Remembering the man on the mountain

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 2, 2012

By Alfred Wilson
For the Salisbury Post
The first time I saw Lloyd Ramsey, he was taking pictures of the anchors I was tying at the top of one of the climbs on Pilot Mountain.
The Scouts were harnessing up, getting ready to climb using a top rope belay. He took several pictures of the webbing running over the rock. Later, when he came back by, he saw the canvas chaff guard between the rock and the webbing and commented, “That looks better.” The Scouts just looked at each other and asked, “Who was that man?”
On several occasions over the years, a Scout has been struggling to make a climb at Pilot Mountain and almost ready to give up when a voice from above would enthusiastically coax him to the next handhold, then the next foothold and on and up to the top. Lloyd knew every handhold, every crack and every crevice on Pilot Mountain, and he would willingly share that knowledge. I could sense that he got great satisfaction from seeing a youngster successfully climb a rock for the first time.
This spring was the last time I saw Lloyd on the mountain. We were top roped and climbing Any Major Dude. Several skilled climbers were next to us lead-climbing, using existing anchors. One of the climbers next to us was stumped about three fourths of the way up and ready to lower when a familiar voice came down from above: “Reach around to your right.” It was beautiful to watch Lloyd skillfully guide that climber to the top.
Every time I saw Lloyd, he was at the edge, leaning over to coax or give a hand up, standing over on a ledge to help someone tie in, or springing from rock to rock with camera in hand. It always made me nervous, and I always offered a safety line. He never took one.
When I heard on the news that an experienced hiker had fallen, I assumed it was Lloyd. The law of averages demanded it. I am sad he died while still so strong and full of vigor. I take consolation in knowing his spirit is on the mountain.
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Alfred Wilson lives in Salisbury and is scoutmaster of Troop 448.
Lloyd Ramsey, who lived in Winston-Salem, died Tuesday in a fall at Pilot Mountain State Park. The 70-year-old climber was highly regarded within the climbing and hiking community for his knowledge of the mountain and his enthusiasm for sharing that expertise with others.