July 29th, 2011
Before he went to Alaska this year, I had the pleasure of another bouldering session with Colin Haley. He’s built a life that puts him on an international circuit climbing and skiing in Patagonia, Chamonix, Alaska, Yosemite, and the Himalaya which means we don’t see much of him in the Seattle area these days.
I first met Colin in the winter, at the base of The Tooth, nub of a peak that’s fairly accessible from the highway. I’m not sure he could drive yet, but over the next few years he got his license, he went to college, and he kept on climbing. We did some Cascade routes together, some cragging, and I visited him on his first trip to Chamonix (where he was “studying” French).
While bouldering at the gym, he looked at me and said, “I think I’m the same age as you were when we first met.” It was a bit of a reality check for both of us. In that decade, or so, Colin has gone from bold and opinionated teen to professional alpinist; he is a sponsored athlete in a niche market so tight and so new (in the US) that making a living from it is possible for only the rarest few.
We caught up a bit on some of the trips we’d taken and what our personal lives looked like, but mostly it was about climbing and laughter. That’s something I forgot–there’s a lot of laughter when you’re around Colin.
This month, in Climbing Magazine, is a feature in the Question-Answer format with Colin. My friend, Frank Huster has the lead image, Chris Wiedner (who left Seattle for Boulder) wrote it, and I’ve got a couple of historical images of Colin. One from a climb in Chamonix, and one from our first climb together: the NE Buttress of Chair Peak. When he was just 16.
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