Denver Post Story on David's Rescue

Threads related to Colorado mountaineering accidents but please keep it civil and respectful. Friends and relatives of fallen climbers will be reading these posts.
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Hiking Mike
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Postby Hiking Mike » Sun May 13, 2007 8:52 am

Lady T wrote:I was a little dissapointed that the article focused on the accident and made allusions to David's "complete inexperience" and focusing on the bad instead of what a wonderful person David was and how much he meant to his friends.

I can definitely see where you're coming from, but it didn't seem like it portrayed Talus Monkey too badly. A newspaper article could have never done justice to the person you remember without sounding artifical.
...And my memory shall serve me in the way that memories do:
To conjure bygone times, and shine them bright anew,
To erase the strain of effort from faces of the past,
And resurrect slight triumphs as glories unsurpassed...
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Postby ajkagy » Sun May 13, 2007 8:59 am

That was a good article, but I agree, TGR is a totally different nature than this site. 14ers seems to be all about knowledge sharing and to teach less experienced people the ropes on how to stay safe and preparation for a climb. TGR seems to be all about internet bragging rights about your ski lines/climb.

Like Mr Viesturs says, "Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory"
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Postby Kate » Sun May 13, 2007 9:08 am

I was disappointed in the article, as well. When the reporter began talking to people it seemed as though he was going to write about the LIFE of our friend, not the death. Though we knew he was going to focus on the aspect of the online community, I did not think that it would be focused on in such a manner.

It was disheartening to read the end of the article, as it ends w/ the discussion about SarahT's post, etc. I do not know that this article was the best that it could have been.

If an article is to be written about people being careless, or hiking accidents caused by inexperience, I can think of plenty of other people the Denver Post (or any other news source for that matter) could use. Seemingly, the article was not as much about David as it was about the way online communities and "inexperience" creates dangerous situations. Was David really the best target for this then?

*Sigh* I understand that no one could write a story pleasing to all of us. I am sure that capturing David's life is a very difficult task, especially to someone who did not know him. However, capturing death and exploiting it seems to have been much easier.

David always wanted others to benefit from his experiences, and though this article may have been taken in a direction we did not expect, perhaps someone can still learn something from it. We are an awesome community and if nothing else, perhaps this article will draw in a few new members, that will use this site as resource to learn more about the sport, activity, and passion we all love.
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Postby BillMiddlebrook » Sun May 13, 2007 9:11 am

Well put, Kate. ... and it was nice to meet you guys yesterday.
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Postby Cruiser » Sun May 13, 2007 9:19 am

I'll agree with everyone about how different TGR is from TGR is a community made up mostly of backcountry skiers who live for steep lines in deep powder. There are some really experienced mountaineers on that site, and posting trip reports is a big part of the community experience there. There is a core group of snow riders there who make an effort to post responsibly, but there are also a lot of newbs who go out and try to hit big lines (with varying degrees of success) because guys like Iskibc make it look so glorious and achievable. Ah the wonders of the age of information...
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Postby OS » Sun May 13, 2007 9:22 am

Bill and all,

My sincere condolences to all touched by this tragedy.

I thought the Denver Post article was done quite well, it was a fairly balanced story. Gotta keep in mind the writer (whom I do not know) may not have any experience in this area and tried to cover all angles.

I am a mountaineer and mountain rescuer, and write an outdoor column for the Boulder Camera. I hope to have a piece about this incident (from a different angle) in next Friday's edition.

Also, for those interested the rescue side, I have a newly published book "Playing for Real: Stories from Rocky Mountain Rescue". I think you'll find that many of the emotions expressed by the victims and mountain rescuers over the last few days are echoed in this book. It happens all too often. Some incidents have a happy ending, too many are sad. It affects us all. Though we should learn from the mistakes of others, accidents happen. The best mountaineers in the world make mistakes, the worst get away with murder.

Mark Scott-Nash

P.S. All proceeds from the book go directly to the all-volunteer Rocky Mountain Rescue in Boulder. RMRG did make it all the way to Westcliffe to help with the second wave of David's evac, which as we know never happened.
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Postby gsliva » Sun May 13, 2007 9:34 am

All I have to say is something bad could happen on any climb or hike in the mountains. How many of you have had near misses. I have and lots. The biggest thing I remember from climbing is that there is some very high percentage in accidents happening when descending. Thinking back over a lot of my boulder hops, trips, falls, etc they mostly happened on the way down when I was extremely tired and there was thunder, ice, or snow or wind or cold beer waiting or dark…you get the idea. I guess what I’m trying to say is we should all be much more careful when climbing if possible. Heck, an accident caught an accomplished, very experienced and very nice guy like David to remind us all of this. I hope his death can always remind and teach those of us this lesson so that we don’t suffer the same outcome as David.
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Postby JeffR » Sun May 13, 2007 10:09 am

I find the article's subtopic very ironic, considering that hiking fluff-pieces in rags like the Post may lead complete newbies to undertake outdoor activities that they are unprepared for. At least the average reader of TRs on sites like this one and TGR is more knowledgeable about the inherent risks than someone who considers himself prepared just by reading the 1- column hiking Cliffs Notes in the Post. I'm certainly not trying to be a snob here (as I have considerably less experience than the average member on this site), but I think just the act of navigating through a dedicated hiking/climbing site gives a person the tools they need to decide what their ability level is/should be.

As for the article itself, it really irritates the hell out of me to find out that this reporter tried to steer the interviewees into a certain viewpoint. (This is why I tend to take any "news" from the majors with a grain of salt.) And I agree with Bill... it looks like the reporter tried to force two related pieces together and only succeeded in confusing the issue and making an undeserved implication about TM and his motives. As two separate pieces, it would have worked well. But together... thumbs down.
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Postby hikenski » Sun May 13, 2007 10:24 am

I've had some experience with reporters and find the input and facts fiven for a story are often colored by the reporter's personal bias. This is human nature, but it makes me somewhat skeptical about reporting and want to look for varied sources for news.

On the whole though, I think it was a good article.

alanlipkin wrote:
This does not necessarily have anything to do directly with the recent tragedy, and I am not criticizing any specific individual, but as I read the postings I too have been concerned about the nonchalant nature and bravado that people use in dealing with climbing mountains. None of the fourteeners are simple or easy, but you would get that feeling from some of the postings. Those of us who are less experienced or agile may get the mistaken impression that these mountains can be taken lightly or without preparation.

I am a physician who has seen the bad outcomes of mishaps on the mountains. I understand that everyone assumes some element of risk every time they get out of bed in the morning, but I would hope that in the future, forum posters at least consider the effect that their words may have on an uninitiated reader.

AlanLipkin: I think that you have to keep in mind that this forum is about climbing 14ers. The scale of difficulty is relative to that subject. Sure, climbing Sherman is far more difficult and dangerous than walking the paved path around Wash Park, but it is easy compared to Little Bear. For this site to be useful to it's intended audience, the scale of difficulty can't start at "really hard and dangerous" and then heap the superlatives on from there.
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Postby TK » Sun May 13, 2007 10:40 am

BillMiddlebrook wrote:As for the Denver Post article:
Having talked with the writer (Jason, Devins) before and after the story was released, it's clear that he was trying to include the fact that sometimes web sites contain trip reports and threads that border on bragging and have the potential of putting newcomers at risk on a mountain. I don't think this happens much on, but there are other sites - Teton Gravity Research (TGR) comes to mind - that have some ridiculous trip reports and plenty of one-upsmanship between members. If you are new to climbing or bc skiing, do your homework first, and don't over-extend your skills. Mountaineering is dangerous, especially in winter when additional skills and knowledge are required.

Be careful out there...


That is why I have always preferred this site. I don't know what you did to encourage this, Bill, but the focus of this community here as a group of peers sharing information and getting to know each other is miles above sites modeled after the kind of nonchalant bragging contests in TGR and forums that seem to be modeled after Climbing and Rock and Ice Magazines. Three cheers to everyone here who is not caught up in a spirit of one-upsmanship all the time!

Key lessons from this site;

1. These activities are dangerous, and should not be blown off nonchalantly as easy things anyone can do.

2. Even though climbing and 14ers are fun, you should't ever let yourself get over-confident and put yourself at greater risk just because you are experienced.

3. "ALWAYS CARRY AN ICE AX AND A CLEAR MENTALITY. THEY CAN BOTH SAVE YOUR LIFE" (I know I read that somewhere here :wink: )
"If you're not sure where you are, but you haven't taken the time to stop and look at the map, you're not lost, just lazy." -Darran Wells
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Postby wasclywabbit » Sun May 13, 2007 10:51 am

I posted a comment to SarahT but I certainly wasn't trying to get her to "hush" as the article in the Post mentioned. At that time we didn't have all the facts, the outcome was not yet known and I was hoping that the discussion didn't turn into a TalusMonkey denigration-fest prior to all the pertinent information coming out. Open discussion of accidents is crucial but in my opinion so is the timing of those discussions. It just seemed to me to be to early.

One of the things that sets apart from the other mountaineering forums in my opinion is the general amount of civility found here. This place is an incredible resource and I hope to meet some of you in person over the next year.
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Postby Spam » Sun May 13, 2007 11:03 am

I wish the article would have focused more on him as a person, but that doesn't sell newspapers does it. I work for Human Services in child Protection so I know how much sensationalism sells. A social commentary is not my motivation today though!

Some of this is reposted from an earlier thread:

I got to thinking today and went back and looked and I doubt it is a surprise that after posting something for the very first time on this site, Talusmonkey was the first one to respond. I thought about that today as I was looking at my summit photos on my wall here at work. I was planning my first climb after a 3 year convelesence and asked a question about the 3000 foot rule. TMresponded "Don't believe the hype" "Do what feels right"!

Just 2 weeks ago we had that rambling thread mocking all the questions in which we got a little of track with the Monty Python Quotes. After way too many quotes I said we needed ot get lives and TM responded:


Yeah, its pretty clear that we are white, male, desk jockey, nerds who make more than $28,000/year... In our defense I'll share my observation that only intelligent people appreciate the humor of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail..."

After one post I told him I had to live vicariously through him as having a wife and children kept me out of the mountains he replied it is respectable to be a husband and a father. Not to take it for granted.

Beck Weathers said that when the Colonel Mandan flew him off of Everest in the highest rescue ever, Col. Mandan did it cause he wanted to show he had a good, brave heart. The humor and the respect that David showed in his responses and his advice I think showed that he a had a a "good heart"!

What is it about this forum that makes a person feel a kindred spirit to people they have never met. The internet is an amazing thing that strong bonds can be established without ever seeing anyone. I can't remember ever feeling this profoundly sad about the death of someone I have never met in my life, however, bantered with back and forth occasionally. I actually have laid in bed thinking about it have just felt a general malaise since. I live very close to the funeral home, however, have questioned the appropriateness of paying my respects as I did not know him personally other than here. A persons grief is such a private thing that deserves the respect of others and do want to impose on that by being one of the "high school kids that was best friends with the kid who died" when they didn't know them from adam. Therefore, I did not attend the memorial out of respect for those who knew him best. Right or wrong, it is just my values.

I do hope to have an opportunity to meet many of you in the future. I very much have become a part of this community I feel and hope we can have a "Friday Afternoon Club" or a " Mixer" sometime so we can meet in good circumstances.

I have rambled enough, just my observations of TM that made me laugh and my attempt to understand the level of my sadness I have had in this event.

Be safe in your endeavors this summer!

"Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory." -- Ed Viesturs

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