Deciding How We Live

Almost 20 years ago, Micah Dash, Thad Friday, Nathan Martin, and I visited the granite walls in southern Greenland. We bonded over fried salami and cheese under an excavated kitchen overhang, to combat the constant Arctic drizzle. While Micah and I yammered like jays, Thad and Nathan competed for the fewest monosyllables. When the sun appeared, we completed new routes and first free accents. We lived free and fully. Micah died climbing in China in 2009; Thad was killed in a fall in Eldorado Canyon in March.

I am the last man standing in the photo above. What strikes me in the image is the intense grief of a young death—no more chances to listen, learn, and love. It’s no consolation to die doing what you love, as Thad would never want climbing seen as too dangerous and foolhardy. A person first dies with their body, and again when no one remembers them. So I live with the joy and sincerity of Thad and the energy and zest Micah embodied in their love of our climbing family. We don’t predict how or when we die, but we do decide how and when we live. I know Thad would love for us to climb with his memory and have our actions speak louder and more loving than any words. He’d nod yes!

Cover Photo: Micah Dash (left), Thad Friday, and Timmy O’Neill in Greenland’s in the Nalumostoq Valley in 2003.

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