Noted climber Puryear lived his lofty dreams

In his valedictory speech at Toppenish High School's graduation ceremonies in 1991, Joe Puryear used climbing and mountains -- a world in which he already was quite familiar -- as a metaphor for achieving one's dreams, of setting goals and reaching them, one step at a time.

In the years since, Puryear lived out his dreams, becoming a world-renowned alpinist, climbing photographer and guidebook author, his mountain adventures sponsored by the makers of the gear he used.

He lived much of his life in the mountains. On Wednesday, at the age of 37, he died in the mountains.

While attempting a first ascent of a 24,170-foot peak called Labuche Kang in a remote region of Tibet, Puryear fell 1,500 feet to his death. He apparently fell through a cornice -- an overhanging snow ledge.

Soon after the announcement of Puryear's death, someone posted a farewell note on the expedition's website, climbtibet.blogspot. com.

"Joe, may you rest your body in the beauty you dare to seek," the poster wrote.