Cole Kennedy

Sad news.  One of my classmates died ice climbing in Peru this weekend.  Cole Kennedy died doing what he loved in a beautiful place,  but his death serves as a reminder of the inherent risks in climbing.

Piramide Blanca

Cole and his climbing partner John Collis were climbing Piramide de Garcilaso also called Piramide Blanca.   Apparently there was an ice avalanche on Monday July 14th.  Luckily,  John survived.  (John became somewhat/locally famous for his Garden of the Gods Whipper video in 2011.)  I can’t even begin to imagine what John had to deal with.  Making the emergency call.  Going back up there to look for the body.  It must have been quite surreal.

This thread goes into more detail on the incident.  And this blog post by one of the last people to see Cole gives another perspective.  I feel like I was just training with him in the old Colorado College climbing gym yesterday…  I remember watching him send overhanging cracks during my first trip to Indian Creek, wishing that I could climb as hard as he did.  His psych was contagious.  He will be dearly missed.

As my friend Chris Dickson put it, “I am completely in shock and my heart is so heavy with grief for a friend who I thought was absolutely invincible. Nothing could touch Cole or prevent him from climbing: not a broken arm, not a speeding ticket, and certainly not a hangover.”

This is the second serious climbing accident involving one of my classmates.  In late 2012, my friend Peter Duker’s cam popped while climbing the Kor-Ingalls route on Castleton Tower.  He had climbed the exact same route in 2011.  I was with him on the summit after climbing the North Chimney.  Here is a post from the blog Semi-Rad describing the incident and an article by our school newspaper.

Castleton Tower

 

These incidents are a good reminder to check that the risk in any particular climbing situation is worth the reward.  But also that life is short.  “Don’t not climb.”  Enjoy it while you can!  To close, here is a video by Chris of our climb up the North Chimney, summit partying with Peter and the guys, crushing/getting schooled at Indian Creek, Cole sending Anunnaki 5.11c, and whiskey slaps around the campfire.

 

Edit: John Collis update