A climber who fell to his death Tuesday at Smith Rock State Park in Oregon was from Coeur d’Alene.
Alexander J. Reed, 20, fell roughly 200 feet, according to the Bend Bulletin. Reed was preparing to rappel.
Friends remembered Reed as a passionate and empathetic man who loved to climb.
“Against all odds, Alex followed his passion out here,” said Katy Lanfri, 24, a friend and coworker at the Bend Rock Gym. “He let his heart guide him in ways that people, I think, are sometimes scared to do or don’t know how to do.”
Reed graduated from Lake City High School in 2016 and was a beloved climber in Coeur d’Alene before moving to Bend. Lanfri said when he showed up in Bend he didn’t know anyone and was living out of his van. But he quickly established himself as a strong, mature climber and kind, amiable person.
One memory stands out in Lanfri’s mind. She was climbing a multipitch rout at Smith Rock with a friend. It was a cold day and they hadn’t dressed warmly enough. Reed hiked up to the top of their climb and delivered hot chocolate and an extra jacket to the two frigid climbers.
“He just had a big heart for everyone,” she said.
Francine Mullen, 20, met Reed at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene where they both worked.
“When we met him he was a really awkward goofy kid … he had really bad dad jokes,” she said.
Soon Mullen and Reed became fast friends, she said. Their friend group – about five in total – would climb and hang out together. Mullen said Reed was supportive and empowering, both while climbing and in other areas of life. Although Reed was a strong climber, he never hesitated to climb with less experienced or capable climbers.
“He was so encouraging,” Mullen said.
And he was happy and upbeat, especially when scaling rocks.
He left this world “doing what he loved. In a place that he loved. So, so much. He loves Smith. He loved climbing. He shaped his whole entire life around climbing,” she said.
Reid Woolsey, 21, had similar stories.
Woolsey met Reed through a high school climbing club. The two started climbing together. Although Reed started climbing when he was 16 or 17, he progressed rapidly and was climbing 13s, a level of difficulty that many lifelong climbers never achieve.
“That kid was climbing harder than anyone I knew,” Woolsey said.
Reed’s death inspired Woolsey to climb more and harder, but also to take the sport more seriously.
“You can never be too careful. It’s a risk that we all take when we climb. You never think it’s gonna be someone you’re close to. Or yourself,” he said.
“I want to climb really hard. That was honestly the first thing that went through my mind. We have to climb a lot harder now. Just to live up. To keep his memory alive.”
Reed was found on Misery Ridge trail around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
There have been five deaths at Smith Rock in the last two years, according to the Bend Bulletin. Between 2002 and 2014, there were three deaths.
Other climbers remembered Reed in comments posted to the Bend Rock Gym’s Facebook. Reed was actively developing new routes at Smith Rock.
“He would always come into the gym talking about all the routes he was bolting out at Smith. And how stoked he was to get new lines,” Lanfri said.
Developing new routes is a time-intensive and expensive process, and it’s a selfless act. Route developers don’t get paid and often go unnoticed. Reed, at 20 years old, was committed to making Smith Rock, already a premier climbing destination, even better.
“ ‘Selfless’ would be the perfect word to describe him,” Lanfri said.
A memorial service will be held at Smith Rock State Park Saturday starting at 4 p.m.
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