Podcast from Andrew Bisharat & co-host Chris Kalous:
Chip Chace dedicated his life to the practice of climbing—which is to say, that he had dedicated his life to the practice of living.
Chace was no household name in the climbing world, yet his contributions to climbing—such as the first ascent of Fine Jade, inarguably one of the best and most popular 5.11 desert towers—gave him a stature of respect and admiration within the core climbing community.
Chace rarely spoke about his climbing, and yet you’d have to go really far to find a route he hadn’t done or an area he hadn’t explored. This silent passion, in which accomplishments speak for themselves, left an indelible mark among his closest friends and admirers.
On November 3, at the age of 60 years old, Chace died of pancreatic cancer following a relatively short yet extremely painful battle with the disease. He died in his meditation room in his home in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado, surrounded by his closest friends and his wife, Monika.
In the last weeks of his life, he wrote a letter to his friends and patients, whom he served as a practitioner of Chinese medicine. It’s a powerful letter that speaks to what an extraordinary spirit Chase embodied. Here’s an excerpt:
First and foremost, I want my death to be an act of creative transformation, that is to say, I want to die well. I’ve been training for this my entire life and I’m well prepared. I would have preferred to die in the mountains, and that is indeed what Monika and I had envisioned for me. I got this instead. Yet, here is precisely where I want to be. I cry from the raw wonder and intensity of the experience but never because I’m sad or afraid.
I’m grateful for every second I’ve lived so far and for whatever moments I have left. When I’m writhing in pain I scream thank you. When I’m puking my guts out I retch thank you…and sometimes FUCK!!!!!. I’ve been practicing more or less this way for a long time.
I think what Chace is saying here is that climbing might not just be a good way to practice living. Perhaps it might also be a way to prepare ourselves for the inevitability of death.
This is Andrew Bisharat, and I’m here with my co-host Chris Kalous. Today we have two guests: Jamie Logan and her son, Michael Logan. Jamie was a peer to Chace, a close friend and climbing partner. As a younger man, Michael considered Chace one of his most formative mentors. We invited Jamie and Michael on to do something that, ironically, might have caused Chace himself to grimace: put into words the significance of Chip Chace’s accomplishments as a climber.
Our deepest condolences go out to all those who loved and admired Chip Chace.