Passing Away

June 17, 2009

Seems like death is in the air at the moment.  With the passing of the three very well known climbers recently (Micah, Johnny, Wade), then a friend’s friend passed away, and now a close friend of mine too: Chris Hale.

I really appreciated Chris’ presence.  He had qualities such as being soft-spoken, honest and up front about who he is, and calm that I notice and relate to.  We met while living in Gainesville, Florida, enjoyed many bouldering days indoors at the Gainesville Rock Gym and outdoors in Tennessee to where he moved.  Recently he went on a climbing spree around the country, climber-bum-style, and we kept trying to meet up but I put it off because of finishing my PhD.  He suprised me by being the only friend who was like: “chill Bruno, relax, don’t worry about it, we will have plenty of climbing trips once you are done with that.  Focus on that for now.”  I have needed that support and used his words in some dark dark times recently.

I’m really going to miss him.  At the same time, every climbing experience has always been about the friends I am with at the time and I have a knowing that he will be very present every time I step into the zone of climbing.  This is not thought based, it really is a felt-sense, and it is pleasant to feel that.


Chris was working at Yosemite, having just recently started, and it seems that he was reported missing on Sunday morning.  On Monday morning his body was found near Mirror Lake.  Those are the facts.

Then there are the speculations.  The first person to tell me about his passing mentioned that she had heard that he was soloing.  Thus he most likely fell.  However, I then talked to someone who knows Yosemite like the palm of her hand and she was like “give me a minute, I’m trying to think of what he could have possibly been climbing there…”.  On a press release on Monday the park rangers say he must have fallen of while climbing but on Tuesday “a spokeswoman for the National Parks Service said investigators do not believe Hale was rock climbing at the time.”

There is some incompleteness for me still.  Aside from my desire for him to be alive the incompleteness comes from not feeling certain about the falling-while-free-soloing story.  Chris was a good climber, not super solid, his legs and arms would sorta jitter when he climbed hard, but I think he was a conscious climber.  I look forward to a more conclusive report on this.


Ex-Gainesville rock climber was pursuing his passion

By Christopher Curry
Staff writer

Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 6:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 6:17 p.m.

Christopher Hale enjoyed acting and playing chess, but friends say his true passion was rock climbing.

This week, Hale, 23, a former Gainesville resident and Eastside High graduate, died doing what he loved – traveling to state and national parks across the country seeking rock formations to climb and conquer.

“He was spending a few years of his life really enjoying himself,” friend Lee Friedlander said. “He was traveling and climbing. It was what he wanted to do.”

On Sunday, Hale was reported missing in Yosemite National Park in California, where he planned to spend the summer working and climbing. His body was found Monday afternoon. It is believed Hale fell from a cliff.

Friedlander and Hale met a few years back at the Gainesville Rock Gym, where Hale was well known and well liked. In the fall of 2006, Hale moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., the closest rock-climbing destination to Gainesville. Several months later, Friedlander moved there as well.

He recalled how Hale would invite friends up from Gainesville to go rock climbing in Chattanooga and then end up gladly hosting at least 20 people in his one bedroom apartment, cooking breakfast for them each morning.

“He was just a really, really nice guy, very giving,” said friend C.P. Santos, who also met Hale at the Gainesville Rock Gym.

Santos, who now lives in Colorado, said he last spoke to Hale on Thursday. At that time, Hale was excited about a summer job he had taken at Yosemite National Park and his plans to spend the next few months climbing there.

On Sunday morning , Hale, who was working for the park’s largest concessionaire, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Inc., was reported missing. Park rangers found his body at about 1 p.m. Monday and said in a released statement that it appears Hale fell from “an an unnamed cliff face above Mirror Lake in eastern Yosemite Valley.”

An investigation is ongoing, and the exact cause of death is not yet determined. On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the National Parks Service said investigators do not believe Hale was rock climbing at the time.

Before reaching Yosemite National Park, Hale had spent several months traveling to climb at places like Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso, Texas, and Bishop, Ca., in the Eastern High Sierras. Friedlander said Hale was apparently writing a book chronicling his travels.

Before he threw himself fully into rock climbing, Hale enjoyed acting, said family friend Chris Meyers, a Gainesville resident. Meyers said his wife taught Hale in the theater program at Eastside High. Hale also used to perform at the Hoggetowne Medieval Fair as a member of the Thieves Guilde acting troupe.

After graduating Eastside in 2004, Hale studied theater at Santa Fe Community College for a year.

His friends remember him as a subdued and quiet, yet very well liked.

“He was extremely popular,” Meyers said. “He had a huge extended network of friends.”

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com”


One comment

  1. Agreed. I said it to another friend last night. I was at Mirror Lake in April; I can’t think of any cliff lines that would stack up to walls I know he’s climbed. A great loss. Good words, Brogi.

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