The piece below was published in Climbing Magazine in 2003. This is my original submission and it was changed a little by the editors before it went to print. Of course, as the writer I like my original version better. So here it is as I meant it to be read:
Ron Gregg - Outdoor Industry Pioneer
April 30, 1948 – March 17, 2003
On March 17, 2003, Ron Gregg, president and founder of Outdoor Research, was killed in an avalanche while skiing in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, Canada. The very able and cautious backcountry skiing group of friends were breaking trail when they triggered the release of a slope above them. Ron and another skier were completely buried by the ensuing slide.
With a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, Ron brought a strong opinion to the discussion of every subject and made a lasting impression on all who met him. The use of the word dichotomous to describe Ron would perhaps satisfy even the picky diction of the man himself. He elicited, in the same individual, such polar feelings as love and utter annoyance, almost simultaneously. He could argue a minor topic to the point of exasperation (not his) and a few minutes later cheerfully and sincerely ask how your family was doing. Ron would eat from his favorite 4 food groups – sugar, grease, chocolate, and alcohol – and have no problem keeping up with outdoor athletes over 15 years his junior. He was an excellent violin player and could dance wildly into the night. His concept of fashion went out of style before the invention of camming devices, yet he created products that have become (sorry Ron) de rigueur in the world of outdoor sport.
Starting Outdoor Research in 1981, after becoming disgusted with the performance of gear on a climb of Denali, the brand, under Ron’s careful guidance, has become synonymous with high quality and outstanding performance. It is nearly impossible to see a group of climbers, skiers, paddlers, or backpackers that don’t have several OR products attached to their packs or bodies. And the fact that these products draw more upon function than form was perhaps one of Ron’s proudest achievements.
But above all, Ron Gregg was an inexhaustible, barely contained particle of energy. And, as he knew better than most, energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form. So, like it or not, all of us have now been infused with a tiny shot of atomic Ron.