Members of the Purdue climbing community are hosting an event to honor the life of Trever Col, a senior in the College of Engineering who died in a rappelling accident on Nov. 23.
Purdue Outing Club President Meghan Ciupak said a “Celebration of Life for Trever” will take place at the Córdova Recreational Sports Center today from 4-6 p.m. Col’s brother, sister and parents will join his close friends to share memories of his life.
Col was part of a POC expedition to Alabama with four other Purdue students when he fell over 200 feet to his death at Valhalla Cave, according to reporting from WLFI. A member of POC attributed his death to a phenomenon known as sudden accidental disconnect, where the rack attached to one’s harness temporarily opens the locked device, called a carabiner, which connects a climber to their rope.
About fifteen students convened at the climbing wall the day after the accident to mourn Col’s death and plan an event to celebrate his life. As Thanksgiving break loomed, friends of Col decided to wait until the week of Dec. 2 to formally commemorate the lost climber.
Traves Freeland, assistant director of Climbing and Challenge Education at Purdue, led discussion by acknowledging the difficulty of coping with such a tragedy. Those present debated whether Purdue Counseling and Psychological Services could be made more easily accessible in the short run before formal proceedings took place.
While all appeared somber, several students offered comfort through stories about Col’s personality.
“Trever was one of the most selfless people you’d ever meet,” said Jackie Ham, a student in the College of Liberal Arts who works at the climbing wall. “He’d go the extra mile for anyone.”
One student said the Purdue rock wall was a “second home” to Col, while the others agreed he had been a staple of their climbing experiences. The climbers vowed to dedicate a route up the 60-foot wall to him, joking that it would need to be extremely difficult to do his advanced skill level justice.
The room agreed to host the Celebration of Life as well as erect some sort of monument to the deceased climber near the rock wall. Alexey Serov, a student in the College of Engineering and friend of Col, began a group chat to encourage close friends to exchange anecdotes and provide emotional support to each other.
Freeland reminded students to maintain their support for one another throughout the coming weeks, with looming final exams threatening to exacerbate any negative stress being experienced by those afflicted.
“He’ll have impacted every single one of your lives, whether there is something physical to honor him or not,” an emotional Freeland told the room. “Trever was a good man. Share his memories, laugh, enjoy the times you spent with him.”