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RIP David Pinegar


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There's a lot of folks out there in the world who, it seems, if they left us in a hurry, would be remembered 'bout as long as, say, the duration of that hole in a bucket of water that's left when you pull your hand out. I will remember David Pinegar considerably longer than that.


On the evening of February 17, 2008, I'd been out and about, somewhere or other. I don't remember exactly, and it's not getting any better. But on my way home, I decided to take a run up to Baker. I can do that, on a whim; I'm very lucky that way, for sure. There wasn't a lot of daylight left, and the sun was just about down on the horizon. A hard wind was blowing out of the southwest, a cold hard wind. The weather was changing, I'm sure, and because of that I was careful to stay above the summit. I knew I only had about ten minutes before I'd have to dive for home. But as I came around the northeast side of the summit plateau, I was absolutely stunned to see a human being approaching the top, with skis on their back. Late in the day, darkness looming, sun still scraping across the sastrugi up there, I have the greatest respect for skiers but I knew there was absolutely no way that person would be coming down from that position that night. I suppose a few of you know how fond I am of saying "Holy Shit!" Well, I might have said that a few times, though nobody was listening. And I really meant it. I circled and took photographs. I didn't know who it was, but I guessed they'd know who I was. In a few minutes, they were at the summit. To escape the wind, I watched as that hardy soul huddled on the northeast side of Grant Peak. I was freezing my ass off, and I was pretty well protected. Can you imagine how cold it was down there? I'm not one to disturb someone's wilderness experience more than necessary, so after a few circuits, not too close, and a lot of photographs, I turned down to the southeast. When I landed, the sun was well down. It was late enough that Walter Keilt, one of the old guys there, a WWII B24 pilot who ought to know, would say, gettin in a bit late, aren't you? And I knew I'd sure better listen to that wisdom. But I also knew, I was safe on the ground, and somebody was still up there at the top of Baker, and it was night, in the middle of god damned winter.


A couple of days later, sure enough, I got a message. It was from David Pinegar. We'd never communicated previously. That was me down there, did you see me when you flew over? Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. And I tell you what, David, I can still see you down there. Just like it was yesterday: http://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/93119389



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wise king do not grieve

it is always better to avenge dear ones

than to indulge in mourning

for every one of us living in this world

means waiting for our end

let he who can achieve glory before death

when a warrior is gone

that will be his best and only bulwark

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I remember that TR, and that picture in particular. There's something really powerful about that image.


You can feel the weight of the cold through the monitor, some of the last shards of sunlight in the lower 48 are retreating from the summit, and night is closing in. Then there's that *one* guy alone in the middle of it all, leaning towards the summit and punching steps, 'teeth in the wind.'

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember really enjoying that Baker TR and thinking, man, now that's gutsy.


This man's passing is a real loss, no doubt. He was one of a rare breed for sure.


May his family's bereavement be assuaged by the knowledge he lived life fully, and on his own terms.





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