Combat vet climber finds particular solace in Bears Ears

When the American Alpine Club put out a call to its members for letters about the values in the proposed Bears Ears National Monument, 251 Coloradans wrote in.

One of those Coloradans, Scott Partan of Avon, said he found comfort on the sheer rock walls of Indian Creek after two combat tours in Iraq.

Partan, a New Hampshire native who enlisted in the Army right out of high school, served two tours and then went to college in Georgia, where he graduated in three years.

“I didn’t have time to think and decompress,” Partan said.

Eventually he began to suffer from depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.

A friend introduced him to climbing in the White Mountains in New Hampshire and he found “a purpose and a mission.”

“I realized that climbing was kind of an answer,” Partan said. “It helped me deal with replacing the intensity of combat in a healthy way.”

In combat and in climbing, “You get a little scared and you have to have your ducks in a row and have your gear ready.”

An even better answer lay in the mountains of Colorado and eventually, the red-rock climbing in neighboring Utah, he said.

“Before I even touched the rock, I realized healing properties in the way the place felt,” Partan said.

Indian Creek, he said, “makes me feel like a normal person again.”


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