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RIP Jim Detterline

Original Post
Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 585

I just learned that Jim Detterline passed away. Jim was the head climbing ranger at RMNP for many years and holds the record for total number of ascents of Longs Peak. He was also a talented musician and volunteer firefighter. Another great one is gone!

John Rogers · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 20

A sad loss, for sure.

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

wow, i had not heard that. RIP.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
Kevin Zagorda wrote:I just learned that Jim Detterline passed away. Jim was the head climbing ranger at RMNP for many years and holds the record for total number of ascents of Longs Peak. He was also a talented musician and volunteer firefighter. Another great one is gone!
Think I saw on 14ers it was 400 ascents. What a astounding life
Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 456

Unfortunate and way too early - Jim was one of the more interesting people I've ever had occasion to climb with.

Joe Collins · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 875

Jim was also a teacher at Front Range Community College, which is where I also teach. We were told it was a climbing accident but were given no other details.

Jim was also a great teacher and recently gave a really entertaining talk at the College on his days as head ranger.

A very sad day indeed.

Eric Bratrud 1 · · Boulder, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0

One of a kind! A truly unique man who lived a full life . We all will miss you and your spirit!

David Roeske · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

What happened?

Roxy · · Estes Park · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 55

He was also a musician, and more...Jim lived life to it's fullest. I don't think he ever passed climbable ice without climbing it. My sympathy goes out to his wife Rebecca. The Community of Estes Park is going to take a hard blow when this news goes viral, I doubt there is anyone here who does not know him or know of him. I hope he got his book finished, and it gets published, I've been looking forward to it for years.

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,477

I recognized the name immediately. Sorry to hear. Rest easy, Jim.

Steve Williams · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 235

That's terrible news.
RIP, Jim.
Condolences to his family and friends.

Pine Sap · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 7,190

Jim lived life to its fullest and possessed indomitable energy, spirit and courage. I have never known any one quite like him. Jim's personal aspiration during ice climbing season was to never let a day go by without "getting out on the ice". Even if it was only a nearby frozen trickle with a headlamp. Jim, you will always be in our hearts.

timt · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 50

I just got the news a few hours ago from Rebecca. Still in a state of shock... Jim was truly an amazing person & a kindred spirit. Jim & I met at the Long's Peak trailhead (go figure) years ago. I had just finished some winter climb on Long's. He was asking about conditions & through circumstances I can't remember to this day, somehow the topic of reptiles came up! Well, Jim & I happened to both be herpetologists. I don't know how many people on here know this, but Jim earned his Ph.D. studying reptiles. Reptiles & mountains were his passion, but he decided the mountains were his career.... I went the other way, reptiles & mountains were my passion but reptiles were my career. There was an instant bond between us & we have been friends since that moment.
Don't really know where I am going with this other than to say what an amazing human being Jim was. He was an incredible asset not only as a climber, but as a scientist & most importantly as a person & a friend.

Here is a fun quote from an email he sent just days "before" when we were exchanging info about an unusual snake he sent me pictures of.

is it possible to be a "retired" herpetologist? I thought that it was a lifestyle, like climbing or malaria, that is in your blood and you can never escape it!

RIP Jim. You will truly be missed.

Perry Norris · · Truckee · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 45

Met him in Mendoza. Kind, nice guy that let our party bum a ride on his shuttle. Humble and gracious. He made such an impression I recall the name decades after.

Shannon Davis · · Lyons, CO · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 140

Found this great HCN story about Jim. What an inspiring guy.

Tyler Phillips · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 110

I was introduced to Jim through Rebecca. Jim took me on some of my first mountaineering and climbing trips I've ever been on. He taught me a good deal about the mountain. He was a great friend.

Rest easy, Jim.

northriver · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I just heard last night of Jims passing, I have had the opportunity to travel a bit with Jim in south America and just saw him at a wedding last year. still having a hard time with this news. I will miss his smile and kindness, defiantly one of a kind. sounds like a heart attack in his back yard. RIP

Duane Kitzis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

My friend Jim has passed, he is mountain.
Jim was my brother in every sense. We met and started caving and climbing in '76. For decades, we have seen and skirted death almost giggling so many times I can't even remember. Reflecting on these memories as they arise, reminds me how lucky I am, not to survive but to experience it all with the greatest partner. Every thought I have makes me smile. Every 20+ hour day we spent together makes me happy. Last night, watching and waiting for the next shooting star, watching the moon rise at 4 AM, remembering how many days we started even earlier, I remember so much life learned from my friend. The mountain doesn't care if we live or die. Mountains care that we love and heal. They accept everything timeless, even my brother. Some day he'll call me, like so many times and say, "hey I got this idea but no one else will go, how about it?" and as so many times, I won't flinch, I'll follow his lead.
Oh yeah, I always have a headlamp, compass and candy, cause any day with Jim can turn into a long night. Heading up a peak in a bit, I need distance and solitude.

Emily Matter · · Essexville, MI · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 90

I first met Jim back in summer of 2010 when he was giving a presentation on South America at the Estes Park Library. I was a new climber back then who dreamed of going up Longs. My friend and I were residing in Steve Komito's basement at the time and doing some hiking in the park before our summer session at the Rocky Ridge Music Center started. The fact that Jim was a musician and loved Longs formed an immediate connection between us. Then in August we talked with Jim about going up the cables route and he invited us out on a trip he had planned. It turned out that was his record breaking 351st! Jim was very humble, he didn't even mention it was the record breaking ascent or mind that we were coming along. The whole time up he told us stories and history and showed us the different plant life - it was clear he had a passion for the place. I got together with Jim a few more times over the years and was able to climb Longs with him again. I was also very impressed with Jim's search and rescue contributions to the park, his selflessness, and his vast outdoor experience (and alligator Liz!). It is largely because of my experiences with Jim that I would like to work for the NPS someday, ideally pursuing search and rescue, but also being able to share my passion of the outdoors with others. It is also partly because of Jim, why I turned in my camo Air Force uniform to wear the blue Coast Guard one. As one of the leading organizations for search and rescue, it seemed like the perfect place to continue my military experience while getting search and rescue skills and being able to help others. I am saddened by the loss of Jim Detterline, but with Jim I can honestly say that I believe the world is better because of him. I remember an email Jim sent me once, and I remember that he signed it "On belay, Jim". For some reason I really liked that. So, in his spirit -
On belay,

Jim's 351st summit

Jim and me summiting Longs in June 2012

Brian Arms · · Minnesota · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 20

What a great and interesting guy! I had the opportunity to work with Jim at RMNP. Only guy I have ever know to have a pet Cayman! Rest in peace Jim.

kyle kingrey · · Loveland · Joined Aug 2003 · Points: 950

I just found out this extremely sad news. Jim was a great friend and mentor to me and I know many others too. The climbs and trips we did together were some of the best, most memorable times I've ever had in the mountains. From New Years Eve attempts on Longs, exciting & scary first ascents on an unkown formation in the Park and many group trips to Ouray and Silverton. The climbing was always great but the best parts were just watching Jim's exceptional technique while effortlessly leading something I wouldn't dare take the sharp end on. And even better than that was hearing his stories, his laughter and being around someone so unique and genuine and caring. He was the best.

one last quick story: (on one of my first encounters with JD)
while struggling to top rope a finger crack on the little twin owls, Jim showed up in a pair of jeans and with a small set of stoppers. He pulled my rope down and then led right up placing just a few pieces.

He was truly an old school traditional hard man of the mountains.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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