Read an article about Ken in Rock & Ice magazine by Chad Hussey

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Angelo Decrisantis

Ken was a true leader. I recall the Bond Traverse in Jan/Feb 2004. There was a bitter cold, sub-zero stretch of weather; the week before a New Hampshire park ranger froze to death near North Twin. Crossing over Mt. Guyot some of us (like me) got behind the pack. There was a strong right quartering wind with a temperature near -12 F. The wind made it difficult to stand up so falling over into the scrub frequently was common. Ken was ahead of the last of us, but he dropped his pack and headed back on the trail to be sure we were OK, that we were going to make it, in spite of him being really cold and tired, and not knowing his face was beginning to incur some frost bite in spots. He herded us along. He felt responsible for our welfare and forgot about his own discomfort and jeopardy. A true leader is someone who will forget himself/herself at a time of great need and care for the needs of others. That was Ken. He was always there when you needed him. He surely will be missed.
Peace to you Ken!

Ken Morel

In the year 2000 I decided I needed adventure in my life and wanted to take a leave of absence from work and ride my bike cross country. Ken was my supervisor at the time so I passed it by him thinking he may say ok but I thought no way in hell would the guys above him would ok it. Ken lobbied repeatedly on my behalf and made it happen. He said that he’d love to do the same someday but to do the Appalachian trail. I was able to have the time of my life because Ken appreciated the importance of adventure and was willing to stick his neck out for me. I think of Ken on the trail and I hope he had the time of his life.

Here’s to Ken.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tim Linehan


When we met a decade or so ago at a Wednesday evening AMC rock climb, I had no idea of the privilege that was soon to be mine. You were one of those individuals who was always welcoming and helpful to the new comers. You were always willing to provide a belay. You were always willing to mentor a new leader or a new ice climber.

We became friends and climbing partners. We spent many week-ends together climbing rock and ice in CT, NY, MA, NH, and ME.

At some point during our trips, you told me of your earlier, difficult, fight with cancer – the possible recurrence of which seemed an ever present specter. This explained, perhaps, why, at times, you seemed so… driven. You seemed intent on doing as much as possible with each opportunity that life afforded… to live each day as fully and as completely as possible. When “normal” people might be lingering longer over their morning coffee, we were roping up in -12 degree weather to climb grade 4 ice at Lake Willoughby; when “normal” people were starting their holiday shopping the week-end after Thanksgiving, we were gearing up in 6 degree temperatures, being hammered by 40mph winds and blowing snow, and suffering through -36 degree wind chill to make an early season attempt on Pinnacle Gully; when the rest of our party would be relaxing after the successful climb of a Cascade volcano, you would urge us back to the cars and on to the next objective. There was so much to do… and so little time.

But what I remember most, was the laughter. You could find humor and enjoyment in circumstances and situations that would make most people pale. Your head would go back, your eyes would twinkle, and then you would let roll with a full throated, belly supported burst of laughter. It was that, the laughter, that came to mind when I read the message informing your friends that your time with us was drawing to a close. It is… hard… to reconcile the fact that someone so full of energy and life is gone. It's too soon. It's much too early.

I’ll remember you on each and every uphill “grunt”. Along with the familiar weight of the pack, the familiar crunch of the snow, the familiar bite of cold air nipping at nose and finger, and the all too familiar tired legs and exhaustion, I'll remember that familiar laugh. Thank you for the mentoring and the knowledge shared. Thank you for the good times. And, most of all, thank you for sharing yourself. I, along with many others will miss the reality, and the possibility, of your friendship. Good bye my friend.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gerard Fay

My first recollection of Ken was in the winter of 1989, the season after I moved to Connecticut. A group of us met at the Peoples Forest one evening after work for some ice climbing, he must have recognized I had some competency to climb ice as a couple of weeks later he invited me on a trip up to Smugglers Notch in VT for a weekend of ice climbing with himself, Jim Church and Mark Meany. I teamed up with ken that weekend, on the way up to the first climb of the weekend, talking, Ken remarked that he was thinking of replacing his ropes. We roped up for the climb and I was offered the first lead which I accepted. I took off up the climb and after only about five feet of climbing nailed the rope with the front point of my crampon, embarrassed, I struggled to disengage my crampon point from the rope and backed off. After retying into the rope above the damaged part I completed the climb to the first belay, Ken followed with no trouble until about ten feet off the belay where he nailed the same rope with his ice axe, apparently that was a first for both of us. On the way we laughed about it, Ken had his justification to replace his ropes since one was now about 20 ft shorter than the other. That weekend was the beginning of long friendship and over the next 10 years we had many rock, ice and mountaineering trips together and as a group.

One of Kens strong points was his ability to organize and he organized and ran some great mountaineering trips with meticulous planning and multiple objectives and backup plans. Many of the present CCM group had there first experience of the bigger mountains on one of Kens trips and I for one have great memories of those trips. They were intense, no sooner had one objective been achieved it was down, back to the cars and onto the next objective the same day. Although group size was limited ones ability to climb did not discount them and Ken welcomed and nurtured those with less experience.

Being in Ken’s company while climbing was always a trip, the sick jokes and when the climbing got tough the explicits came fast and furious, for those that didn’t know him they didn’t quite know what to do, for those that did, it was part of the game. I’ve missed Ken’s company, sharing a rope and his great trips these last couple of years and will continue to miss his company in the future years.

Steve Nelson

It's been great to read all the emails about Ken. I shared a private note with Ruth, and now feel obliged to share a few thoughts with everyone.

For a few years Ken kept trying to get me to try ice climbing. It became a running joke between us at the gym and at pizza afterwards. I kept telling him that I had tried ice climbing once and it was a miserable experience. I am a skier in the winter and rock climb in summer. Ken kept inviting me to go ice climbing with him anyway, and one year I decided to join him just before Christmas. We went up to Canaan and he led the first pitch of the popular Bicycle route. I scrambled and clawed my way up the first steep section to where Ken was watching me on belay. He listened to my wimpering and whining, and then smiled and offered for me to lead the next pitch. I thought he was crazy, since it was only my second pitch on ice. He assured me that it was easy and well within my ability. If Ken said it was so, then it was so. So, off I went. Ken and I swapped leads all day. He led the hard stuff, and I'd play on the easy stuff. An ice climber was born on that day due to Ken's patience and coaxing.

A few weeks later, Ken and I partnered up on the Adirondacks trip. I was amazed and honored that Ken would climb with me, a newbie on ice, for a weekend in the coveted DAKS. I figured he could have teamed up with another strong climber and kicked butt on some hairy ice, but Ken seemed to be just as happy to show me the ropes. On a rainy, unseasonably warm day, we climbed Multiplication Gully. Ken threw me at the first pitch with supreme confidence, and he climbed the very thin second pitch in great style. I had a smile on my face all day. The next day was extremely cold (-10 deg F), and we climbed at Cascade Pass. Ken led a climb (Sister's Right, Grade 4+) that I can only describe as amazingly hard. The ice was almost impenetrable, and Ken managed to get screws in somehow. He always cursed at a hard spot, and boy was there a lot of cursing going on during that pitch. Trying to follow him on it brought many of the same word choices to mind as I tried desperately to get up the frozen monster. After getting through the crux section, my hands hurt so bad that I had to stop and let the blood rush back in. The pain was excruciating, and I was a bit embarassed by the delay. Ken said it was normal and happens to all ice climbers. I finished off the pitch with a new found respect for Ken's climbing ability as well as his graciousness.

I climbed ice a few more times with Ken that season and was always amazed at how he could climb something that seemed almost impossible to me. We had great fun, and I climb ice today because Ken coaxed me into it and took the time to teach me how to swing an axe. Last year, Alex and I climbed Positive Thinking in the Adirondacks. Afterwards, we talked about Ken and what a great influence he was on our climbing. Ken had first taken Alex on the same climb several years earlier. I think he would have been pleased with our efforts that day. Thanks to Ken, we managed it safely and in good style.

I have missed climbing with Ken over the past few years. Now, I will miss it infinitely more. I will be thankful, though, for the opportunity he gave me to share some precious time with him.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Larry Krutko

There are times in your life when you are fortunate to cross paths with someone whose personality just seems to mesh well with your own and you find yourselves becoming close friends. I can't recall the first time that I met Ken, but I soon noticed that I found myself seeking him out when I was looking for someone to go climbing or hiking with. We shared many times together, a couple of climbing trips out West, hiking the 100 mile wilderness, and countless days of ice and rock climbing here in New England and the Adirondacks. I always enjoyed Ken's company and his great sense of humor. He put together some of the best climbing trips that I have ever had the privilege to take part in. He was a great friend that I will really miss.

Bill Waters

Over the years we had the pleasure of Kens' company on many climbs, hikes and ski trips. This past Aug we spent a week canoeing with Ken and Ruth, Brian and Liz in the LaVerendre area of Canada. As with everything he did, Ken had a system refined through years of trial and error and we all benefited from his experience. Each morning the boats were loaded and we paddled off for the day. Each evening we sat in Kens' screen house and ate, played cards or just talked. Kens' system was such that he always seemed to have exactly what he needed close at hand, the oven he baked the brownies in, the map to look over the next days' route possibilities, or one of his famous tasteless jokes. I prefer to have nothing I need close by and make multiple trips from the screen house to the tent ( in the pouring rain) and back. Ken had gone through several periods of chemotherapy by this time, one ending just a day or two before we left. It did'nt slow him down or diminish his enjoyment of each day in any way that he ever let on.
We are all very fortunate to to have had Ken in our lives. The time was brief it's true, but Ken has left something of himself with us all. We will always smile when we think of him, even if we sometimes cry as well.
See ya'll Sunday
$ and Carol