A Fallen Friend: Edward Romero
by Matthias J. Graf & Lisa Biehl,
July 20, 2007
(2), and family and friends.
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
Click on any
photo on this page to see a full size version suitable for printing.
"I found Edward to be an inspirational
Scott Bardenhagen - collage & comment.
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.
of Edward Romero print
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.
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
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 canít remember a
single time where we didnít 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
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
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 be
(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
Cochise West Stronghold, Tucson
Edward at 11 Mile
Photos above courtesy of Matthias J. Graf.
Winning Trait: Immediate Respect
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
To read Edward's description of the
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 climberís 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."
depicts Jan, Cosima, and Edward in
Yosemite, the day before our climb of Royal Arches.
page 2 of Edward's Bio