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The Pulse

F A R E W E L L

A Life
Worth Living

Remembering Brad Gobright (June 16, 1988November 27, 2019) By Chris Van Leuven
December 10, 2019." Writing this
now, two weeks after Brad Gobright's death-a rappelling accident caused him to fall some 1,000
feet in Potrero Chico, Mexico-the
sadness is still very real. Yosemite
was Gobright's seasonal home and
his friends remember the countless
days where he'd hang out, when he
wasn't climbing, in canvas tents in
the Search and Rescue site behind
Camp 4. This is where Jim Reynolds lived; the two once held the
Nose speed record on El Capitan.
Others remember how, during
storms, while crowds of climbers jammed into the Base Camp
Eatery and fought over the only
available power outlet to charge
their phones, Gobright enjoyed
spending time either alone or with
a friend under a dry rock where
he'd wait for conditions to improve.
Originally from Orange County,
California, where he began climbing at age seven, Gobright became
a seasonal fixture at climbing
hotspots in Boulder, Yosemite, and

Las Vegas by his 20s. When we
met in autumn of 2018 in Yosemite, he told me he was living out
of his aging Honda Civic half the
year and renting a room in Sin City
the other half. The 31-year-old was
completely dedicated to the sport.
After years of working odd jobs,
including as a housekeeper and a
busboy, he had finally made it as a
professional climber with sponsors
including shoe manufacturer Evolv
and clothing maker Gramicci.
But it's not just for his feats on
the rock, with hard free solos, long
routes, and big walls that he'll be
remembered; it's also for his humor and the kindness he showed to
so many. Also, I could tell he loved
dogs because he never stopped
petting mine.
Online videos show him hilariously bumbling his way through
interviews. In the film The Nose
Speed Record, he struggled to find
the right words to describe why
running up the Nose at top speed
is risky. He finally blurted out with
conviction, "It's definitely danger-

IT'S NOT JUST FOR HIS FEATS ON THE ROCK,
WITH HARD FREE SOLOS, LONG ROUTES, AND
BIG WALLS THAT HE'LL BE REMEMBERED;
IT'S ALSO FOR HIS HUMOR AND THE
KINDNESS HE SHOWED TO SO MANY PEOPLE.
22

/ OUTDOOR + SNOW SHOW 2020

Gobright,
climbing with
the author in
Yosemite

ous... but we would try to make it
as reckless as possible."
Since Thanksgiving, the day
after his death, friends have posted countless stories about him on
social media. On Facebook, his
mother Pamela Gobright wrote
a remembrance and received an
outpouring of support, including
hundreds of comments and condolences. "I did not understand
climber culture yet," she wrote,
looking back on when Gobright
was 10 and a climber twice his
age took Gobright under his
wing. Later, she began to appreciate his success and dedication
to climbing. "[I] bragged about
his adventures and told everyone
who worried about him that he
was doing what he was born to
do," she wrote.
His death has stunned the
climbing community, and the
world at large has also taken
notice. The New York Times called
him "a Throwback Climber on
the Fringes of a Sport" and The
Guardian said, "Climbers like
Brad Gobright straddle life and
death. And we can't look away."

Shortly after I moved back to
Yosemite in 2018, I began tagging
along with him while working on
a story for Adventure Sports Journal, and we developed a friendship. We attempted to climb El
Cap together, with me playing a
support role in a single-day free
ascent of El Corazón, a 3,000foot route rated 5.13. I wasn't fast
enough, and it was too hot, so we
bailed and he recruited his friend
Henry Feder.
The next day, all three of us got
together at the the Base Camp
Eatery for breakfast, where I freed
up an outlet under our table and
plugged in my egg steamer. There,
with steam blowing out from under
us, Feder and Gobright hashed out
their plans to climb El Cap. Later
that week and with Feder's support,
Gobright completed his goal of
freeing El Corazón in fewer than
24 hours, clocking in a time of 19
hours. That was one of a handful of
free ascents he made of the iconic
wall (in a day) that season. Freeing
El Cap once in a lifetime is a dream
for many climbers-for Gobright, it
was all he wanted to do.

C H R I S VA N L E U V E N

"YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK,



Outdoor Retailer PreShow - 2020

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