Justin


As young kids, we would disappear into the mountains of the southeast Adirondacks all of the time. We were very poor; welfare in Reganomics, giant block government cheese poor. The mountains didn’t care and didn’t charge. We could swing on vines and explore all day, all summer. We would always get into trouble in the streets but never in the mountains. This was a time when adult supervision meant the village police caught us doing something wrong.  We were lost a lot of the time but none of us cared. Somewhere on the mountain behind Skene Manor is certainly where I fell in love with mountains. I was between 7-9 years old. This is also a time when I fell in love with climbing but climbing was always trouble whether we were climbing inside the old coal building, on the giant oil tanks, or any other building in Whitehall and still as a young teen in Cherry Valley. If you can picture a building, or silo in Cherry Valley, Roseboom, or Sprout Brook, I’ve been up there. It always got me in trouble. Harold Erway pulled me off of the church in Roseboom because I was ringing the bell at 11 pm. Why? Apparently so I could write about it 32 years later. I don’t know why I did a lot back then. After school, I did a couple of years in the Army Reserves and six in the Navy. I didn’t know what it was called but we free solo’d everything while hiking and exploring in LaMaddalena, Italy for a couple of years. My point in all of this is that it has always been there for me without any focus or direction in it.          

Our guide for this trip, Tim Horvath probably has no idea what an influence he had in giving me direction and even defining how I identify myself today. In the service, I was a Navy Hospital Corpsman who could do anything a PA can do in the civilian world. When I got out, I could only be hired as a phlebotomist. I did it for a while but really felt broken. I started college and decided to learn a trade and left Bassett Hospital. Tim was a friend of my older brother Josh and a contractor. I asked him if I could work for minimum wage and he could teach me the trade. He expected hard work which was fine with me. He was really flexible with hours and encouraged my schooling all of the time. Besides school, Tim was pretty flexible with days off when I started doing Adirondack high peaks in 1999. I was always taking a Friday to head north and he never cared. Some where in all of that, he brought me climbing for the first time using a rope. I pretty much fell in love with climbing instantly. It was even involved in the decision to live where I do now. 20 min to the nearest crag. I worked for Tim for the six years I was in school.           

A few years ago, I went out to climb the Grand Teton with a friend and then two years ago, I was turn around at 12,000 feet when our ladder bridge fell into a crevasse on Mt. Ranier. When Tim asked me if I’d like to do Aconcagua, I never questioned it.         

Today, I’m a psychiatric social worker married to my best friend Amy. Of course my wife and kids climb, with supervision, on a rope.   

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