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My Best Summer Ever - Legend of the TalusMonkey

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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My Best Summer Ever - Legend of the TalusMonkey

Postby CODave » Thu May 10, 2007 2:27 am

I wanted to share some of my experiences with David. I met him early last summer and then we spent nearly every weekend the rest of the summer climbing together. I had no idea that a great friendship would come out of a casual climb with a few 14ers.com members. Here is my story of the “14er Jihad Summer”, also described as my best summer ever.

When I first saw David's post he had "Enzyte Bob" as is avatar and I thought "Who is this guy?” When we made plans to camp at the Stewart Creek trailhead last June I was very curious, to say the least, to see who this guy was. After setting up camp, we all (TalusMonkey, AzScott, Jeff_F, and myself) sat around talking. I’m a pretty quiet guy so at first I didn’t say much and just soaked in the things TalusMonkey had to say. I’ll admit, I was taken off guard… but only because I didn’t expect this kind of person, his amazing sense of humor, vibrant personality, his love for the mountains, and most of all, his love for his new friends. After a couple hours of random discussions, we all went to bed and woke up early the next morning for a hike up San Luis Peak. As you’d expect, TalusMonkey began leading our group. It was a beautiful day. I remember a few things in particular about this hike. Although I had only met him (and AzScott) the night before, we already began discussing the possibility of Mt. Rainier the following summer. It was truly amazing how quickly we bonded and became friends. We shared good times on the summit and then decided we’d head over to nearby 13er Baldy Alto. While on the way, TalusMonkey told me of his plans to do the Chicago Basin 14ers later that summer. I had not planned on going there until another year or so, but David kept trying to get me to go. After thinking about it, I had no choice but to go ahead with this exciting adventure. This is just one of many testaments to David’s nature of treating everyone he met as a longtime friend. After we arrived back at the trailhead, we caravanned to San Luis where we met other members of 14ers.com for the Culebra climb. Here we made more fantastic memories. I’ll never forget Consuela and the Coors Light at the San Luis Inn. During this time with David he told me he had planned on camping at Willow Lake the following weekend to climb Challenger Point and Kit Carson. Almost immediately I had said yes. I couldn’t pass up another weekend with my new friend. We drove down separately after work that next Friday night since I had planned on going home after that climb, while David would head to Buena Vista for Belford and Oxford. He is truly inspiring and just being around him made my love for our beloved 14ers grow even more. As you might expect with a recurring theme, he urged me into going to Buena Vista with him after we climbed Challenger Point and Kit Carson. I accepted. We arrived in Buena Vista late evening, ate pizza, went to the liquor store for our Mickey’s malt liquor for the next day’s climb and then cruised the main street listening to the Office Space soundtrack. I never expected I’d have this much fun in a town like Buena Vista. Wherever David went and with each passing moment, it seemed like he was always having the best time of his life. He truly lived life to the fullest. We arrived on the summit of Oxford and cracked open our Mickey’s and pizza. This started the “jihad”.

The next time I saw David was when we were on our way to Silverton to catch the train to Needleton for our long weekend in Chicago Basin. Little did I know, at the time, this would be one of the best few days in my life. We planned on four days in Chicago Basin, two for climbing, one for our hike out, and the other as a slack day in case bad weather came. We climbed the four 14ers the first two days so we had a “fun day”. The rest of our party either climbed or re-climbed Windom (I think it was Windom) so David and I slept in. We had a treat of some mountain goats visiting our campsite. It was such an amazing sight having them there and David and I outdoing each other as to who could produce the best photo with a mountain goat. David then showed me his love for swimming in high mountain lakes and streams. I had never done this before but oh what a feeling. This is yet another testament to how David lived his life to the fullest, never missing an opportunity to truly live. As I’ve stated many times over, David invited me for another “jihad” week in the San Juans. Of course, I accepted. We spent the next long weekend in Lake City, Ouray, and Telluride areas for Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn, Sneffels, El Diente, Mt. Wilson, & Wilson Peak. We attempted (and succeeded) Uncompaghre and Wetterhorn in the same day; however, we were clouded in most of the day. We climbed Uncompahgre first and then went to Wetterhorn. Just before the final summit pitch on Wetterhorn we ran into two women who were struggling, mostly due to mentally giving up and scared of where to go next. Instead of simply passing them and expecting them to descend, David immediately offered to help them summit. There were two of them so we each helped one of them with instruction on where and how to make their next move, but mostly just encouragement. David was the one leading this. David is someone who will put others before his goals. We were already tired that day and it would have been easier to continue on our own, but David wanted to help two women who he had never met.

For whatever reason, I didn’t include this in my original Wilson Peak trip report but I felt necessary to include it here. We arrived in Navajo Basin late one night, setup camp quickly and went to bed. We awoke very early and ascended El Diente and then traversed to Mt. Wilson. Our original plan was to descend back to Navajo Basin and climb Wilson Peak the next day. We decided to get ahead and go for Wilson Peak as long as the weather wasn’t threatening. Every so often we kept checking the weather and it was stayed calm so we pressed on. Towards the end of the Wilson Peak climb, David had moved quicker than I and had summated before me. I was so tired and decided I couldn’t move on. Apparently David was calling for me from the summit saying I was only a few minutes away. I didn’t hear him but I was mentally drained. David quickly climbed down and inspired me to complete the climb. Within minutes I was on the summit celebrating. David, without you buddy, I would have not been able achieve the summit of Wilson Peak that day. It’s amazing how inspirational and caring David was. Thank you David!

For this last “jihad” week we drove together. I remember dropping him off at his apartment and while I was helping unload his gear he went to check his mail. A package had arrived. Although we were both extremely exhausted, his eyes lit up… it was because his purple pimp suit had arrived. He was so excited. He immediately dropped everything and put everything on, even the “bling” ring and necklace. I couldn’t wait for him to wear this on his 14er finisher climb.

That was the end of our “14er Jihad Summer”. I know it will rank as one of the best summers in my entire life, and in a large part due to my new friend, the TalusMonkey.

Once the summer was over we didn’t climb as much, due to many various reasons; although we did stay in close contact with what each other had been up to. He even took time to come visit one of my rec. soccer games one Sunday. We shared many more great times through the next few months, including a BBQ at my new home, a few snowshoe hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, and best of all, dinner at Hooters. David was so into his beloved mountains that even a casual dinner at Hooters he brought several hiking and climbing books ready to plan the next summer. My last hike with David was to Black Lake in RMNP in February.

The last few weeks we had planned on several climbs and backpacks for the summer, including a trip to Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood. I was so excited for these climbs. David, I will miss you!

I have also put together a slideshow with some of my favorite photos of David. Warning, there are explicit lyrics. The song is one we listened to many times going to and from trailheads and on road trips. I couldn't decide whether to include it or not, but ultimately I did what David would do and just include the song as a tribute to him. Just turn off the sound if you don't want to hear the lyrics. Here is the link:

http://www.davegaff.com/talusmonkey.asp
Last edited by CODave on Thu May 10, 2007 11:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Kate » Thu May 10, 2007 2:50 am

This is perfect, Dave.

I know this is very difficult for you. I wish I could do something to make the pain stop, but I can't.

We will all miss David very much - obviously, we already do.

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Postby Bodacious » Thu May 10, 2007 6:48 am

Beautiful, Dave. Just beautiful. My heart goes out to you...
"To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live."
- Tenzing Norgay

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Postby Scott Rogers » Thu May 10, 2007 11:02 am

Great words Dave, I'm sorry you lost such a dear friend. Its kind of odd though, before I opened the video/slideshow, after reading your warning, that was the exact song that popped into my head! Then it was on the slideshow! I think it was a fitting choice. My prayers go out to you and all of David's closest friends and family.

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Postby Davis2001r6 » Thu May 10, 2007 11:45 am

A summer to remember thats for sure. Thanks for sharing Dave, great slideshow as well.

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Postby swturner » Thu May 10, 2007 1:09 pm

Dave--

I know how you feel. I did three hikes with TM last summer and had a great time on all. He told me since our first two hikes were pretty easy he wasn't sure what he had gotten himself into with me when we decided to do Capitol. He said he wasn't sure what I would be like on a technical mountain. You can tell from the photos on his trip report we had a great time! But afterwards he said I did a great job and he'd go climbing with me anytime. That meant a lot coming from a guy with his reputation who was going to finish his 54 14ers the following day on Elbert.

Unfortunately that was my last climb with him. We emailed each other the past couple of weeks and talked about doing some of the Sangres and the Bells together this summer. I know you and I were going to try to do Pyramid last year but it didn't work out. Let me know if you need a parther for some of the Sangres or the Bells, which I know you haven't done either. Maybe we can tell some Monkey stories and share a 40 ounce!

Scott
"It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."--Bruce Springsteen

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Postby AzScott » Thu May 10, 2007 2:04 pm

Dave,

That was perfect. Nothing will ever beat the feeling of the 3 of us spending day after day in Colorado's mountains last summer. As I told you, it makes me sick knowing we can't do that again, but you know he'd give us endless hell if ever quit. A big thanks for setting up the website, too.

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Postby astrobassman » Thu May 10, 2007 2:58 pm

It sounds like you guys had a blast last summer. Its a shame we won't be able to enjoy it the same way this year. The photo album was great...nothing beats lots of booze on top of mountains. Next time I'm on a summit I will be sure to make a toast of my customary JD to TM...

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Postby devotchkatata » Fri May 11, 2007 1:27 am

David, thanks for sharing! Sounds like tons of fun! I am jeallous! Are you still planning to do Rainier this Summer? We are moving to Seattle in August and I'd really like to do Rainier as well. It would be great to devote that climb to David as well since he planned to do it this Summer
"Better than the mountains are only the mountains that you haven't climbed yet." - V.Visotsky

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Postby Jeff Valliere » Fri May 11, 2007 9:41 am

Sorry to hear of this.
Last edited by Jeff Valliere on Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Postby CODave » Fri May 11, 2007 11:17 am

devotchkatata wrote:Are you still planning to do Rainier this Summer? We are moving to Seattle in August and I'd really like to do Rainier as well. It would be great to devote that climb to David as well since he planned to do it this Summer


Scott and I have cancelled our Rainier trip. We're discussing going next year.

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Postby mtnduck9 » Fri May 11, 2007 4:13 pm

I never knew David, but I can see that I really missed out! Makes ya think that when someone is taken from us, maybe it's just because he has proved his point here...

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