Rick Collier, a friend and mentor, died in a climbing accident last week, when the rock face of a pitch he was leading gave away.
I met Rick when he was about 50 at a Calgary Roadrunners cross country race. I’ll be 50 next month. I had just discovered the newly published Scrambler’s guide by Al Kane and bursting with pride, proceeded to inquire whether or not he climbed such basic peaks as Cascade and Rundle, which I had just done. I think he was approaching 1000 climbs around that time, but was very gracious and inquisitive as to my experience on those peaks.
Being relatively unaffected by death so far in my life, the passing of Rick has been difficult to deal with. Stages of grief I suppose. The shock and disbelief led to many hours each day over the last week of reflecting upon the ways he impacted my life. I never stopped to ponder this earlier….but I have come to realize, that excluding family, he was the most influential role model/mentor in my life.
-The running connection: From road to cross country to orienteering. He and Mardy were an integral part of accepting and welcoming Maria into running community and thereby helping to give Maria a sense of belonging in her new country.
-The cycle touring connection. Although we never toured together (except for access into climbing areas) we shared a passion for travel by bike and constantly shared our experiences.
-Political views and the state and future of life on this planet. He was just as integral to the Revolutionary Politics online message board as he was to the Old Goats postings. Oddly enough, just weeks before his death, I unsubscribed to the political message board; I was finding that I was spending too much time on the computer and this was one way to cut back. Or maybe the grim truths regarding the future were just getting to be too much to handle.
-Writing connection. I never would have had my Central American cycling/pseudo climbing article published in the Alpine Journal if it were not for Rick’s liberal editing!
-And then of course, the scrambling/climbing connection. Memorable outings ranging from second ascents of Sundance and some peak in the Beaverfoot; rapping(for the 1st time) off Onslow in the midst of an electrical storm; being turned back on a 3rd consecutive midnight/moonlight climb of Temple; holding a serious fall on a 5.8 at Barrier bluffs (which I think was the last time he did any sport climbs)
-And then there was the bad dot com, stock market advice….coming from a Marxist, I should have known better!
So I just took all that for granted; something we tend to do with people we love. Now it’s just the acceptance that we can’t share any of the above anymore. As another old goat Ferenc mentioned in a recent posting, he not only replied to all emails, but did so in thorough and caring manner, when it’s so easy type a few lines and be done with it, especially when he had so much correspondence. His regular emails provided me with a link to issues around Calgary and the mountains and made home seem not so far away.
Well….it’s not just about what he accomplished in his life, but how he went about doing it; with mucho integrity. Why are people of his caliber so rare?
So I went out riding past Chimborazo 6300m earlier this week, reflecting on his passing, while trying told back the damn tears and wishing he would have come down to join me for one more climb….. and enjoy another beautiful morning, such as in the attached photo of Chimborazo.
You will be truly missed by many Rick.
Re: his mountaineery achievements http://bivouac.com/UsrPg.asp?UsrId=13
and his life http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Avid+climber+passionate+outdoorsman+Rick+Collier+killed+climbing+accident/7108349/story.html