Death, Love and What Really Matters

Remembering Adventure Film Festival founder Jonny Copp and what really matters. By Stacy Bare

I moved to Boulder, Colorado the same week Jonny, Micah, and Wade died. It wasn’t an easy time in my life and it was an even worse time in Boulder, Colo., because of the deaths of those guys. I wasn’t a climber when I moved to town and had no idea who they were when I saw Jonny’s name at the Boulder Theater the night I drove into town.

Later though, I’d find the power and peace of climbing, fall in love with the woman who is now my wife, and be introduced to a community of people who preferred sleeping in the back of their station wagons, the dirt, and the snow, than on regular mattresses. In the last couple of years as I’ve got to know the community deeper, I’ve also got to feel the pain when we lose, as we inevitably do every year, the special men and women, like Jonny, Micah, and Wade who brighten up our lives.

Maybe it’s strange that this community and our joint pursuits outside have been the final anecdote for me to erase the aimless loss and pain I felt when I came home from war. Camaraderie though, the shared sense of purpose and mission, what is it if it isn’t love? Were we really fighting for some general or for each other? Is it all that different then when you take off up a rock face or head down through a couloir?  Maybe it’s because I’ve been home from war for eight years now, but it seems like it’s all starting to blend together a little bit and that what holds it all together is love.

Author Stacy Bare and his wife on the trail.

Ultimately, no one really cares how hard you climb or how hard you crush on skis. Sure, we’re all impressed with big lines, first free ascents, and the likes. Lots of people make good livings as professional athletes, and I think that’s awesome. But how you love when you’re out there, the place, the people, and the stoke, that’s what everyone will remember.

And what’s more, that’s all that ever really matters.

Stacy Bare is now the Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and a brand ambassador for The North Face and Keen Shoes. He and his wife live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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