In a tragic loss to both the Arizona climbing community and her large circles of family and friends, Kelly S. Bell died early Sunday morning on June 1, only 10 days short of her 38th birthday. Kelly was a bold, prolific and lifelong climber since first touching rock as a teenager. A respected climber, she did the Forks classic Paradise Lost (5.12a) at age 18, and established the Zonerland classic Tone of the Bell (5.9) in ground-up style with a hand drill. Her contagious enthusiasm and thirst for adventure were represented by a recent single-push ascent of The East Buttress of El Cap from Phoenix, including an all-night drive as part of the approach, on a dare. In a word, she was fun.
Outside of climbing Kelly was a mother, daughter and sister, and the best friend to many. Her daughter, Taylor, 15, a shining star who carries her mother’s spark, was her proudest accomplishment.
Kelly would drop anything to help anyone in need. She offered unconditional love, was never less than authentic and shared herself with the world with a rawness and passion that can only be described as Kelly Bell.
Kelly had a lifelong struggle with addiction. A dedicated member of AA, she shared her time and story by speaking at meetings and in women’s prisons, and treated everyone as a loved peer. In the end, she lost her battle, and left so many of us feeling a gaping hole once filled with her spirit.
A college fund has been established to support her daughter at www.taylorbellscollege.com.