“After a climbing trip, Kelly and his dear friend and climbing partner Brian Hall would ask me, “Can we have a climbing party?” I would always laugh and say yes. On these memorable nights we would host dozens of our closest friends as they proudly projected their most recent climbing photos onto our living room wall and talk about their adventure and trip to the summit. I will forever remember these nights fondly and know that Kelly and Brian are very happy that I am sharing these pictures with you.”
- Karen James


Photo courtesy Christopher Ford

 
     
 
 
     
 
 
 

Kelly in his pink climbing boots snaps a quick photo while climbing a mountain in the Andes. He is looking down at a sheer drop thousands of feet below him.

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Kelly guides a group of climbers up Mount Rainier 14,411 feet in the predawn hours in June 1999. By the time he was in his late 40’s Kelly was a veteran mountaineer, climbing Mount McKinley, the Eiger, and Alpamayo, along with other impressive peaks in the Alps and Andes. He climbed Mount Rainier more than two dozen times. After he and Brian became climbing partners, it was standard procedure for them to spend a few days in June, each year on this mountain practicing more advanced techniques and challenging themselves.

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Brian looks out after a blizzard had buried much of their tent on Denali, 2001. He and Kelly were trapped high on the mountain for five days while they waited out the storm. Kelly told me that one night they woke up and could hardly breathe. He said that the storm was so bad a sheet of ice had sealed over the tent preventing air from getting in.

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Kelly and Brian were so enthusiastic that they made it out of a blizzard that trapped them in their tent on Denali for five days. Kelly later told me that he was much more excited about getting out of that tent and away from Brian’s snoring than he was about reaching the summit.

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Kelly at the summit of Denali 20,320 feet June 2001. He always told me that he felt closest to God when he was on a mountain.

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Kelly and Brian enjoyed climbing steep and high elevation mountains. In September 2004 they climbed Pequeño Alpamayo and reached the summit at 17,618 feet. Once home, they told an incredible story of being hit by lightening while near the summit. Kelly said all of a sudden they started to hear their ice picks, carabiners and metal on their backpacks start to hum and then felt the lightening strike. He said it was terrifying.

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Each year, to practice their ice climbing skills, Kelly and Brian would go to Ouray, Colorado. In this picture Kelly is seen climbing a frozen water fall in February 2006.

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In June 2006 Kelly and Brian climbed the Liberty Ridge route on Mount Rainier. On this trip they met Jerry Nikko Cooke and his climbing partner, quickly all becoming friends. Kelly snapped a picture and Nikko is the second climber wearing the red jacket and white backpack, the same gear he had on Mount Hood.

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