Colby Coombs talks about Ritt Kellogg
Posted 12/12/2010 01:00AM

Colby Coombs, the lone survivor of an avalanche that took the life of Ritt Kellogg ’85 and another climber in 1992 on Alaska’s Mt. Foraker, recently told a hushed Berkshire community about his friendship with the namesake of Berkshire’s Ritt Kellogg Mountain Program (RKMP).

Click here to listen to Colby's address to the Berkshire community.

Colby, a true mountain man who employs 40 guides at his Alaska Mountaineering School in Talkeetna, Alaska, and who disdains being called mister, also visited classes in U.S. history, English, journalism, and forest ecology.

The disastrous expedition, which was recounted in the book In the Zone: Epic Survival Stories from the Mountaineering World, was also the cover story of the July 1998 Reader’s Digest. After finding the bodies of his two fellow climbers, Colby made it back down the mountain despite fractures to his neck, shoulder and leg. But rather than dwell on the details of the disaster, the soft-spoken Colby chose to tell of his relationship with Ritt, who was his classmate at Colorado College and his best friend for seven years, which he called “the time of our lives.” Colby spoke of Ritt’s love of practical jokes and sailing, of their shared passion for climbing, of steady diets of Ramen noodles and popcorn while planning their next climb, of long car trips spent in the shared silence of friendship.

Colby Coombs, the lone survivor of an avalanche that took the life of Ritt Kellogg ’85 and another climber in 1992 on Alaska’s Mt. Foraker, recently told a hushed Berkshire community about his friendship with the namesake of Berkshire’s Ritt Kellogg Mountain Program (RKMP).

Colby, a true mountain man who employs 40 guides at his Alaska Mountaineering School in Talkeetna, Alaska, and who disdains being called mister, also visited classes in U.S. history, English, journalism, and forest ecology.

The disastrous expedition, which was recounted in the book In the Zone: Epic Survival Stories from the Mountaineering World, was also the cover story of the July 1998 Reader’s Digest. After finding the bodies of his two fellow climbers, Colby made it back down the mountain despite fractures to his neck, shoulder and leg. But rather than dwell on the details of the disaster, the soft-spoken Colby chose to tell of his relationship with Ritt, who was his classmate at Colorado College and his best friend for seven years, which he called “the time of our lives.” Colby spoke of Ritt’s love of practical jokes and sailing, of their shared passion for climbing, of steady diets of Ramen noodles and popcorn while planning their next climb, of long car trips spent in the shared silence of friendship.

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