John Pilla 1946-2009

Photo by Patrick McGee

Photo by Patrick McGee

John Pilla was the owner and operator of Mountains Unlimited in Waterbury, Connecticut. He passed away unexpectedly on April 9th, 2008 while rock climbing when he suffered a heart attack after completing a tough 5.9+ near Plymouth, Connecticut.

Pilla was a graduate of Crosby High School, Class of 1965. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Vietnam. After the military John moved to New York City where he became a professional Boxer and fought in 10 professional fights. He then returned to Waterbury, and worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 10 years. He then followed his dream and began his own business, Mountains Unlimited as a professional guide for the great outdoors. He loved to travel, and enjoyed opera, theater, and classical music. He was a volunteer at the Seven Angels Theater, the Thomaston Opera House, and the Palace Theater.

John was 63 years old, but you would never know it to look at him. He was an avid climber and kayaker and was a fixture on all the local rivers and crags in New England. John was always smiling and I never saw him in a bad mood, even when things were going wrong. John had no ego and was always willing to help anyone interested in climbing or outdoor adventures.

John was a bachelor and he had no children, but he will be sadly missed by the CT climbing community and his climbing buddies: Don, Joe, Dan, Lou and Rich.