Tuesday, November 4, 2014
This Side of Paradise
In January of 2006 I walked out to the Bardini Boulders near Bishop, CA, to take some photos of Kevin Jorgeson doing the 3rd ascent of a very challenging boulder problem called "This Side of Paradise" (V10). He needed a bunch of crash pads to do this with relative safety, so we rallied together a few friends to help. Brad Parker was a close friend of ours and was then the resident host of a dirtbag climber camp called "The Pit." He had a lot of pads, or knew people who did, so he became a key player in making the mission happen. Kevin had been working out the moves and by the time he was finally ready to start the climb we were all anxiously chewing our fingernails.
The crux is up high, and even if you do have a foot of foam below you, you don't want to blow it. He finally got psyched up and began pulling on holds with the precision of a finely tuned machine. A spotter wasn't really going to help if you fell from the crux, and I didn't want anyone in the photos except Kevin. At a certain point Brad was supposed to run in and rearrange the pads, then get out of the way so if Kevin fell he didn't drive him into the ground like a nail. He did his job perfectly but as he started to walk away Kevin yelled nervously down: "Spot Me!" So there was Brad, reaching up, hoping he wouldn't have to pluck Kevin out of the sky.
Looking back nearly nine years later, I can see the metaphor in this image. In one way or another, Brad was always spotting people when they were run out and in epic situations on the rock and in life. He surrounded himself with a community of reliable people who were able to achieve more than they ever thought possible, and would be ready and able to catch a falling friend. With Brad's strength beneath him, Kevin felt confident enough to fire through the crux. His success on this scenic climb was inspiring and we all stepped up to achieve even bigger dreams and goals. So it is with great disbelief and sadness that we come to terms with the fact that Brad left this Earth in the Yosemite Highcountry this past summer. He fell while soloing the easy South-North Traverse on Matthes Crest. Though his strong hands will never again reach for our backs, we will forever hold him in our hearts.
To learn about the Brad Parker Memorial Fund, visit: https://www.facebook.com/bradparkermemorialfund
Follow Kevin Jorgeson and his massive Dawn Wall project here: http://www.kevinjorgeson.com/je8d17tfu61fbnpiwo4a0lz9ldvj2y