for the family and talked about how excited he was to be with Susan in an area where they could truly enjoy the things they loved - hiking, biking, skiing etc in such a wonderful area. He spent some time doing nature photography, and sent us photos of the birds, turtles and alligators he had taken on the trip. He was so full of promise and life on this visit - I could tell he was truly enjoying what their future had in store for them. I will cherish those moments he had with me, and had with my children, and with my parents, all together for the rest of my life.

He was a truly wonderful young man, as intelligent as they come, obviously well educated and dedicated to self improvement, self awareness and achievement. In most ways he reflect his older brother, but my mirrored image was much brighter in that he was more compassionate, more thoughtful, more carefree, more introspective and had many, many people who counted him as friend. Whereas I have a lot of acquaintances, I have very few very very close friends - he had many. In his death, I find it comforting that so many of 'his people' have contacted us and remarked on how he was always there for them, in their time of need as support, and how many of them say some variation of "I don't have many close friends, but I would count Clint as my best friend". We've had close to twenty of these comments come through so far. The world was a better place with his presence, in his absence, diminished.

Yes, he may have made a mistake, likely several mistakes in the end which we can all point to in hindsight and say “I would never have….” But we do not know that they ultimately caused his death and who among us has not made "some" mistake we only truly recognized afterwards. I can say with absolute certainty he was not cavalierly careless in how he died. I know that he was not in how he lived. There but for sheer dumb luck could we all be.

He would not wish his passing under these circumstances to diminish ones love for the beauty of the outdoors and the awe of nature. He would, I believe, remind us all to enjoy life, take good care and never miss the opportunity to tell the ones you love how you feel.

Be safe out there.

Last edited by CSMDawgDoc on Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Missing hiker on Mt Bierstadt/ Mt Evans

Postby dmccool » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:39 pm

Amazing tribute to your brother, Colin. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Grace and Peace to you and your family.
Save a place for me up in the high country.
There's still space to breathe.

- Gregory Alan Isakov
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Re: Missing hiker on Mt Bierstadt/ Mt Evans

Postby I Man » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:40 pm

dmccool wrote:Amazing tribute to your brother, Colin. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

You can touch the void, just don't fall into it.

I fly a starship across the universe divide....and when I reach the other side...I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can. Perhaps I may become a Mountain Man again.
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Re: Missing hiker on Mt Bierstadt/ Mt Evans

Postby anasarca76 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:51 pm

Thank you very much Colin, as stated before an amazing tribute to the person your brother was. Sobering for all of us that love to be in the mountains, as this sort of tragedy could happen to the best of us. My condolences to you and your family and may Clint's memory serve to keep us all alert of the risks of our chosen hobby... Rest In Peace Clint
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Re: Missing hiker on Mt Bierstadt/ Mt Evans

Postby Hungry Jack » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:00 pm


Thank you for sharing these memories and insights into your brother's life. My condolences to you and your family.

I have a young son, almost 2 now. I never thought about the risks I might take while hiking the high country over the past ten years until my first trip after his birth. I'll never forget suddenly being worried about a simple class 3 scrambled to the top of The Citadel last summer as I thought about the consequences of my own mortality. Suddenly, I did not want to be there, and the joy of hiking evaporated. It was really, really weird and completely out of character of eight previous summer trips to CO.

These distorted emotions eased a bit on my most recent trip last week. Hiking a class 1/2 route on a 14er in all reality is probably no riskier than walking a city street. I hope you have a chance someday to experience the joy and rewards that your brother felt in his experiences in CO. You will see (perhaps you have already) the passion that unites us on these boards and what your enjoyed in CO.

A 14er is a great gift to give to your self and to share with your friends.
I need more dehydrogenase.

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