USAKeller and 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.
Forum rules
Please be respectful when posting - family and friends of fallen climbers might be reading this forum.
User avatar
Posts: 1648
Joined: 8/4/2005
14er Checklist (58)
14ers Skied (24)
14ers in Winter (21)
13er Checklist (109)

USAKeller and TalusMonkey

Postby USAKeller » Wed May 09, 2007 9:23 pm

I'm completely unfamiliar with death. This is incredibly hard for me- by far the hardest thing for me to deal with thus far in my life. Here is my tribute (one of many) to David, the TalusMonkey, my hiking partner, and one of the most beautiful people who has waltzed into my life.

I first private messaged David about a route up Snowmass Mountain he recently climbed that my dad, his friend, and I had planned on taking a few days later. He replied with some information, and at the end asked me if I ever wanted to join up for a hike. I expressed much interest because the remaining 14ers he had left to do were peaks I needed. Although I never got to hike a new peak that he needed, he told me that after he finished, he'd be more than happy to repeat any peak I wanted. I was so happy to find another person who would become interested in having a long-term hiking partner. Little did I know that he would become someone whose heart and friendship would last a lifetime. It was one of those situations where before I learned his name, where he was from, or even spoke to him, I knew that he would mean something to me. So, here's my story:

Our first hike was Handies Peak- we knew nothing about each other. He told me he had an attraction for me right off the bat. We were on the summit and he also told me that there was nobody else he would rather be with at that time than with me.

On the summit of Handies Peak:

Our next climb was Wetterhorn Peak the following day- it involves some scrambling near the top. He helped me through this, providing me with the belief that I could trust him as my hiking partner.

On the summit of Wetterhorn Peak:

The following weekend, we were back in Lake City and met some other members for Uncompahgre Peak.

A shot of us on the Nellie Creek trail:

The next day, Redcloud and Sunshine were on the adgenda. This was the first hike where we got into some more deep and meaningful conversations.

On the summit of Redcloud Peak:

School and soccer started 2 days after this so we had to take a climbing hiatus. He came to most every home soccer game I had, a few away games, and often surprised me when he came. On the few days I had off from a game or a later game, we planned to hike early so I could be back in time to play. Mt. Antero was the first of this situation:

On the summit of Mt. Antero:

A few weeks later, we climbed Pikes Peak right before another soccer game. Some of you might know that he sends out Christmas cards of him with a Santa hat on top of a mountain.
I thought it was funny he wanted me in his Christmas picture, but I went along with it:

I had a national soccer tournament down in Tempe, AZ where I planned on meeting AzScott and his girlfriend, Tanya. My dad and I were interested in bagging that state highpoint while there and clearly David was too. He flew down to watch me play soccer, visit with Scott and Tanya, and climb the highpoint.

The group on the summit of Humphrey's Peak, AZ:

I then introduced him to a longtime friend of mine, Shawn (sdkeil). We all climbed Mt. Sherman and Mt. Sheridan together.

On the summit of Mt. Sheridan:

These are only a fraction of the pictures that captured the memories I have hiking with him. I quickly learned that he was already interested in taking me on future highpoint trips and that he was very interested in having me as a loyal hiking partner.

We built a strong relationship outside of the mountains as well, where another plethora of memories arise. The thing that I found most intriguing about him was how much he paid attention to every detail of me and my life- everything from the times I worked during the day, to what type of cardio I was going to do at the gym, to the favorite but limited foods I like to eat. It truly amazed me. David attracted my attention; he caught me off guard.

During this time, I've received wonderful, countless emails and PM's. Two people who knew him sent me this:

jamienellis wrote: The only small consolation that I have right now is that David died doing something that he truly loved, with someone that he truly loved. I hope that your face was the last thing that David saw, because I know that would make him happier than anything. The two of you had such a unique, strong, special bond.

AzScott wrote: Personally, I know how much you meant to him: you and mountains were what he cared about. I'm glad he got to go out doing what he loved with the person he loved.

I know above and beyond these statements are true.

Here are a few PM's and text messages David sent to me that really meant a lot:

TalusMonkey wrote:I hope to hear your voice today.

TalusMonkey wrote:I can't think of anyone I'd rather have along than you.

TalusMonkey wrote: I'm very glad that you messaged me about my Snowmass route - otherwise we would have never met! I also hope that we will remain close friends always. I still want to hike many beautiful places with you even if I can only give you a big hug when I see you.

Recent text message: "I care a lot about you, Caroline. And I miss you when I hike without you."

These are only a few memories I posted for the time being, and I will post more as they come to me.

Now, during this process, I can't stand the thought of not hearing how excited he was for the summer climbing plans we had with several other people- I think he was most excited to take me on the Maroon Bells traverse. He would always send me a text message every morning when he woke up telling me that he slept well, hoped I did too, and to have a good workout and a good day. He would send me another one every night wishing I would have sweet dreams and goodnight. He would always be so excited to call me after work. It's the little things that mean the most. Today, and every day, I keep waiting for a text message or phone call from him. He loved to see me smile. He loved to say my name.

As I sit here receiving all of your PM's, emails, text messages, and phone calls, my heart has been shredded up and I can't stop crying. I don't think I have ever believed in God so hard in my life as I have during this entire incident. David, you are a gift in my life. Heaven has just received the greatest angel it can. I hope you are reading this and watching my emotions as I type about you. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a close and wonderful person in my life. Thank you for seeing me dream, and making those come true.

Lastly, our climb of Humboldt Peak- the final summit picture of us:

I can't wait to climb again. I know that every time I reach a summit, you will climb with me, and I will be closer to you. From here on out, I will sign every summit register with 'USAKeller and TalusMonkey' because you will always be with me. I believe God brought us together to enrich each other's lives. I also believe for some heavenly reason He took you to His celestial shores. But, these circumstances won't change who I forever am in you or who you forever are in me. I miss you so much. I'll see you again someday. And we will both be happy again, together, dancing in Heaven.

Always and forever,

Here is my trip report for Humboldt Peak: ... m=tripmain

Thank you to everybody who appreciated and followed our antics.
Last edited by USAKeller on Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:48 am, edited 9 times in total.
User avatar
Dan the Mountain Man
Posts: 435
Joined: 7/16/2006
14er Checklist (6)

Postby Dan the Mountain Man » Wed May 09, 2007 9:33 pm

This is really really touching. A gorgeous compilation and tribute. I never really knew Talus and never had the honor of climbing with him. Other than the occasional bout on 14ers, he and I had little contact. Yet it is amazing how much his death means to me. I can only imagine how you, someone who was so close, are feeling. I truly feel sorry for you and thank you for sharing all of your good times with the Monkey.

Bis zur Grenze gefordet, koennen wir alle mehr, als wir wollen -Reinhold Messner

One does not climb to attain enlightenment, rather one climbs because he is enlightened- Zen Master Futomaki
User avatar
Posts: 926
Joined: 7/13/2006
14er Checklist (27)
14ers in Winter (1)
13er Checklist (8)

Postby jimlup » Wed May 09, 2007 9:40 pm

Thank you Caroline, That was beautiful. You will treasure these memories always. I know that you know this but I'll say it anyway. He lives in you and in all of us now.

Bless you!
"Just because you have the gear does not mean that you are a Mountaineer!" My daughter's cynical comment about my hobby...
User avatar
F Bomb
Posts: 84
Joined: 3/1/2006
14er Checklist (20)

Postby F Bomb » Wed May 09, 2007 9:44 pm

Yea, what Dan said.

Thank you for sharing. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Posts: 38
Joined: 1/25/2005
14er Checklist Not Entered

Postby sonburnt^ » Wed May 09, 2007 9:49 pm

That was wonderful..thank you for sharing with us some of the experiences you had with David and what he meant to you. May you continue to climb not just for achievement but in his remembrance. God Bless
Seek truth..find God
User avatar
Posts: 238
Joined: 8/4/2005
14er Checklist (58)
14ers in Winter (26)
13er Checklist (184)

Postby sdkeil » Wed May 09, 2007 9:50 pm

Caroline you are a beautiful person with a genuine heart. I am very glad I get to call you my best friend. You and david had an amazing relationship and I know he will always be with you.
User avatar
Posts: 1111
Joined: 6/12/2006
14er Checklist (43)
14ers Skied (10)
14ers in Winter (1)

Postby skier25 » Wed May 09, 2007 9:50 pm

I beilieve that this is the most compassionate, heartfelt article I have ever read on the internet. I haven't ever met you, or TalusMonkey, but the connection felt, simply through words, is real and can be seen. It absolutely can be percieved that he was happiest when climbing with you. It is a blessing that he was able summit his last peak in your company. God's Grace be with you both.
I get acute mountain sickness when I am away from the mountains.
User avatar
Hiking Mike
Posts: 319
Joined: 8/19/2006
14er Checklist (21)

Postby Hiking Mike » Wed May 09, 2007 9:55 pm

This is completely tragic and I'm so sorry for your loss. There's nothing that can make us appreciate (or even understand) what we really have better than loosing it. May you find peace when the time is right.
User avatar
Aspen Summit
Posts: 519
Joined: 4/8/2006
14er Checklist (19)

Postby Aspen Summit » Wed May 09, 2007 9:57 pm

Caroline & TalusMonkey:

As a concentration camp survivor from "The Killing Field" of Cambodia, I saw so much inhumanity, yet death is still new to me every time there is a passing. My first was most recent is David.

Thank you for sharing the photos. David first contacted me when he realized that I smile like him (without my teeth showing). That's because my teeth had been stained from the effect of tetracycline, an antibiotic that most Cambodian children were exposed too in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. On Monday, I got my molding from the dentist and have begun the process of whitening them. I was going to tell David when the news of his passing reached me. :cry: From now on, I'll always smile like TalusMonkey in all photos taken at the summit :)

Hoping and praying that David is at peace and that his spirit climbs with you throughout your Days under the Sun. I also asked Grandpa, Grandma, and Dad to look after him Up There.

Follow Your Path! Cross ALL Boundaries!! AND RIDE THE EARTH, BABY!!!
User avatar
Posts: 251
Joined: 7/17/2006
14er Checklist (5)

Postby highaltmama » Wed May 09, 2007 9:59 pm

This thread means so much to all of us, even those of us who never knew him personally. I've been through hard times with death of family before and it always comes as a shock. I just know that TalusMonkey and you have been well respected, that we've all learned so much from both of you sharing your lives and mountaineering with us, and I for one thank you for letting us share your pictures/memories.

I never knew him personally, but yes, I do grieve for him. I know that we all wish we could do more to help you and the family through your grief.

God Bless You!
User avatar
Posts: 3085
Joined: 8/17/2006
14er Checklist (57)
14ers in Winter (4)
13er Checklist (29)

Postby MtHurd » Wed May 09, 2007 10:02 pm

I probably had the chance to meet him last year when I was in Telluride and was so sick of the rain that I blew off the Wilson/El Diente traverse and went home. I was pissed that I didn't go when I read his trip report on about his climb the day I was supposed to go and seeing the pics where the storms let up just enough to get in the climb. I can never imagine how you must feel, perhaps shock or numbness at first, then extreme sadness, especially with the way things happened. Sometimes life seems unfair and I am sure you will feel lonely in the coming days. He's looking down on you and he surely wants you to continue living life to the fullest. The best thing you can do is to surround yourself with the people that love you and to take comfort in them. Thanks for the pics and the stories.
User avatar
Posts: 311
Joined: 7/15/2006
14er Checklist (9)
14ers Skied (2)
14ers in Winter (1)
13er Checklist (7)

Postby mainpeak » Wed May 09, 2007 10:38 pm

Just echoing the gratitude expressed by other members.

Thank you, USAKeller, for posting your tribute, and especially your trip report. My admiration and respect for David, and you as well, have grown immensely as a result.
Last edited by mainpeak on Wed May 09, 2007 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Return to “Climbing Accidents: Info, Analysis and Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: brian02108 and 3 guests