Remembering Dave Pegg

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11/11/14 - Born in West Yorkshire, UK, and beginning his climbing career on gritstone, Dave moved to the US in the mid 1990s, first to Albuquerque, then to western Colorado where he took an editing job at Climbing. Nine-to-five office life didn’t suit him, even at a climbing magazine, and soon after earning his green card he started his own business, Wolverine Publishing, with his wife, Fiona Lloyd. In the 12 years following he produced some of the country’s most popular climbing guidebooks, including guides to Joshua Tree, Bishop bouldering, the Red River Gorge, the New, and Rifle Mountain Park, to name just a few. Innovative and visually spectacular, Dave’s books truly raised the bar for climbing guides.

When not cranking out beta, Dave was a tireless and obsessive climber, purposely making his home near the sport-climbing crucible of Rifle Mountain Park, Colorado. He brought to the task an unusual, sometimes alarming blend of traits: precise, meticulous technique on the rock, and stumbling absentmindedness on the ground; a quiet, gentle demeanor, unfazed by punishing lead falls. Though an ex-mathematician and master problem-solver, Dave showed utter disregard for the experience of his belayer or the condition of his lead rope. He trained constantly, but was the antithesis of “Type A.”  He bled easily and often—his skinny, battered legs are legend—but scarcely seemed to notice. In all, Dave was at home on rock. He was comfortable and fearless there.

And he made something of that. Dave had hard, scary gritstone first ascents and a 5.14 or two on his resume, and was a passionate route developer. Though he preferred the efficiency of roadside cragging, he bolted countless routes on remote crags such as the Fortress of Solitude. If a new local crag needed routes, he’d make the trek. He had a keen eye for a line, an impressive work ethic, and leaves behind a wealth of superb and difficult creations.

Dave was a cornerstone of two local climbing communities, both the itinerant, summer crowd that frequents Rifle proper, and the community of resident climbers from the greater Glenwood Springs area. He organized the “Rendez-Spew” cleanup for many years, rebolted numerous Rifle classics, and spent countless behind-the-scenes hours brokering and organizing. His presence is irreplaceable, not only near his home, but at countless other areas where he circulated, year after year. But perhaps more than for his tangible contributions, Dave will be remembered for the warmth, humor, and boyish charm he lavished on so many of us at crags and campgrounds from Bishop to Rifle to the Red. He had many, many, many friends.

Dave did many things well, but maybe sharing climbing with others, one way or another, was what he did best. He welcomed people. He created new routes. He authored and published guidebooks. He added to the group psyche of his ropemates. He helped build community.

I remember him now most vividly lumbering up the trail at our local haunt, Main Elk, escorted by a dog or three. His knees were a wreck, so he’d be leaning on ski poles, bundled into a filthy yellow down jacket and humping a massive, poorly packed rucksack overflowing with ropes and random bolting gear, pieces of which would occasionally fall out onto the ground unnoticed. Dave. You could recognize him a mile away. And damn, the man was always glad to see you at the crag—genuinely glad. He’d stop, look up, and his face would light up in a broad smile full of slightly chipped teeth. Then usually he’d just say my name, drawing it out for a second in his inimitable way, conspiratorial, adding something extra to the moment, as if to suggest that just being out at the crag together again was one of the most important things in life. And so it was.