Remembering Mountaineer Marty Babare

With great sadness we share the news of the passing of Marty Babare, father, husband, climber, and 23-year Mountaineers member and Super Volunteer.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 15, 2020

With great sadness we share the news of the passing of Marty Babare, an active 23-year member of The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch. Marty was at his cabin in Hood Canal when he suffered a heart attack on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Multiple resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful. 

Marty joined The Mountaineers in 1997 and graduated from our Tacoma Basic Climbing course in 1998. He went on to graduate from Intermediate Climbing, and also completed additional courses in navigation, first aid, avalanche safety, and emergency decision making. 

Marty was quite an ambitious and accomplished climber. He climbed extensively in South America, the Himalaya, Squamish, Red Rocks, and Ouray. Having recently retired, he was always traveling somewhere and planning the next big expedition. Marty completed climbs throughout the Pacific Northwest, notably Mount Rainier (via the Kautz), Bonanza Peak, Lane Peak, Mt. Hood, Yellowjacket Tower, Chair Peak, Mt. Baker, Mt Stuart, and Mt. Shuksan, and, for his 60th birthday, he summited Rainier via Liberty Ridge.

MartyInSquamish.jpgMarty (right) climbing in Squamish on a Mountaineers trip.

MartyHimalaya.jpgMarty (right) climbing with friends in the Himalaya.

MartyRedRocks.jpgMarty (left) with friends in Red Rocks.


In 2009, Marty joined the Tacoma Climbing Committee and began volunteering to lead courses. He's taught hundreds of new climbers safety and climbing techniques, including leading courses on how top rope belay and lead belay, how to place rock protection, and crack climbing techniques. He's given thousands of hours in volunteer time, earning the designation of Super Volunteer in 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Marty was also a member of our Peak Society, dedicated youth volunteer, and active contributor as part of the Progressive Climbing Committee. 

"Marty was a great mentor to many young climbers and aspiring climb leaders, and was well-known for his patience and his desire to pass on knowledge to the next generation," said Sarah Holt, Tacoma Program Manager for The Mountaineers. "He was a stronger climber in his mid-60s than most of us are in our 30s, and was happy to take the sharp end on hard leads whenever the rest of us chickened out!  Marty deeply valued community and his primary focus as climbing chair was to build camaraderie among Mountaineers climbers."

Marty helped to usher in the new modular instruction intermediate, teaching trad climbing and alpine ice beginning last year.  He's also attended a number of Mountaineers Leadership Conferences, growing his wealth of knowledge to share with the Tacoma Mountaineers community. At the time of his passing, Marty was the Chair of the Tacoma Climbing Committee.  He was also serving on a number of subcommittees to support the intermediate climbing program.

"Marty's leadership in The Mountaineers went way beyond the hundreds of hours he invested in volunteering or his generosity as a Peak Society supporter," said Tom Vogl, CEO of The Mountaineers. "I was always impressed by Marty's willingness to help The Mountaineers and others be their best. I'll greatly miss Marty's wisdom and sense of humor and extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends."

Marty was well-loved by The Mountaineers community, in particular in the Tacoma Branch. Here are a few things Marty's students said about him:

  • Marty was very friendly and welcoming and able to meet all participants at their current level. He did a great job of creating a fun, supportive environment and taking individual experience and needs into account.
  • Marty was a great instructor. He knows the subject matter and has lots of experience. He was very helpful and supportive.
  • Marty was very approachable and down to earth. He had this quiet confidence that puts students at ease. He shared some of his climbing experiences so there was no doubt he was experienced. Marty ensured we learned the proper way to tie in and set up belay, check our partners, then allowed us to climb and belay. He was hands on at the start providing back up for the belay and once he saw the students had retained the info he allowed us to progress at our own pace taking turns in each position.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Marty's wife Evy, their two sons, his family and friends, and Marty's greater Mountaineers climbing community. Marty was active and healthy, and we are stunned by this sudden loss. He was a close friend and colleague to many of us, and we will be offering support to those impacted as our community processes the grief of this tragic loss.

Public Memorial

We will plan to announce a public memorial if/when it becomes appropriate to hold a day of celebration for Marty. In the meantime, we'd encourage you to leave a favorite memory or note for the family in the comments.

Main image: Photo of Marty (right) with his son Matt on Mt. Baker. Photo courtesy of the Babare family.


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Anita Elder
Anita Elder says:
Jun 15, 2020 07:27 PM

Condolences to his family and friends.

Danielle Graham
Danielle Graham says:
Jun 15, 2020 07:48 PM

Many condolences to Marty's family and to his Tacoma Mountaineers climbing friends. I met Marty through sport climbing, and my remembrance of him was his sense of humor and his excitement about his retirement plans.

Andrew Lee
Andrew Lee says:
Jun 15, 2020 08:15 PM

Thank you to Marty's family for sharing him with us over the years. His generosity and humor were infectious and he radiated a profound yet quiet confidence every teacher should aspire to. He has shaped generations of new climbers and we are all the better for it and all the more lucky to have learned from him.

Jeff Evans
Jeff Evans says:
Jun 15, 2020 09:32 PM

So shocked and sorry to hear this. I always looked forward to field trips or climbs that Marty was part of because he was fun to be around. I'll always remember his smile and appreciate how much he gave back to the Mountaineers.

Benjamin Brown
Benjamin Brown says:
Jun 16, 2020 07:24 AM

Marty was an inspiration in his work with the club, and in his climbing. He crushed in Red Rocks, acting as informal guide to our group of four-- and gamely dragging me up when I got spooked on a section I was supposed to lead. I will miss his advice, his support, his wisdom, his friendship.

Sara Ramsay
Sara Ramsay says:
Jun 16, 2020 11:39 AM

Marty was always a kind, friendly, and very welcoming presence at Tacoma events. I didn't work directly with him a ton, but I genuinely appreciated each interaction. The Mountaineers was lucky to have Marty as a part of our community. My deep condolences to the whole Babare family.

Richard Shaw
Richard Shaw says:
Jun 16, 2020 02:13 PM

Marty was a teacher, a mentor, a friend. I will miss our outings, our trips to the Grand Canyon and bagging peaks in the North West. Marty was a special person who will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to Marty's family.

Thomas Lawler
Thomas Lawler says:
Jun 17, 2020 11:48 AM

I'm sad and shocked to learn of his passing, though I didn't know him well he was a wonderful man, mentor, and friendly familiar face at the Tacoma Clubhouse.

Troy Mason
Troy Mason says:
Jun 17, 2020 02:28 PM

I’m heartbroken at his passing. Marty took me on my first ever rock climb, and since has been both a mentor and a friend. His passion and dedication were inspiring. This is such a loss for the climbing community, The Mountaineers, and especially the Tacoma Branch. He will be missed so very much.

Becca Polglase
Becca Polglase says:
Jun 17, 2020 09:49 PM

Marty was a passionate supporter of The Mountaineers, and someone I always looked forward to talking with. I remember at a climbing summit, he talked in great depth about the great experience he had helping our youth programs, and that he was committed to helping with them as much as possible, and that everyone should consider it because they are great programs. He was authentic, caring, fun, and generous. He will be deeply missed.

Deborah Legg
Deborah Legg says:
Jun 24, 2020 03:44 PM

As a Basic Climbing student back in early 2000, I remember being so impressed with Marty's teaching style and the passion he had for mountaineering. He was so kind, patient, knowledgeable and funny. I remember hanging on his every word. Then when I had graduated Basic and was then in the intermediate class, I enjoyed volunteering with him as I became a climb leader along with Marty for the new Basic Climbing students coming aboard. I greatly admired Marty for his mountaineering and leadership skills. The Mountaineers have lost a great one! Keep the wind in your face, Marty, and climb on!

Stephan Kleine
Stephan Kleine says:
Jun 24, 2020 08:15 PM

Well-loved indeed. I met Marty in 2003 or 2004. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Marty is his smile, often accompanied by a gleam in his eye. He was an asset for any event: in the clubhouse, at a field trip, or on a climb.

In 2010, as Tacoma Climbing Division Chair, he scored jackets from OR as service recognition gifts for various volunteers. I still have mine, and it has seen a lot of time in the mountains.