Climb Every Mountain: The Story Behind the Story of Skin and Bones

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My father—the real life character Patrick Flint is based on—never met a mountain he didn't want to climb. In my childhood, he limited himself to the ones he could drag his wife and kids up with him. As we got older, those mountains got taller. His yearning grew sharper. His climbs became more ambitious.

My brother and I moved on to our adult lives, only occasionally joining him, usually for day trips up Wheeler Peak in New Mexico, although Paul aka Perry has been known to climb Wyoming's Cloud Peak a time or two.

Dad's main climbing partner became his brother, but most climbs he soloed. From a home base in Angel Fire, New Mexico, he'd make early morning day trips into Colorado, picking off the fourteeners (peaks fourteen thousand feet and higher). 

His appetite for the sport grew. He climbed Kilimanjaro with my mother where he met a climbing guide named Peter Whitaker. Peter also guided a European mountain trek my parents went on. 

At this point Mom opted out, and I started having babies.

My dad climbed Mt. Rainier (as did my ex and my brother) and dreamed of the seven summits, since Rainier is such a good training mountain for them, and since he'd already bagged one of the seven in Kilimanjaro. The seven summits are the seven highest peaks on each continent. A man who has had seven or eight back surgeries probably isn't the best candidate for them, unless he has a will of iron and the constitution of an ox, both of which my dad has.

He booked Ocancagua with Peter Whitaker, South America's tallest peak.

In the meantime, he flirted with rock climbing but quickly discovered on a terrifying trip to Wyoming's Tetons that vertical was not his thing.

The Ocancagua climb was a one month trip, most of which in 1985 was outside communication range with my mother. My parents have been married since they were 18 and 19. They are very close. This didn't sit well with "Susanne," but she was supportive.

Dad made the trek. 

I was there for their tearful reunion in an Uncle Julio's parking lot in Fort Worth where my dad—who summited successfully—whispered in her ear "never again." Their love story trumped mountain climbing, which I guess is the real summit. The pinnacle of human experience, in my opinion: a deep, lasting love.

What, besides missing her, changed his mind?

Near death. Witnessing and partnering to prevent another person dying in a fall. And realizing that he didn't want to die and leave her alone (or miss that time with her) over a mountain.

Not every climber feels this way. Most don't. But ole Patrick Flint is a softie. Yes, he loves his hobbies. Yes, he has a lot of them. Deep down though, as we all know, he puts his family first.

And that is the story behind the story of Skin and Bones.

Get Skin and Bones from your favorite retailer starting 3/31/24 or directly from me early: (be sure to choose the format you want). 

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