mountains

Meet the Host: Rich & Maryne

· 5 min read ·

I first met Maryne as a freshman at Boston University at the BU climbing wall. She was part of the scene at the rock wall in a way that I was so obviously not — as one of the supervisors at the rock wall, she belonged to the upper echelon of cool kids who partied together, hung out together, and rumor had it that they even climbed outside. Plus they knew how to pronounce her name, which I found to be intimidating.

It was with much surprise on my part, then, when my best friend and I were invited to her going away party our sophomore year — the only climbers from our grade that were invited. Something, somewhere had gone right. We trudged out to Summit Ave in Brookline — then, the absolute furthest point I had been from Comm Ave and BU’s campus — and somehow ended up walking Maryne back towards campus toward the party’s end. Maryne was going back to her homeland, France. I assumed I would never see her again.

After Maryne left the rock wall, there followed a drought in the social activities associated with climbers. I was studying abroad in Japan my junior year, and despite vying for a supervisor position at the rock wall, I was turned down in light of the fact that I would only be on campus for the fall semester. In returning from Japan for my senior year, it was with some surprise that I ran into Maryne at the rock wall! She was back to pursue a Masters with the BU Geography department, and in the nick of time.

Prior to school starting, I managed to snag the last space in a car bound for climbing in Rumney, NH with Rich and Maryne 1. It was my first time meeting Rich, and I was duly impressed by his already encyclopedic climbing knowledge. At the end of my senior year, Rich and I began working together at the rock wall as we stayed in Boston for the summer. We both got summer passes to the only climbing gym in the area at that time — Metrorock, in Everett — and it was on one of those blazing hot bike rides to Everett that Rich revealed that he and Maryne were dating! 2 It was one of those big reveals that had me grinning from ear to ear.

Fast forward two years and seemingly endless climbing trips later. 3 Rich and Maryne became the tip of the climber diaspora’s spear, leaving Boston in their Honda “Space” Odyssey, off on a rollicking year-long climbing trip (during which time I also got to visit them twice — my first two vacations from work)!

They eventually settled in Eugene, Oregon, but I continued to see them at least once a year for climbing “reunions.” These were somewhat infamously characterized by freezing camping conditions, punctured only by the 2015 reunion in Yosemite, which was for a “celebration of their marriage.” It was only when an astute friend had a revelation — that Rich & Maryne had already been secretly married — did we learn the truth behind that particular verbiage.

After telling Sheila so much about them, it was great to be able to introduce Sheila to Rich & Maryne, and their son (also Rich, but colloquially known as “Ocho” — the 8th of his line)! Without further ado, please read on for our Meet the Host:


What’s your favorite thing about where you live? Maryne & Rich: We love the access to great climbing, hiking and trail runs, the local organic farms and markets and fresh produce all year round, and that it’s so mild and green in the valley in winter, but cold and snowy in the mountains. Eugene isn’t a big, overwhelming city, but we still get good shows and interesting events. Portland and Bend are only about 2 hours away. Oh and the fact that blackberries are a weed, and they are EVERYWHERE. In the summer, you could pick more blackberries than you would ever know what to do with.

Teach us some local slang… Maryne and Rich:

  • ‘the columns’, our local climbing crag in downtown Eugene
  • ‘the butte’, our local hike up Spencer Butte in south Eugene
  • ‘the whit’, the Whiteaker neighborhood (where Meiji and Wandering Goat are) [excellent restaurants!]

Where is the best place you’ve traveled to?

  • Maryne: it’s hard to pick one place, but the high Sierra mountains in CA are a really special one for me
  • Rich: The desert southwest holds a special place in my heart and always has since I first traveled there as a child. Alaska is a place I first visited only a few years ago, but really blew me away.

What makes you laugh?

  • Maryne: telling stories and joking around with friends, preferably while snacking and warming up by a campfire after a day outside.
  • Rich: Doing silly things with Ocho.

What is your favorite meal of the day? What would you eat/drink during it?

  • Maryne: breakfast, because I’m usually so hungry by then and it’s a meal I always eat at home. Lately it often involves oats, kefir and GF sourdough bread, and when there is time my favorites are greens, eggs, breakfast burritos, nut and seed homemade bread, fermented veggies, lemon water and tea.
  • Rich: Lately I’ve been skipping breakfast and eating several small meals throughout the day, so dinner would have to be my favorite as it’s by far the biggest. Favorites include pasta, roasted veggies, tacos, or sandwiches!

Describe what it’s like to host Sheila & James in three words… Maryne and Rich: Fun, delicious, and relaxing

Maryne, Rich — thank you so much for your hospitality in Eugene and in Bend. Let’s make the next climbing reunion trip happen! Missing you and Ocho, we talk about him to Sheila’s cousins and niece every day here in Denver.

Ocho, Maryne, and Rich — hard to beat Ocho’s smile!
Ocho, Maryne, and Rich — hard to beat Ocho’s smile!
Ocho really loves his pouches
Ocho really loves his pouches
One of the many Kevins, Sean, myself and Rich on the summit of North Six Shooter in Utah. Maryne totally saved our lives by tracking us through the backcountry of Bears Ears National Monument to the talus base of North Six Shooter, arriving with snacks and water shortly before the sun set.
One of the many Kevins, Sean, myself and Rich on the summit of North Six Shooter in Utah. Maryne totally saved our lives by tracking us through the backcountry of Bears Ears National Monument to the talus base of North Six Shooter, arriving with snacks and water shortly before the sun set.
Visiting Rich & Maryne on a Joshua Tree climbing trip in 2012. This is a particularly great shot considering its location — right behind the showers in town!
Visiting Rich & Maryne on a Joshua Tree climbing trip in 2012. This is a particularly great shot considering its location — right behind the showers in town!
Shooting guns in Maine. Maryne remained cool, calm, and collected … unlike the rest of us!
Shooting guns in Maine. Maryne remained cool, calm, and collected … unlike the rest of us!

  1. My phone died while I was on the phone telling my parents where I was going for the weekend. There must have been some confusion as to my whereabouts, because when I returned from this long weekend trip, my dorm had contacted the Boston Police and my roommates apparently had feared for my life.

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  2. We were right before the Washington St underpass in Somerville; such was my shock that the location has been indelibly burned into my memory forever.

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  3. With the exception of the climbing trip to the Adirondacks which never happened — the first time because Rich woke up out of a dead sleep after we’d driven most of the way to Albany screaming “THE ROPES! WE FORGOT THE ROPES!” and the second time because I sprained both of my ankles in a single climbing session in Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire the day before Rich and I were going to leave. Sean, my best friend, carried me out of the park in a single go without resting — still probably the most impressive physical feat I’ve seen.

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Adventure travel blog by James Simone & Sheila Murray. Travel along with them on their backpacking trip(s) as they actively explore the American West, Europe and beyond:

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