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.

Shared by James Olsen on November 2, 2019
Michelle is one of those souls for whom all the wonderful things that people will say about her at this tragic time are true. I had the pleasure of teaching her in two of my environmental ethics classes, and also supporting her environmental activism at Georgetown. She was not only a brilliant student, she was genuinely passionate and hardworking and dedicated to the work she did with that intrinsic motivation that professors always hope their students will have. Her energy, which others have already described was pure magic both in and out of the classroom. I loved sharing with her the occasional article on rock climbers and environmentalists that I would come across, and the inevitable emails she'd send back with pictures of her latest climbing exploits. I remember standing around with a group of strangers at 2am on the banks of the Potomac, getting ready to begin the Sierra Club's 100k hike, when she came up and greeted me. I was very surprised and delighted and then very not surprised to see her there—it was clearly the sort of thing Michelle would do. She made a wonderful impact on my life, and I will carry that with me.
My love and gratitude to her family.
Shared by Sam Hanslits on November 2, 2019
We spent a week climbing together in the Bugaboos at the start of this August 2019, but we first met when Michelle was in the college pre-orientation group that I was leading my senior year. She was overflowing with life then and it was obvious she was going to do anything that she put her mind to.

Our Bugaboos trip came together by chance when Michelle was passing through Bend in July. We hadn’t seen each other since Georgetown, but we realized we were both trying to climb in Canada the next month, and it just seemed like things were clicking together with the universe in a way that is so tough to explain. Somehow we weren’t surprised. It was clear Mich was on her path.

We crushed in the Bugaboos. It was insane! I have never covered so much vertical ground in a week and I probably never will again. We climbed the 1500’ Snowpatch Route in 4 hours and later in the week we did the Becky-Chouinard on South Howser CAR TO CAR in 20 hours. Imagine us at 8am after hiking and climbing, night through morning, and we run into 3 guys who are just starting to sit up in their sleeping bags at their bivy halfway up the route! “Where did you come from??” they asked us. “Oh we started hiking around 10:30pm.” No big deal. Well that was an incredibly challenging day for both of us, but that fire burning in Mich was a raging bonfire crossed with a trick birthday candle. There was no putting it out for long.

You’d think that hiking uphill, with gear, through a frigid night would be unpleasant, but Michelle could take that situation and make it fun. We talked the whole way up because Michelle cared. She wasn’t just going to climb some mountains with me. She was going to get to know me and ask tough questions about the most important things in life. I do not like getting close to people but she made it easy because she was so genuinely curious. Maybe she was also learning, but as we talked I think she was mostly focused on helping me find my path in life. After she hurt her back in high school, Michelle was a go-getter every day. She understood the value of her time and the value of the community around her in a way I am still reflecting on. I just feel so lucky to have had the chance to get to know her, and I am so sad that I won’t get to climb with her again.

I could stop there, but if you had a connection with Michelle, I have more stories for you. I caught Michelle at the end of her 9 month climbing trip, so in our partnership in the mountains I followed her lead for the most part. Michelle liked to go light-and-fast but she went a little too light with her sleeping setup this time. She was trying out a sleeping bag that only had insulation from the waist-down, which she paired with a big puffy coat, and she was using a small z-pad for the first time only to find out that it was 8” too short for her! Ultralight sleeping setup aside, Mich carried a squirt gun and an inflatable beach ball up with her!! She didn’t have a clue what she was going to do with the squirt gun, but once we set up camp, we were constantly harassed by chipmunks wanting to steal our food and the squirt gun became very useful. You can’t imagine how popular we were with our neighbors at camp. Mich packed a killer selection of backpacking food and also managed to acquire a whole lot more food by chatting up folks around camp. She’d snag the contact info of everyone she chatted up and this way she had a global network of friends to run into.

Our first climbing day, we warmed up to the area by soloing the West Ridge of Pigeon Spire. We brought a rope and some gear, but felt comfortable enough on the terrain that we never roped up. We agreed it was the best 5.4 either of us had ever done. We hiked back to the col between Snowpatch Spire and Bugaboo Spire and looked down at camp. We were tired, probably more tired from hauling all our stuff to camp the day before than from just climbing Pigeon Spire. Anybody else would’ve called it good and headed back to camp, but Mich asked me, “What about Cain route on Bugaboo Spire??” It was only early afternoon so Mich let me rest a minute and then we started the scramble slow and steady up Bugaboo. It seemed like no time before we were at the gendarme where we roped up and then found ourselves on the summit of a technical mountain for the second time that day.

There was rain was on our way down to camp and although we weren’t prepared, the rain didn’t last and we were in good spirits. We caught our only storm of the trip later that night. Mich said it felt almost like a Patagonia storm. The tent we shared was waterproof except at the seams, and strong winds pushed the wet walls of the tent into us. What did we do? Mich started kicking around the beach ball inside the tent and we laughed hysterically as we pretended that we were on a beach. She didn’t sleep at all that night, and she didn’t really sleep much the other nights either due to a tiny sleeping pad, but it was hard to tell because she had such limitless energy.

The funniest situation was also a tense one. After 4 days of cruising so much moderate terrain it was time for a rest day. We slept in, I got stoned and I asked Michelle if she’d be keen to go for the Becky-Chouinard (our biggest objective) the following day. To my surprise she was interested in starting the BC that same afternoon! She explained that she wasn’t sleeping at camp so one more rest day wasn’t going to do any good, and she figured she might as well bivy on route. There was a storm coming in the following evening so there was a weather window right then and Patagonia had taught Mich how precious weather windows were. She felt even more pressure because our tent neighbors were going for it that day with the plan of bivvying on route. I was very concerned about going for our most serious objective while Michelle was so obviously exhausted. I hadn’t realized just how little sleep she was getting. I said let’s wait an hour and think about it, but Michelle could not take her mind off the objective. We started packing to give it a go right then, but we made a good call to use that day just to stash some gear and then hike out. After a couple rest days away from the mountains we came back and did it car to car. I am still laughing when I think about Michelle trying to take a rest day at Applebee campground. There was no way she’d be able to sit still on a beautiful day surrounded by mountains! She felt like she was wasting the day and how was I supposed to argue with that!

After the Becky-Chouinard we said goodbye. I was headed to Squamish. She was headed to Seattle and then south to Cali. Well guess who showed up to climb at Squamish two days later? One rest day in Seattle was all Michelle needed to refuel her stoke. We climbed the Grand Wall and somehow I didn’t take any pictures. Her ankle was really bugging her so she stemmed her feet the whole way up the Split Pillar like a badass. I just don’t know anyone else with that level of determination and positive energy. She was not living passively. Everyday was a chance for awesomeness and Michelle made it happen with a decisiveness that I am still trying to understand. I am so so sorry for her family and I am sorry for myself that I will never have the chance to climb or talk with her again. She will be missed.

Shared by Stephen Xue on November 1, 2019
Since I learned of Michelle’s passing there has been an unshakeable empty feeling in my heart. It never occurred to me that there would be a day that I would not be able to see my baby sister again. I regret not being a better brother, not visiting more often, and thinking there would be more time to make up for all that once we graduated school. I get so frustrated that you had to love mountains so much. Why couldn’t you find passion in video games or shopping instead? The whole family knew that there would be no convincing Michelle away from climbing though. How could you push someone away from something that they loved so much? When Michelle had any free time at all, she was taking mountain survival courses, reading up on different climbing routes, buying new gear, volunteering at a nearby mountain, planning her next trip to a mountain. I was jealous that my sister was able to find her true calling, but was also proud that she found passion in her life.

We were in the middle of planning our next ski trip to Japan and Michelle had the hotel, ski resort, and hot springs planned out. She always pushed the family to be more adventurous and go just beyond the limit. I have no doubt in my mind that climbing Mt. Fuji was also in the itinerary, though we would only find out after buying the flights. When Michelle and I hiked the the Kalalau trail in Kauai, she withheld the part that it is an 11 mile hike, considered the most difficult on the island. She carried all of the water and food supply for our trip. While she was running and skipping past the rocks and streams, I was barely keeping up. When we were on the last mile of the hike, Michelle just started running to the car in full sprint… I had no idea how she had so much energy left in her. She must have waited 30 minutes for me in the car while I was crawling back. It wasn’t until after I met back with her that she congratulated me on finishing Kauai’s hardest hike. My family and friends can tell you stories similar to this when hiking and traveling with Michelle. I would have never hiked the Kalalau trail on my own accord, most likely I would have opted for the helicopter tour instead.

Although she was my younger sister, she somehow managed to become my role model. Michelle had such a deep passion for life and way of experiencing the world that most people could never build up the courage to do. She was obviously the smarter sibling, graduating Georgetown with honors a semester early and with two degrees. Michelle has traveled the world alone and left with friends in every country she has been in. She is the most adventurous person I know, climbing mountains that I have only heard of in movies or Planet Earth. She wanted the family to go on a trip to Antarctica, where I’m sure she would have ice climbed an iceberg. All of her accomplishments in 22 years, I would probably never have achieved in a 100. I just can’t believe I’ll never have my baby sister there to push me on more adventures anymore. I don’t know if I have the courage to plan or trek the mountains without her there to guide me.

Michelle is honestly the best sister that anyone could have ever had. I’m ashamed that I was probably not the best brother that I could have been to her. She always managed to think of me whether it was holidays, birthdays, or through her travels. She painted me a picture in the Himalayas and wrote me a note when she knew I was struggling through anxiety and depression. She has never forgotten a birthday and somehow managed to remember every National Siblings Day. I truly feel lost without her. Michelle if you can read this, I hope you know that I love you very much. You will always have a place in my heart, and I will always think of you when I am feeling scared or lonely.

Your brother

Shared by Jennifer Yan on November 1, 2019
Michelle and I were very close family friends, that special kind I got to grow up with over years of holidays and dinner parties.

As you all know, Michelle had many gifts, but what stood out to me was how she brimmed with natural confidence, even as a little kid. Despite being a few years younger, Michelle was always the cool kid who infallibly fit in with the older children, chiming in and poking fun with the rest of us. Michelle always spoke with a big smile, and you could count on her to make sure that the kids' table was always full of laughter, optimism, and happiness.

I remember when Michelle was admitted to both UC Berkeley and Georgetown, she asked me for advice on which school to choose. During our conversation, it was clear that not only had Michelle done plenty of research on both programs, but also that she was immensely thoughtful about her long-term life goals, beyond college, internships, or even her first job. Despite Michelle having asked me for advice, I think I was the one struck with more awe and inspiration; by this girl, wise beyond her years, and clearly destined for great things.

A few weeks later, Michelle told me excitedly that she had decided on Georgetown, but had one final question: "My parents told me Georgetown has a dress code. That's not true, right?" Probably to her parents' disappointment, I told her that Georgetown did not have a dress code - which she was relieved to hear, while still resolving to go shopping for "preppier" clothes. Michelle always stayed true to herself!

In the years since Michelle continued to shine bright. When I last saw Michelle, she completed her degree at Georgetown early (a huge accomplishment!) and was about to embark on a journey around the world. To the very end, her love for traveling, sense of wonder, and adventurous spirit was on full display, an unceasing inspiration to me and all of us.

I am devastated to hear about Michelle, but I will forever remember her smile, her spirit, and her confidence. Thank you, Michelle, for being you.

Shared by Alexandra Tran on October 31, 2019
Michelle - a loving friend, a joyful daughter and sister, a first-rate rock climber, a beautiful human.

Michelle was one of the few people that I was very close to. She was my best friend. She also held that position for many of the people she met throughout her life. When people meet her they instantly feel accepted by her. They see her sweet energy, her lust for life, her fearlessness, drive, spontaneity, unconditional generosity, sharp intelligence, and relentless independence. She wanted to climb, ski, and surf the world, and she nearly did. She experienced more of the earth in 22 years than 99+% of the population do in their lifetimes.

There are an endless number of stories that Michelle and I like to share with people, and that I will continue to share for the rest of my life. We tell people about:
  • The time I took her climbing for the first time
  • The time we started a pickup soccer group in high school that still meets 7 years later
  • The time we switched ropes mid-climb and no one in the gym noticed
  • The time we climbed a mile indoors in a day
  • The time we climbed at every gym in the Bay Area in a day ("Le Tour de Touchstone", if you will)
  • The time we almost died passing cars down a winding mountain road
  • The time we hiked Half Dome with Cassidy on no sleep and got to the peak at sunrise
  • The time I taught her how to slackline
  • The time she taught me how to cook before I left for college
  • The time she taught me how to parallel park in the streets of downtown SF
  • The time she semi-converted me to Quakerism
  • The time we made dresses from scratch for 7th grade French project
  • The time we took a spontaneous highlining trip to Yosemite and truly experienced floating in air, with full exposure to the Valley
  • The hours and hours of delirious car rides, talking about life, the future, relationships, goals, singing along to 2000s music
  • And many more memories from school, climbing, and life with her in general that I will cherish forever.
Almost every crazy adventure I've been on, Michelle was the catalyst for. And the thing is - she was this catalyst for 100x more people and for 100x crazier adventures. I haven't travelled the world with her. I'm not the world-class climber or mountaineer she was. I know she's inspired people across the country, in DC, in Australia, in Iceland, in Patagonia, Nepal, Hawaii, Thailand, China, Vancouver, and god knows where else she's been.

Michelle's always told me that her number one goal and passion in life is to climb rock. I'm glad she got to experience her passion so thoroughly and I'm deeply sad not only that our community; her family; her closest friends; her school, college, and work communities; her climbing community; and the world at large lost such a sweet and spirited soul at only 22, but also that her mountain dreams were cut short so early. She passed away tethered to the mountain, doing what she loved most. It was just too soon.

I celebrate the extraordinarily full life that Michelle has lived and the extraordinary impact she's made on the world. My deepest condolences to the Xue family.


Shared by Vanessa Phillips on October 31, 2019
Michelle wrote me a Christmas card this past year. Every year of college, before break, Michelle, myself, and our friend Kevin, would exchange gifts and have a meal together for Christmas. In this particular card though, Michelle said something she’d never explicitly said before. She called me her sister. It’s true too, as much as two people could be we were. Michelle was always there for me. I could always find her her cooking delicious food from scratch, singing along loudly to her music, or relaxing on the couch after climbing all day. On Sunday mornings, I’ll never forget how we’d cook chocolate chip pancakes together and calm down from the week. She taught me how to make them. Whenever stuff happened to either of us, despite being across the country from each other these days, we would always hop on a call to talk it all out. We couldn’t believe we finally graduated and we were working full time. I could go on forever about her, everything reminds me of her. She will always be with us, living in our hearts and memories. She is a part of all the people that love her, she touched so many lives.
Shared by Jacob Maiman-Stadtmauer on October 31, 2019
Michelle was one of my first friends when I transferred to Georgetown.  She helped me get integrated into the climbing community here.  The infectious joy she brought to everything and her passion for climbing and everything she did made her one of those people whose very presence made you feel better.  She pushed me to be a better climber, to appreciate the outdoors more, and to be a better version of myself.  She showed me that you could be ambitious and still do what you love. 
She is responsible for me joining the Buddhist Students' Association on campus, which has given me some great friends and a ton of great experiences.  The joy she brought to everything made her one of those people who nobody forgot, even after meeting her just once. 
She once gave me her extra ticket to Reel Rock, and after ubering there because our friend didn't have enough space in his van, she ran into a random friend from the DC climbing community, because she seemed to know everyone from the community, who happily gave us a ride back.  She even made a friend on the elevator ride to the car who gave her advice about what to do in Patagonia on her days off.  When a promoter for a climbing company came to our climbing gym, he gave her a nice hat, just because he knew she was leaving the area soon and wanted to give her a gift.  She was just one of those rare people who brought everyone together and everyone loved.
I can't believe Michelle's gone, and I'll miss her forever. 
I'll never forget the lessons you taught me.  Thank you for your passion, your friendship and your joy.
May your memory be for a blessing

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