Vail Daily obituary: Brendan Olson |

Vail Daily obituary: Brendan Olson

For Brendan Olson, life brought him mountains to climb. Brendan died on Saturday after a fall from a rock climb in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. He was 47. Mountains brought Brendan a greater force in life. They posed profound questions for him and induced a spirit of adventure.

Brendan leaves behind his daughter, 15-year-old Camille, his son, 11-year-old Nicholas, wife Virginia Olson, of Minturn; parents Judy and Larry Olson, of Avon; as well as numerous friends in his extended Colorado family. Brendan also leaves behind his many loving relatives, including sister Heather and husband Tim Leonard, nieces Kayleigh, Hannah and Madeline, and nephew Joshua, of Franksville, Wisconsin; his uncle and aunt, Dick and Marti Corso, cousins Jennifer Terrell and Jason Corso, all from Illinois; his uncle, Ron Olson of Nevada; and brother-in-law, John Koenig, of New York; and nieces Jasmine and Justina, of Winchester, Virgina.

Brendan was known for taking people under his wing and sharing his love of the mountains. He was most happy while on some grand “Brendan adventure” with his family and friends. Brendan was an amazing skier and member of the Vail Ski Patrol. He was also a mountaineer with numerous ice and rock climbing ascents in Colorado and the desert Southwest. He climbed and summited Aconcagua (6.959 meters) in Argentina, the highest peak in the world outside of the mountains in the Himalayas, and last year, Brendan made a successful summit of Denali in Alaska.

Climbing to Brendan was a spiritual tradition. Ascending a beautiful crack climb up a desert tower symbolized to him life’s many challenges. He was also passionate about inspiring others to go for their best, no matter what the feat. He had an enormous heart (as his son says) and what many call his signature “Brendan bear hug.”

Brendan was born on April 3, 1968, in Iowa City, Iowa. His family moved to Orlando, Florida, in his youth, where he began elementary school. Even at a young age, his spirit of adventure led him to climbing classes in Estes Park and first place swimming awards while under the age of 10. At Oak Ridge High School, Brendan was a member of the school’s basketball team. He also attended the University of Central Florida, where he majored in political science.

People often say Brendan had a twinkle in his eye. That twinkle was as bright as ever when it came to his children. He was an amazing father; teaching Nicholas how to swim and Camille to climb. He was also a bit of a history buff, which he passed on to his son Nicholas. Camille inherited his sense of climbing and adventure. Jason, his cousin, wrote: “We have all lost one of the brightest shining lights amongst us. Brendan would light up a room wherever he went, and he knew how to put a smile on anyone’s face, whether it was his laugh or the fact that everyone he spoke to knew they were talking with someone who genuinely cared. We are all better people for having known him.”

A celebration of life memorial has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Little Beach Park in Minturn. Following the memorial, friends and family will gather at the Eagle River Inn in Minturn.

Because Brendan so loved to teach others, he would be honored to have underprivileged kids receive the opportunity to learn to rock climb. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations to please be made to the “Brendan Olson Climbing Scholarship Donation” at US Bank, P.O. Box 3219, Avon, CO 81620-3219.

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