The last time I saw you, you were so excited to start this new chapter of your life in Bozeman with your girlfriend, Inge. You were recovering from shoulder surgery, but that didn’t get you down. You spoke with enthusiasm about living in a new place, going to EMT school this winter. It was the same Hayden we’d always known, always positive, always moving forward. Tall, lanky and larger than life.

I remember when you were in high school, even then your climbing ability was far beyond your peers, but you still wanted to be a part of the afternoon climbing group because you loved it. Students weren’t allowed to lead in our program yet, but you happily toproped your way up local moderates with a grin on your face. “That pitch was great,” you’d say after you lowered off something you could have easily led. No ego, just the pure joy of being outside, of moving over rock, of being with friends. And of course blasting Wu-Tang in the bus on the drive back to school. In fact, Dave Meyer still fondly tells students that he can no longer listen to Wu-Tang because of how often you would play it on the bus or in the gym.

I remember when your mom threatened to kill any of us if we taught you how to ice climb, and then I heard you were going to Patagonia and basically teaching yourself how to do it anyway. In some ways it was a relief, because it meant Julie wasn’t going to come after any of us, but I did wonder then where it would take you. The rock game wasn’t enough at that point and you were ready for bigger and better things. I gave you beta for that long ice route in Redstone so you could get some mileage in before your trip, and you loved it. Of course you did, you loved it all.

We were always impressed with your maturity and wisdom beyond your years. Even though you could have easily gone down the pro climber route, you decided you wanted to take climbing on your own terms. If you went to the mountains, it would be for you, not for some marketing department which would hashtag your adventures into manageable bites ready-made for public consumption.

There was a clear moment when we thought, wow, Hayden has become a man! You were still tall and lanky (with those huge hands!) but there was a poise, a confidence and a level headedness that signaled you had left your childhood behind and had entered into the realm of adulthood. I’m sure your experiences in the mountains had a lot to do with that.

I’ll never forget that time at the 4×4 Wall, Tracy and I were leading a CRMS trip when she had to take a student to Moab for a medical emergency. You and Jake stayed to help me set up ropes for all the students, and it was so cool that they got to climb with you at the same wall where you put up Carbondale Short Bus. You were there on your own trip, but chose to spend a day of it with eleven teenagers learning to crack climb, and there was no lack of inspiration among the students that week. Every time we go back to that wall with CRMS, we point out the climb and mention the day we were there with you, and how special that was for everyone.

Or that day at Optimator, when we just ran around climbing everything. You didn’t care what the grade was, if it looked rad, you wanted to climb it. You soared up the climbs, propelled by the pure joy of being in that place and the aesthetics of the climbs. I’ll always remember that image, of you moving up these climbs like somehow gravity affected you differently than it does the rest of us. It was such an embodiment of who you were as a person and a climber. Driven to get the most out of it that you could, and maximize the fun with friends. That will be one of my most endearing memories of you.

Tracy loves to tell the story of how you would always be so genuinely stoked to share climbs with people.
“Tracy, you’ve got to try this problem, it’s soooo good!”
“Hayden, I can’t even get off the ground on that thing!”
“BJ, have you done such and such route in Rifle? You would love it, it’s soooo good!”
“Hayden, isn’t that thing like 13c?”
“Yeah but it’s so good man!”
There was never any ego attached to these statements, you just wanted us all to experience the things that you thought were awesome. I just wish I was as good of a climber as you thought I was in those moments so I could have shared them with you too.

We watched a video of you last night, crying and laughing at the things that made you so you. Your enthusiasm knew no bounds and set a shining example for us all. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and loss that led you to this place, but every person has to walk their own journey, and for all of us, sadly, this was the end of yours.

Your light shone brighter than most, and even though it’s a beautiful fall day, with fresh snow on Sopris and golden yellow leaves in town, the sun feels dimmer now that you no longer walk among us. There’s too much of you everywhere we go to ever forget what kind of person you were. Thank you for all that you gave us in the short time you were here, surely the world is a better place because you were a part of it, even if it was for far too brief a time. Rest in peace my friend, and know that we will always carry you in our hearts with a smile on our faces and a tear in our eyes.

6 Responses to HK

  1. Beautiful way to remember HK. Thanks for sharing BJ.

    Ryan Hartegan October 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm
  2. So proud of you BJ This is precious.

    mom October 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm
  3. Thanks, Bj, penned straight from the heart. Beautiful!

    Andrea October 17, 2017 at 8:46 pm
  4. Well done. It captures so much of what made HK the amazing guy that he was. So grateful to have shared a planet and a rope with him. Thoughts go out to Michael, Julie, and all who are coping with his loss.

    DaveM October 17, 2017 at 10:36 pm
  5. Thank you for this BJ –
    Love Margaret

    Margaret Mathers October 18, 2017 at 10:24 am
  6. Thanks for your beautiful memories, BJ. Our family is grateful to hear the many wonderful stories about Hayden.

    Cathy Kennedy October 19, 2017 at 8:19 pm
Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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