Fruita’s Ament climbs into Boulder Sports Hall of Fame

Pat Ament started rock climbing in the Boulder area when he was 13 years old. The Fruita man will be inducted into the Boulder Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Pat Ament, shown climbing in Eldorado Canyon near Boulder in the early 1980s.

For more than 40 years, Boulder was at the center of Pat Ament’s life.

Now, he will be inducted into the Boulder Sports Hall of Fame.

Ament, who has lived in Fruita for more than 15 years, spent much of his life ascending some of the most difficult rock climbs in the nation.

“I just kind of stumbled into climbing,” he said.

As a teen who was new to the Boulder area, he had some of the best rock climbers in the world as his mentors.

“I was just a 13-year-old kid and we were doing the hardest climbs in the area. It was quite an adventure,” he said.

Ament was born in Denver and was upset when his father took a non-teaching job at the University of Colorado.

But he soon learned to love Boulder and that’s when he stumbled into climbing.

By the mid-1960s he was doing some of the hardest free climbs in the nation, which included many in the Boulder area and California. In 1967, he made the famous El Capitan climb in Yosemite National Park.

His love of rock climbing, which he says should not be confused with mountaineering, eventually led to a writing career.

He has written a number of books and articles on climbing, and many of his essays and articles have been included in climbing anthologies. He also studied creative writing at CU.

“Your memory is enhanced by the flow of adrenaline,” he said. “When I was young, I was climbing all the time. I wrote the guide books because I remembered all the climbs.”

He said the appeal of climbing is that it merges the physical and the mental.

“It brings together all the aspects of the experience, both the mental and physical part of it,” he said. “There’s a beautiful synchronization of mind and body, and you’re outdoors where it’s beautiful.”

As an avid and skilled chess player he said climbing is like “a chess game in a way, but your body has to be totally awake.”

He developed countless friendships over the years through his rock climbing and he wrote biographies on some of his mentors.

He said he loves the individualized aspect of climbing in that it’s not a competition. But he was an competitor in high school where he was on the wrestling team, and in college where he was a gymnast.

But Ament says he’s more than just a rock climber.

“I’ve been a Renaissance man,” he said.

Currently he teaches karate for the city of Fruita and over the years, he’s been a poet, filmmaker, artist and musician.

He said that he’s been honored at the Telluride Film Festival is the past and was recently recognized in Utah with a lifetime achievement award for his impact on the rock climbing culture.

“It really means a lot,” Ament said about affecting the lives of climbers. “I get messages from people I’ve never met saying that my books have helped them.”

Now 67, Ament said he doesn’t rock climb much anymore. Shoulder trouble and nerve problems in his legs make it difficult.

He said he can only remember one significant injury — a broken wrist after a 15-foot fall.

“But two days later, I was out climbing again,” he said.

Ament moved to Fruita after he got married and started a family.

“I wanted to find a place that was family oriented and smaller,” he said.

His grandparents actually lived in Fruita for a short time after they immigrated to the United States from Russia.

Ament’s induction ceremony is at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Avalon Ballroom in Boulder


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