Longtime climbing pioneer and inventor Bill Forrest died on December 21 while snowshoeing near Monarch Pass in Colorado. He was 73. Forrest is perhaps best known for his company Forrest Mountaineering, and for his innovations including a cammable nut, the Titon, the first modular ice tool, the Mjolnir, which is displayed at the Smithsonian, as well as one of the first commercial harnesses with leg loops and technical ice tools with aluminum shafts and steeply drooped picks.
One the rock, Forrest was a longtime fixture in the West, with numerous first ascents including the Forrest/Walker in 1972 in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a 2,500-foot line on the then unclimbed Painted wall.”The 24th pitch was the hardest I’d ever done,” Forrest said in an interview with the Denver Post earlier this year. “I came close to dying. I’ll never forget that pitch. I still think about it now and then.”
In 1970 Forrest made the first solo ascent of the Diamond on Longs Peak, and was in the same era active in the Mystery Towers of Utah, where he bagged the first ascents of numerous proud towers including Doric Column and the Gothic Nightmare, climbs that remained unrepeated for several decades.
Forrest began climbing while in the Army in the 1950s and stopped climbing in 1993 when he came down with a case of dysentery while attempting Mount Everest. Near death, Forrest lost 30 pounds in a single week. He never fully recovered and gave up climbing.