Remembering the man behind the tragedy, Rob Jansen

Rob Jansen. (14ers.com photo)

Accidents in the mountains happen. Some of those mishaps end people’s lives. But to most of the public, it’s more about the incident than the person.

People want to know what happened. They speculate. Or pass off mountaineering and climbing as being too risky.

For Rob Jansen, it was unforeseeable tragedy. Rockfall killed him and injured a member of his climbing party Saturday on Colorado’s Hagerman Peak.

The area on Hagerman Peak where Saturday’s rockfall occurred. (Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office photo)

In this case, it was a matter of time, erosion, gravity and unfortunate timing. Author and climber Gerry Roach described things like rockfall thusly: “Geologic time is now.”

Meaning, that boulder at the foot of a mountain you saw could have fallen there thousands of years ago. Or 10 minutes ago.

What people sometimes forget is the person behind the accident. The message board on 14ers.com is filled with stories about Jansen, what an accomplished climber he was, and most importantly, what a great guy he was. He was 24.

But Jansen’s own words are particularly revealing. And they back up all the great things people said about him upon learning of his passing. You can read one of his trip reports here, about his ascent of Mount of the Holy Cross with his best climbing partner, the guy who also happened to be his father.

Something to remember in all of these stories: Behind the tragedy is a person, a person who will be missed. I didn’t know Jansen, but from what I can tell, I wish I did.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088