A Climber We Lost: Miriam Hongsun Cho, August 23

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. This week we highlight a representative cross-section, one a day.

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

Miriam Hongsun Cho, 30, August 23 

Miriam Hongsun Cho was a beloved climber and outdoor enthusiast, a member of @browngirlsclimb and @ncbipocclimbers, and a creative and intellectual light. She was her high-school valedictorian, graduated cum laude from Yale with a BA in Religious Studies, and most recently earned her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. Employed at Duke as a project coordinator, she was also a freelance writer and producer, a passionate advocate for civic justice, a rising filmmaker who received an NCAAT’s Asian Solidarity Action Project award, and a co-creator of the “When Women Preach” podcast. She visited over 40 countries to learn about different cultures and environments. 

Miriam’s loved ones described her on a memorial site as “incredibly active,” a person who “loved to hike, bike, run, camp, and climb outdoors.” The obituary also read, “She lived vibrantly and brought her genuine care, abundant curiosity, and great talent to every community of which she was a part.”“I am passionate about creating and supporting media that empowers voices often not heard,” she wrote on Linked In.

Miriam’s accomplishments, kindness and compassion are endless. Soon after her Masters graduation, Miriam posted on Instagram about the demands of the program: “Despite the pain, I made some wonderful memories and many of the most meaningful relationships I’ve had in life this far. They showed me that the deep love of friends was more than enough to make it through. So, congrats to all of us! I can’t wait to see how we’ll all continue our journeys.” 

“Miriam was kind, funny, brilliant, thoughtful and a trailblazer,” one woman posted on the memorial site.

L to R top row: Kaitlin Grabel, Jenna Grant, Nadia Mercado, Tierra Smith. Front row: Miriam Cho, Alma Solis. Photo courtesy Alma Solis.

Miriam, who lived in Durham, North Carolina, died in a rappelling accident while climbing at Pilot Mountain State Park. A memorial was held August 30 in Duke University Chapel. Her inspiration lives on; may the impact she made continue in her honor through our journeys.  

Miriam is survived by her mother, Lydia Mikyeoung Cho; father, pastor Yong Kyu Cho; and brother, Joshua Honjin Cho.

Please follow the link to access her GoFundMe to help her family offset any financial costs and to donate to the Asian American Documentary Network

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