Friday, December 29, 2006

Charlie too. What the hell are we doing?

Charlie Fowler and Chris Boskoff went missing about a month ago in China. Their friends helped organize a massive search effort, which eventually found Charlie's body a few days ago. Chris is likely in the same area. The duo were two of the most motivated climbers around, and losing two more good people is again really sad. I've known Charlie for so long that I've forgotten where and when I met him, he's just always been around in the climbing world. A couple of years ago we worked a film job in the desert together, and snuck off to go climbing on a down day. The rock was pretty bad but we sure had fun, including downclimbing a reasonably hard corner because we couldn't find a solid anchor and didn't want to leave evidence of our passage on the cliff. On that same film job I pulled onto the top of a wild tower after a "safety scout," while Charlie had been helicoptered onto the top to do some rigging for a film crew. The last time I'd been up there the top of the tower had hosted a really ugly cluster of manky bolts, horrendously weathered drilled angles and some weird old bits all tied together with yards of ugly webbing. I pulled over the top to find two very, very solid but well-camouflaged anchors, and all the mess perfectly cleaned up, a much more elegant solution but perhaps controversial due to the tower's location (we were there legally). Charlie looked at me, looked at the anchors, and said in his unmistakable Charlie voice, "Well, those sure do look nice. Wonder how old they are?" The desert wind hadn't blown the dust away yet, I about fell off the top laughing as Charlie just slyly grinned. We sat up there in the sky for a while grooving on the amazing place and life before the film circus started again, it was nice. I'm sad that Charlie's gone, but he died with his boots on after a pretty damn solid life by anyone's standards. I'll grieve for him, but also laugh a bit more thinking about Charlie being Charlie. I'm looking forward to getting into the desert dust again, I know it has some Charlie mixed in it.

Some of Charlie's friends are sharing stories here.

I've been depressed over the loss of Hari Berger for the last week, it just rips me up to imagine Kirsten and Zoe without Hari. Now this, and following the loss of Todd this fall, Sue and Karen in the spring, and some other people I knew less well but who were also once vital parts of the adventure world. 2005 was also a hard year on my friends, stacking 2006 on top of it is near-incomprehensible. I'm not sure how to sort this all out, it's going to take some time to make emotional and intellectual sense of such horrific carnage. It's like someone repeatedly blasted the well-woven fabric of our community with a shotgun. Hari, Karen, Sue, and Charlie were all likely at the Ouray Ice Festival a few years ago, now they are all gone. Here's to hoping 2007 is a better year, play safe enough.

2 comments:

airing out said...

I'm so sorry. The must be very terrible for you. So many friends in just one year.
Please take care.

KCG said...

Will,

Sorry to hear about the death of your friends. Have you read Dave Robert's book "On the Ridge Between Life & Death?" It's a worthwhile meditation on this issue of death and mountaineering.

Best, KCG