July 2017 at Camp Ladue, Charlotte, VT Photo by Arlin Ladue
This photo was a sweet moment when the boys (together!!) had arrived home after driving the Sprinter Van from Denver...a 30+ hour trip in May of this year. They were so excited about having made it to Vermont in the new "Project"!! I of course was excited about showing off the new kitchen and yes photo op for us as a family. Sad now to think this is the last photo that we were together and we squeezed a few days in with Caleb before he flew back to San Francisco to be with Audrey.
Words by Mary Anne Kyburz-Ladue
August 7, 2011 on Lake Champlain Photo by Arlin Ladue
Another great morning ski at Split Rock with Caleb and Arlin. We would aim for about a 6:00 am to 7:00 am start to find near perfect water (hopefully not too cold)
Words by Winslow Ladue
August 7, 2011 on Lake Champlain Photo by Arlin Ladue
When you combine Caleb’s raw athleticism and with his grace on a ski, magical things happen.
Summer 2013 at Camp Ladue, Charlotte, VT Photo by Luke Boelitz
Caleb and Arlin gassing up the boat. I remember climbing on Lake Champlain this same trip. After getting about 20 feet up myself we sat in the ski boat and watched as Caleb flipped backwards off a 60-foot-tall cliff.
It’s hard to imagine spending time at the lake in his absence but I doubt that’s possible—he is so alive in my memories of the place and in all the traditions the Ladue family has been generous enough to share with me.
This is true, I’m sure, for so many people whose lives Caleb touched and I think I speak for all those so blessed when I say that I am deeply grateful for the time I had with him.
Words by Luke Boelitz
October 13, 2013 in Rumney, NH Photo by Jacob Kupferman
When I look at maps I think of all the places we have been - I think of the last light in the desert, our paddle out with the Atlantic tide, rocking in the hammock overlooking a riverbed of cairns, the night in the city of neon, the sandbar sunbathing, on the wall; and although I think of the places still to go, I’m happy with the collection of pinpoints and red string I’ll have
Words by Audrey Sherman, 12/2015.
October 13, 2017 in El Capitan Meadow, Yosemite, CA Photo by Audrey Sherman
In Jewish tradition, Friday nights are about spending time together, relishing in community, connecting with friends new and old. You reflect on the week, celebrate accomplishments, challenge yourself on how to can elevate the next week. A Jewish group in the bay gives money so people can host communal dinners and take a pause on these Friday evenings. Your religious affiliation doesn’t matter - the point is to come together.
Always down for a free meal, and pretty psyched on our friends, we decided to host a Shabbat our last Friday evening in Yosemite. (Caleb also signed up as a backup - his nachos had also been quite the hit earlier that week). It was the day the guys returned from their 4 day slough up El Cap, and also the last evening before we were all dispersing from Yosemite. It marked the end of a special time for all of us in a special place - celebration, rest, excitement - all shared with our community.
By the time we got to the meadow, we saw the guys - unmissable with the infamous Hawaiian shirt - chowing on Salami and cheese (not exactly kosher), psyched to share tales and hugs in the rapidly dimming light. That night, we all savored El Cap meadow, the food, and each others’ companies. Caleb gave encouragement and advice as we discussed my challenges with leading, always sneaking an extra snack out to the side, a snuggle with Audrey, or a glance up at El Cap to calculate further adventures.
We ended our nutritious meal by huddling around blocks of raw cookie dough, doing a more delicious (and definitely more salmonella prone) version of puff-puff pass. Not over each other, a smaller group collected late in the night to have more wine, stories, and (this time baked) cookies before slowly falling asleep.
As I wandered back to my home that night, I felt so incredibly loved, supported, and embraced. I was a relative newcomer to this group, but Audrey and Caleb’s community had welcomed me wholeheartedly. Even with the non-kosher appetizer, this was exactly what that group was promoting by giving us that money for dinner. I’m so thankful for that time - the lounging, the advice, the raucous laughter, the comfortable silence - and for Audrey and Caleb for bringing us together.
Words by Sandy Russell
December 2015 in Ashford, WA Self-portrait
Caleb, tired and probably hungry, after packing for an RMI expedition to climb Aconcagua in Argentina.
October 14, 2017 in Yosemite, CA Photo by Eliza Earle
The adventures of Small and Tall. Climbing together was accompanied with lots of laughter and evenings always ended with a giant camp style meal -- even if Randy always cut the vegetables the wrong way.
Words by Alexandra and Eliza Earle
Winter 2015 in the Fitz Roy Range, Patagonia, Argentina Photo by Alon Brookstein
Caleb and newfound climbing partners leave their warm hostel in El Chalten and head into the mountains during a weather window to climb “Rubio y Azul” on Medialuna and “Chiaro de Luna” on Saint-Exupery.
Winter 2015 in the Fitz Roy Range, Patagonia, Argentina Photo by Alon Brookstein
Caleb setting up the rappel to start the long descent off of “Chiaro Di Luna” (750m, 6b+) on Saint-Exupery.
Winter 2015 in El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina Photo by A.J. Snyder
I first met Caleb at the infamous “Creeksgiving” gathering in Indian Creek, UT. An annual pilgrimage for rock climbers living on the road for a Thanksgiving filled with sandstone crack climbing in the desert of Utah. Caleb and I were introduced by mutual friends, shared a few belays, beers and chatted about our plans to head down to South America that season to climb in Chalten. Both Caleb and I had other climbing partners who we planned to climb with in Chalten so the thought of teaming up together never crossed our minds. Fast-forward 2 months and I was walking the streets of Chalten alone. My climbing partner had a broken hand and had not yet arrived, I knew very little Spanish, no one else in Chalten, and did not have a place to live for the 3 months I would be in South America. Then I spotted Caleb’s smile and lanky body walking towards me. We caught up, discussed our bleak living situations and I found out Caleb was fluent in Spanish and on the hunt for cheap accommodations as well. To make a long story slightly less long we ended up finding a trailer to live in with a group of like-minded climbers. Caleb and I teamed up and climbed the biggest route of our lives in arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world. Living out our dreams of climbing in one of the world’s biggest alpine playgrounds.
As the climbing season in Chalten was winding down, Caleb had a bit of a mishap, which left him with a broken big toe and a depleted budget from hospital bills. He was in need of a cheap/free ride to the airport, which was 3 hours from town. A few days prior, Dan, a friend of mine from college arrived in Chalten completely unbeknownst to me. Dan was on a Motorcycle journey throughout South America, had heard I was in Chalten and spent a day walking around town in search of me. We happened to meet up and he spent a few days living in “the trailer” and meeting our small climbing community. Caleb somehow convinced Dan to make the 3 hour drive to the airport, in Patagonian winds, with him and around 150 pounds of climbing gear stuffed in a duffel bag strapped to the back of the motorcycle. As they rode out of town everyone seemed to be out snapping photos and cheering them on. They drove a lap around town in what felt like the ultimate “Dirtbag parade” and then headed off towards the airport. I heard second hand that the ride went off without a hitch.
Words by A.J. Snyder
October 22, 2015 on Salathe Headwall, El Capitan, Yosemite Photo by Mike Holland
As climbers, we have the opportunity to get to know people in pieces and in places. Stay out there on the road long enough and that friend you make at a crag in one part of the world will turn up right beside you in another, months or years later. Over time, as this process repeats itself, you gain perspective on their lives, and how they’ve grown into who they are. You become extremely close to people you may rarely see.
When I first met Caleb, he was spending his winter break off from school in Jackson, Wyoming. We skied the mountain together, and would reconvene in the evenings at the local climbing gym. He was stronger than I was, younger than I was, and taller than I was. He was smart, confident, and soft spoken, and he always got really excited about food. In 2014, I moved into my car to travel and climb, and after Caleb graduated, he hit the road, too.
It was amazing to see him up in Canada, and around the Pacific Northwest; he had become a climbing and mountaineering guide for RMI, and was now based in Washington. I could tell he had found what he loved, and he was making it his career. His smile was getting bigger and bigger each time I saw him. We bouldered in Squamish, and climbed the wiggly cracks of Trout Creek in Oregon. Our friendship, put together one piece at a time, became a fixed whole.
A few seasons later, we found ourselves in Yosemite. His demeanor was no different than it always had been: gregarious and kind, a domineering sort of happiness that you couldn’t fight. But he was also maturing. It was clear that his time with RMI had gifted him with many mentors, and he wasn’t taking it for granted; every single thing they taught him, he learned in and out.
As we embarked up the Salathe, his erudition in the rock arts shined bright—the way he moved through systems, hauled our gear, and the easy-going demeanor with which he did it all belied the fact that this was his first time up the big stone.
Those few days will always be remembered in my mind as the moment I realized how important Caleb was to me. At the top of El Cap Spire, below the infamous tight hands pitch that takes you into the upper reaches of the route, I sat exhausted in the dark. We had been pushing hard all day to get here, and now that we had finally arrived, Caleb was telling me to keep going. “You told me we need to fix the next two pitches for tomorrow, bud,” he said to me as he jummared up onto the massive ledge. “I’ll put you on belay in t-minus 30 seconds.”
I sat silent until he positioned himself next to me, belay ready, and sat down. “Dude,” he said. “This is your money pitch. One of those moments you gotta take advantage of. I’m right here with you, all the way.” And so I voyaged up into the darkness, not confident at all in myself, but in the two of us, together.
Our friends are meant to teach us how we should live. what we should cherish, and what we should ignore. No one has done this to a greater degree than Caleb. I missed him all the time, and I was always looking forward to seeing him, tying in together, and bolster each other’s spirits. Now that feeling will remain unsatisfied for the rest of my life. But man, to have such a partner for so many years who I could always rely on, who I could always trust, confide in, and love… what a gift that was. What a gift he was.
Words by Mike Holland
October 11, 2017 on Tangerine Trip, El Capitan, Yosemite Self-portrait
A portaledge self-portrait 1,000 feet off the deck. Caleb’s second trip up El Capitan via Tangerine Trip (A2 5.8) with partners: Randall Stacy, Chase Nelson, Avery Parrinello.
Spring 2013 on Predator, Rumney, NH Photo by Randall Stacy
Caleb working the moves on Predator (5.13b) at Rumney, NH. This photo was taken in the Spring of 2013 when Caleb and I spent more time at Rumney than we did in class. We had matching class schedules in the Fall and Spring that year and would leave Hanover around 1pm almost every day of the week and spend the rest of the evening at Rumney. Don’t tell MA this but we may have skipped a few days of class. I think Caleb climbed over 40 days straight that Fall and both of us set new personal high points in climbing. Caleb sent his first 5.13a (Dynosoar) that Fall about 20 minutes after I sent my first 5.12a (Peanut Man). The send train is real. One of the funniest things about this season was that Caleb had only one CD in his car and only 3 of the songs didn’t skip. So on a drive we did twice a day, up to 5 days a week, we blasted the same 3 songs over and over until we couldn’t stand it any more: “Africa” by Toto, “Down Under” by Men at Work and “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira.
April 2016 in the Grand Canyon Photo by Audrey Sherman
Bad News Log, Day 12, Grand Canyon.
Today is a day of revelation. For years I thought this day would never come, but I have found Caleb’s weakness. He was left alone at the top of a giant cliff without a belay device, and with the use of two carabiners he descended from the sky like a rock climbing angel in a tattered sombrero. He broke an oar squeezing his raft between too tight rocks and shrugged off his girlfriend’s ire with a smile and encouragement from Trevor. He broke a second (third?) toe completing a birthday scavenger hunt in bare feet, and still hung upside down in Redwall Cavern. He even survived the embarrassment of MA broadcasting his urgent bowel movement to the whole trip as Bad News slowly rowed the groover into camp. If none of those things could slow him down, surely nothing could. That is what I thought until today.
Caleb’s one, true weakness: Temporary Tattoos
The most adventurous of us all is frozen in fear when confronted with putting a shiny gold butterfly on his cheek.
Words by Alex Rowe
April 2016 paddling up Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon Photo by Audrey Sherman
There was a day, on the Grand Canyon, and it was one of the best days, but who knows exactly which day it was because every day was the best day on the river. You and I were floating in calm water, oars tucked into the raft, drinking a beer under a rainbow-colored umbrella and smiling because it was the best. Then, all of the sudden, you sat up and turned to me in what was left of your frayed sombrero river-hat and decidedly stated, “Alex Brown should fuckin’ be here. Liz and Randy too.” “I know,” I said. That was you. Even on the greatest day of the greatest trip, you were not satisfied because our whole crew was not there. Now, we get to say that for the rest of our lives. But the thing is, Caleb, you passed on your gifts and your skills and your values and your way of life onto each of us. More than anything, you taught us that who you are with is the most important, and now, you will be with us forever.
Words by Trevor Gulick-Stutz
April 2015 on Hayes Glacier, Tordrillo Range, AK Photo by Thaddeus Cooke
Skiing a line straight out of the movies he grew up watching.
April 2015 above Hayes Glacier, Tordrillo Range, AK Photo by Thaddeus Cooke
My childhood buddy Caleb had an offer from Tommy Wilson’s dad to fly a crew out for glacier skiing outside of Anchorage. Needless to say, Erick and I jumped at the chance. We roped in our friend Katy and took off for most of two weeks.
After a 1 am arrival in Anchorage, we crashed with another college friend of Caleb's, woke up for sunrise and set out for a few hot laps of Anchorage to find fuel, air canisters, CO2, bacon, kielbasa, frozen vegetables, hot sauce, a sat phone, and equally exciting/disturbing quantities of boxed wine and nutella.
The deHavilland Beaver is a 6 passenger plane produced from 1947-1967 and it's one of the most beautiful machines I have ever seen. We had the deeply satisfying experience of filling it to the gills with our supplies, our gear and ourselves. After some mild concern, I sequestered the last piece of luggage (a large bottle of whiskey) in my chest pocket and we took off.
The next eight days brought the full spectrum of Alaska glacier skiing. Bluebird arrival, two days of steady but skiable storm conditions, two days of absolute inside-of-a-pingpong-ball whiteout, and finally three days of drop-dead bluebird skies with 46" of fresh, cold, consolidated Alaskan powder making for hands down the most memorable trip of my life.”
Words by Thaddeus Cooke
April 2017 in Silverton, CO Photo by Arlin Ladue
Caleb always showed up like a spring snowstorm: unexpected, fun, and entirely welcome. With a little luck and planning, we’d meet somewhere beautiful. Caleb was all smiles and legs unfolding from a white Subaru. The car is full and smelly, straining to contain all of Caleb, the things he wants to do and what he needs to get there. It seems to have almost everything but you notice Caleb wearing the same pants to dinner as he wore on the chairlift and he confirms without a trace of shame that yes, these are his only pair. We share a weekend of revelry with an assorted wild crew. We ride bikes and climb mountains and drive home and eat dinner and Caleb wins all the games. And then, too soon, the car is full again of Caleb driving away with a wave towards whatever great Next he’s bound for. I’m short a ski strap and all our food has disappeared but he left behind a smile that I’ve worn all weekend long.
There, at the toe of the driveway watching him grow farther away but not any smaller, I feel full and accomplished and more capable and more generous and more aware. The mountains seem closer and I now know them by name. Around me, everything is made for play. The frozen waterfalls and the dirt berms and the canyons and the diving boards and the board games and the peaks and my own body are made of utility and joy. If I know how to use them, if I get my feet below me and an open sky above me I will be figured into a force of nature, powerful and thrilling. Or maybe I am only a subject of the adventure and I will be but powered and thrilled. Or maybe I’m just tired and hungry for a bar.
I will miss Caleb lifelong. And every time I’m doing something splendid somewhere beautiful and slightly beyond my comfort zone I will give thanks to Caleb for helping me there. Caleb taught me how to use our world for play. I will live a poorer life without his advice, his joshing guidance, and his embodiment of an important, well-used life. But I will be rich in myself, as Caleb was in himself, made up entirely of utility and joy.
Words by Sam Van Wetter
February 2, 2014 on the Palisades, Lake Champlain, NY Photo by Audrey Sherman
“Throwing it back to my first multipitch ice outing with Natalie Afonino. We skated across a frozen Lake Champlain to climb a beautiful line in my own backyard. This is still one of the most memorable climbing experiences I've had to date. Thanks Audrey for bringing these photos back to life. Next time you're heading up there with us!”
Words by Caleb Ladue, 12/16/2016
April 7, 2013 at Jackson Hole, WY Photo by Arlin Ladue
Caleb renamed this photo “bamf.jpg” on his computer, naming himself a “badass mother fucker.” We agree.