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Rock Climbing : News : Obituaries : Craig Luebben dies in climbing accident

Craig Luebben dies in climbing accident

Submitted by adatesman on 2009-08-11

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While most of us never had the pleasure of meeting him, chances are we all have one of his books sitting on the shelf. On August 9th Craig was climbing with Guillermo Benegas on Mount Torment in North Cascades National Park when suddenly a sheet of ice detached from the glacier, severely injuring him. Sadly he succumbed to his injuries before the rescue helicopter arrived.

Link to the RC Memorial thread: memorial thread for Craig Luebben

Details on the accident:


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his books have helped me big time - required reading for all climbers.
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absolutely ridiculous that this could happen, absolutely saddening that it did. His books have also helped me a great deal.
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Climbing is inherently dangerous yet exciting and fulfilling. We are playing a game at the highest level and I would have it any other way. Along with playing at this level comes the greatest rewards. Climb safe and have fun while you are still breathing.
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I have 5 books and read them all the time, Its a sad thing to die unless your doing something you love. someday when I die I can only hope its a good death and people will know I died happy
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Thats a sad death but i doubt he died happily if he was lying there injured
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I feel as if one more partner has passed:( Rest Peacefully, and may the mountains rise to meet your feet, and the wind be at at your back.
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That sucks!

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Wow, been working a lot, had not heard, really bad news. See you on the other side mate.
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The only time I met Luebben was at my home crag Red River Gorge in 2006. Arriving at a popular spot we were pleased that only one other party was presently nearby but we would not have to wait for our route of choice.
While we lunched on the large ledge system above the first pitch, suddenly all hell broke loose. We overheard rocks, trees, dirt, and sand being pulverized - the penultimate bane of climbers everywhere was upon us - a rockslide avalanche. We had indeed feared the worst. When we began screaming toward our neighbors to ascertain if everyone was OK, Craig came and apologetically introduced himself. Unbeknownst to us he had publicly organized the closure of Fortress Wall that day in order to safely rid 20 tons of loose sandstone above Calypso II. Although I did not "get the memo" of the cliff closure which he secured, he "surprisingly" allowed my brother and I to continue climbing out of harm's way.
We forgave our lack of warning immediately as we accepted our initial shock as a rare lesson in experience. Craig himself was surprised how soon he had made the effort necessary to detach the overhanging flake.
Immense the irony of his passing: Luebben worked hard with both climbing coalitions and industry to make climbing a safer sport for everyone. May his career as a credit to society's image at large of climbing as a SAFE activity remain unphased by circumstance; consider his a true hero's fate; the legacy of his many contributions to the sport will never be forgotten... and may we each thank his family by striving to follow his example by respecting the responsibility of our endeavors.
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As I write this, I am still carrying around Luebben's "Rock Climbing Anchors, A Comprehensive Guide"--and will gradually read my way through it all as time allows. It is an excellent book reflecting Craig's thorough understanding, and belongs on every climber's bookshelf. What can I say? His real-world testing of ice pro' revolutionized the way we ice climbers place screws. (This came from his drop-tests, not some industry lab.) Craig was an engineer and a climber--a unique perspective that gave extra value to his assessments of our equipment and technique. I'm certain that he would have preferred to go on living and climbing--and go on living for all the other things in his life that he loved. Now he has given us one last lesson: Despite all our knowledge and experience, we are not all-knowing--and there are factors in our sport (and our larger lives) that are beyond our knowing or control. You and I will continue to climb. But never forget that this is the real world and the danger is always there. Stay aware!
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I am saddened for the family's loss. As a father and climber I want to go home and hold my daughter right now after visiting his website. If you are a dad and you visit it, you may need to suck back some tears.
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The more reason to believe in God....if there is a hell, then I'd like to be sure that if I died tomorrow that I'm not ending up there...and I'm SURE I'm not! If you want to be sure, leave me an email. Hope to see you in Heaven Craig.

Glory to God!
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Illusion Dweller...appropriate handle.

Craig Luebben, respect. I have read several of his books and he was always very clear and easy to understand. His personal climbing anecdotes are what inspired me to begin climbing.
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saddened to hear this.craig books helped me to.
as long as we remember craig.hes not really gone
hes in our hearts and minds.
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Craig was also a teacher. He was an instructor at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, CO (among others I presume). He was the summer instructor for Rock 1 and 2. I never had the pleasure of taking his class, but I knew some climbers who did and watched their skill set grow immensely. He was a great climber that unselfishly devoted his time to passing his vast knowledge on to climbers just starting out. Jeff Jackson’s editorial on the death of John Bachar in the October issue of Rock and Ice puts it best

“…Being alive is mortally dangerous. Surfboards are flying past our heads like clumsy spears of the gods. As climbers we regularly put ourselves at risk. Rocks fall, but miss. We run it out, but make it to the anchor. The avalanche sweeps camp right after we pack up.

And hazards are not always occasioned by putting ourselves in harm’s way. Cars narrowly avoid colliding. Cancer cells get gobbled by leukocytes instead of taking root. Someone else gets the rare brain disease, the infected tick bite, the mugging that devolves to murder. These random, bad things happen to people all the time. The pervasive hunch that we have control is a hilarious illusion. You live in delightful ingeniousness until the moment the surfboard slams into your head.”
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Everyday, you pass within a fingers lenght of death...each passing car could deliver a more violent punishment than any evil world dictator ever could. - rough quote from Chuck Paulanik
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wow, sad news. a reminder that our life can be snatched away at any moment...
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What a loss to the climbing community. I learned more from this man about climbing technique and made more progress under his written instruction than with any instructor ever. I am sorry for the loss to our climbing communities and for his family.
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This is a real tragedy and I am sorry for his family's loss. We all love this adventurous "sport" and know that there is a slim chance that each of us can be taken. It really strikes home when a master like Craig is the one that pays the ultimate price. His books have taught me a great deal about this specialization, and I will be sure to buy his other works to learn a bit more and remember the author that gave so much to his craft.

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