Bouldering Companions

Tom Griesan Tom Griesan:  Tom and I met in the late 1970s when he enrolled in an Advanced Calculus class I was scheduled to teach at  Colorado State University at Pueblo. A senior level  course of formidable reputation, it was to many aspiring young mathematicians a dreaded hurdle placed at the end of four years - when they had drained their reserves of intellectual stamina and could have used a bit of leisure time. Tom, however, was only a first semester sophomore and didn't see the need to put off the inevitable, after he had breezed through the calculus sequence the year before. I was a tad uneasy, but I shouldn't have been, for he finished the quarter with a solid "A"  - at the top of his class.

Tom in Lost Canyon, east of Pueblo, in the early 1980s

We quickly became friends, for he had recently started climbing and was enthusiastic about bouldering. I suspected from his appearance he had a high school background in gymnastics, but it turned out he had been a wrestler, which was just as good. Powerful and energetic, Tom easily mastered the dynamics I encouraged, as well as small-hold climbing.

We bouldered at Little Owl Canyon, where he repeated the big dyno I had performed for the film "On the Rocks", and in several other areas around Pueblo. After gaining some experience, he engaged in formal competition for a while in the 1980s, but it was my misfortune not to follow his efforts there.

After graduation, Tom went to work for an electronics firm, writing documentation for computer equipment installed in Cheyenne Mountain, the home of NORAD, in Colorado Springs. I lost track of him for some time, but learned later that he had married and had several children, but had drifted away from climbing. It was a real pleasure for me when Tom very graciously made a surprise appearance and presentation at my retirement party in 2000. I met his lovely wife and had a chance to share nostalgia with him, recalling our days as warriors of the rock.

When I think of Tom, I think of a young man extraordinarily gifted both intellectually and athletically. And I think of a man who has a full and varied life, who has accepted family responsibilities and made professional commitments, and who has perceived climbing - appropriately, I think - as an exciting and challenging recreation, not as the one flame to which the moth flies . . .