This day in 1980, eleven people (including an unborn child) died in an aircraft collision in our local Colorado mountains. The victims had a broad network of friends in the towns of both Aspen and Crested Butte. Result was the Friends Hut, built as a memorial to all the victims.
More, Friends Hut was built as a coming together of Aspen and Crested Butte as mountain towns with a common interested in the human side of mountain living: families, loved ones, children, climbing partners, volunteerism — friends. I was close to victims Michael Pokress and Robert Pimentel; both were mountaineering partners and friends. “Pimmy” was also my mother’s best friend and neighbor in Crested Butte, and had been part of our family since the mid 1960s. He was a good photographer, especially considering the gear of 1973. Following is a poem from his memorial, and a few of his photos from our Denali ski expedition of 1973.
Poem for Pimentel memorial on Slate River, June 1980, Crested Butte, Colorado
Pimmy was a son to be proud of,
lover for some,
a brother for others,
one of the finest people you could ever know.
Pimmy has continued his journey — we’ve been delayed a while.
for this man who’s gone,
yet we celebrate this:
a journey begun.
Pimmy knew the lover’s bite of autumn’s alpine air,
the hot sun on his back.
A trout on the line was beautiful,
and so was one swimming free.
He’d seen the glow from the high summits,
and the gleam in a lover’s eyes.
“Follow me,” Pim would say as his skis, scythes, would reap a line down the side of a mountain.
The soaring airplane — he delighted in that,
he moved, he gave so much.
In Pimmy’s name we pledge:
To live life to the full, share with others just as he shared with us. A pledge burned into our souls by the memory. Forever.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.