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Bill Forrest Passes Away

Submitted By: John McNamee on Dec 27, 2012


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Sad news today of the passing of Bill Forrest in the Daily Camera

I fondly remember going to his house in Denver, many years ago and picking up a custom haul bag that he made for me. I still have it till this day. I also have a set of his ice tools...

Sincere condolences to family and friends.


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By Benjamin Chapman
From: Small Town, USA
Dec 28, 2012

Wow. That is really sad news. My condolences and best wishes to his family.

By Ken Trout
From: Golden, CO
Dec 28, 2012

John, I miss my Forrest wall gear too!

I was raised on Bill Forrest's rock climbing equipment. Later, I got to know Bill Forrest because he hired me to work in his shop. The lasting innovations that sprang from the humble workrooms of Forrest Mountaineering will always be a part our sport.

It was Bob Culp who introduced me to the beautifully simple Forrest Leg Loops; made to go with our Yosemite style swamis. An inexpensive item that solved the problem of asphyxiation; making the steep stuff both safer and way more fun.

Ten years later, Bill came up with anchor loops for harnesses. I was very skeptical of anything not-swami. However, that one little idea of Bill's lives on as a part of nearly every harness sold today.

The Daisy Chain? I never liked it and then my kids all bought one. Like the anchor loop, now it too is found world-wide.

Bill did Warren Harding's two anchor-point Bat Hammock one better with his sweet single anchor-point Forrest Hammock and Rainfly. I loaned my old Bat Hammock to a partner on the North America Wall. We were a party of three, the other two had Forrest Rigs. Pinned down by a deadly November storm in the bottomless Black Cave Bivy, we did a side by side comparison. The poor guy in the bat-tub really suffered.

During the first years of clean climbing in Eldorado, the Forrest Foxhead was favored by many for protecting the crux of the Bastille Crack. Before RPs were invented in Australia, we used Forrest Copperheads to protect shallow seams (hammerless). I'm pretty sure Earl Wiggins had a Forrest Titon (teeton) on his rack for Super-Crack.

Bill's shop was used by Ray Jardine to perfect the revolutionary, spring loaded cam: "Friends". Bill knew climbers had no money. He told me that's why he chose not to produce Friends.

Ice tools with interchangeable/replaceable picks are the norm now thanks to Bill Forrest. So are reverse curve picks. I'd like to point out that Forrest Mountaineering had reverse curves before Great Pacific Iron Works! It did my heart good to read in the associated press story that Bill's Mjolnir hammer is on display at the Smithsonian.

In the early seventies, Bill inadvertently started a fad in Denver - bagging the Long's Peak Diamond. The pattern started with novices buying his harnesses, hammers, hardware, hammock, rainfly, haul bags, aiders, and daisy chains. Next, people would spend a few months learning to lead. Finally, they'd send D-7 and then quit climbing.

A lot of credit is due to Bill for making climbing both safer and affordable. The payback comes in the future when anyone clips in to their harness, hangs at a belay, swings a tool, or places a cam and then remembers Bill Forrest.

Forrest Leg Loops draped over crampon bag, Mjolnir, Lifetime Axe (black rubber handle added by owner), Titon, Copperhead.
Forrest Leg Loops draped over crampon bag, Mjolnir, Lifetime Axe (black rubber handle added by owner), Titon, Copperhead.

By Bruce Hildenbrand
Dec 28, 2012

Ken,

Well said! Yes, truly a visionary!

By flynn
Dec 29, 2012

I worked at Forrest with Ken, as a newbie climber and pretty total dork. That was my first-ever gig in mountaineering retail. I remember coming in to work one morning. I ran into Ken, and his eyes were pretty much out on stalks. He said, "Go back to the office. Jim Bridwell is in there!" I did and he was. Wow. Bill knew frickin' everybody!

I learned so much working there. Even as a novice, I had a pretty good idea who Bill was. Working for him was an education and a privilege.

Hope he is happy where he is now; glad he died in the outdoors, where he loved to be.

By chris Kalous
Dec 30, 2012

Another great one gone! RIP, Bill Forrest. Thanks for scaring the shit out of me in the Mystery Towers and the Black!

By USBRIT
From: Cumbria.UK
Jan 3, 2013

Met him a few times at the early trade shows. Great chap and a visonary with regards climbing gear. Loved his fiberglass peg hammer best I have ever used. Another loss from the tigers of yesterday.

By Ben Griffin
From: Durango, CO
Jan 8, 2013

I never knew Bill, and until now, I didn't know he created today's modern gear. I did know he was a badass Black Canyon climber. RIP.

By ACR
Jan 10, 2013

Mr. Forrest will be fondly remembered. He lived in my town (Salida) for years, and I would see him around every now and then. I always wanted to thank him for the years of innovation and his knack for approaching problems from fresh angles. He was way ahead of his time on a few items, spot on with others, and oops! missed a couple neat opportunities. But what a contribution he made to climbing and clothing and snowshoe design.

Thanks for everything Mr. Forrest!

Forrest Pin Bin Bandoleer.
Forrest Pin Bin Bandoleer.


Forrest tools.
Forrest tools.


Forrest Foxheads.
Forrest Foxheads.

By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
Jan 11, 2013

Sad news. Interviewed Bill for my Desert Towers book a couple years ago. Drove to Salida from Boulder, Bill was really patient with all my questions. I grumbled about his slides not being the best (some were dupes of dupes of dupes), but before I arrived he'd clearly spent many, many hours looking through them, trying to find the best for me.

One of the friendliest and nicest of guys. Full of warmth, humor, innocent fun, and inventiveness. Not a trace of bitterness or regret, like many aging climbers.

RIP Bill