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Nov 6, 2010

Many of you know Aaron Martinuzzi. He is an active member of Mountain Project and has climbed with a lot of people on this site. I have climbed with him regularly over the past year and a half and he always struck me as super psyched to be able to enjoy the outdoors and was a great friend. At the end of the summer he went to Maine to go to Med School. On August 20, 2010 Aaron dove into a pool at a party with fellow med students and sustained a spinal cord injury that has left him paralyzed from the neck down.

I recently received an email from him detailing this accident and his subsequent rehabilitation. Recently he has recovered some motion with his right arm. He has also gained some sensation in his legs and trunk, including pressure, temperature, and pain sensation, which is obviously very exciting!

Overall he is facing this with courage and an amazingly positive attitude. If there is anyone who could overcome this situation it is him. He is currently at the rehabilitation center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and is planning on continuing with Med School before too long.

Please keep him in your thoughts. I'm sure he would be glad to hear encouraging words from you. If you have memories of climbing with Aaron, share them!

Also, there is an on-going fundraiser to raise money for all of the necessary costs of his recovery, including home remodeling to accommodate his power wheelchair, his wheelchair, a new bed, and rehab. Currently there is a little less than $600 out of a goal of $2000 raised. If you would like to contribute you can visit this facebook page:

Or you can make a check payable to Friends of Aaron Martinuzzi, and mail to PO BOX 324, Milford, MI 48381.

Thank you!
Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Joined Jun 20, 2008
2,573 points
Nov 7, 2010
Holy crap! Stay positive, Aaron. Please keep all of us on MP updated on your condition.
Sending you all the positive vibes I've got.
Tom R
From Denver, CO
Joined Sep 14, 2008
157 points
Nov 7, 2010
What horrible news, i have only climbed with Aaron a few times on a road trip but he is a great guy and has an amazingly positive attitude on life. Keep up with the rehab and stay positive. Sending you good thoughts. Ben Mahaffey
Joined Jul 11, 2005
54 points
Nov 7, 2010
I climbed with Aaron once or twice about a year ago up the Poudre and was inspired. Strong and the endurance of an ox. Basically after climbing with him I looked back on my few previous years climbing and realized it was time to grow a set. My best wishes for you Aaron! mattnorville Norv
Joined Oct 9, 2007
108 points
Nov 7, 2010
This is terrible news.

My fiance goes to UNE and the school was torn up when the accident happened.

Now, I realize I have another connection to this tragedy. I never climbed with Aaron, but realized that he was moving to Maine and thought our paths would cross.

Anyway, best wishes to him and his family. If there is anything he needs done in Maine or at UNE, let him know that I'll help.

Joined Aug 15, 2007
77 points
Nov 7, 2010
Aaron, I'm really saddened to hear this. It sounds like you're using that bottomless psyche of yours to rehab though and make the important adjustments you need. Inspirational. Kris I wish you the best! (of course let us know if we can help out too...)

I got to climb with Aaron a few times over the years now, mostly since moving out to CO. The most constant recollection is that of trying to keep up with him, the guy has energy. I Also remember him not being scared on topographical oceans in the splatte...perhaps even enjoying it?! Whatever the case it was always a pleasure.

...the man in action:

Rock Climbing Photo: crankin'

Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron and Ben warming their shoes... "not tha...
Aaron and Ben warming their shoes... "not that there's anything wrong with that".

Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up the beast
Starting up the beast
From Denver, CO
Joined Sep 7, 2007
511 points
Nov 7, 2010
I never met him, but this is terrible news for anyone. Best wishes and thinking positive thoughts for rehab. rhyang
From San Jose, CA
Joined Jun 30, 2006
655 points
Nov 7, 2010
Hey Aaron- Steve and I were so saddened to hear about your injury. We really hope that you continue to gain back more sensations as time goes on. I also have only climbed with Aaron a couple of times, but he showed me one of the most valuble lessons while climbing on cold days- warming your shoes in your shirt while waiting to get on a route. You are and will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers! Kristen D
From Lakewood, CO
Joined Jan 4, 2010
5 points
Nov 7, 2010
Ya he definitely has some balls. I remember we were stuck behind some slower parties on the early pitches of the scenic cruise, and he decided, "hell, lets just do the cruise." Our big rack consisted of one #4. He cruised it, of course, clipping the bolts from the FA party along the way, though they wouldn't have held. He ran it out probably thirty feet on 10- OW, and then stomped the rest of the climb. Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Joined Jun 20, 2008
2,573 points
Nov 7, 2010
Sorry to hear this news, Phil. Sending those positive vibes and good thoughts his way. David A
From Boulder, CO
Joined Oct 23, 2008
162 points
Nov 8, 2010
Sorry to hear about this news. Crap happens, and sometimes it happens to fantastic people, and this is one of those cases. I had a great time road tripping with Aaron out in Indian creek Jan 2010, and his attitude was phenomenal. Great guy and will eventually be a great doctor. A.J. Christnovich
From La Crosse, WI
Joined Aug 12, 2008
13 points
Nov 8, 2010
Matt said:
Basically after climbing with him I looked back on my few previous years climbing and realized it was time to grow a set. My best wishes for you Aaron!

I couldn't put it any better - Aaron is a strong climber both mentally and physically; his enthusiasm is inspiring. He's a slab-master to boot!

Wishing you a fast and full recovery Aaron.
Kevin Landolt
From Fort Collins, Wyoming
Joined Jun 1, 2009
642 points
Nov 8, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron coming up some later pitch on the cruise. He...
Aaron coming up some later pitch on the cruise. He led the hard pitches, I led the easy ones.

Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron leading the first pitch of journey home. Ver...
Aaron leading the first pitch of journey home. Very serious lead, as that first piece probably won't hold.
Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Joined Jun 20, 2008
2,573 points
Nov 8, 2010
I don't have any pictures to share, but I guess I feel like saying a few things.
I last saw Aaron when I climbed with him in February of 2010, in Eldo. He pushed himself a bit and stepped up to the plate eagerly, flashing a few routes including Zip Code, which some call a tricky 5.11 trad route... on small gear no less. He was positive and in control the whole time and took pleasure in the challenge.

But the world doesn't care how hard someone climbs. The world doesn't need people who climb hard. The world needs good people. I could sit here and say all sorts of things I guess, but they would all be summarized best as follows: "Aaron is a good man."
This is far more compliment that I can pay a person no matter what or how much I say about their climbing.

And with that I say, to you Aaron:

I can not say with confidence that I could handle the challenges that you are facing positively, and I can't fault you for anything you might think or feel from time to time. But I believe that you will find your way through this. Hang in there man, the world needs people like you. Nothing changes that.
Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Joined Jan 1, 2001
24,851 points
Nov 8, 2010
That is true, Tony. The most important thing about Aaron is that he is a good man, not that he is a smooth climber. Thanks for putting things in perspective. Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Joined Jun 20, 2008
2,573 points
Nov 8, 2010
Thank you all for your kind words about Aaron and especially the pictures. I haven't seen these particular ones, and they are amazing. As some of you have noted, Aaron has a particularly tough road ahead, but has a fantastic attitude and is focused on his goal of becoming a doctor. With his dad, Neil, his sister Audrey and all the support we can muster, we will get him there. Believe me, reading things like this and knowing there are individuals out in the world who climbed with Aaron and care about him are all part of achieving that. Aaron has remarked that although he loves the rock, climbing was a way he connected with great people, and nothing can take that experience away.

Many, many thanks, and I love the posts,

Maria, Aaron's mom
Maria Martinuzzi
Joined Nov 8, 2010
0 points
Nov 8, 2010
I don't know Aaron but wanted to send my good vibes his way. EMT
Joined Jan 13, 2008
274 points
Nov 8, 2010
Tell him best wishes & Craig is a great facility if he should find his way back to Colorado; the mountains heal the spirit! Buff Johnson
Joined Dec 19, 2005
1,511 points
Nov 9, 2010
Nearly three and a half years ago, I met Aaron on a Notre Dame climbing club trip to the Red River Gorge, KY. Since then, I can honestly say that he has become one of my best and most valued friends. The experiences we shared while climbing in CO, KY and at ND represent some of my most cherished memories to date.

As the president of the club, he ushered me into the climbing community at ND, but he also taught me much more. He shared his passions and inspired me to follow my own dreams in medicine. During many of our conversations we talked about our hopes and concerns for the future and we bonded over our mutual love of good conversation, genuine friends, music, climbing and many other things. Now every climb we ever completed together pails in comparison to the challenges he currently faces. As in many of our adventures, I am sure that Aaron has the willpower and necessary motivation to overcome many of his current challenges. It is no secret, as many of you have pointed out, that Aaron is stronger than you can imagine. I have never seen someone challenge himself or herself as an individual more readily than Aaron did over the last three years, all while preserving a concern for those closest to him. There was never a phone conversation that took place in which Aaron didn’t ask me how my family was doing. He is loved and cherished by so many people. I have no doubt that he is going to be successful in his future pursuits and I can’t wait to visit him in December. He is an extraordinary person, someone that always will push others to reach new heights.

Many of you can relate similar stories and it would awesome if you continue to share them in this forum. He dedicated a lot of time and energy into the MP community and his story should be known.

If you would like to follow his progress (!!!), this website is updated regularly by his family:

Please donate!

Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron's hands after a long day at Lumpy Ridge.
Aaron's hands after a long day at Lumpy Ridge.

Rock Climbing Photo: A group of us in RRG, KY. Aaron is wearing the Ray...
A group of us in RRG, KY. Aaron is wearing the Ray-Bans.

Rock Climbing Photo: This photo is taken midway up Ellingwood Arete on ...
This photo is taken midway up Ellingwood Arete on Crestone Needle.
Nicholas B
From Ann Arbor, MI
Joined Jun 9, 2008
55 points
Nov 9, 2010
This is horrible news. I am very saddened to hear this. I have never met Aaron but I have definitly noticed him on MP and his contribution to the site regarding Greyrock routes, and surrounding Fort Collins areas. He put in a lot of effort putting the routes on MP and I really thought, 'man this guys is awesome, I'd love to climb with him and meet him.' Sounds like Aaron has tons of loving support from family and friends. I will always be sending positive thoughts !! Spencer Dries
From Golden, CO
Joined May 10, 2007
103 points
Nov 10, 2010
I can remember times in my life when I thought, or maybe blurted out over a beer or two, that if I couldn't get up off my ass and do the things i loved doing - climbing with buddies, driving through Cisco, UT at 2 am dodging cattle in the dark, and riding my bike to the brewery on a sunny afternoon come to mind - I might as well be 6 feet under. Obviously, this isn't the most mature outlook on life, and it wasn't an idea I ever would've claimed as my “life philosophy,” but there's no doubting that I definitely thought it, as I imagine many other impulsive, active youths ruminated before me.

As you can imagine, coming out of sedation in the ICU the day after my surgery and seeing that my mother, father, and sister had been wrenched from their lives to my bedside 900 miles away made me recall and immediately reevaluate the sentiment I described above. I have always had a very loving relationship with my family and many close friends - some with whom I've been close since grade school - but when you're flashing your first 5.10 on a bluebird day in Estes Park with a great climbing partner and friend or spending an afternoon exploring some obscure canyon in the flat irons racking up solo mileage I've found it can be easy to feel like almost nothing else matters.

lying in my bed that day, visiting with new friends from med school a few days later, and being able to share laughs and stories here in Michigan with friends I've known for 15 and 20 years, and hearing the words you all have to say here have helped me realize that I'm incredibly lucky to be alive, to have my mental capacities intact, and most importantly, to have so many people to encourage me, to share stories with me, to laugh with me, cry with me, and to e-mail me trip reports of their latest epic (hint hint).

I've got a lot of life left in me, a lot of life left ahead of me, and plenty of great memories to reminisce about with good friends. It's messages like these that remind me of those things, and make me so happy to wake up every morning, try my darndest to help my nurses dress me, and get down to the PT gym and OT clinic to bust ass and get as much as I can out of my days. I never liked sitting still and don't plan on starting now.

Thanks again for the well wishes, the memories, the pictures, and the friendship. You can bet I'll still be lurking around mountain project when I should be concentrating on the biochem class I'll be starting up come January or getting back to med school next fall.

Climb hard and call your mother when you get home, but don't tell her how big that whipper really was.

Aaron Martinuzzi
Aaron Martinuzzi
Joined Apr 15, 2008
1,583 points
Nov 11, 2010
Best to you Aaron. And best to your family. Take care! Callie Rennison
From Boulder, Colorado
Joined Jan 31, 2007
17 points
Nov 11, 2010
Damn Aaron, I didn't need to cry at 5:30 am. What beautiful thoughts. Best wishes for your peace, happiness, and recovery. Thanks for comforting and encouraging everyone else. Shawn Mitchell
From Broomfield
Joined Mar 4, 2008
325 points
Nov 11, 2010
Aaron's spirit and attitude are both humbling and inspiring. We all have a lot to learn from him.
Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron cruising the casual route
Aaron cruising the casual route
Devan Johnson
Joined Jun 3, 2006
557 points
Nov 11, 2010
I bet that big black bull is still standing in the middle of the road in Cisco. A.J. Christnovich
From La Crosse, WI
Joined Aug 12, 2008
13 points
Nov 11, 2010
Very sad news. I only met Aaron briefly at a FC beer night, and unfortunately never had the opportunity to climb with him. I still want reiterate what others have said and remind him what a positive impact he had on the community, even for those he never knew well.

Though on a different scale, I came to those same realizations and followed a similar thought process to Aaron's concerning what is important in life when I broke my ankle and was out for two months this summer. Good luck Aaron; if your climbing accomplishments and attitude are any indication, you'll amaze everyone with your recovery.
Neil Wachowski
From Fort Collins, CO
Joined Jun 29, 2008
89 points

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Email me.
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