Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Bevan is an old friend I grew up with. He was part of a small, closely knit group of friends I had in high school who loved to climb. We spent the formative years of our youth thrashing about in the razor sharp granite cracks of Vedauwoo, testing our stamina and will. We bonded over our shared love of adventure, and with the vigor of youth we dreamed big dreams in a world brimming with intrigue and possibility.

Bevan and I continued to climb together after high school. I moved away, Bevan started building guitars and worked on becoming a musician. He became sick with colitis and battled it for years. The disease sapped his strength but not his desire. Unable to rely on strength Bevan climbs with his mind. Over the years, while climbing with him, I've been witness to incredible displays of mental resolve.

Last fall Bevan got married and moved to Frisco which is an hour away from Denver. We climbed a few times during the fall - happy to reconnect and share our common bond. I called him in October to make climbing plans only to find out he'd been in the hospital and they'd found cancer in his gallbladder. He was receiving chemo and needed a liver transplant. 

In January, during a break from chemo, Bevan and I went to Vail to go ice climbing. As an ICU nurse I'm no stranger to illness or ways in which people cope with sickness. But something Bevan said while we climbed has stuck with me ever since. 
Bevan explained that at that moment, ice climbing in Vail, we were no different. No one is assured of their vitality. Life is never guaranteed even though most of us live as if it were. Cancer had stolen this comfortable assumption from him. He could assume nothing while waiting for a liver transplant. Taking nothing for granted Bevan hung from his ice tools like they were the last thing on earth. I watched him put everything he had into that climb. He never fell.

In July Bevan got his liver. The transplant was successful and he is cancer free. We went climbing a couple weeks ago. Bevan had picked out an intriguing ridge line on Pacific Peak near his home. Last winter he had frequently skied in the basin below but was never strong enough to attempt the climb. 

Climbs are unique and the reasons for them complex. As I watched Bevan reach the summit I realized the people I climb with inspire me more than any mountain ever will. No longer trapped by cancer or confined to skiing the meadows down below, Bevan took a deep breath and took in the view.

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