Mountaineering Memories: Hap Holly

Categories: Adult Programs, Alumni Memories Tags: ,

From Opening Windows to God (©1999 and 2006)

Hap Holly | Hi Stampede camper 1969-70, Staff ’71-77

Editor’s note: Readers who don’t know Hap Holly may find his experiences all the more meaningful with the information that Hap came to camp all those years without the benefit of eyesight….

1970 – There were so many of us at the Hi Stampede from August 19-25 that both Round-Up and Sky Valley were used. Those residing at Round-Up enjoyed the use of a new in-ground swimming pool, and every evening we all met as a group in the newly-erected Wyly Lodge….

Mountaineer Hap Holly in the 1970s

I scaled my first mountain at A/U’s College Stampede that followed the August Hi Stampede mentioned above. Those not wishing to ascend Collegiate peaks such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, or Princeton, were given the option to go on so-called cake walks to Harvard Lakes or Brown’s cabin. I reluctantly signed up the night before the climb to abuse my big, fine body climbing Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak. It was a six-hour, nine-mile struggle that began far too early in the morning at around 8,500 feet at the bottom, ending at 14,432 feet on top. After lurching through boulder fields and sliding backwards through loose shale, nothing was as sweet as that orange, a chunk of cheese, and a brief rest in the rarefied air on Elbert’s summit. Then came a three-hour slide/run descent to a most wonderful spectacle – a waiting bus! How I enjoyed being awarded one of the first Cloud Sitter certificates later that week. Frankly, I would not have met the challenge of the ascent without a lot of verbal, physical, and metaphysical support from my fellow climbers, one of which was fellow Stampeder Todd Herzer.

Hap (white t-shirt) in 1970, taking a break

Elbert was one of four mountains I conquered between ’69 and ’77. The others included: Belford with its endless looping trail; Buffalo Peaks on which staff and Stampeders formed a human chain to help me through the rocky boulder field; Yale, whose switchbacks wore me to a frazzle. I tackled Antero, but pooped out below the saddle. While I’m glad I overcame self-imposed limitation on these five mountains, please don’t ask me to climb one again!

Hap with his instrument of choice, the accordion

Do you have a mountaineering memory you’d like to share? Send it to [email protected]. It may be published here in Zipline!


11 Responses to “Mountaineering Memories: Hap Holly”

  1. Rhonda

    Oh my! look at the 60’s/70’s photo above! The hair! Love it! Also very enjoyed Hap’s memory. What an inspiring journey he accomplished climbing 5 mountains! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Forrest Walpole

    Hap: how nice to learn that you spent some happy times at AU. My daughter, Sara, was actually married at AU, and her three daughters are enthusiastic alumni of the Camp. You are an inspiration! Your Dad and Mom would be so proud.

    • Hap Holly

      How fun to hear your family was involved in the A.U. ranches! You may recall that I met Stephanie there on July 6, 1975 when she was a camper and I…a counsellor! Oh, we behaved ourselves and were married a year later on August 28, 1976 in Escondido, CA. We’ll celebrate our 44th year this summer! You need to know we opted not to have kids; maybe that’s why so many happy years *wide smile*. Both of us are working at home until the imposed Social Distancing is lifted. Steph has worked as a billing clerk for a moving company in nearby Elk Grove Village, IL. for 25 years. Today I’m observing 20 years as an audio engineer and braille proofreader for Horizons for the Blind. We live in an 850-sq.ft brick house that has hot water heat in the floors and solar power that supposed to be turned on sometime this month. I retired from the music business a couple years ago but had my Alesis keyboard set up here in my 8×10 entertainment room until I had to replace it with a 6×3-foot table on which to do my home work, i.e. proof reading braille. I work for a transcription company that needs its braille transcriptions proofed. Just for grins I’m including a link to a recording of the trio I was in during the 80s. We were a dance-band trio. I was still playing electronic accordian similar to what I played at the ranches from 1969-1977. There are a couple of MP3 files that you can listen to…or sleep through..that you’ll need to download. Actually, I’ll send you a separate short note with the links in it as I’m concerned about the link I’m using to write you two may time out. Drop me a note. And if you have Google Maps in a smart phone, key in 964 s. 3rd Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60016 and you’ll see a satelite pic of our house. Hope this gets to you. Hugs from us both, Hap…and Stephanie

  3. Chip Horner

    Hap: You were my counselor in High Stampede 1973…lots of good memories for us boys from the East! You lived love and made camp a life memory, filled with happiness and closeness to God.

    • Hap Holly

      Well, Chip, 1973 was a year of discovery for me in which I got the inspiration from above to develop my NVP (Non Visual Perception) seminar. The inspiration came to me while I was in the basement of Valerie Lodge at Roundup sitting on somebody’s suitcase *smile*. NVP went on to be a major drawl for High Stampeeders in 1974-1977. The purpose of NVP was to help the high school kids to realize there was more to those of the opposite sex than what was on the surface. In fact, I met Stephanie in July, 1975 as she was in my first NVP class that summer. I had prayed before the first session started for God to lead me to a meaningful relationship. Well, I wasn’t impressed with Stephanie at first ‘glance’. However that changed through the week; we were married a year later in 1976. And gosh, we still are! We opted not to have kids so have a good time without them *grin*. That’s it for now.

  4. Bruce Holser

    Well Hapo, I well remember the climb up Belford and Oxford with you… One of my most memorable peak climbs–facing you in various directions for you to take photos with your camera that we later labeled back at camp on your braile machine so you could show others what you saw and experienced… And participating in your NVP seminars with all the kids! You truly opened my eyes to see things differently and I will always be grateful to you for our time at AU and Prin.

  5. Sharrie McNott (previosuly McNUTT (ugh), we enclosed the "U" to an "O"when moving back to CA in '76, thankfully.

    Dearest Hap, What a wonderful treat discovering your email regarding mountain climbing—good for you!!! Don’t think I could have done that at all–seriously!!! Marshall and * moved from Calif. in ’06 to Maryland to be near our daughter, Tammy (who will be 58 on Aug.29—I have always thought of YOU since you got married the day before through these long ago year, believe it or not! She has 3 adult kids & 2 (soon to be 3) grandkids—which makes US “great” grandparents. (We moved to Md. to be near her family, as they had our 3 grandchildren at the time still in school, so to enjoy many of their school programs, etc. Our son, David, is now 56 with a 16-year old son, Jacob. They still live in our former “hometown of 40-years, Claremont, CA—& David is a high school psychology teacher (& popular one!) there. He is divorced for MANY years & never re-married, so far. We’re in our 80’s now & still doing fine. MUCH LOVE to you & Stephanie. Our address is 19104 Brooke Grove Ct. Montgomery Village, Md 20886— & phone # 301/740-8024.

  6. Todd Herzer

    Hap, our memories together are too funny and too numerous to mention here. I still have the MP3 recording of that famous dinner at Gionellies (sp) during one of our rare night offs. I’m sure you recall it well including the other staff members who participate. Of course, it’s best that we don’t name names since many of the participants went on to noble careers in the CS world. One of my most memorable experiences was accompanying you as we peaked Mt. Elbert. What were we thinking! All the best to you, my friend.

  7. Deb Cox, previously Debbie Covic

    Hap, you were a real inspiration to me at the camps back in the day. I was on more than one climb with you. Now I raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind and have many visually impaired friends because of this volunteer work. I often tell people about your ability to know no boundaries. Best to you and Stephanie.

  8. Nancy Martin

    Oh Hap, how well I recall your joy and music! A fond memory of you was helping Caryl Emera Farkas and I work out a harmony part for Emmylou Harris’ Boulder to Birmingham. (We reconnected 40 years later and still love to sing together). Did you ever play with my dad Don Martin? He played piano but I don’t think he had his accordion there at the camps. You 2 together… Now that would’ve been iconic fun!

  9. Ron Lumley

    Hi Hap, I remember sitting next to you on the 28 hour bus trip from Pasadena to Buena Vista to attend the very first High Stampede. I remember stopping in Taos NM at around 4 am. You brought your accordion inside the lobby and some of us were doing the polka. You were such a special person during that week that you were invited back for the second High Stampede all expenses paid. I felt so proud of you and proud to be friends with you.


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