We knew the man as a force, a smiling face in the face of big ice, cold nights, high winds, and frightening leads. But we also remember him sharing ice cream, bending his glasses back into something halfway functional, and failing to control his wild hair.
While the dirtbag may be a dying breed, the insouciant idea of the dirtbag has captured much of climbing's soul. Living out of the truck, climbing every day, dumpster diving, scraping by with nothing but the fervor to climb. This certainly existed but in parallel to the hundreds of climbers who fed their addictions as weekend warriors. And where do Ron Kauk's Ford Broncos, John Bachar's Gillettes, and Chris Sharma's perfumes fall into the reimagination of the dirtbag?
So what do we do, climbers? Do we abandon the temples of rock climbing to the hordes? Do we focus on education? Do we enforce regulations? Do we tell bereaved families that their son or daughter should have known better? Do we limit what is considered grounds for lawsuits? Do we avoid the Fifty Classics? Do we stop writing guidebooks? Do we seek ever further adventures, necessitating going harder? Do we give over to the guides leading folks from Maryland up Forbidden Peak? Do we adopt the pernicious attitude of "I was here first, and I can't share?"
"Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us."