There are times in man’s existence that a life ends abruptly and we wonder what would have happened if the flame had burned a bit longer. This is the case with Zack Martin, a man who loved life and lived it to the fullest. Unfortunately, he died in a tragic car accident on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2002, just days before he would have celebrated his twenty-sixth birthday.
Zack was a gifted and published writer, a professional photographer, an accomplished mountaineer and a web site designer. He was a volunteer for under privileged children and an outstanding student at Colorado University. His work at the university so impressed university officials that he will be awarded a posthumous degree in Journalism in May of 2003.
Zack’s climbing résumé reads like an adventure novel. His playground was the world and included climbs in Spain, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Kazakhstan and just about every notable climbing area in the United States. A few of Zack’s most notable ascents include: (1) the first all American ascent of the Sphinx in Peru via a new route Via Gringos (VI 5.12 A3+); (2) the third ascent of Jim Donini’s Cobra Pillar in Alaska (V 5.11a C2) in a First Single-Push Ascent of 42 hours and (3) Khan Tengri (7,010 meters); and (4) North Englechek Glacier, Kazakhstan. Zack was going to be professionally sponsored in June 2003 by several companies including North Face, Patagonia, ABC and Ushba.
"His was a life lived brightly, his was a soul alive," commented one friend who dedicated a new climbing route at the Red Rocks of Las Vegas in memory of Zack. "The climb, like Zack, was never desperate, always fascinating, even intriguing…". A professor commented that "Zack was a catalyst, a sweet antagonist, a friend and a co-conspirator with everyone who entered his life."
One friend described how Zack attempted to save his life in Alaska. "Without concern for himself and risking death, Zack jumped on the crest of the avalanche and rode it down the mountain in an attempt to save my life. Zack was a hero."
Wherever he went, Zack quickly made a lot of friends. “He was driven to climb mountains and take great pictures,” said Rich Clark, former director of photography at National Geographic magazine. Clark met Zack at a photography seminar in Wyoming last fall. The week after Zack’s death Clark visited campus to speak about Zack to the photojournalism club. “Good pictures tell stories. Zack knew how to tell a story”.
Zack received climbing grants from many donors including the American Alpine Club. Last summer he was awarded the Anatoli Boukreev Memorial Scholarship that sent him to Kazakhstan, Russia, where he climbed, took photos and completed a research project on Soviet athletes who were affected by the fall of the Soviet Union.
So, in his honor we have established a memorial fund to allow others to shine brightly, as did Zack. Please send donations to: “The Zack Martin ‘Breaking Barriers’ Climbing Grant Fund” at the American Alpine Club, c/o Grant Donations, 710 10th St., Golden, CO 80401.
Also feel free to contact me, John Parsons “JP” at firstname.lastname@example.org