American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Reese Martin, 1955-2004

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Reese Martin 1955-2004 Reese Martin was a true contemporary Renaissance man. Growing up, he was a constantly moving “Air Force brat,” eventually expected to fill the shoes of his “Right Stuff” era test pilot father and his WWI pilot grandfather. Instead, as a teenager Reese developed a love for climbing and skiing in the Cascades when his family was living in Seattle, and continued those passions for the rest of his life in the Rockies, Sierra, Coast Range, Andes, and Himalaya. But Reese was not just a mountain sports enthusiast. He spent time surfing, and was involved in the art scene in Ventura, California, where he lived later for 16 years. He was a Environmental Engineering consultant and political advocate there, also participating in the Big Brother program for five years, building a sports car in his garage, and staying involved in climbing, mostly by authoring new rock routes. He was a Southern California regional coordinator for The Access Fund from 1994-1998 and a member of their board of directors from 1998-2002.

In 1999 Reese moved to Aspen, Colorado, and the following year married me, a ski patroller, climber, and fellow Access Fund board member. Together we remodeled a home and at the same time built a “cabin getaway” at 10,000 feet on nearby Chair Mountain. Still, Reese found time to “clean up” bolts on Independence Pass rock climbs and add his own crag with me called “Reese’s Pieces.” And he learned to paraglide. The latter became a passion eclipsing all others, and so he was finally able to assume the role of heir to his family’s piloting dynasty, in a rogue sort of way.

Though he took great pains to be safe and disciplined in his new sport, the stock phrase “I’d rather be lucky than good” unfortunately did not apply to Reese on July 9, 2004. When landing that day in a cross-country paragliding competition at Lake Chelan, Washington. Reese was caught in turbulent air and dashed violently to the ground. The “encyclopedic mind of useless information” (as he referred to himself) and the eclectic man of many interests and passions was suddenly gone.

Reese seemed likened to Iccarus, who fell from the sky while flying artificial wings too close to the sun in pursuit of deep insight and fulfillment.

Good night, sweet prince.

Charlotte Fox, AAC

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