ForeverMissed
Born    April 11, 1997, San Jose, California
Entered into Rest  Oct 29, 2019, Mammoth Lakes, California

New Route on Half Dome is The Xue Way

In lieu of flowers, Michelle’s family are raising money for the search and rescue team that found and recovered her. Thank you. 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memoriam-of-michelle-xue?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1

Posted by Elliott Becker on November 22, 2019
I met Michelle through a friend, and she rapidly became a part of a regular Wednesday night Moonboard crew. She was always so stoked, even if she had already climbed that morning. There have been lots of tributes to what a great climber Michelle was, but I think the great tragedy, to me, was what a great climber she was going to be. At our Moonboard sessions she was not the strongest climber there, but that wouldn't stop her from getting on the hardest problems anyone was working on. Seeing that kind of ambition and energy every day, I knew she was going to be so strong.

Reading all of these tributes I realize what a small fraction of Michelle I knew, that there was so much to her and her life. However even the small fraction I knew was a dramatically effervescent person.
Posted by Susan Jamison on November 19, 2019
Too few steps...Born unto this world, ones journey begins. Your path of life, unknown. Each step taken, was if she knew her stride was destined to reach far and wide. Michelle's love and zest for life had her on many trails, letting nothing stop her. she experienced more in her 22 years than others could fathom. Fitting that her journeys end was doing something that she loved. You'll be missed!
Posted by Guido Seddone on November 15, 2019
I met Michelle in DC at the climbing gym. We didn’t know each other very well but we shared some climb together. I’m really saddened to hear what happened, Michelle was a joyful and positive person always passing on a strong commitment towards one’s own goal, which is, I think, a true climber merit. In spite of this sadness, I consider myself lucky to have met her, I’ll remember her with very positive thoughts and I’ll bring with me the memory of her permanently. When I’m alone and I remember her it’s like she’s present, that’s maybe because she left something impressive. My thoughts go also to the family, very proved by this event, I hope that Michelle will show them the right path as usual. Next climb will be for Michelle.
Posted by Cassidy Burg on November 9, 2019
Last week, I lost one of my best friends. It took me a while to sit down and write this, and honestly I don’t feel ready to do so, but another part of me is desperate to at least try to put into words just a part of how much Michelle meant to me. 

I think for starters, there will never be another person in this life who loved puns as much as I do, and even more, could out-pun me with ease. Where I ran out, Michelle was just beginning. Most people simply tolerate the punny jokes I send them, Michelle honest to God LOVED them. She was in my phone for the entire time I knew her as “Meee Shell” based on a stupid joke I told her when we first met.

Michelle loved climbing, and when you have a friend that has found that passion, it is inspiring to be around. I distinctly remember the first time she invited me climbing. We were leaving school early after IQuest, and she had talked about it that day and I had shyly asked if I could join her. The answer was obvious “DUDE OF COURSE!”. I love the way Michelle talked, the overuse of dude and man and odd uses of other words were just classic Michelle. I have a picture after she made me climb 31 routes that is captioned, “we are not tired, just dormant”. That is not the right use of that word, but it doesn’t matter. Every time I eat baby carrots, I will think of her, because for some reason that was our signature snack. She always brought me baby carrots. We had some random discussion where we decided that the meaning of life was baby carrots, and baby carrots were made of chalk, the most important substance in the world. Does this make sense? Not at all. I don’t even remember how we arrived at this conclusion, but that was just how her mind worked. Nothing was off limits. No thought too bizarre, no action too crazy, she embraced everything and took it in stride. For example, I’d say it normally takes a certain level of time and kinship for me to bust out singing in the car, but with her there was no time to waste. From our very first drive together we jammed to those 2000 hits like it was nobody’s business. Her energy instantly put you at ease. 

Michelle came on our family white water rafting trip one year, and that trip holds some of my favorite memories. We had been friends for a while, but she really didn’t know my family, but that didn’t matter. She was instantly a part of it. I remember her randomly jumping out of the raft because she HAD to climb that rock. There were little holds put on the underside of a bridge and you bet she climbed it. It was one of those things that was wired into her DNA, and I love that about her. 

I always said Michelle was the friend I needed, she pushed me to do things I otherwise would not have. Everyone that knew her seems to have some story where she called you up and told you about the crazy spontaneous adventure that you were going on the next day, something absurd like a 1 day Half Dome trip... That’s right, we hiked Half Dome in one 24 hour period, and I never would have done that without her pushing me. We drove 4 hours, slept in the car for an hour, proceeded to try to find Alex by wandering around (with no cell signal) to nap in her yurt for a bit, got up at midnight, hiked until 6 am (getting lost for an hour at 3 am in the process), made it to the top of the cables for sunrise, had a dance party, hiked back down, and drove home. Mind you she drove both ways too. To this day it is easily one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I will forever have her to thank for that. 

When we did that hike, the day she picked me up she brought me one of the biggest burritos ever. She proceeded to carry her burrito all the way to the top specifically as a summit celebration. Unknown to Alex and myself, who had packed things like protein bars and trail mix and other light things, she also hauled up something like six apples, in case we each wanted two. She loved food and no memory of Michelle is complete without stopping at some little hole in the wall Mexican place. In almost every picture I have of her she is eating, or then pretending she isn’t eating in the next picture. But even when I was really watching my diet, she was the most accommodating person ever, finding the most awesome and unique places that still fit my needs. She always took care of her friends, even if it was often by trying to overfeed them.

But like I said, she pushed me. When I was going through a tough time and was very shut off from everyone, she was the only friend I saw that year, simply because telling her no wasn’t an option. We were to go on an adventure, end of story. The only two times I ever parallel parked in my life were with her, once in Berkeley and once in DC. A smart car pulled out in DC and she told me with great conviction that that was where I was about to park my Honda civic… they say we are only limited by our mind, and her mind was truly limitless. I never understood how she did it. It seemed like she hardly attended high school (too many adventures to be had!), and still had the best grades ever. She did so much, and still managed to be the leader of a million clubs AND wake up at 5 am to go to the gym. I have never met anyone that had her energy. For anyone that didn’t know her, she climbed in over twenty countries, half the time just as a solo traveler. She was truly one of the most incredible people I have ever met and here I am failing miserably trying to capture how amazing she was with words alone. 

She had no fear, everything was an adventure. I remember one time we went out paddle boarding and as we lay out in the middle of the bay, we realized that we had both read an article about lifeguard training being cancelled in Santa Cruz due to a great white shark sighting. Realizing this was only perhaps an hour swim or so from our seal-like paddleboards’ location, she started laughing, delighting in this possibility.

These are just a few of my favorite memories of her. She met so many people and touched so many lives, and I feel lucky to have been one of those people. She will live on forever in these memories. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

I try to find peace in the fact that she loved to climb so much, so I think if she had to go out early, that she was at least doing what she loved. I also hope with all my heart that she would think of it like Albus Dumbeldore who said, “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Michelle, I hope you are out there experiencing whatever that next great adventure is. Regardless of the different beliefs about the universe, I feel that maybe she was blessed with this energy for life because she didn’t get as much time, and had to fit in as much as she possibly could. I don’t think she ever wasted a day, and that is truly incredible. I think most people wish they could live like Michelle did. My heart breaks knowing I will never see her pop up on my caller ID, or that she will never again hack into my Google calendar to plan trips that she wouldn’t tell me about, but just wait and assume that if it was in my calendar that I was committed. I hope the memory of her saying “DUDE, you are like living your dream man, and that is AWESOME” will forever remind me to appreciate the moment I am in.

So in this way, I will let her memory and her spirit inspire and push me to do more than I normally would. I hope to let her love for food inspire me to cook more, her love for travel push me to make the drive that might just be out of my comfort zone, and to ALWAYS, climb that rock.

Michelle, we love you, and we will forever miss you.
Posted by Han Lu on November 9, 2019
I didn't have the fortune to know Michelle but share her love of the mountains and the outdoors. In a way all of us are connected physically and spiritually on this earth. Her life stories have certainly touched my life. Will carry a piece of her energy with me as I live everyday as a gift. 
Posted by Sharon Matthews on November 9, 2019
A complete tragedy and such a loss to all that new her. Michelle stayed with us a few days on her couple of visits to Queensland. Such a inspiring and beautiful young lady that was so full of life. She fitted into our family, helped with cooking and made an amazing guacamole. Always a smile on her face and ready for the next adventure. Michelle you are hugely missed by us and and will forever be fondly remembered. Our deepest condolences to her family and friends.
Posted by Wanda Williams on November 6, 2019
Rest in Peace Michelle.
Posted by Cade Hiebsch on November 5, 2019
Although I only knew her for a short time, I was blessed with Michelle as a roommate. My story is not one of conquering mountains, or traveling great distances as hers was, but we both started new jobs and the hectic post-university new beginnings at the same time. This is how she lived. Never before could I have realized the extent I would care for and respect someone so greatly, so fast. Even now as I write, my ears perk at the sound of passing vehicles, expectant still for this gear-clad adventurer to thunder up the stairs and announce her triumphant completion of another endeavor.  The deep chasm that has enveloped my soul and sent such a spiral of misery through my heart as to knock me to my knees, has been bested only by the memories of her vibrant spirit and her immense love of living this life to its utmost exploit. Only now do I realize the incalculable impact her presence reverberated throughout the globe (though I was not surprised). I hold fast to the gifts she bestowed upon those she strove to show grace and bestow her kind heart; and her love of adventure. 

I met Michelle for the first time in early August, 2019, and the only regret that I have is not meeting her sooner. Newcomers to the bustling hub of Los Angeles, Michelle, Thomas, Adam, and I, all armed with naught but eagerness, new professions, and a desire to dwell along the endless California beaches marked our intertwining destinies. Beginning merely as housemates, our kindred rapidly blossomed into a mutual feeling of family, safety, and respect; which was exactly what I needed as a green kid, who was born on the plains. Adventurers three, we men only dreamed of a good fee for our rooms and a view of the beach. It wasn’t until the arrival of our fourth, the adventurous Michelle, that our bonds fully morphed into a caring family. 

Michelle wasn’t one to introduce herself through normal means. I received a call one warm August night while she was completing her mountaineering spree in Canada, finishing up a world-wide trek of proportions that I’m still to this day attempting to wrap my head around. Recently graduating of university myself, we quickly discovered many similarities and a love of the outdoors. Being born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, she found humor in this wide eyed kid’s disbelief that every morning a short walk was all to take down to the beach. Or if one so desired to climb, climb you could throughout seemingly endless mountain peaks within an hour’s drive! That’s something never before had I known, and something that Michelle absolutely lived for. 

When we first spoke, she had “accidentally” called me after midnight. Perusing available apartments online, she had found our house in Manhattan Beach and “just felt like it was right.” With a view of the ocean, a wonderful beach, and within her preferred area (but mostly because it was close to the beach), she signed the lease almost immediately! Michelle was the kind of person who goes with their gut feeling, and never doubts a decision once made. Roommates already, Adam, Thomas, and I were able to meet her the night she moved in and share stories while in view of the bay, and it was like we’d known each other all our lives. The kind of person who you could meet in a day, and feel like you’d been friends with for years, her joy and energy profoundly impacted us from day one. 

Although she had traveled to more countries than any of us could name offhand, she never rubbed it in anyone’s face. Her many adventures were just cool things that she’d done, and she constantly encouraged those around her to “just get out there.” After being in LA for all of 2 days, she packed up and went climbing in Joshua Tree with some friends and was absolutely exhausted when she returned late Sunday evening; so of course she was up at 4:30am the next morning surfing. 

The night she returned I had cooked one of my favorite meals, beef and broccoli with basmati rice, for her and Adam, who had only been living with us for a couple weeks at the time. As a kind of welcome dinner (Thomas was out of town), we realized cooking was a love we shared as well. At last we were all stuffed to the brim…so of course she went back to the kitchen for seconds, and thirds, and then finished off the rest by pouring all the remaining rice into my wok and downing every last bit that was left; and then she made cookies. Amazed, I just sat back and watched while she exclaimed “don’t judge me, it’s just really good.” That night I began referring to her as my “Spirit Animal.” I had known her for all of a week, and was overwhelmed at how she would pursue something with every fiber of her body, for no other reason than a shrug, a smirk, and “It’s pretty cool, ya know?”

Over the days and weeks, we began cooking together and she showed me many of tips and tricks that she had learned from her mother; how to cook veggies quickly and full of flavor, what the best cooking wine was, our mutual love for Asian cuisine and Asian food markets, and how simple it can be to make a complete meal consisting of four or five different dishes all in about half an hour; although she usually overcooked the eggs. We became family. On the eve of her first company training in Washington DC, Adam and I stayed up with her watching “Stranger Things” till about 4:00am, with her flight leaving at 5:30 and she had yet to begin packing. “I’ve got TSA precheck, no problem.” She said as she threw her suitcase together…”I have plenty of time.” 

She had a way of seeing the little things, those small details that mean so much to a person, but are often overlooked. She would catch even my worst puns, and appreciated my “small town” humor and how I saw the world, usually with a slight eye roll, but always joyfully; her laughter and jovial attitude removing any unhappiness or gloom. 

She only knew how to encourage, and see the positives in a person. As we became closer, we realized the similarities in humor that we all shared. Adam, Michelle, and I would stay up for hours just talking about life, our hopes and dreams, and then we began making plans for trips that we were going to take together as a “family” in the spring; though after going on a 20 mile day hike up a mountain with her, Adam may have been slightly less enthusiastic about them.  Those seemingly easy “quick jaunts,” “short treks” and “single day activities” held so much more weight and challenge to us mere common folk than I could ever realize, and her boundless energy and uncanny stride would leave anyone not jogging in a wake of disappointment. 

Always bringing those whom she loved together, Michelle, her best friend Emily, Adam and I stayed up late together cracking jokes and laughing together for hours. We traveled together through LA, trying new and different restaurants, and foods that we’d never even heard of. She introduced us to new types of Sushi, Korean BBQ, Dim Sum, and something else she loved, red bean cakes. If you’ve never had one, try it. They’ll change your life. She laughed so hard at seeing Adam and I take our first bites of the…interesting delicacies…that she fell to the floor with laughter. Whilst awaiting for a reservation at an amazing Korean BBQ, we happened upon a French bakery and thusly pounced upon some innocent macarons. The simple memories are what I hold dearest, just enjoying each other company. Harshly then interrupted by the signal that our table was ready, off she trotted. If there was any doubt in my mind that the small stature of one Michelle Xue was held back by anything in this world, they were immediately dashed. Her speed and determination were unequaled, a sight to behold. Her three companions did all we could just to keep up, and failed. 

She constantly spoke of her family. Looking forward to an upcoming trip to Japan, she told us about her parents, and her brother. She would glow as she regaled tales of what they had done together, where they had traveled, and their accomplishments. Family was always near and dear to her heart.

Michelle was patient and kind. Throughout everything she had accomplished, everywhere she had gone, and all the amazing things that she had done, none of them got in the way of her sharing with our love of adventure (even if slightly less impressive). She taught me how to surf; patiently. And I mean patiently. Every time I made positive strides, she was just as excited as I was, but at the same time, she was encouraging when I fell or couldn’t hold onto a wave. Like a master instructor, she took the time to guide and explain the more difficult arts in detail.

There was never a sad moment. No matter if we were having a rough day, rough week, or just struggling with something, she cared. She would listen intently, offer a kind word, and talk it through with you.

She wasn’t perfect: She would use my bathroom without asking; and I would find her hair everywhere. 

She used up the last of my laundry detergent.

When she baked banana bread, many times it would overflow the bread pan and spill all over the oven; but I didn’t mind cleaning it up. Having found me cleaning the oven, with her affectionate smile she would offer to bake me more banana bread as payment. 

She took my parking place. In retribution I would park behind her and block her in…but looking back that wasn’t very smart, as she was often up before 5am going climbing, surfing, or to run before work, and she’d have to wake me up to move my car. 

She would eat my food, constantly. But I didn’t mind. I love strawberries, almost more than life itself; and I found out through much frustration, so does she. It was only after I had sliced them and placed them in the fridge for later that those forbidden fruits disappeared at an alarming rate. I began buying extra amounts of strawberries, and prepared more than I needed because I knew – some would go missing; besides, she made banana bread!

She made rules for the house, after cleaning the floor, no shoes were allowed anywhere except the front door; but when she would get home from a climbing expedition, she would track dirt all over the house.

When she was bored, or we were planning on going somewhere and I wasn’t ready yet, she would call me on my phone and complain, telling me to hurry up and get downstairs. In fact, she was definitely an attention junkie and didn’t like being left alone if she could help it. She was also thoughtful and gregarious – the life of the party, making sure that everyone felt welcome. I was woken up during many naps, “because it’s too late to be naptime, you won’t be able to sleep tonight, so get down here and hang out with me!” But I didn’t mind. In fact, I looked forward to those times the most. It was when we were all groggy, tired, and halfway delusional that we could be ourselves and relax. 

As we all grew in friendship and a mutual love for adventure, she became the mother of the group. We had community meals often, and one particular meal stands out. A full course meal consisting of pork loin, mashed potatoes, pan fried spinach, croissants, and brownies for desert. With a mutual love for cooking, Thomas, Adam, Michelle and I all pitched in together, laughing and cooking on a hot September night with not a care in the world. As our first true meal, Michelle and Adam had scored a table on craigslist earlier that day, it was now fully set and we dined like royals. With a view over our balcony of the ocean, it was truly a night to remember. Together we had been watching Stranger Things almost every night, one episode at a time. Quickly becoming a ritual, we all looked forward to it and continued to build a strong bond of family together. After work every night, we would come together with the days happenings and relax. We could talk about anything, and the air of community made our varying worries and fears subside. The first major move that not only I, but Adam as well, had made from our home states outward into the crazy world of professionalism, were made more worthwhile than I could ever have imagined.

Michelle loved climbing, cycling, surfing, running, basically anything exciting that you can think of, and could plan out an extended trip overnight. At the same time, she made you feel welcome and important. Some days she would just decide to take a trip and leave for a couple hours, only for you to find out that she had just hiked one of the most difficult trails in California, or that she’d just been climbing with some people she met at a party 4 years ago and happened to see at the grocery store, or had taken a detour to some unheard of rocks while catching up with some climbing buddies from Georgetown University, or was going to be meeting up with a random team who were going for a quick trek to somewhere she’d always wanted to go. Above all else though, I think that the things Michelle treasured most was her family and friends. Being raised by her parents to pursue what she loved, and to never doubt herself, she would speak lovingly of her mother, father, and brother; always with a glint in her eye and her face aglow. No matter what trip she was planning, or where she was going, seeing her family and catching up with friends was at the top of the list, and always on her mind. Michelle was the greatest part about moving to Los Angeles, and I never could have dreamed of meeting someone so inspiring, encouraging, and full of life. Though she was young at the age of 22, she had seen the world. Michelle was an old soul, and even through seeing pain and difficulty, only looked to the future with excitement and eagerness for the next adventure that life might hold. She was the kind of person that only comes along once in a thousand generations, but never counted herself above others and the memories I have of her I will carry with me wherever I go. As all Spirit Animals, Michelle is now free and will be pushing me to do more, be a better person, and never accept the status quo.  As much as I can ever do to emulate my Spirit Animal, I don’t think I will ever be able to match her walking speed.
Posted by Yule Show on November 6, 2019
I don't know you but I have a friend @gladys who is a friend of your parents. You are about the same generation as my daughter, what a pity. Even just one picture on the right top corner, I can feel you your energy and love, the love to nature and to the society. My wife and daughter are both nature lovers, my wife is a gardener and my daughter has dedicated herself to marine animals. I hope you can encourage them and more others. Thank you.
Yule Show, Pasadena, CA
Posted by Anne-Marie Lacaille on November 4, 2019
Despite Michelle and I being at the same company event a few weeks ago, I did not get the pleasure of meeting her. However, I heard of her for the two days of the event as she made quite an impression on all those she interacted with. 
Her energy and positive initiative seemed contagious. It has already set wheels in motion for empowered female leadership and for that, I will always be grateful for Michelle and her determination. 
She seemed like a wonderful person.
Posted by Ren Sola on November 3, 2019
When I worked with Michelle in high school, she was self-aware, passionate about climate action, creative, and had an age-less quality when engaging with everyone. Michelle was delightfully comfortable with herself pulling people toward her inner bright light. She was the inspiration for creating a sustainability assistant at the SunPower solar energy academy, as she was the first person I hired to fill this role. She impressed me so much that we asked her to be part of our solar academy video, still linked on our website. She continues to inspire us to be kinder, bolder and intentional with our lives. You are loved, Michelle. 
Renee Solari
Posted by Kathryn Morgan on November 3, 2019
I first met Michelle when she was 4 years old and both her family and my family were moving to our new homes next to each other on Talus Court.
She was such a cute little girl and so full of energy. A lot of energy!!

If I was outside working in the front yard she would come over to see if
she could help, always with a smile on her face. She and I did a number of things together. When she was older, I told her that I had used her to
practice being a grandmother. She would laugh, but it was true. I later had 4 grandsons of my own and have enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed her.

When she was old enough to work in the kitchen she was always bringing us amazing baked goods. I would ask her where she got the recipe and she would reply "the Internet but, I didn't follow the recipe exactly". She always added this or that but everything she made was really tasty.

Michelle and her Mom and I would always find time to get together to celebrate Birthdays and Christmas. It was always a good time to catch up on what Michelle was up to and what future adventures she had planned. 

She was wise beyond her years, beautiful, strong, talented, gracious and just plain amazing. I will miss her dearly.

IT IS NOT THE LENGTH OF LIFE, BUT THE DEPTH OF LIFE
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1883)
Posted by Trish Goldin on November 2, 2019
I was so fortunate to have Michelle as my student in French at Cal High. She was an extraordinary student and person, brimming with light and enthusiasm about learning and living life to the fullest. She was such a loving, caring soul and her loss is a true tragedy to everyone who knew her, and for those who will not get to know her. Adieu, Michelle. Que tu trouves toujours de belles montagnes.
Posted by Zack Sawyer on November 2, 2019
My memories of Michelle are brief, but they left an impression.

As I was leaving Georgetown, I helped with a climbing pre-orientation trip for incoming Freshman, which Michelle was on. I hung out with the group a little and as Michelle was quite advanced already, worked with her individually on anchors at Great Falls. She had a wonderfully open mind which had already allowed her to develop a wide breadth and depth of climbing knowledge. I was most impressed with the alacrity and love she pursued towards climbing's different aspects. I imagine this earnest devotion to the craft paralleled how she lived her entire life, certainly it sounds like, to her friends.

This is terribly sad and unsettling; we are much poorer for this too-early-end of her story. I hope her family and friends are able to find a cognitive route through this all. Kind and friendly people I have met are what makes my own life rich and I am grateful for Michelle adding a treasure to it. The world is better because she lived the way she did.
Posted by Christopher Koppl on November 2, 2019
I met Michelle last winter while ice climbing with my friend Vitaliy, and even before offering us a slice of homemade cake and cookies we instantly hit it off. She was also going to Patagonia, and we all ended up living together for almost two months that season.

Unfortunately, Michelle rolled an ankle on her second day there, so when Vitaliy and I needed a tent for an attempt to climb Cerro Torre she generously let us borrow hers. When I returned almost a week later in the middle of the night with frostbitten feet she was ready and waiting with a much needed delicious meal. From then on we became good friends while everyone else was off climbing.

Her enthusiasm and positivity were infectious. Cooking was one of her endless talents - she introduced me to kabocha squash (a total game-changer). I’m pretty sure she even taught Vitaliy how to cook eggs. Before “summer camp” was over, she took the time to paint each of her friends a personalized watercolor painting.

Always putting her friends first and bursting with energy to tackle any adventure or challenge, what a beautiful person! Michelle had many skills, but it’s a rare talent to bring out the best in everyone that you encounter. I’m so incredibly grateful for the time that we shared.
Posted by Katie Francis on November 2, 2019
My family loved Michelle so much. We know her from her attendance at my open houses at Georgetown University when I served as a Chaplain in Residence. She lit up the room with her smile, her voice, and her inspirational climbing stories. She was so good at welcoming everyone. We were always so thankful for her presence when she attended. My girls (Wren (7), Cedar (6), Ozette (3)) were mesmerized by her climbing stories and pictures. Before they met Michelle they didn't know girls could climb mountains. We are terribly sad to hear that she is gone, and our hearts are with her close friends and family.
Posted by Aaron Feigelman on November 2, 2019
Michelle and I met while working at a Sunpower solar science academy in 2016, and we had kept in contact ever since. We bonded over our mutual love for nature, and always spent our time together outdoors -- either through hiking or climbing. I've always been incredibly impressed by Michelle's thoughtful, optimistic perspective on life. Her emotional maturity and peaceful demeanor were so unique and so rare.

Michelle, I feel so privileged to have met you. You'll always be a source of inspiration to me.
Posted by Ludwig Mayerlen on November 1, 2019
I met Michelle in Hawai'i. We kept in contact and I visited her during my first trip to mainland. She was a very kind and wonderful person and an extremely passionate and strong climber. We shared a very memorable highlining trip to Yosemite. I remember her with best thoughts.
Posted by Ian Tier on November 1, 2019
She was a great person and a talented climber and I’m really glad I had a chance to get to know her through the WFR class in January 2019. She came and visited Hawaii and we hiked and surfed and her smile never faded. Thank you Michelle for getting me stoked on rock climbing and for pursuing your dreams, it inspired me quite a bit. So glad our paths crossed.
Posted by Libby B on November 1, 2019
Michelle was an amazing friend and an inspiration for us all. She always had ideas for new projects to pursue and places to see. Just this past summer, she reached out about planning a trip to travel together.

Michelle was by far one of the most uplifting and motivating people that I knew. Regardless of the situation, she always found an opportunity to be upbeat about the opportunities that life had provided us. I remember one time when we went on a retreat together and she convinced the group to go on a hike together early in the morning to enjoy all the nature around us. More recently, we were discussing our current situations. While I was complaining about work that I had to do, she pointed out the amazing learning opportunities that I had studying in a foreign country. Her contagious optimism and eagerness to explore the world will be greatly missed!! My heart is with her family and friends.

I miss you so so much Michelle!!
Posted by Regina Lyon on November 1, 2019
I first met Michelle when she was a student at Cal High where I teach, then eventually we worked together at REI, and I also knew her as a climbing partner. Michelle was a person who could light up a room. She had a contagious energy, and the uncanny ability to bring joy to any situation. I always wondered how she had the energy to fit so many things into any given day and not run out of steam. If adventure was there to be had, Michelle was there for it. She was the walking embodiment of what it meant to "live your dreams". Michelle was an inspiration to me, and I'm so grateful to have known her.
Posted by Philip Rogers on November 1, 2019
Michelle and I met on a 100 kilometer day hike from DC to Harpers Ferry in April 2016. We decided to partner up a couple miles in and I'm forever grateful for that day. On that hike I was incredibly impressed by her will, strength, and attitude. She had an engine that burned stronger than anyone I've met before. The important thing was that she was able to share this with others and help them become stronger. With her support during the hike, she made the last dozen miles possible. I will always remember her light and her fire and know that she has helped light so many other peoples lives and outdoor passions. All of us in the Georgetown climbing community are thankful for her and cherish the time we had with Michelle.
Posted by William Cannon on November 1, 2019
Michelle was my climbing partner and instantaneous friend. I think this was the case with everyone she met. We really bonded on an idiotic ice climbing adventure in late March which took us from DC to the Catskills and back in under 24 hours. While there was little climbable ice, the trail to it was buried in several feet of snow. Alex and I tortuously posthold our way in circles looking for a climb, only to look back and see teeny Michelle having to swim through our wake. In the end, we think we climbed up the snow covered ice route unknowingly during one of our many circles. Undeterred by our lack of climbing and our aerobically intense snow hike/swim, Michelle’s stoke level always stayed at 11. That contagious stoke and love for life, I’ll sorely miss.
Posted by Dennis Quinn on October 31, 2019
Michelle was one of my most favorite students in my decades at Georgetown. Vibrant, brilliant, creative. We have lost a wonderful person, someone with endless possibilities. Today is a sad day.
Posted by Scott Hodges on October 31, 2019
I had the opportunity to both teach and work with Michelle (at California High School and at SunPower). She was not only one of the most brilliant people I have ever had the opportunity to know but she was a tremendously caring person. There was never any arrogance about Michelle. She was amazing about checking in and cared so much for those around her. Her heart shone so very bright and touched so many people. There is a big hole in my own heart but I honor Michelle for her spirit, her perseverance, her dedication and above all, her humanity!

I miss you SO much Michelle!
Posted by Yetta Stein on October 31, 2019
Michelle was brilliant and bold. We climbed together in DC and when she was cruising through Montana this summer, she did not forget and made a detour so we could grab burritos, share stories, and catch up. Her spirit was like a fire that lit a room. I was supposed to climb with her in Red Rocks next week and I know I'll be missing her there especially. My entire heart is with her family and friends.
Posted by Alpenglow Expeditions on October 31, 2019
Michelle joined our team for a summer internship in 2018. Michelle was full of life and always looking for an adventure. She had an intense passion for the mountains and she would squeeze in an adventure into every spare moment of her time. She was eager, quick to learn, and she lived every day of her life fully. We were lucky to get to know her for that summer. She will be dearly missed by the team.

With love,
Maggie, Sean, Logan, Sam, Adrian, Aaron

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Elliott Becker on November 22, 2019
I met Michelle through a friend, and she rapidly became a part of a regular Wednesday night Moonboard crew. She was always so stoked, even if she had already climbed that morning. There have been lots of tributes to what a great climber Michelle was, but I think the great tragedy, to me, was what a great climber she was going to be. At our Moonboard sessions she was not the strongest climber there, but that wouldn't stop her from getting on the hardest problems anyone was working on. Seeing that kind of ambition and energy every day, I knew she was going to be so strong.

Reading all of these tributes I realize what a small fraction of Michelle I knew, that there was so much to her and her life. However even the small fraction I knew was a dramatically effervescent person.
Posted by Susan Jamison on November 19, 2019
Too few steps...Born unto this world, ones journey begins. Your path of life, unknown. Each step taken, was if she knew her stride was destined to reach far and wide. Michelle's love and zest for life had her on many trails, letting nothing stop her. she experienced more in her 22 years than others could fathom. Fitting that her journeys end was doing something that she loved. You'll be missed!
Posted by Guido Seddone on November 15, 2019
I met Michelle in DC at the climbing gym. We didn’t know each other very well but we shared some climb together. I’m really saddened to hear what happened, Michelle was a joyful and positive person always passing on a strong commitment towards one’s own goal, which is, I think, a true climber merit. In spite of this sadness, I consider myself lucky to have met her, I’ll remember her with very positive thoughts and I’ll bring with me the memory of her permanently. When I’m alone and I remember her it’s like she’s present, that’s maybe because she left something impressive. My thoughts go also to the family, very proved by this event, I hope that Michelle will show them the right path as usual. Next climb will be for Michelle.
her Life

Georgetown News 11/1/19

Dear Members of the Georgetown Community:
With a heavy heart, we write today to share the sad news that recent graduate Michelle Xue (B‘19) tragically died from injuries sustained while climbing Red Slate Mountain in Mono County, California this past weekend.  
Michelle graduated with a major in Operations Information Management and a minor in Economics. At Georgetown, she was President of the Buddhist Meditation Sangha, served on the board of the Georgetown University Public Real Estate Fund, and participated as a Global Business Fellows for the McDonough School of Business and Walsh School of Foreign Service. She was also very involved in Campus Ministry. Michelle was a Bay Area native and an experienced climber, leading as safety captain of the university’s rock climbing team. This past September, she joined RealTerm in Los Angeles as an acquisitions analyst.
Her advising dean in McDonough, Daniel Minot, fondly remembers Michelle as an incredibly adventurous spirit whose zest for life, travel, and the outdoors was truly inspiring: “I was struck by Michelle’s passion for exploring the world, her spontaneity, and her determination to pursue new experiences and diverse perspectives, while always pushing herself out of her comfort zone. Through her participation in the Global Business Fellows program, the McDonough Peer Ambassador and Leadership program, and numerous other activities across campus, Michelle left a lasting mark on McDonough and the Georgetown community.”
Professor Ricardo Ernst of the McDonough School of Business recalled Michelle as a “genuine, spontaneous, and extraordinary student whose insights and reflections were intelligent, clever and timely.” She enriched her classmates’ experiences and enhanced dialogue both in and out of the classroom. Rosaelena O’Neil, deputy director and program counselor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service, remembers Michelle as a “brilliant and engaging young woman that had a warm and generous spirit.” As a member of the Global Business Fellows program, “Michelle embraced all the opportunities offered her with gratitude and enthusiasm. We will miss her and will always treasure her memory and contributions to campus.”
Director of Dharmic Life Brahmachari Sharan taught Michelle in Problem of God. “I witnessed Michelle's various interests on campus, and she treated all of them - from Global Business Fellows to Rock Climbing and numerous others - very seriously. She invested thought and time in them, making meaningful contributions to their development,” recalls Sharan. “ In one of the initial meetings we had, she spoke about the beauty of the outdoors, and the feeling of true freedom, saying that the meditation she practiced and the liberation of immersing herself in nature were, for her, one and the same. Whilst she will be remembered for the myriad ways in which she enriched the lives of her friends and colleagues, I will also remember the fact that it was her commitment to the Buddhist community, even though she considered herself very new to the depth of the teachings, that inspired so many of her peers to give their own spiritual journeys a little more thought.”
We realize how difficult this news is for members of our community, particularly as this follows the loss of two other recent graduates just last month. The University is in touch with Michelle’s family and are offering any support we can provide at this difficult time. The Office of Campus Ministry is available to all students during business hours by calling (202) 687-4300. After business hours, students who live in university-owned housing can reach out to the RA on Duty if they wish to speak with a Residential Minister, and students who live off-campus can contact GUPD to speak with a Residential Minister.
To schedule an appointment with CAPS (Counseling and Psychiatric Services), students may call (202) 687-6985 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. In the event of an urgent need after hours, call (202) 444-7243 and ask for the CAPS clinician on call. The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) can provide free confidential counseling and referral services to faculty, AAPs and staff. For more information, visit http://hr.georgetown.edu/fsap or call (202) 687-2396.

We will share news of a memorial service when it becomes available, and we encourage students, faculty and staff to reach out to one another for support.
Please keep Michelle and her family and friends in your thoughts.
Sincerely,
Julia Farr
Executive Director, Georgetown University Alumni Association
Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., Ph.D.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry

Michelle's life told by Remi at service

 To briefly reflect on Michelle’s life, as a child, she was incredibly active. Born on April 11, 1997, her mother affectionately described her as, as I’ve tactfully translated from Chinese, a “handful.” She always wanted to be doing something or trying something new, part of her innate drive that she carried with her all her life. My mom remembers when Michelle came to stay with us for a while when she was younger and putting on some children’s cartoons for her; a few minutes later she found my mom saying, “I’m bored,” and later wondered to her own mother, why did Stephen like watching TV so much.

Michelle was also wise beyond her years - well, perhaps not when she told her mom, “Mommy, I don’t need to work because money falls from trees,” but she grew out of that faster than most as well. Always interested in doing things before she was supposed to, she understood instinctively what was truly important in life, and that maturity both drew people to her and inspired them to trust her. In her first job at the local DQ at the young age of 14, she was trusted with closing up shop all by herself, including the cash register, and she took that responsibility seriously.

She applied that same work ethic to her studies. In high school, she balanced studies and extracurriculars, all the while researching colleges on her own, applying to Georgetown, and getting accepted. After arriving at Georgetown, her life was a tour de force in the college experience. She participated in almost too many student clubs to name, including leading a good number of them, served as a Global Business Fellow in a joint program between the business school and the school of foreign service, worked multiple jobs and internships, and managed to graduate a semester early with a major in Operations Information Management and a minor in Economics. In order to achieve this feat, while other students were out late partying, Michelle often went to bed early, sometimes as early as 8 - 9 PM, and woke up at 4 AM to go to the gym and do homework, before heading out on the next trip or excursion she had planned for that day.

Speaking of trips, no discussion of Michelle’s life would be complete without mentioning her deep and enduring love for the outdoors. Always an active person, Michelle’s love for the mountains and the oceans evolved into a lifelong passion in her late high school years. At 16, she promptly got her driver’s license and began exploring all of the local trails and natural wonders. Her climbing journey began in earnest around then as well, after she broke her back trying to do parkour stunts. In the most Michelle way possible, she reflected on that experience and took it as a sign to never give up, challenging herself to experience even more of the world. Her outdoors adventures ended up taking her to 23 different countries, including an extended solo trip in between graduating college and starting her new job as an Acquisitions Analyst at Realterm in September.

And finally, while Michelle established a vast network of friends throughout the climbing community, I have no doubt that she would have been able to connect with them even if she wasn’t a climber herself because of her most important characteristic: she loved and gave of herself freely. Starting with baking for her classmates as a child, Michelle loved to feed and give to all of her friends; cooking, naturally, also became a lifelong interest. Everything she loved, she wanted to share with her loved ones, even if that meant surprising them with a long hike on a family vacation. Michelle loved people, and it showed in the little things she did - keeping in touch with friends across the country, bringing them back gifts from her travels, and always remembering family birthdays. Michelle loved deeply, and was loved, in return.

I hope that I’ve been able to give you a small glimpse of the amazing person that was Michelle. I’m sure that you all have your own experiences and memories with her as well, and I hope that you can recall them fondly. I hope that you can remember her smiling, as she always was. And most importantly, after you’ve taken the time to grieve, I hope that you can find the courage to go out and live your best life, because that’s what Michelle would have wanted. I’ll leave you with these words from the late senator, Ted Kennedy, that I think Michelle would have liked, “As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved ones would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us.” Thank you.


My life is not same again

My Name is Tony Xue, Michelle’s father.

Last Tue 10/30th is the most saddest day in my life.Our beloved daughter Michelle didn’t survive from ice climbing accident, I can’t stop crying since that moment. As days goes by, me and wife start to hear more and more stories about Michelle. Each story is touching; gives us comfort, make us proud of our daughter and her achievements.

Here is our side of Michelle story .

Michelle enjoys food and people
 Our Michelle was born 22 years ago in Apr, 1997.We gave her a Chinese name “美悦”, meaning beautiful and happy. We wish her beautiful and happy through her life time. Michelle likes to eat when she is little.
At less than 1 yr old, she is telling family “吃饭了吃饭了” (come to eat, come to eat) at dinner time. I think her leadership skill starts from there. 
 Start at Elementary school, she likes to bake brownies / cookies and bring to school on every occasions. Friends and teaches like her food, Michelle loves her contributions to the team. Her cooking skill is getting better and better over the time, she was selected as president of cooking club in Georgetown.Michelle likes to make others happy.At our home, she is the person remember everyone’s birthday and events. Each xmas gathering, she is always counting people in advance , make sure everyone gets something at the special day. She brings joy to the family at holidays.

Michelle is hard working
Michelle started her 1st job in neighborhood dairy queen when she was only 14yrs old.She enjoyed the work; and the owner likes her. In a short while, she was trusted to manage the shop at closing time. Since then, work and study becomes her normal life style. During a time, other kids are sleeping and play games, Michelle isstudy.When flight with Michelle to Europe or Asia,she is the only person continuing study in the plane. As parent, it’s painful sometimes to see your child study that hard.At Cal-high school, she got injured very badly; had to stay in hospital for more than 1 week. She arranged with school to bring homework there every day. She finished most of homework while in hospital. The Hard work paid off, at Cal-high, she was selected as CSF President; DECA President. she was accepted by Georgetown Univ McDonough business school.At the Georgetown Univ., she was so excited to get into business fellowship program/Peer Ambassador and leadership program, so she can travel and meet with more people. Michelle knows how to balance study, work and life. In her short carrier, she worked for atleast 10 companies; worked as sales, as marketing, as financial analyst. The work at REI brought a lot of joy and sports knowledge to her, and we enjoyed receiving many sports gifts from her.
  1. Diary Queen (sales)
  2. REI (sales)
  3. The North Face (sales
  4. Carylane (marketing)
  5. Fleisher Group (marketing)
  6. SunPower (intern, teaching students about power)
  7. ProTrakr. (intern, social media marketing)
  8. Tokio Marin Holdings (intern, database, steramline process)
  9. Edens (analyst)
  10. Realterm (analyst for aquisition)
Michelle loves mountain, nature and the world
 On her 16th birthday, Michelle got her driving license. That was the happiest moment in her life. After that, her life changed. She goes to Gym around 5AM every morning before going to school.At weekend, she loves hiking around bay area mountains.Mt. Diablo, Mission Peak was her favorite at that time..
 My wife and I both grow up in cities, we are afraid of mountains. I remember we tried everything to convince her not going to Mountains. That didn’t seem to make any difference. On the contrary, she gets into Rock climbing, ice climbing and beyond. Living with Michelle, I feel Nature is calling her whenever there is spare time. She often goes climbing next morning after long international travel. She got injured many times. But she never gives up. As soon as injury recovers about 80%,she goes back climbing again.Her determination to nature is something we can’t and would never understand. Michelle knows our feelings. She takes us to nature every time she comes back home from dc, together we hiked upper Yosemite Fall, hike to see snow during summer, nature hot spring, along beaches. As time goes by, we start to understand her passion and realize her passion to nature is not something we can stop. Her passion to nature goes beyond California, she loves all natures in the world.
 In her short life, she visited many many mountains in over 23 countries. She went to Patagonia for three weeks all by herself. Also by herself, she went to Nepal to visit base camp of Himalayas (Nepal). It’s hard for us to see my girl go travel by herself. Michelle has amazing ability to make friends, she made a lot of friends everywhere she goes. Each time, hearing she made new friends, make us happy.She visited so many places; what she always tell us is that Yosemite / Sierra Mountain range is the best place in the world.

  1. Argentina (Patagonia)
  2. Australia
  3. Bolivia
  4. Canada
  5. China
  6. Costa Rica
  7. France
  8. Iceland
  9. Indonesia
  10. Italy
  11. Japan
  12. Korea
  13. Mexico
  14. Morocco
  15. Nepal
  16. New Zealand + Papua New Guinea)
  17. Peru
  18. Portugal
  19. Switzerland
  20. Spain
  21. Thailand
  22. UK
  23. USA
Closing
Here is something amazing. When Michelle’s body comes back from rescuer helicopter, to my surprise, her face doesn’t look sad at all; it actually has a little smile on her face. Her little smile gives us comfort; we know Michelle left us in good spirit. If our beautiful and happy girl is here today, she would say “don’t worry about me, go Live Your DREAM”. Thank you, Michelle, you make us proud !

Recent stories
Shared by Garrett LeRoy on November 12, 2019
I am overwhelmingly saddened by Michelle's absence. Grief is unpredictable and difficult, with feelings of anguish, sorrow, despair. One feeling that has been constant for me, however, is a deep sense of gratitude. As sad as I am to learn of Michelle's passing, I am incredibly lucky and privileged to have known Michelle at all. Like so many others, Michelle taught me many things in our short time together. The way she pursued her passions was, and will continue to be, a model after which I strive to live my own life. 

This summer, I was lucky enough to be a stop on her post-graduation tour. We climbed the Grand Teton via the full exum with goals of a grandstand traverse, and due to our unfamiliarity with the area, some bad weather, and undeniably, our ambition, we spent a total of 36 nonstop hours on the mountain together. I went all of college without pulling any all-nighters, and together, Michelle and I pulled two consecutively. From reading the other stories, I've noticed a pattern: Michelle would get so excited before big objectives that sleep was never a concern, and often, she'd reason that "We're not going to sleep well anyway, let's just start tonight!" Despite that undeniably being one of the most physically enduring experiences I've ever had, it also ranks among the most fun and most memorable. Michelle knew how to get serious, and we had to a couple of times, but she was laughing and cracking jokes 98% of the trip. I had a smile plastered on my face, even as we suffered together. Afterwords, we ate multiple plates of Mexican food, slept for 18 hours, and ate another round of hole-in-the-wall Mexican food. 

In DC, we had a tradition of getting Korean BBQ on snow days. We both didn't like sitting still, so obviously, when the weather isn't good for much of anything, we would commiserate by eating some really good food. And lots of it. I enjoyed these meals as much as I enjoyed our outings, she was a wonderfully intelligent and fascinating person, and conversing with her was a joy. I remember one particularly snowy day, we drove an hour to eat Korean bbq, and afterwords, she turns to me and says: "so, I'm not hungry now, but I will be when we get back. Wanna make coffee cake?" 

Michelle continually pushed me to be the best version of my self. She just had that effect on you, y'know? Here was a woman pushing herself to continually one-up herself and having the best time doing it, it was almost impossible not to follow suit. She was the epitome of leading by example. I am so honored and blessed to have spent time in the light that she was, and I take comfort in seeing that so many people were touched by her as well. I am privileged to help carry on her legacy, even if that is simply by trying to live the best life I can while positively affecting as many people as I can. I miss you Michelle. My heart goes out to the Xue family. Thank you for the light that was Michelle. 

And finally: Thank you, Michelle.
Shared by Joelle Victoriano on November 7, 2019
I’ve been Michelle’s best friend since we were in second grade. From the day we shared our snacks during recess at Neil Armstrong Elementary School, Michelle has been the sister I never had and one of the most influential and best people in my life.

She was a loving daughter and sister; a generous and thoughtful friend; a talented climber, fearless adventurer, and citizen of the world; a lover of puns, memes, and all things silly; an exceedingly impressive, well-rounded, beautiful, and enigmatic woman; and a joy and inspiration to everyone who has the pleasure of meeting and knowing her.

Ever since she was a kid, Michelle’s thirst for knowledge and curiosity for the world encouraged those around her to be the same. She was so eclectic and all-encompassing, with a wide breadth and depth of knowledge across disciplines from science to politics to the arts. I remember as kids during sleepovers, we would forgo our beds to create makeshift mattresses from stuffed animals and blankets, staying up well past our bedtime watching “Psych”, “Mythbusters”, and anything on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel. We would keep the volume to be barely audible and stiffle our giggles so as to not alert our parents of our late-night shenanigans and snacking.

Michelle loved food. She loved to cook, bake, and experiment with recipes. She loved all kinds of cuisine, savored each new combination then unknown to her pallette, and share of her discoveries with friends and family. A stellar gift-giver and lover of quality time, Michelle never failed to make her loved ones feel special and appreciated through her goodies and shared meals.

No matter what she put her mind to she seemed to unnaturally excel at everything—whether it be climbing, skiing, tennis, or weightlifting; or painting, piano, and fashion; or MUN, DECA, and all her other student org’s at Cal High; and her many more while at Georgetown. It was more than just raw talent; it was the efforts she devoted to her various passions. Michelle always knew how to work hard and play hard.

Michelle did a million things, 24/7, pushing herself throughout elementary, middle, and high school to do everything she could. Many of you may remember her illegally working at Dairy Queen for a bit during high school even though she didn’t have a work permit. I actually remember when we were twelve and would go to DQ in the summer, she turned to me one day with the usual conviction and that glint of excited craze in her eyes and said, “Joelle, I’m gonna work here soon. I’m tight with the owner since I come here so often.” And I asked her why she would even want a job right now or at all; to which she replied, “Well, we’re gonna have to at some point, so why not start early?”. I laughed because Michelle was always trying to grow up so fast—but maybe that wasn’t so bad. I think she knew that once she got to that point of independence and freedom that nothing could stop her from doing all that she wanted—and she was right. Anyways, she did end up working there a couple years later and I was gifted with lots of free ice cream.

She was the same, if not more busy in college: being a full-time student as well as the America Alpine Club DC University chair, on the board for the Buddhist Meditation and Quaker Meditation groups, the Cooking Club, GU Club Climbing, GU Public Real Estate Fund, and other business org’s; as well as working or interning for North Face, REI, Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund, Alpenglow Expeditions, several private equity shops, and many more—seriously, just check out her monster of a LinkedIn page. It’s funny because even with all that, she still always made time for her studies and climbing, AND somehow visited me in San Diego several times a year. In fact, on one of her visits in 2017, she brought her college roommate Emily, and I took them and my roommate to La Jolla shores for a regular beach day. We happened to meet a random surfer named Bill and his family, who had set up a bunch of boards and wetsuits on the beach and was offering to teach people how to surf for free! I already knew how, but Michelle was more green, so we set out on the water with our newfound friend and surfed for hours. After that, I think she caught the surfing bug and was soon buying her own boards and adding yet another skill and passion to her life. It’s funny because when I think back to this visit, I remember that I saw her more often than some of my San Diego friends during her time at Gerogetown. She would come into my life like a whirlwind, upending my routine in the best way and gracing me and my friends with her presence.

Post-grad allowed her the freedom to devote all her time and energy to her number one passion: climbing, She was actually introduced to it earlier her senior year of high school by another best friend Alex Tran. I actually remember a conversation we had in Mrs. Heagle’s AP Lit class where Michelle raved about how much fun she had and how addicting the sport was becoming to her, all while happily typing away on her laptop in the middle of our socratic circle. Mind you, we didn’t use laptops at Cal High. That was just Michelle being Michelle. She was the only one with the audacity to use a laptop in class when phones weren’t even allowed. She was just too cool for everyone—and the teachers lovingly accepted defeat. :) During her approximately sixth-month trip around the world, she kept a travel blog that I encourage everyone to go through. There she details her amazing travels, climbs, and memories with newfound friends in Australia, Spain, Bali, Morocco, France, Nepal, Thailand, China, Japan, and across the U.S. At our catch-up dinners, she would fill me in on all the cool people she met, those who changed her life, and those whose lives I’m sure were also changed by Michelle.

Michelle explored the world with confidence, grace, wisdom beyond her years, and a perfect mix of chaotic energy and boundless joy. She had a profound and positive effect on every person with whom she came in contact, leaving a lasting impression of equal parts bewilderment and admiration for such a unique human being. She genuinely enjoyed life and all its pleasures. I can say that she was already like this before she broke her back in high school, but it would be remiss of me to write off what a huge impact it had on her. She could have allowed the accident to scare her away from doing anything fun, physical, or risky. But she was so resilient and oddly calm about the whole process, always with a smile on her face—Hakuna Matata personified completely by the image of her in her back brace, still stunning and surrounded by her friends for prom.

I know in my heart that Michelle knew that I loved her very much, that she was loved deeply and by many. She was very appreciative of everything and everyone in her life and in the world. Michelle was intimately aware of the fragility of life, but also its spontaneity, grandeur, and subtleties, so she lived each moment like it was truly her last and cherished each and every person and passion.

Michelle would want us to celebrate her life and life itself; and to live our lives to the fullest degree; to love not only our friends and family, but also those not yet familiar to us; to take risks and pursue what we love; and to get that extra slice of pie and share it with others.

So thank you Michelle for being my best friend and sister, for being that and more to others as well, and leaving the world and its people so much better off than when they were before they met you. We will miss you dearly, but we will never stop loving you and you will always be with us, for the rest of our lives and beyond.
Shared by Artem Vasilyev on November 5, 2019
It’s hard to write about Michelle. I apologize if this is tangential or disorganized. I had originally met her several years ago as an intern in New York City, through a facebook post looking for a gym partner. She responded and we linked up for a session of trying hard. We showed up to the gym at 6am and immediately started punting. She gave a good belay and was unusually high energy; this is rare enough in a climbing partner that I made it a point to connect again. That summer was a rough one for her. We both were working in finance, but the work culture at her sovereign wealth fund required weekend work and late nights in the office. While she made it out to the gym for either early morning or late night sessions – she was unable to make it outside to the Gunks for most weekends, mostly due to a combination of exhaustion and weekend work. However, we stayed in contact and hung out when I wasn’t out of the city on a climbing trip or when we weren’t at the gym or working. New York City is one of the most densely populated places I’ve lived in, and ironically, one of the loneliest. Michelle and I were both out-of-towners trying to make it there because we were advised to do so. She would later say we were each other’s only friend that summer - I agree. We would commonly lounge around in her apartment after the gym and discuss places we want to visit, our outlooks on life, and what was in store for the future. I caught onto the fact that she was suffering over the course of each time I saw her, she seemed to feel trapped and not in control of her life. I felt something similar.

“I was at a company dinner and I just started crying, man. It was awkward.”

She confides in me at the end of the summer.

“Why was that?”

“I can’t live here. It’s not me. I miss California, I miss the mountains.”

“Well, you’re not going to find much of that here. It’s a fucking concrete jungle”

She nods in agreement.

We went on to indulge each other with our criticisms of urban culture and the merits of being immersed in wild landscapes. She made me promise I’d visit her in California so that I could see what it’s all about. I enthusiastically agreed. She later cried on my shoulder that night as we were saying goodbye – I remember assuring her that I’ve been there and that it’ll get better.

We continued to stay in constant contact after that summer – I later took a job in the city after I graduated college, and she visited while she was interviewing in Manhattan. I remember her sitting on my countertop, whimsically kicking her feet and discussing her offers with me as I cooked dinner. My eyes would bug out at the amount of money she was getting offered; she had options most people would jump at in a heartbeat. I remember thinking it would be nice to have a partner like her in the city – most climbers here were unmotivated for the big objectives. But then my mind would drift back to that summer and I would offer her some caution at biting on those opportunities. She later called to inform me that she turned down her NYC offers in favor of a job in California. She was apologetic, but I insisted that she made the right choice - there isn’t a price you can put on happiness.

She embarked on her mega-climbing trip soon afterwards, and I looked at the pictures she snapped with envy. It felt like she went everywhere. Anybody else would have been over it and ready to go home in a tenth of what she did. She was like a border collie chasing down sheep – she generated her happiness through constant exertion and motion.

I quit my job in New York City earlier this year and decided to move out west. Michelle got word that I was in the New River Gorge and coordinated to meet me there with a friend in tow. She was buzzing with energy and happiness. We climbed for two days and got dinner twice – we had remarkable conversations and all three of us shared a positive vibe. I settled in Portland, Oregon one month later and she passed through while on her way to Canada. This time we climbed Mt. Hood with another friend and of course, got dinner. The Israeli food we ate was incredible. She found a piece of plastic in in the dip, so we had the entire bill (which was pricey) wiped out – we laughed and joked about our good luck.

I saw her again when she passed back through Portland on her way to California back from some impressive objectives in Canada. This time we hung out all day and talked about different subjects – the mood was more serious and we ended up confiding in each other about our families in depth. Our relationships with them, our lifestyles and its associated risks, our love for our families despite any perceived imperfections. She confided in me about an incident in the Bugaboos where her foot slipped while ropeless in no-fall terrain and how she cried afterwards. I felt nauseous hearing about this, as I had experienced a similar situation some time ago; we agreed that the difference between life and death in mountains can be razor thin and the consequences will impact a circle of people much greater than ourselves. We talked about how our parents felt about our chosen paths, and our guilt because of that. She expressed a desire to get in touch with her brother more. We had originally planned to tackle a big wall in Washington that only was ascended twice before for this visit – but elected to pass on this objective in favor of relaxing and taking it easy. I saw her for the last time when she stopped by my office to drop off the keys to my apartment. We shared a prolonged hug and then waved goodbye.

Her energy carried on past her post-graduation climbing trip – she quickly made plans with me to climb obscure big walls in Siberia that she had researched in the far-flung corners of the internet. I wouldn’t take anybody else seriously with a proposition like that, but with Michelle, anything is possible. We made plans for training runs in Yosemite and started preparing with weekly phone calls, grant applications, spreadsheets, and word docs. We would update each other with our training objectives and would talk about our goals. Then there was radio silence. She had boundless potential and was destined for great things. Her optimism propelled herself and others forever onwards.

I wrote this story on the day after I found out about her death. As a preface, I am not a spiritual man:

Michelle had not been responding to my texts about preparations for our upcoming trip like she normally did – and I had an uneasy feeling that I couldn't shake over the course of the past few days. When I found the news article detailing that massive rockfall I was devastated and in shock. I called off work and immediately knew I needed to go to the mountains to "find her". I geared up and drove out to a trailhead near Mt. Hood and started hiking.

It was silent and peaceful - not another person in sight. I reached the first snowfields after hiking for a couple of hours, put on my crampons, unclipped my ice axe and started upwards. Halfway up this snowfield I stopped to take in the view of Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens in the distance. As I was resting, a raven floated into my view and landed on a boulder ten feet from me - this was intriguing as it is uncommon for birds to come this high up on the mountain. The rational side of me knew that it must think I have food to give. Another side felt something else entirely. I stood there in silence, as did the raven. After a minute of this, I was struck by a thought to talk to the raven and felt embarrassed by it. However, out it came:

"Michelle, if that's you, can you come a little closer?".

I feel silly and close my eyes, trying to contain my grief. Just as I open my eyes, a second Raven floats into view and lands next to me, closer than the first. There is some disbelief. I tell myself that I'm looking for meaning where there is none, but somehow I feel more centered. I turn around and continue motoring upwards. 

My goal was to reach the base of the technical climbing on Mt. Hood on an upper ridgeline - this is an astoundingly beautiful place and was were I planned to mourn Michelle. Roughly an hour after my break on the snowfields, I am climbing up the final stretch to a high point on the ridgeline. Just as I crest the ridge, both Ravens fly into view and land five feet from me. They must have been following from afar. I sat down, took off my pack and broke into muted, painful sobs. I talked to Michelle and let her know how much we all love her and how much we miss her. I reminisced. The Ravens stood in silence next to me, grooming each other carefully. I felt her presence in a very strong way on that ridge. I shared the silence with the Ravens and the Mountain for 15 or so minutes. I then assumed a comfortable pose and closed my eyes to meditate and center myself. I immersed myself in the sounds of the mountain looming above me, the hollow sound of the wind that slowly swept around it's ridges, and the sun shining on my back. I felt like I was being held in a warm embrace. Time stood still. When I finally opened my eyes, the Ravens were both gone - only Mt. Hood remained in my view. I stood up, packed my things, let out a howl ("We love you Michelle!!") towards that summit we shared together only a few months ago, turned my heel, and started back down.

I believe Michelle is still alive in the magnificent places that she sought out. Her soul was deeply connected to the mountains.

You are sorely missed, Michelle. You were one of a kind. I don't want to admit that you are gone. I hope there is something for your family and friends in my stories.