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A Fallen Friend: Edward Romero
by Matthias J. Graf & Lisa Biehl, July 20, 2007
We are sad to inform you that we have lost a friend. Edward G. Romero (age 36) died early Wednesday morning, July 18, of a heart attack. He leaves behind his wife Socorro, his two children Diego (5) and Alexandria (2), and family and friends.
Click on any photo on this page to see a full size version suitable for printing.
Edward took the LAM Climbing School in 1998 and climbed with the club on Tuesdays and Thursdays until he moved to Albuquerque in 2005. He remained an active climber and continued to climb with LAM members and others. He also enjoyed, bicycling, and snowboarding. Edward was a member of the Sierra Club, KUNM, and the Chama River Brewing Club.
Donations to the college funds of both of his children
are preferred over flowers or other gifts.
Memorial contributions may be made to FBO Diego and Alexandria Romero,
c/o Smith Barney, 6565 America's Parkway NE, Albuquerque, 87110.
Personal Recollections of Edward Romero print version
Click on any photo on this page to see a full size version suitable for printing.
Climbing and Friendship: Homage to the Life of Edward G. Romero, 1971-2007
by Matthias J. Graf.
Edward was not a famous climber, nor did he ever want to be one. He was a charming weekend warrior who enjoyed this outdoor sport like so many of us, pursuing it with a full-hearted enthusiasm and dedication to the lifelong learning process on the rock. Learning to move gracefully on the rock, like a ballet dancer, became the goal while at the same time managing the fear of falling.
We met during the LAM climbing school of 1998. I had just moved to Los Alamos. Already back then Ed took climbing very serious and was far ahead of me. His heart was set on trad climbing, the kind of rock climbing where one uses gear to protect a potential fall. He equally loved sport climbing, where bolts are already placed in the rock for protection. This is typically done on steep face climbs or thin friction slabs, where no crack or weakness in the rock allows the placement of gear. As a local boy he loved to visit the local sport crags just as much as longer trips to Colorado, Arizona, California, Wyoming or Mexico. Early on he was looking for climbing partners for his weekend trips, either going with an endearing old-timer to show him a few tricks on the rock, or with fellow novice climbers like myself, who were willing to go out on an adventure with him. We got to know each other through many Tuesday and Thursday toprope sessions of the club, where we worked on and improved our climbing skills under the tutelage of a Jan Studebaker, Mark Zander or Norbert Ensslin. To the surprise of many uninitiated climbers the slogan "You'll never gonna make it!" became part of our climbing credo when we tried to encourage each other on a difficult section of a toprope setting, but never when on lead.
For as far back as I can remember, he has been this happy and likable kind-a-guy, who showed courtesy and respect to everyone and expected nothing more from others. So as a newcomer to New Mexico I always felt at home and welcome with this native son of Santa Fe.
Ed was an inspiring climbing partner, who would not be deterred from trying again and again after being thrown off by the rock again and again. I don't know where he got that energy and resilience from. There were times when I was wondering what would give first, the rope or his stubbornness. After climbing for roughly seven years with Ed, I can’t remember a single time where we didn’t finish a multi-pitch climb with a smile on our faces and a handshake at the top of the mountain congratulating each other for the excellent time and experience spent on the rock, no matter if it was raining, the sun was burning down on us, or the rock had been chossy and crappy.
Over the years it became clear that we were not just climbing partners, who would climb with anyone to simply maximize the amount of time on the rock, but that we enjoyed the company and friendship of who we climbed with just as much as the great pleasure of pushing ourselves on challenging rock. We didn't mind climbing as a team of two or three on shorter multi-pitch routes. A good climbing trip to places like Jacks Canyon, Enchanted Towers, Tres Piedras, Diablo Canyon, the Sandias or Cochise meant for both of us that testing our skills on fun and steep routes was just as important as the good times at the camp fires or in the car while on the road. Ultimately, a good trip was a trip where we came back home all well, still talking with excitement about challenges and fears we had faced on the rock and thinking already about where to go on our next trip or when to return.
Finally, my climbing skills improved and I almost caught up with him. While I was improving physically and technically on the rock with more graceful moves than ever, he had already decided for himself that in order to become a better climber it was necessary to unite body and mind and follow the rock warrior's way described in the book by Arno Ilgner. First, I thought he was going flaky having lived for too long in the vortex of Santa Fe. It turned out that it wasn't enough for him being physically fit and strong, but to bementally prepared (see excerpt) for the unknown challenge of a climb. It's fair to say that he had some success with it, though he openly admitted that it wasn't quite as easy to implement. Ed considered it a work in progress, that means, that from time to time he would still do a Chuck Berry (shaking with one leg) or Elvis Presley (shaking with both legs and moving his hips) improvisation while placing desperately needed gear or attempting to clip the bolt that's barely out of reach. He had reached a point where climbing was an integral part of his life, but not the only one. Looking back I would say that he had already become a warrior on the rock, whereas I was still stuck in the chicken warrior mode. That means chickening out when getting too scared on a difficult climb.
Climbing was his passion. And sure, he struggled to find the right balance of pursuing this passion and spending quality time with his two children and wife. After he had moved to Albuquerque he began bicycling 15 miles to and from work several times a week to stay fit. Once he asked me if that could be considered selfish, because it took time away from playing with his kids after work or helping Socorro in the house. On occasion, driving back from a climbing trip, he would dream about being an old dad climbing with his adult kids. His son Diego or daughter Alexandria would go climbing with him and lead the crux pitch of a route he never had dared to climb before. Diego was already getting comfortable wearing a climbing harness and bouncing up and down on low-angle slabs at El Rito or Tres Piedras. It seemed all going the right direction until his sudden and unexpected death brought his dreams to a dramatic end.
Ed on Absinth of Mallet, Cochise West Stronghold, Tucson
Edward at 11 Mile Canyon, Colorado
Photos above courtesy of Matthias J. Graf.
Edward Romero's Winning Trait: Immediate Respect
by Jan Studebaker.
Edward had a very fine trait that instantly endured himself to nearly everyone he meet; he gave people full respect immediately upon meeting them, rather than expecting them to win or gain his respect as many of us do. He was not naive, rather accepting and loving, and would quickly mediate his respect if he was not treated accordingly. This trait allowed him to make friends easily, who would feel truly connected with him after only a few meetings. I discovered when Cosima and I attended his wedding, that his entire family had the same trait. We will never forget how quickly we were accepted, integrated into the group, and befriended.
Although I had only a few adventures with Edward, I can say unequivocally that I felt he was a very good friend, and that I could count on him in time on need. My last and most memorable experience with Edward was our ascent of Royal Arches in Yosemite, a "50 Classics" climb.
Edward was one of a large number of Los Alamos climbers that were on my final climbing trip to Yosemite. He had recently graduated from the LAM climbing school, and was a competent climber, but lacked experience. I had announced at the beginning of the trip that I hoped to climb the Royal Arches as my final climb of the trip, and probably the last big climb of my life (I had decided to give up climbing due to personal reasons). I told the group that I would be watching them carefully for a partner on the climb, and that I would select the person that I felt most comfortable with for my second. I chose Edward over several more experienced climbers to be my partner for the ascent because I felt he was completely trustworthy, would follow my instructions to the letter, was incredibly positive about everything, was a joy to be with, and was truly ready.....Edward didn’t disappoint!
To read Edward's description of the climb, click here. In that trip report, Edward says "The day after we got home, we were greeted by the disturbing news of a rockslide that claimed a climber’s life only hours after we'd left. This served as a reminder of the unpredictability of life. Of how fleeting our tenure on this planet is. Climbing is a dangerous sport and part of the thrill is realizing the possible, dire consequences. But, as Orville Wright once said, If you want to lead a safe life, you would do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds soar above you."
Photo above depicts Jan, Cosima, and Edward in Yosemite, the day before our climb of Royal Arches.