As far as working in the outdoor industry goes, I’m a novice. But I’ve spent my life playing outdoors, with friends and family I love. Like others who have followed this same path, I’ve lost people I cared about to the passions they pursued. Dying while doing something you love is still death. It leaves a hole in the world of your loved ones, and a host of questions and painful emotions. To be sure, there are far more dangerous fields of work than this. But to work in this industry is to grow close to those who play hard in places where even small mistakes can be deadly.
Last week the industry lost another family member, when Black Diamond Equipment employee Chris Hunnicutt fell to his death while ice climbing. I met Chris once, the night before he died, at the Outdoor Retailer show, where we talked about Nau a little. He had not heard of us, and was immediately excited about what we were doing. His genuine enthusiasm was clear, and I was disappointed I was not joining him and his co-workers for dinner. And that was it.
The next morning I got up and flew home. Chris got up, packed his gear and headed out for a morning of climbing. I cannot claim to miss him as a friend, but I mourn his loss just the same, as I do every time someone does not come home from the mountains, rivers, or oceans where my greater family seeks its challenges and adventures, as well as solace and escape. May all the rock be solid where he is, the ice blue and thick, and the pro all bomber.