When climbing the 22,842-foot Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, Eric Nourse, as he was known to do, chose the riskiest route. On Dec. 29, the decision had terrible consequences. The Pilot/Photo courtesy of Facebook memorial page
It might be a trail. Or perhaps an event. But whatever the family selects to honor Eric A. Nourse, a Gold Beach native, it must be epic.
That’s what the comments about Eric on social media say, as people from throughout the climbing world learned of his death in Argentina.
“Awesome!” “Amazing!” “Incredible!” and “no words. ...” were among comments posted about a photo of the adventurer.
Eric, his twin brother Greg, 41, and 42-year-old David Reinhart of Lake Oswego, were trying to summit 22,842-foot Mount Aconcagua last week — just another adventure on their list. Reinhart died in the summit attempt, as well; Greg, of Portland, escaped with frostbite on his feet.
The Nourses’ mother, of Gold Beach, could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday.
The trio made it to 16,000 feet elevation when Reinhart started to feel ill – a common malady among even experienced climbers hiking in extreme elevations. The three continued up, to 19,200 feet by Dec. 27, 22,000 feet the next day, when Reinhart called it quits, according to the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, where he lived.
Reinhart eventually died from pulmonary edema, a condition that can strike and kill within hours at high elevations.
Eric decided to make a moonlight trek to the summit and find an easier way back down to get help for his friend. Greg set out 10 hours later in search of his brother; both eventually made it back to camp.
Greg had contacted emergency personnel and given them coordinates to their location. At that point, about 6 p.m. Dec. 29, Eric had been on the mountain 36 hours and was exhausted, his wife, Kandee reported. He laid down to take a nap, and he never woke up.
Eric and his brother have years of extreme-climbing experience. At Gold Beach High School, Eric was voted most likely to climb Mt. Everest. Kandee said he’d climbed countless 20,000-foot-plus mountains, and summitted Denali twice in eight years.
He moved to Colorado in 1998, and met Kandee in Ft. Collins; the two would wed in 2000. Eric owned a flooring business in Greeley.
Kandee said she’d had some second thoughts about this trek, but told the Tribune, “This is what he does.”
According to park records there, about 60 percent of those who attempt the summit make it. Most give up, due to the elevation.
The weather on that South American peak is often as extreme as the rock faces that beckon climbers; Eric had told his wife as much – so many times, in fact, she thought it odd.
Eric had also let his driver’s license expire and his passport was lost; things he took care of at the last minute. When a plane was delayed, Kandee suggested he come home.
He never would.
He died of cold and exhaustion on the highest peak in the Americas.
The family is now trying to find a way to memorialize the man, be it on a trail, a river, a canyon, a lake.
“My brain isn’t capable of dwindling Eric’s impact upon one lonely trail, or rafting spot, or containing Eric’s epicness to a certain locale,” wrote Rob Clark, a friend. “I’d rather see ... a unique competition. Every year the first person to successfully and safely complete an epic hike, an epic rafting trip, an epic hunting trip, etc., will be able to pick a charity that the monies will be donated to for that year, in Eric’s name. But, it HAS to be several events. Maybe we could call it The Nourse List.”
It could include the mountains he’s hiked: Denali, the Himalayas, the Alps. Perhaps the places he explored: the Yucatan Peninsula or the Galapagos. It could include activities he loved: motorcycling, kayaking, hunting, fishing, climbing.
Another friend, Ria Shannon, suggested the family have a physicist speak at the funeral, to remind people that energy never dissipates, and that if they don’t have faith, scientists have proven that energy is conserved across space and time.
“They’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around,” she wrote on a memorial page. “According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.”
He probably would have liked it that way.
A memorial fund has been established”: Eric Nourse Memorial Fund (Kandee Nourse), c/o First National Bank of Omaha, 920 54th Ave., Greeley, CO 80634 Account No. 31588775 ABA/Routing No. 107000262; interested parties are invited to comment at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eric-Nourse-Memorial.