Headlines scream from every conceivable media outlet around the world. 11th climber dies on Mt. Everest this year! After briefly identifying the climber, the stock article quickly moves to more general issues of the numbers of climbers on the mountain and the cost of such a climb. Media commentary amps up controversy. Lost in the fog is the life of the individual.
So, let's burn off the fog and see the light of a life of passion. How do I know? Chris Kulish was my work colleague for 15 years, a fellow associate working his way to partner in the largest patent law firm anywhere near Colorado. He also was my friend.
|Chris Kulish after summiting Mt. Everest. (photo by Chris Kulish)|
This picture appears in print, broadcast and on-line media reports around the world.
Chris excelled in the rarified air of complex electrical engineering patent prosecution. If you're thinking that's pretty specialized, you are right. Very few individuals are capable of thoroughly understanding state of the art electrical engineering applications and then translating that technical know-how into the arcane world of patent prosecution. Even fewer do it well.
When Chris started with the firm in 1987, he immediately bolstered the promising electrical engineering patent practice. Through the 1990's, both Chris and the firm grew and prospered. However, the unrelenting workload eventually took its toll. Chris left in 2002 to seek an environment more conducive for carving out blocks of time to pursue his passion of climbing.
Although we rarely worked together directly, I enjoyed regularly talking with Chris. For example, the interplay between patent prosecution and litigation provided limitless questions for his inquisitive mind. Almost always, our discussions resulted in him offering a fresh insight that moved forward my analysis of a pending project.
While an exceptional patent lawyer, Chris was exceptionally passionate about climbing. All kinds of climbing. That's what he did. That's what he was about. That was him.
So, we never just talked about work. Sometimes, we didn't talk about work at all. Chris loved to share stories of climbing big mountains and big walls, such as Long's Peak in Colorado and El Capitan in California. He climbed as much as he could during those years, but yearned for time to pursue bigger peaks on longer expeditions in more exotic locales. I know that, due to work commitments, he reluctantly turned down several invitations to join friends on expeditions to the Himalayans.
But Chris kept at it. He kept climbing. He kept working to keep climbing. He lived a lifestyle to be able to keep climbing. He spent a lifetime climbing. He lived his passion.
Reaching the summit of Mt. Everest not only fulfilled a life long goal, it also propelled Chris onto a very short list of individuals who have climbed the highest peak on each of the Earth's seven continents. The commitment of time, energy, work and skill to accomplish such a feat is staggering. That's a lifetime living his passion. That's a life to celebrate.
Rest in peace, Chris.