photo by Chris Klinga

This is a photo of a remarkable human being, Micah Dash, who remains missing after an avalanche accident. He was climbing with Jonny Copp of Boulder Colorado & Wade Johnson of Arden Hills, Minnesota. Both Jonny and Wade were killed, while Micah’s body has not been found… there is little hope that he survived.

They were part of a team of two climbers and two photographers, who had planned to ascend the summit of Mt. Gongga (Mt. Edgar), 6,400 m above sea level, on May 1 and return on May 28. Mt. Gongga is the highest peak in Sichuan and one of the seven highest mountains open to the public in China. Only 24 people have reached the summit… and a number or people gave their lives trying.

For many years I’ve lived on the periphery of the extreme sports world due to having lived in Telluride, CO and being a part of a long intimate relationship with an accomplished rock climber. Without a personal draw to the sports that take people to great physical heights, freezing temperatures and intense risk, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many people who do.

Micah was someone who stuck out as an intelligent and generous man who lived in Yosemite for years, where I met him. He obviously spent his time climbing, but was also a member of the Search and Rescue Team in the Valley. The fact that he remains missing on a frozen mountainside for many days, doesn’t bode well for his survival. Yet, I have a deep respect for Micah who endeavored to live life with a level of passion and commitment that is rare.

Having always been an observer of this surly, intelligent group rather than a participant, I have been in a unique position. Over the years there have always been those who impressed me with their diversity, but more often then not I had little to share with them. As with all groups of people who have common passions, this group is especially focused (that’s a good thing if your 2,000 ft. off the ground hanging on a rope), so making conversation with a fringe human (me) can be less then compelling. It’s never been a problem for me, but always nice when one of these climbing monkeys surprised me, like Micah.

Micah was different… he had a presence… I’d like to call it “soulful”.

Yeah, he was “rad” and adventurous… even somewhat nuts; but he was a kind, articulate and thoughtful man to me. It’s not my place to give some long winded eulogy, I didn’t know him well. I want to respond to those who don’t understand what drives a human to live life in such an extreme way, even giving their life to pursue it. People who may believe that these men’s lives were wasted just for “cheap thrills”. (A comment on one of the many news stories I read said something about “I hope my tax dollars aren’t being used to save these idiots!”, which gave me pause. Are people really that dumb and unkind? {the accident happened in China, so I doubt any taxes will go there any time soon})

Micah was one of the many athletes who are driven to pursue their dreams. Some are full of ego about it all, while others are pure in their pursuit of unclimbed heights. Micah appeared to be the latter.

I am glad I knew a bit of Micah, he always had a impish stance and a quick smile. Frankly, I would rather lose a friend who died doing something they were passionate about, then wasting away due to a unlived life. His life was NOT wasted, but lived to the fullest.

Blessings on your journey, Micah.

The Queen