Chip's Obituary: Journal of Chinese Medicine • Number 119 •February 2019

The East Asian medical world lost one of its most extraordinary teachers and practitioners when Charles ‘Chip’ Chace passed away on 3rd November

2018 due to pancreatic cancer. Chip lived a well-considered and coherent life. Regardless of whether he was rope soloing a rock climbing route, sharing his knowledge and love for the traditions of East Asian medicine, or just sitting quietly, he always fully expressed his being. His strong centre allowed him to be a generous and caring soul, someone who could be both self-effacing and yet memorable. His presence and thoughtful interactions have left a profound impression on everyone who had the good fortune to come into his sphere. His motto, ‘Grace and Power’, was an apt descriptions of who he was.

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Way of the Silent Master: A Chip Chace Eulogy on The Runout Podcast

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. 

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Chris Weidner on Chip: article in local Boulder paper

It's unusually chilly for Oct. 7 as I switchback up Fourmile Canyon to Chip Chace's house. Through the rainy windshield, cottonwoods are turning yellow. 

For the last few weeks Chace, a venerated doctor of Chinese medicine, has suffered restless nights, often in agonizing, almost unbearable pain. Driving the final miles I realize I'm nervous — acutely aware this will be the last time I ever see him. 

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Manuel Rodríguez Cuadras on Chip

A turning point. A European story.

I don’t remember the year, nor the day. I was in Berlín, in a Toyohari international workshop. Stephen Birch, a long time teacher and friend, approached Miguel Ángel –a friend and a colleague- and myself: ‘Look, I invited this friend of mine, Chip Chace, to give a seminar in Amsterdam, and I already booked the two of you in’. We immediately said ‘OK’, and after a moment asked: ‘What would be the seminar about?’. Steve was rather vague: ‘Something about palpation, I think… but Chip is a very interesting person and a real scholar’. Then, as we were in the middle of a struggle with writing a book together, he add: ‘Hey Manuel, perhaps you can talk with Chip about your herb’s chapter, I will send it to him and ask he get a look at it’. And that was it. 

This is as a good moment as any other in this story to confess that the name ‘Chip Chace’ didn’t evoke in me any special sense of awing or respect. Actually, Miguel Ángel reminded me that we have shared a workshop table the year before, and I still could only barely remember this mostly silent american with long, blond hair and somewhat deformed hand joints. Anyway, I agreed of Steve sending him my ongoing chapter, and mostly forgot about the whole thing up to the dates of the planned Amsterdam seminar

Days passed. Steve told me that Chip agreed on read ‘my chapter’, and he arranged we meet at his home the afternoon before the seminar start. And on this day and place I can say I really meet Chip. Meantime, I have got some basic information about him, and I was consequently grateful of a person of his fame and busy schedule agreeing to take a look of my writings. Not to say how afraid I was of being exposed to a scholar of his learning and knowledge, specially because I was acutely aware that ‘my chapter’ not only wasn’t as academically supported as it should be, but also put ahead some not so common ideas about herbalism in Chinese Medicine.  

Day D: I meet Chip at Steve’s home. He was calm, relaxed, a convival guy, the person, in sum, we all know he always was. After some friendly ‘a trio’ conversation with Steve, he went down to business, and asked me if it would be convenient to talk about ‘the chapter’ taking a walk… because he just arrived some few hours ago, and was suffering jet lag. This was my first personal glimpse of his generosity: he was devoiding to me some precious and needed rest time, just the day before starting teaching. And this was only the beginning. We walked and talked, and he very gently ‘grilled’ me about my concepts and knowledge on herbs, very delicately pointing out the weak points of both my reasonement and my academic formality on supporting them. And I want to underline the kindness which he displayed on all that. Chip was the first person in which I recognized what was to become what I think now is the hallmark of a true master: he was discussing with me over matters in which I was clearly inferior, and was able to do it in a manner that gave me the impression that I was almost at the same level than he. No crushing superiority, no the faintest reproach for my obvious lack of academic support, no. This person, who didn’t know me at all, not only was giving me his precious time, but he was also displaying a kindness and an intellectual generosity over whatever standard you might wish to measure them . Kindness, generosity, deep knowledge and intellectual rigor were the hallmark of this conversation, and the years to come will only show that these were virtues deeply ingrained in Chip’s personality 

The seminar started.  At that time ‘Engaging Vitality’ has no name, and his techniques and learnings were absolutely unknown in Europe. Chip, as you suppose, was brilliant. He made several presentations on different subjects: Extraordinary Vessels (I hardly understood their pulses…), the three basic concepts of  dynamics, tendency and incipiency, the shape of qi, the yang rhythm (then still called CRI) and other osteopathic ideas, always stressing the importance of palpation, and making all of us perceive thorough our hands. This was my turning point. Suddenly the ‘Axis’, the now famous paper on LS1 he did with Dan Bensky came alive, a torrent of new ideas was pouring over me, almost I would say drowning me. I felt at the same time that a rug has been pulled under my feet and that I was solidly grounded, stepping in the fundaments not only of the Chinese Medicine, but of a vision of humanity; I felt like falling down a chasm, and at the same time flying; at the same time I appreciated all the techniques aquired along the years and discard them to make place for this marvelous new world… and I realized I had to do something real with all  this

At the time I was teaching Chinese Medicine, already nuanced by the history and procedures taught by Steve, Junko and their team; but I had to do something more with this new material, this new feeling. I went to Chip and asked him for his presentations, telling him I wanted to use them in my classes, and again, this generous person, this very special teacher, gave me all his precious slides, withholding nothing, with the only proviso of not to publish them. These slides, which I translated and used in my classes, were the origin of what at the moment I called ‘Subtle needling’. I was always keeping Chip abreast of what I did with his material, and we warmly discussed the ways I evolved it, but this is maybe another story. Chip knows that the material I learned was and is treated as a legacy, not to be –as the parable in the Bible illustrate us- to be kept dusty and untouched, but to be alive, growing and developing. The new vision of Chinese Medicine, the use of palpation and how all that influenced both my practice and my teachings, were a clear turning point, an before-and after point in my life

But I still did another thing: when coming back to my practice in Barcelona I told Rayen she had to go to the next Chip’s seminar. Again the ironies of life: she was very, very reluctant to go, mostly because she was more or less recently trained in Toyohari, and was enjoying his marvelous procedures, but also because she had glimpse Chip in one of the Toyohari workshops and formed a very poor opinion of him. I got her going to Chip’s next workshop anyway, probably out of the respect she had for me at the time, and again Chip’s magic worked. Rayen came back to Barcelona ‘converted’. It would be inconvenient to talk about her experience, it is a subject which has to be addressed by her when and if she cares for, but I can say that she was saying: ‘With Toyohari I found my hand; with Chip I found my other hand’. She worked together with Miguel Ángel to bring Chip to Barcelona to teach, which he did, and when he came, Rayen put to herself the duty of getting him to come at least once a year, aiming to make a kind of permanent base for the development of what we learned. As the books usually say: ‘and the rest is history’. Other people came here, were interested in Chip’s teachings, and proposed seminars in other countries. Marguerite and Dan were also considering setting a foot in Europe and came here to teach. The name of Engaging Vitality was born, teaching was –somewhat reluctantly- getting structured, study groups were functioning, and more and more people were, and is, getting committed to EV principles and practice

Now my part of the story is almost over. All these years I enjoyed Chip’s teachings, wit, and company, and now I am teaching not only Engaging Vitality, but also an acupuncture style were I do a kind if preview of it, with the idea of serving as a bridge towards EV for the people who never learned that a body and its vitality are a palpable reality. All that started in a not so far past, when Steve invited Chip to Amsterdam, and when I was deeply impressed by the quality and generosity of the man who called me ‘his brother on yi’.  Now his material presence is over, but as we all know, his spirit and legacy is and will be developing healthy, alive and luminous. A big hug and a deep bow to you, Chip

Manuel Rodríguez Cuadras

Medicina Clásica Oriental, Barcelona, Spain 

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Chip Chace’s 2 Playlists: Soundtrack To My Life & Final Passage

Chip’s Playlist: Soundtrack To My Life (made by Chip)

All Along the Watchtower Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection

Voodoo Child (Slight Return)Angélique Kidjo Oremi

Taboo Santana Santana III

Comfortably Numb (Live) Pink Floyd Live At Knebworth 1990

Angry Eyes Loggins & Messina The Best: Loggins & Messina Sittin' In Again

Dambalou Issa Bagayogo Timbuktu

Tangled Up In Blue Bob Dylan Blood On the Tracks

Wicked Game Phillip Phillips The World From the Side of the Moon (Deluxe Version)

Easy to Slip Little Feat Sailin' Shoes

Love Reign O'er Me The Who Quadrophenia (Super Deluxe)

Dambalou Issa Bagayogo Timbuktu

Goin' Home Malcolm Holcombe The RCA Sessions

High on a Mountain Nikki Matheson Invisible Angel

Over the Edge Sarah Jarosz Build Me Up From Bones

Chip’s Playlist: Final Passage (made by Chip)

The Lightning Strike (What If This Storm Ends?) Snow Patrol Greatest Hits

Destiny (feat. Sia) Zero 7 & Sophie Barker Record

Glowing Heart Aoife O'Donovan Fossils

Hejira Joni Mitchell The Studio Albums (1968-1979)

I Think I See the Light Cat Stevens Mona Bone Jakon

You're My Flame (feat. Sia) Zero 7 Record

Take It to the Limit Eagles Selected Works 1972-1999

Lady Luck Corinne West & Kelly Joe Phelps Magnetic Skyline

Brothers In Arms Dire Straits What Just Happened? (Music from the Motion Picture)

Ramble On Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin II (Remastered)

Release Pearl Jam Ten

Voodoo Child (Slight Return) Angélique Kidjo Oremi

Feels So Different Sinead O'Connor I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got

High on a Mountain Nikki Matheson Invisible Angel

Done Got Old Buddy Guy Sweet Tea

A-500 Klaus Badelt & Mark Batson Miami Vice (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Part of Me, Part of You Glenn Frey Thelma & Louise Soundtrack

Old Friend The Allman Brothers Band Hittin' the Note

Goin' Home Malcolm Holcombe The RCA Sessions

Lateralus Break of Reality Covers

Walking Man Zoë Keating One Cello x 16 (EP)

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Chip Chace obituary in Rock and Ice Magazine

Chip Chace, Author of “Fine Jade” and Many Major Climbs, Dies at 60

Chace died in Boulder on November 3.

By Jamie Logan | November 5th, 2018

Chip Chace lived his whole life as an extended spiritual practice. “Somehow my climbing practice is not substantively different from my Chinese medical practice, from my meditation practice, from my marriage practice. They inform one another,” Chip said. He was a prolific climber, one of the best all-around of his generation. He came to Boulder at 17, already a 5.11 climber, and soon was climbing with Pat Ellinwood, Steve Levin and Roger Briggs. They would all climb together for forty years. Chip and Pat did the first ascent of Fine Jade and Chip had over 50 ascents of the Diamond with all of them. Chip could lead hard aid, 5.13 free climbing, and many of his climbs had an R rating for minimal protection.

He felt in the later years of his life that his solo climbs, when he was often out for many days at a time in the mountains, were the most important part of his spiritual practice, because it caused him to be fully aware the whole time. He was doing hard climbs all over the country by himself, and never really came back and told anybody, or certainly never wrote about any of it.

We went to Yosemite two years ago, and I helped him carry gear up to the base of the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome for a rope solo. He started at 3:00 in the afternoon and climbed all through the night because he didn’t want to have to interact with other parties, finishing the next morning.

Recently he felt like he was getting older and he couldn’t climb as well as he had been. He could no longer onsight 5.13, but he could still climb alone in the mountains and he felt that was his place. He had always wanted to solo Mt. Asgard on Baffin Island. On Asgard there was a rockfall that cut his rope, so he came down and decided to tackle Mt. Freya. He was climbing that by himself, and was up in an icy gully when he fell thirty feet and broke his ribs. His comment was, “To the extent that there was a ‘me’ at all—which is a whole other thing, right?—I was completely comfortable.”

Chip was one of America’s foremost scholars and practitioners of classical Chinese medicine. With a small group of colleagues, he was involved in developing a new cutting-edge approach to Chinese medicine diagnostics and treatment. He had many deeply appreciative students and patients.

Chip met his wife Monika in 1987 and they were married soon after. They were very independent from one another, but they still were a tight team. They both loved being in the mountains and the desert and there was quite a long period when they climbed together, doing first ascents in Indian Creek up to 5.12. Monika is a remarkable healer herself, and the two of them had a combined medical practice that really fit together well. After 30 years they were still deeply in love.

Chip died Saturday, November 3, 2018, at the age of 60, in his meditation room at home in the mountains outside Boulder, after a short and intensive course with pancreatic cancer. He always held a deep sense of loyalty towards his close friends. He died surrounded by those friends and of course with Monika. The climbing community, the Chinese medicine community and the Zen community—we are all in grief for the loss of this amazing human being.

In the last weeks of his life, Chip Chace wrote several pieces focused on, among other topics, facing his own mortality and the joys of his life. To read them, visit

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Chip Update #3

Dear Friends, 

Since my last update, I spent 10 days at home under the loving care of Monika, and David Cooks, my dear friend from Bend. Monika is plugging along, trying to maintain whatever normalcy she can in her life when she’s not here just holding me in her arms.

Cooks is some sort of a cross between a superhero and a saint. He’s stayed with me pretty much 24/7, and shepherded me through a bunch a nasty pain crises in addition to managing an unimaginable amount of logistical work. At one point he was my student but he’s become a far better acupuncturist than I ever was, and I’ve been benefitting from those skills on a daily basis as well. Monika and I would be lost with out him.

Roger Briggs is my social director and the other arm of my logistics team. He’s managing a large amount of email that I’m receiving, and coordinating the input I get, which isn’t much. A few other dear friends have been close by, but I’m unable to see many visitors. The pain and nausea characteristic of this disease have been an ongoing challenge. We are constantly adjusting the meds, which work for a day or two but then become virtually ineffective. Nighttime is the most difficult for pain, though the last two nights were considerably better due to a dilaudid pain pump. I only have a few hours each day when I’m lucid enough to read, write, or talk much, so please forgive me for not responding to the many messages that have been sent to me.  

Last weekend brought two midnight visits to urgent care with unmanageable pain. This landed me back to the hospital a few days ago for a new round of pain management strategies. First, we tried a nerve block procedure, but it proved ineffective, probably because the cancer has spread so much. Today I am being transferred to an acute hospice care facility in Longmont. The plan is to stay there a few days until we are confident that the pain meds are working, then to go home. We are not pursuing any heroic, life-­‐extending treatments. My goal is to die well.  

In the time I have left I need to finish my part of a textbook concerning the synthesis of acupuncture and osteopathic palpatory techniques. To do this work, the meds have to be working well enough to help me manage the pain without leaving me incoherent and nodding off.  

A number of my closest colleagues have flown in to provide support for this project. Rayen Anton traveled from Barcelona and is collaborating with me on several chapters. Rayen and I worked together as much as I could manage and made good progress while she was here. Dan Bensky, my longtime friend and coauthor of this book, arrives today and will spend parts of the next four days working with me. After Dan leaves, Kailey Brennan, one of my students from Denver, will coordinate some 2-­‐hour scribing sessions. I need to spend whatever time and energy I can summon to finish this up. 

Last week I had a visit from Miki Shima, an elder brother in the practice of Traditional East Asian Medicine and a very close friend.  About 10 years ago I asked Miki why he had gone back to practicing Shinto, the ancestral religion of Japan. We all love nature, rocks and trees, but do they really have to have a spirit that we must propitiate? He explained that Shinto was really about gratitude. We don’t so much worship rocks and streams as we express our gratitude for the gift of our being part of the universe in whatever way, good or bad. This insight has shaped my own Zen practice ever since.  

It was good to have Miki here to help me further catalyze this practice, because now it is game on.  I offer my sincere gratitude for my 30-­‐year marriage to a magnificent woman; for a lifetime of wandering in the mountains; for the many patients and students I have had the privilege to have worked with; and for the love and support that so many of you have expressed.  

Perhaps most difficult of all I am trying to fully embrace the reality of my situation with gratitude. I want to go beyond just coping with it all, to a place where there is nowhere else I would rather be. My deepest thanks to all of you for helping me to work toward that.  


To see Chip’s earlier Updates go to:

Please send all correspondence to:

Update #2 from Chip

Dear Friends, September 27, 2018

First and foremost, thank you for your kind and healing communications. There is no way I can respond to all these but please know how much I appreciate the love and support that has been expressed to me.

I left the hospital on Monday Sept 24 and came home. This is a much better environment for me and I have a core team of friends and loved ones taking care of me. The pain is generally under control and the side effects of the opiates are improved but still need work. But I am in good spirits.

One of the many challenges is dealing with all of the communications that are still coming in by email, text, and voice. We have more than 300 people from all over the world on our contact list and it’s very draining for me to process this, so I have a communications team receiving everything and making decisions about when to reply and what I need to see. Please direct all communications to: Iamchipspancreas at

Now that I’m settled in I can begin attending to a few things that I would like to complete in the time I have left. This means that I need space and energy in my life to complete these goals, and sadly I have very little of either. It is a difficult decision to make but with the exception of a few members of my extended family who will be flying in during the next month or so, I will not be receiving visitors. As Monika and I have specific support needs, we will reach out to any of you who may be willing and able to help us out.

Deep thanks for your support.

Love, Chip