In 1963, on a harrowing first ascent of the Diagonal Direct route on Longs Peak’s Diamond, a 20-year-old climber named Tex Bossier almost lost his life. Decades later, his son returned to the mighty mountain to pay tribute to his father’s life and spread his ashes in the place that made him feel the most alive.
Through the window of his restaurant Jack’s Bar & Grill in Arvada, Colorado, Jack Miller can’t break his gaze from a snow-capped Longs Peak towering in the distance. His eyes begin to mist over as a smile spreads across his face. He shares story after story of his father, Tex Bossier an extraordinary man who helped develop the sport of climbing as a teenager.
In the world of climbing, there are countless legends—superhumans, fearless adrenaline junkies and trailblazers. But in the beginning, climbing began with ordinary men and women with an extraordinary sense of adventure and strength. Tex Bossier was one of those climbers.
As a kid growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, Floyd Allen Texas “Tex” Bossier was known more for his wild hair, propensity for laughter and passion for the people around him rather than his ability to scramble up rock faces. At 17, in 1961, the curious climber made a name for himself as one-half of the duo that put up the Culp-Bossier route on Rocky Mountain National Park’s Hallet Peak—a Grade III, 5.8+ route, the most difficult of its kind at the time.
“These are the things about climbing and first ascent climbing. In specific, you carry on a language or a non-verbal conversation with the earth,” said Bossier in a transcript from Patagonia’s archives.
Having caught a case of wanderlust, the freeminded young climber landed in Boulder on the premise of attending the University of Colorado, but in reality, Bossier was looking to live out his childhood dreams of exploring the mountains and rugged landscapes that had leapt out from the TV screen and captivated him as kid. The mesmerizing pull of the Rocky Mountains proved magnetic, and soon Bossier was spending much of his time exploring the nooks and crannies of Rocky Mountain National Park, using nuts and bolts scavenged while he walked local train tracks as protection on exposed routes.
Bossier’s career almost came to an abrupt end in 1963 on a first ascent on Longs Peak, however.
“The ledge was very narrow, with the Diamond above you and that whole lower wall below,” recounted Bossier later for the book Climb: The History of Rock Climbing in Colorado. “[Layton]Kor nailed in a piton for a belay and said, ‘On belay.’ Crossing in his footsteps, I got about half way across when some of the snow gave way and I half fell over backwards. One leg stayed in the step. I was on my back with my head looking down the lower wall. The whole panorama of the face went by as I fell backwards.” He and Kor went on to complete the new route, Diagonal Direct (V+ 5.8 A4), which was not repeated for another 10 years.
The sport of climbing began too take off. Starting in the late 1950s, Bossier’s good friend and climbing partner Yvon Chouinard started selling handmade hard-iron pitons and later, less harmful hexagonals to the growing climbing community. In 1973, Bossier joined him one of the first sales reps of Chouinard Equipment, and later as Patagonia’s national sales manager. His passion for climbing and mountains was infectious, and soon he began guiding and teaching the sport to hundreds of new enthusiasts, including Phil Powers, now CEO of the American Alpine Club.
In 2015, at the age of 71, Tex Bossier lost a battle with cancer and passed away in Annecy, France—the country he had called home since moving to Chamonix in 1987 to help establish Patagonia’s European business. Longtime friends Yvon and Malinda Chouinard and the entire Patagonia community mourned in the only way they knew how to deal with the passing of someone who, to them, had been larger than life. They told stories and laughed.
In 2017, renowned climbers and friends of Bossier, Lynn Hill and Fred Knapp, fulfilled the climbing legend’s final wishes by hauling a portion of his ashes up the Culp-Bossier route on Hallet Peak. Another portion would be buried in Germany, and Bossier’s son, Miller, returned the rest of his father‘s remains to wind on Longs Peak.
“I know that’s where he is,“ says Jack Miller still telling those stories and looking out the window of Jack’s Bar & Grill with a grin so big, it’d be hard to miss—even from 14,259 feet.