Last night I had the honor of helping with an event to celebrate the life of Jeff Lowe and also raise money for his medical care. Jeff has an an unknown neurodegenerative disorder and has been repeatedly been told he has weeks at most to live.
The tone from the beginning was how I picture Irish funerals. It was festive, upbeat, and good humored. Climbers that hadn't seen each other in decades were hugging and laughing as the roar of the room drowned out the live music. The conversations were atypical of many climbing events - they were reflective, introspective, and focused more on friendships and memories, with little to do about achievements and sends and who the baddest man in the room was. And believe me, there were a lot of bad asses in the room. As a history geek and someone that has been captivated by the lore of these living legends for years, I always appreciate talking with the climbers of yore. I have always felt embraced by them, welcomed as a brother, but tonight, I started to feel like one of them. Not because of the countless interactions and festivals and meals we've shared together, but because I realized I'm starting to become one of the "older dudes". I don't quite fit into the Jeff Lowe and Lynn Hill age bracket (or climbing caliber), but I also don't fit into the young-gun Daniel Woods age category (or climbing ability) either. This transition, perceived or not, was sort of comforting. Lots of talk of aching body parts and a focus on family over recent ticks felt refreshing, as did the realization that some of the speakers talking about Jeff were my peers, not an older generation.
But regardless of my own introspective ramblings, the event was incredible. Climbers from all over the country flew in to attend the event and celebrate Jeff's life. The last count I had was 200 pre-sold tickets with probably another 300 at the door ticket sales, plus about $10,000 in auction sales meant the Boulder Climbing Community achieved its goal of raising enough money for Jeff to remain in his house and have the much-needed around-the-clock medical support. The event was a huge success and again, I'm very pleased to have been a part of it.
As one final cool thing - I brought a copy of Climb!, a book on the history of climbing in Colorado. I had a bunch of climbers that have made an impact on Colorado climbing sign the book. The BCC will auction it off at a later time to raise money.
Signatures include: Jeff Lowe, Huntley Ingalls, Lynn Hill, Roger Briggs, Paul Sibley, Steve Cheyney, Richard Rossiter, Tom Hornbein, Chris Revely, George Lowe, Michael Kennedy, Mark Wilford, Jim Erickson, Pete Takeda, Josh Wharton, Henry Barber, Bob Horan, and many many more.
We'll try and get a few more signatures before we sell it off, but let me know if you're interested in it - or keep an eye out for an upcoming benefit put on by the BCC.