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A Climber We Lost: Logan Wilcoxson, May 19

Each January we post a farewell tribute to those members of our community lost in the year just past. Some of the people you may have heard of, some not. All are part of our community and contributed to climbing.

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You can read the full tribute to Climbers We Lost in 2021 here.

Logan Wilcoxson, 51, May 19 

Since 2014, I’ve been getting these emails. They start mid-summer and build to a crescendo around mid- to late September. 

“Time to Register.

“Feed the stoke!

“Time to get crazy, hellions.

“We are lions in a field of lions. ROAR!” 

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The emails announced the coming of the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell, a daylong climbing competition at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas. Logan Wilcoxson competed in every Hell since its inception, in 2004. When the organizers decided that 24 straight hours of climbing wasn’t enough, and started a 12-hour competition the day before the 24, Logan entered that, too—chalking up 36 straight hours of climbing in two days. He invited me to be his 12-hour partner in 2014, with David Carpenter (my first and oldest climbing partner) climbing the subsequent 24 with him. Together, we were Team Honey Badger, so named because a small sports-drink company in Florida gave us hats, T-shirts and product. 

I was honored and a little nervous. I didn’t want to let him or the team down. Could I do it? Would I last 12 hours? Could my 55-year-old body take it? 

Logan let me know I had nothing to fear. One pre-comp email from him when I asked him (as always) what our strategy would be: “My training has been very limited, so I am focusing on surviving 36 hours and supporting my partners.”

That’s what Logan did. Sure, he had first ascents, and he led treks and climbs all over the world, but even when he was fighting his own demons, he supported his partners. 

I learned of Logan’s death at his own hand as he, David Carpenter, another climber and I were preparing for a weekend climbing trip to Horseshoe Canyon. We were scheduled to leave town Friday afternoon. Wednesday morning, he texted to ask what I wanted for dinner Friday night: grilled fish, brats and kraut, or steak and salad, or to go to a local restaurant. I voted for beer, brats and kraut. Ten hours later he was gone.

Logan Wilcoxson was born in Columbus, Indiana, in 1969. He graduated from Edinburgh High School and Purdue University. He married Melissa Blevins in 2000, and they had two great kids, Sarah, now 16, and Noah, 19. After a career in television news production (in Indiana, Colorado, Louisiana and Arkansas), Logan and Melissa opened Little Rock Climbing Center in 2003. It welcomed the young and the old, both experienced and inexperienced climbers. Logan helped countless climbers achieve personal goals and earn confidence. The gym is a pillar of the climbing community in Arkansas.

One post among the many on the gym’s Facebook page, from Krista Selnau, read: “I’m so sorry to hear this news … Logan helped me climb outdoors for the first time as an adaptive climber and amputee, helping to make my dreams come true. He was a wonderful person.”

Jeremy Collins, another Horseshoe Hell standout, fondly remembered Logan wearing Elvis-style sequins and leather vests there each year. Jeremy adds that Logan was far more than a joker: “Most of us knew him as ‘my friend.’ When he knew I was having a rough time, he’d call, often late at night, knowing I was awake .… He shared the moments when it mattered. Because climbing is always more than climbing, so are the partnerships that are born from it.”

Andy Chasteen, Horseshoe Hell organizer, called Logan “selfless, loving, fierce, wild and sometimes a tad irreverent. We mourn his loss, but even more we celebrate his life.”

Logan Wilcoxson. (Photo: Mahendra Tamang)

Those of us who loved him, who shared a rope with him, who worked with and were inspired by him, will never fully understand why he left. What we all understand easily, however, is how much better he made our lives. He helped us be better climbers, better friends, better people.Logan was a past president of the Arkansas Climbers Coalition, an American Mountain Guide Association Single Pitch Instructor, and a Wilderness First Responder. He guided climbing trips in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania, and Nepal. He loved to travel and immerse himself in local customs, foods, and the stories of his newfound global friends.  

After a covid hiatus, Horseshoe Hell was on in 2021. David Carpenter and I decided to compete as Team Honey Badger one last time to honor our captain. The entire competition was dedicated to Logan. One of the (many) magical things about Horseshoe Hell is that at the top of every hour, 400 climbers celebrate another hour by hooting and hollering at the top of their lungs. This year the organizer asked us to scream “Logan Wilcoxson” each time. His echo goes on.   

Logan is survived by his wife, Melissa; children, Noah and Sarah; parents, Phil and Bonnie Wilcoxson; brother, Dave (Jenni) Wilcoxson; sister, Merica (Benny) Woods; nieces Elena Crosier, Laurel Wilcoxson and Merrin Woods; mother-in-law, Barbara Beach, and father-in-law, William Blevins. 

Memorials may be made to the Arkansas Climbers Coalition or CARE—Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

You can read the full tribute to Climbers We Lost in 2021 here.