"I'm Done" (Linda's caption, after summitting her final Fourteener a while back)
Early Saturday morning, the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the seemingly impossible happened: Linda Pryor, an experienced climber who had summited all of Colorado's 54 14,000-foot-plus mountains, died while climbing Crestone Needle in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in southern Colorado.
I am still in disbelief.
While Linda was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya last fall, I began attending the same small church she did --- and expected to feel intimidated by this nearly legendary mountain climber when she returned. But no. Instead of meeting a tough, aggressive, muscular show-off, I met a gentle spirit who lived to love, to serve and to climb. Her smile, her sense of humor, her faith, and her wisdom were all infectious.
Unlike Thoreau's men of quiet desperation, Linda lived a life of quiet inspiration. To me, she defined serenity.
Linda was careful, conscientious, and safety-conscious. She was a meticulous climber who planned and thought through every step of her climb before she ever left the house. On Saturday, she and her climbing companions had with them all the safety equipment they needed. Her fall was simply a freak occurrence. The photo below was taken the morning she died.
I would have trusted her with my life. Her climbing companions did just that.
I can't help but feel cheated; I knew her for such a short time. Tonight at her memorial service, though, I found not just comfort but also cause for celebration in this verse from Isaiah, which Linda and her fellow climbers shared in their tent Friday night:
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.That's an image I can live with now, the image of Linda's beloved mountains bursting into song and the trees clapping their hands as she made her final ascent, straight into the arms of God.
Linda died doing what she loved, but just as important, she lived doing what she loved. We should all be so fortunate.