This is a post for my friend Ben. This is not going to be well written; there isn't really a way to write this stuff. I remember a day many years ago when we were just teenagers. We were climbing a wall in Vermont, two pitches. Ben had just discovered the wall and was so excited to show me. When we topped out, he swept his hand towards the view and said, "Look- look around." The hills unfolded for miles and miles in all direction, draped in an early summer haze. We couldn't see a single road or house or light. I remember exactly how he looked standing up there. He had this quiet temperament, very sweet and shy and genuine. And we both loved our home state so much. On the way home, in his tiny little car, he told me about a new bouldering area that had just been discovered in the Whites. "Two hours of hiking, then it opens up like Shangri-La," he said. He was gleeful. "Do you want to go?"
I remember funny things about Ben, like the drawn-out way he pronounced his sister Daisy's name, and how he always had chalk on his hands even when he wasn't climbing. He was so peaceful and focused that Sophi and I called him Zen Ben. He was just a skinny, muscle-ripped 18 year old boy who exploded in competition and always wanted to go outside. He was just so quiet and sweet, I can't say that enough. He was the sweetest boy.
When I moved to Seattle was the same time Ben moved to Colorado to study physics and chemical engineering at CU Boulder. And something happened to that skinny boy- he became this gorgeous young man- I mean gorgeous, and a completely insane climber. He really became the pride and joy of the Vermont climbing community.
Last Friday Ben fell 800 feet from Long's peak in Colorado and died. I miss him and this is so terrible and we're in shock. I don't think the world should have lost someone like Ben. If there is any peace to be had by his family, I hope they find it in time. For the rest of my life I'll remember Ben and all the wonderful things he was.