Bouldering Companions

Dave Rearick Dave Rearick :
(David Rearick) This is a photo of Dave as a young man in the 1950s bouldering at Stoney Point (courtesy B. Kamps).  I first met Dave in the late 1950s in Grand Teton Park. He was then a very well known and highly skilled California climber who was getting his PhD in mathematics at Cal Tech. Over several years Dave and I would meet and boulder together in the Tetons, Black Hills, and Colorado. He was also a gymnast, and we practised our gymnastics on a cement slab in the old Climbers Campground near Jenny Lake in the early 1960s. (There's nary a trace left of the campground, but the slab is still there if you know where to look - the Park Service is accomplished at 'disappearing' undesirable projects.) I remember instructing Dave on the stiff-stiff press to handstand.

With the slab as our inspiration, we conceived a possible Olympic event we called Tower Jumping (we thought of this between bouts of frisbee with a large metal garbage can lid) : a tower with a ladder is erected beside such a slab and there are landings marked at each 3 feet. There is a large bullseye painted on the middle of the slab below. Competitors start at 3 feet and jump onto the target on the slab. They then have 10 seconds to remove themselves from the slab. Each competitor moves up the ladder to the next higher position, and jumps. Once a competitor is unable to remove himself from the slab, the next lower landing is determined to be his high point. A gold medal goes to the athlete having the highest point. It is hoped he/she will be conscious to receive his/her award. Posthumous medals are a possibility.

Dave Rearick Dave's California climbing adventures included a landmark first ascent in 1959 of the Vampire (5.10 + aid) with Royal Robbins. In 1960, he and Royal climbed the east chimney of Rixon's Pinnacle – Yosemite's first 5.10. And in 1960, he and Bob Kamps made the first ascent of the Diamond on Longs Peak – a prize many climbers coveted. They were the guests of honor at a parade in Estes Park that was widely reported in the news media. In Eldorado Canyon, near Boulder, Dave and Bob Culp made the first free ascent (5.10) of T-2, a Kor route. This involved a significant overhang that had defeated others. In 1964, Dave and Pat Ament climbed Coffin Crack (5.10-5.11) on Castle Rock near Boulder. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dave and his frequent climbing partners, Robbins and Kamps, were counted among the very best rock climbers in America. He was focused and fearless and had superb and very smooth technique.

On Cutfinger Rock, 1960

However, nothing compares to the dangerous thrill Dave and I got when we tried to substitute real rocks for a package of rock candy in the old grocery store at Jenny Lake in the early 1960s. The two elderly women who ran the store gave us evil looks and quickly discovered our deception after we left. On another occasion, I recall an afternoon we drove to String Lake to go swimming, with Bill Woodruff, another Cal Tech prodigy who was bicycling across the USA. Dave and I were sitting on the beach chatting while Bill floated on an air mattress about 50 feet out. Dave had a chess board set up and he and Bill were playing chess, Dave concentrating on the board and Bill, eyes closed, drifting lazely and calling back his moves. After a while, Dave, staring at the board, chuckled and said "he's got me beat!"

Dr. Rearick had a long, distinguished career as a mathematics professor at the University of Colorado. He gained the enviable reputation of being one of the few profs in the department students really liked and appreciated. He became a serious bicyclist, foregoing his car as he moved around Boulder, and developing such stamina that he was able to bicycle from Boulder up to the Longs Peak Ranger station, hike up Longs Peak, then return to Boulder in one day. Dave retired several years ago. He was one of my most interesting and intellectual companions, quiet and witty, and I fondly recall our good times together in the Tetons and elsewhere, playfully blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. (2003)