If you’ve spent a little time on LiveRad’s site, then you’ll notice a common theme associated with climbing. The climbing motif has meaning for us, besides the fact that it is, as Matt would say, pretty bad-ass.

In the last blog post I shared about Matt’s new love of climbing before he died. To be honest, sometimes I am sad that Matt’s final months were focused exclusively on his love of climbing. It’s kind of the last impression for many people who didn’t know him quite as well. That image of him feels incomplete because there really was so much more to Matt than climbing. I could fill pages and pages about his sarcastic humor, sports, hobbies he loved, and his antics. All that said, climbing is probably the best “last impression” that I could wish for.

Matt climbing feels symbolic of his life - and really all our lives. I think about the exertion of climbing, and pushing our physical limits because there is something more meaningful at the top. Maybe it’s the incredible view or maybe it’s simply feeling strong enough to make it to the top.  

Matt “climbed mountains” his whole life, before he even knew rock climbing was a thing. From early in his teens Matt suffered from clinical depression. He often tried to navigate those mental health challenges alone and very few people knew how much of a struggle it was for him. Matt was well liked and known for his humor. School was hard for him, but he had some mad street smarts and keen ability to be resourceful. While he had professional help, he still carried the burden with him throughout his journey in life. Ultimately, his mental illness was the cause of his death. It left us reeling in confusion to experience such extreme excitement of what was ahead for Matt, and then to suffer his loss within such a short period of time. Despite it all, we are left without a doubt that Matt fully intended to go on his epic trip and acute mental illness became the true blockade. While he didn’t make it up Yosemite’s El Capitan like he wanted to, metaphorically we believe he absolutely did. And we’re pretty proud of him.  

So, I’m okay with that lasting image of Matt climbing energetically and dreaming of living big. I’ll hold on to his climbing videos, pictures, and that van keychain and I’ll take those reminders and put them into action.

-Kelly Otteson

Kelly Otteson