I met Keith on Mt. Rainier, we were both climbing with a Camp Patriot event. 2012 was their 6th annual Mt. Rainier climb.
Occasionally, during the climb, Keith would have to stop due to some mechanical issue with his prosthetic leg. He would profusely apologize, “Man, I’m sorry to have to stop. Or, I’m sorry we are going so slow.” I was unable to not choke up, “Oh, Keith, you have it so backwards.”
High on the mountain, I would ask how he was holding up. He would respond with, “Ohh, my quad’ is just on fire!”
“Let’s take a quick break then.”
“No, let’s just get this over with.”
I quickly realized the courage he had. Not from a fear of injury, or of making a humiliating mistake. No, the bravery I was seeing, is a guy who is willing to experience pain. Deeply. I sensed he had evolved with the experience, to where it had become a form of spiritual insight. But, it is the depth of pain he is willing to put himself through, that is astounding.
After nearly 20 hours, upon reaching the hut at 10,000′ Camp Muir, Keith sat outside the tent, still tied into the rope, spikes on, before even a drink, he stated almost under his breath, “That was good. I’d do that again.”
I knew the guy was a rare breed. If he wanted to do more climbing, than, we’d make sure he’d get the chance.
Classic New England ice climbing was the obvious choice for a New Yorker. Mt. Washington is beautiful and the terrain is so unique. Then you add the additional challenge of the potential of serious weather (frequent high winds, profound cold and poor visibility being common) and it becomes clear that this is no mountain to be taken casually.
For my part, I have rarely found more gratification. To be able to climb with Keith has been a highlight of my nearly 40 years of climbing. to take casually.