Friends mourn Maroon Bells climber | AspenTimes.com

Friends mourn Maroon Bells climber

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily

Jarod Wetherell was fond of saying, "Life is my employer." He worked and played hard for his boss.

Wetherell, of Avon, died during his descent Wednesday from the summit of North Maroon Peak. He was 37.

He was hiking with his friend David Richardson, of Vail. Richardson survived and was still at Aspen Valley Hospital as of Friday evening.

Wetherell and Richardson hiked Holy Cross earlier this year, camping near a lake during a full moon. They reached the top at 2 a.m. because it was so bright. Friends say Wetherell though it was such an amazing experience that he wanted to squeeze in one more epic hike.

He and Richardson were at the summit of North Maroon Peak around 1 p.m. Wednesday when friends received a text message from them. Only one made it down alive.

Wetherell's friends listened to police scanners, hoping rescuers could find him. They did, but not the way they'd hoped.

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A Grand Adventurer

Wetherell was originally from Matunuck, Rhode Island, and studied at the University of Rhode Island, and friends said he also considered himself a citizen of Red Sox Nation. He moved to Vail a year ago.

"He was just starting to explore his new home. It was because he loved living here that he went on these grand adventures," said Jenny Tucker, one of Wetherell's many friends.

Bobby L'Heureux met Wetherell in Boston, and when L'Heureux and a friend moved to Vail, Wetherell was a regular visitor. Finally, about a year ago, Wetherell left the East Coast for the Rocky Mountains.

"He moved here with a mission to live life every day, and that's what he did," L'Heureux said. "He enjoyed every day of his work and every day of his life."

Some of Wetherell's friends are taking care of his two dogs, Roxie and Ozzie, and they said the dogs seem to know he's not coming home.

"It's heart-wrenching," Tucker said.

After Tucker got the news, she sat on the huge stone patio Jarod built for her and her family, thinking about how they met, she said.

Tucker said Wetherell had been on a road trip and had the habit of taking his dogs everywhere he went. He'd flatten the back seat of his car and make them a bed for the ride, she said.

Tucker said her son was crawling and toddling around during the three months Wetherell was working on the patio, and the boy would toddle over to visit Wetherell. The boy wanted to be outside playing, which worked out well, because so did Wetherell, Tucker said.

"He was serious about leaving the world a better place," she said. "Lots of people say they want to do good. He wanted to do good, and he actually did it."

Unlike people who just like the sound of their own voice, Wetherell also liked to listen, Tucker said.

Wetherell was easy to know, and his passion was infectious, his friends said. He'd talk your ear off about service work or his service trip to Guatemala or the adventure he had just taken or was about to, they said.

Wetherell's family was warm and stayed connected, friends said.

"He truly touches people. He still has that child's smile that lights up other people when they see it," L'Heureux said. "He's genuine. A lot of people judge other people, and he wasn't like that."