NEW CANAAN, Conn. – For Greg Fischer, New Canaan native Rob Jansen was as good as it gets. The two were together last weekend in Colorado when Jansen died from injuries sustained on a hiking trip.
Whether it was speed in climbing mountains or simply being a friend, Fischer said Jansen was the man he aspired to be. “Rob was a prototype for the upstanding friend you want to be with and who you want your kids to be with,” said Fischer, one of Jansen’s best friends in Colorado and a frequent climbing partner.
Fischer was with Jansen, 24, and three other men hiking on Hagerman Peak last Saturday near Aspen, Colo., when a rock slide occurred. The slide caused the injuries that led to Jansen’s death. The slide also left Westport native Tyler Prince with a broken ankle. Prince was taken to an Aspen hospital for treatment on Saturday and will have surgery on it next week, Fischer said.
Jansen, Fischer said, did not do anything incorrectly at the time of the slide, calling his friend a very prepared climber. Two other climbers had gone ahead of Jansen to reach a ridge at some 13,750 feet up. The five men had reached a combined 353 summits between them, Fischer said.
After the slide, Fischer stayed with Jansen for 45 minutes, talking with him until Jansen fell asleep. “He had so many years of experience. There was not a mistake made and that makes it even harder,” he said. “There’s nothing to learn from it. It was just sheer dumb luck.”
Fischer, originally from Crystal Lake, Ill., and Jansen were among a group of a dozen climbers in Colorado known as the “Brat Pack.” Jansen and Fischer knew each other since last November. Fischer said Jansen had extensive knowledge of Colorado's mountains and was the fastest climber in the group of hikers. “We always saw his backside. You couldn’t keep up with him,” Fischer said.
Jansen was also known for his fondness for India pale ale, a drink he enjoyed after every successful climb. Jansen also added a touch of fashion to his climbs by wearing swimming trunks regularly when he took to the mountains. Jansen’s friend, Jeff Golden, said the shorts were inspired by a trip to camp as a teenager, when Jansen was told to bring lightweight shorts that dry fast.
“All he had were board shorts, so that's what he brought. It was rather funny, so he made it a tradition," Golden said.
Golden, who found out about Jansen's death on Sunday after reaching a different peak, said Jansen enjoyed being on the mountains and the camaraderie of climbing with friends.
"He was the heart and soul of (the Brat Pack). He could do everything I could do, but do it better and was nice about it," said Golden, 26. "You can’t find a better person than Rob Jansen."
Jansen's friends and fellow climbers in Colorado are remembering him on a climbing message board.