There use to be a forum on the (rock climbing) website which many of us considered a campfire. It was a place we’d get together and share information on climbs, past trip reports and other non-climbing related conversation. Around 2010 one zany angle of the conversation went with rubber chickens. We all got into it and shared some funny stories and photographs.

A friend of mine create a rubber chicken that went by the name of Gym Birdwell (a play on Jim Bridwell who was one of the most accomplished climbers ever and would never be caught at a climbing Gym).

The thing is my friend Paul had cancer. It would only be a few more months before cancer took him from us. He was a friend from college and took over (along with Eric C) working on the climbing guide for Northern California which I originally wrote.

We did get to have a SushiFest where Paul and Ruth were able to attend. Paul was able to meet and climb with another true climbing legend – Jim Donini. That was sweet to watch.

A year or so after Paul passed his sister came back onto the SuperTopo Forum to thank us for sharing stories about Paul’s life as a climber. She mentioned it really helped the family to know how much he was loved.

After she posted I had a thought to contact her and ask the whereabouts of Gym. She responded it was with her in a drawer. So I made her the deal that if she’d send him to me I’d continue to take him on adventures and make people laugh the way Paul and Ruth did.

So she did.

And I am.