Thursday, February 17, 2011


Coach, the man, the myth, the legend.

You can't climb in Washington for very long without running into the Seattle based character know as, "Coach."  Coach had a bad run of luck a number of years ago.  It began with a serious on the job accident (industrial window washing) which wrecked his back and his shoulder.  With no means of income, and no savings, Coach was forced out of his home and moved into his van next to the river in Index, WA.

About this time, I was living in Bellingham, and spending many a winter and spring day learning the ups and downs of wall climbing with my good friend Tyree Johnson.  We became friends with Coach, and though we may have avoided him in the AM because his crazy stories would last forever, we would often stop by after climbing and put down a cold one with Coach and try to lift his spirits.

The pinnacle of our spring training that year ended with an ambitous effort to climb Davis Holland/Loving Arms, The Green Dragon, and Town Crier in a long day. We definely surprised ourselves when we crushed the link-up one late spring day in about 14 hours.  Throughout the day, monkey calls would rise up the wall from Coach's van and we knew that down by the river Coach had our back if anything went wrong.   

Recently, a scholarship writing binge forced me deep into my files in search of past letter's of recommendation.  Though I don't think the scholarship committee would give much credibility to the letter Coach placed on the hood of my car that sunny day in Index so many year ago, I do cherish the memories it brings back.

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