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Colorado climbing legend dies
Nine-day climb in 1972 was the first ascent of the Painted Wall in Black Canyon
Bill Forrest, a Colorado climbing legend who also made notable innovations in mountaineering equipment, died Dec. 21 while snowshoeing near Monarch Pass. He was 73.
A Salida resident who summited peaks and put up new climbing routes around the world, Forrest was remembered by friends as an indomitable spirit in the mountains who was also generous with advice to novices in his sport.
"He was the best climber that I ever teamed up with," said Kris Walker, who in 1972 partnered with Forrest for the first ascent of the treacherous Painted Wall in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. The 2,500-foot climb on sheer granite that took nine days. "No matter how difficult or improbable the obstacle, he never quit. That word was not part of his vocabulary.
"Bill was the only climbing partner I had that could stand by that achievement," said Walker, who lives in Bow, Wash.
In an April interview with The Denver Post, Forrest said at times he was "nearly petrified" by his sport's risks. But he loved the challenge of pioneering routes; his 1970 climb on Longs Peak's east face was the first solo ascent of the Diamond.
"I owned one guidebook, but didn't like reading it," he said. "I liked to scout my own routes."