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Honoring Walter Tishma

By: Kris Hazelton

Longs Peak legend, Walter Tishma was honored at Good Samaritan Society of Estes Park this week.
Nestled into a comfy chair, Walter greeted guests as they arrived and admired his collection of photos and newspaper articles about his extensive climbing history. On display were photographs and the trip logs of his various climbs, mostly of Longs Peak in RMNP. Walter Tishma, truly a man in a league of his own, logged an amazing 113 summits of Longs Peak and his friends and fans were on hand to honor the accomplishments of this great man.

A dear friend of Walter, Dale Vrabec, introduced the program and first showed a video made of this modest man, by Gerry Roach, a legendary climber himself.

Gerry asked Walter questions about his life history where we learned that this amazing man made his first climb to the summit of Longs Peak while on vacation here in 1974. He then retired and moved to Estes Park in 1988 and made most of his climbs to the top of Longs during his years of retirement. Tishma always had a love of the mountains and first learned to climb in the mountains of his homeland in Yugoslavia.

Walter told that his first trip up Longs was the most memorable, when everything he met along the way was new and exciting.

One of his most memorable climbs was with fellow RMNP Longs Peak Ranger, Jim Detterline, who is always on the quest to climb Longs Peak each and every month of the year. Tishma stated, “Jim came to me near the end of the year and he was one climb short for December…he wanted to climb Longs Peak on Christmas Eve. I did it with him and it was very memorable and enjoyable.”

Walter told how after he had successfully climbed Longs Peak 92 times, his desire to reach the top of Longs for the 100th time came earnestly and with the help of two of his friends, Duane (Shorty) Lankford’s wife, and a climbing friend from Venezuela, the three traveled to the summit of Longs for eight consecutive Saturdays to reach his goal of his 100th summit of Longs Peak.

As Gerry interviewed Walter, he poured out his many memories of his ascents of Longs Peak while performing exemplary civil service as a volunteer ranger at the Longs Peak Trailhead.

It was noted many times that most climbers who know Walter met him on the Longs Peak Trail. When he worked at the Longs Peak Ranger station, he spent ten percent of his time in the ranger building and ninety percent hiking on the trails, giving advice and encouragement to those seeking to summit Longs Peak.

When asked why Walter wanted to conquer Longs Peak so many times, instead of other various peaks in Colorado, he stated that he was always drawn to Longs, there is a certain charm about the mountain that kept him coming back. He said, “The Keyhole, the Ledges, the Homestretch, it just drew me back every time.”

When asked how he feels about all this attention being given to him, this man of great accomplishment, raises his hand with a big smile and a short wave and states matter of factly, “Whatever.” According to staff at Good Samaritan, that move is a classic, “Walter-ism.”
Walter is a great man who doesn’t feel the need to draw attention to himself, even though his accomplishments in life here in Estes Park and in his life as a young man in Yugoslavia are certainly successes to be recognized and remembered as the many who attended this program this week quickly learned.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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