American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Christian William Pruchnic, 1968-2010

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2011

Christian William Pruchnic, 1968-2010

Chris Pruchnic died on November 20 as the result of an accident while climbing the All Mixed Up route on Thatchtop Mountain, in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania (where he was born), Chris received his master’s degree in archaeology from Denver University. His love of travel and interest in exploring other cultures took him on adventures touching all seven continents. He used his degree in archaeology to learn about history and cultures wherever he traveled, whether under the ocean or high in the mountains.

It was through his work as an archaeologist that Chris came by the name by which many in the climbing community knew him: Haliku, Zuni for bighorn sheep. Chris earned the nickname through his fearlessness and love of climbing. Many of us are familiar with the Haliku pictogram that Chris used as the logo for his company, Haliku Adventures.

Chris participated in and led a number of expeditions to remote locations to attempt classic high-altitude peaks. A list of his climbing exploits can be found on users/haliku/16437.

Chris described himself as mountain climber, ultrarunner, scuba instructor, world traveler, and student of life. To us he was a partner, son, brother, friend, teacher, and colleague. Chris was known and loved for his indomitable spirit, incredible generosity, genuine caring, impressive talent, and dedication in all that he applied himself to. Chris was never known to give anything less than his best effort, be it a personal accomplishment or assisting others. For example, in October 2010 he ran his first 100-mile race, the Boulder 100, and finished in eighth place.

Chris joined the AAC in 2003 and became Colorado’s Front Range Chair in 2008. Professionally, he was Manager of Disaster Preparedness and Risk Management at Qwest, and was an Advanced Open Water Instructor with Denver Divers. His interests extended well beyond these official roles. He volunteered at many events including the AAC’s Exit Strategies conference, cooking at the Teton Climbers’ Ranch for Iranian exchange participants, organizing trips to Ouray, and co-organizing the Lumpy Ridge trail repair in October. He could be found at many AAC events promoting new memberships.

Chris embodied the concept of life-long learning and never passed up an opportunity for new experiences or relationships. He lived as he encouraged others to: “Get out and explore the world!” He took every opportunity to share his enthusiasm, experiences, and knowledge with those around him. He was an active participant in online communities, where he is remembered for his unfailing good humor and willingness to offer assistance wherever he could. He shared many of his stories on his blog,

Never without plans, Chris would have gone to Romania later in November, would have participated in the Iranian-American Alpine Club exchange in Iran in June, and would have been with his family and friends on Kilimanjaro in October. Among his future plans was Annapurna IV; a possible return to Denali, which he summited in 2009; travel in South America to improve his Spanish and climb more extensively in Ecuador and neighboring countries; and a possible move overseas. Whatever the future was to bring, we can be sure that Chris would have filled it with adventure.

Chris was unforgettable; his indomitable spirit will live on in all those whose he touched and enriched by his presence. He will be missed forever and remembered by so many. Thank you, Chris, for being you and for touching our lives in the many ways you did, for your enthusiasm, love and unfailing support.

Chris is survived by his parents Dr. William F. and Carol Ann (Urbas) Pruchnic; brother, Timothy F.; and me, his partner.

Carolyn M. Wallace

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.