| State of Euphoria with Terry Mathews
Wow. Where to start? As I attempt to explain the impact that Terry had on my life in a few short paragraphs, I am overcome by the impossibility of my task. Perhaps if I had Terry’s eloquence that always came through in his trip reports I would fare better.
I met Terry on Mt. Columbia back in 2009. It was his third attempt at this peak, and he was descending after finally making it to the top. We got to chatting while I waited for my companions to catch up. We exchanged contact info, but really, who ever follows up on those things? Terry, that’s who. We covered a lot of miles together over the next four years. I am not sure how many 14’ers we climber together, but it was at least a dozen. While I will not detail all of them, I feel compelled to share a few. Terry pushed me to places I never would have been without his help. We tackled many of the most challenging peaks together. The Snowmass “S-Ridge” was our first adventure.
Terry and Nick tackling the S-Ridge
Snowmass group summit shot
Happy Terry on S-Ridge
Soon thereafter we hiked Mt. Massive in late Spring (remember me burning Loring’s brand new boots trying to dry them out)?
Obligatory summit shot - Mt. Massive
Terry on Mt. Massive
More adventures ensued, Mt. Sherman – my first time hiking in snowshoes and Mt. Yale, my first calendar winter ascent.
Terry and I on top of Yale
Terry in Winter mode
We tackled the Wilson Group together. Scaling the El Diente couloir (with Terry in the lead, of course). How could Moon make it 100’ from the summit and then stop to make his daily constitutional? Terry always got a kick out of our weirdness. On the descent, Terry lost control in the couloir and had to self-arrest. I thought he was going to smash himself on the rocks, but he had diligently logged hours practicing his technique and was able to safely stop.
Terry leads the way up the El Diente couloir
Terry and Nick on the summit of El Diente
Terry near summit of Wilson Peak
Brad and Terry goofing off near Rock of Ages Saddle
Terry invited me to hike Pyramid with him, Jerry and Dzuy. This pushed my comfort level, but with Terry’s experienced hand guiding the way, I never blinked in achieving my first Class 4 summit.
Terry scaling Pyramid Peak
Pyramid Group summit shot
Next was Capitol. I had watched numerous You Tube videos on the knife edge, always with my palms sweating. Terry not only led the way with no hesitation, but he walked right across the thing on the way back. Later, he laughed his ass off as Brad and I jumped naked into Capitol Lake. Afterwards, we celebrated at Kim’s in Carbondale well into the night. I had never seen Terry have so much fun before.
Terry photographs the beauty of the area
Terry and Brad at start of knife edge
Terry saunters across the knife edge
We had difficulty coordinating things this trip, but I ran into Terry atop Maroon Peak, and he joined us for our traverse over to North Maroon. Once again, his experience and guidance gave me the confidence to overcome my fears. We saw mountain goats, a moose swimming in Maroon Lake and two separate mama bears and cubs on this hike. This day ranks as one of the most memorable of my life, and I am glad that Terry was a part of it.
Celebrating ringing the Bells!
I had begged Terry for a year or so to guide me up Little Bear. My daughter was due to be born soon, and I wanted to tackle this scary peak before she arrived. My wife was reticient to green light this hike, but once whe knew Terry was going, she agreed. She knew if Terry went I was in good hands. Terry was a tad reluctant to make this trip, as he had already been up the Bear twice that year as part of honoring the memory of Kevin Hayne, but as always he was willing to take me under his wing and make sure I made it home safely. We ended up having a 16-hour day on the mountain while battling the smoke from the New Mexico fires and the strongest winds I have ever encountered. But, we did it. Together.
Obligatory summit shot - Little Bear
I last saw Terry about a month ago when we climbed Mt. Lindsey. We rolled into the campground and there he was, sitting on the tailgate of his trusty silver Blazer, big smile on his face. Ever the faithful companion, he offered me his spare helmet as he knew there was a risk of rock fall near the top. Ever the accomplished climber, he ended up leading a class 4 route that avoided the loose rock in the red gully. Ever the unselfish friend, I had to drag him into these photos (“I have lots of pictures of me on 14’ers, I want pictures of my friends” was his comment).
Mt. Lindsey - my last hike with Terry
Terry taught me the "photograph your GPS" trick
Friends celebrating a successful trip on Mt. Lindsey
When I think of Terry, an overwhelming wave of images flood my mind. There’s Terry focusing his huge SLR camera to get the perfect shot. He rarely wanted to be in a photograph; rather he sought to capture the accomplishments and excitement of his friends. There’s the image of Terry with his ridiculously heavy back-pack, because he wanted to make sure he had all of the tools should someone need his help.
Terry's trademarked ridiculously over-stuffed pack
There’s Terry rousing the camp at 3:30 AM, because he knew that we needed to get going to make a safe summit attempt. I think of sitting in my office the Monday after a hike, eagerly awaiting Terry’s trip report. I think of a friend who never hesitated to help others, but for some reason never could figure out how to ask for the help he needed. I know Terry was not religious, but I am, and I like to think of him like this. Looking down on us as we climb, ready to point out a toehold or extend a helping hand.
Watching over his friends
I asked Terry on Mt. Lindsey how many 14’er summits he had. I forget the exact answer, but it was 150+. While that is an amazing feat in itself, the true demonstration of Terry’s life is found in reading the comments on this website and seeing how many lives he touched on his journey to the summit. I find solace in my belief that life is not about how long you live, but how you live. I was surprised in reviewing Terry’s trip reports that we have only known each other for 4 years. I had more good times with him than most people I have known my entire life.
I regret that I was not a better friend to Terry. I wish I would have made a stronger effort to help him tackle his personal problems. Perhaps it was because I always saw him in the mountains, where he was happy, that I never quite grasped the seriousness of his depression. In any case, I am sorry Terry that I did not try harder.
Terry took this picture of a Columbine on our trip to Capitol. I have always loved this one, and it gets me thinking. The Columbine is one of nature’s finest accomplishments, yet it does not care to grow in the comfortable climate of a city garden. It does not prefer to grow in a pot, where every need is attended to. Rather, it makes its home above tree line, thriving where the air is thin, the wind is strong and conditions are challenging. Yes, its growing season is short, but for the short time that it is here, there is no greater gift from God. This was Terry.
One of many photographic gems Terry created
I have spent a lot of time over the past few days reading many of Terry’s blogs about the adventures we had together. I hope this treasure is preserved forever. I came across the following quote from Terry in one of his reports:
“Hikers are hikers; we are all one and the same. The color of our skin doesn’t matter. What matters is that we all have the mountains in our blood. The mountains are food for our souls.”
I miss my friend Terry already. His expertise. His patience. His compassion. His sly sense of humor. His smile. Thank you for showing me the way to reach the State of Euphoria. I am forever in your debt, my friend.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):