Remembering Tap Tapley

Remembering Tap Tapley

March 26, 2015–

UPDATE: To read more about Tap’s Big, Big life, read his obituary here: Tap’s Obit

Services are as follows:

Friday, April 10, 2015 at 2:15 p.m.
Santa Fe National Cemetery
501 North Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Please meet at the south side of the cemetery and signify your car by showing a red bandana.

A Celebration of Tap’s Life
Saturday, April 11, 2015, 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Bishop’s Ridge Stoney Camp and Recreation Center
7855 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Please RSVP at 505-820-3166 or
Bring stories and photos to share. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Tap Tapley Scholarship Fund at Colorado Outward Bound School.

Condolences may be sent to:
Anita M. Stalter
7800 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87505

March 3, 2015–

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Tap Tapley, who died yesterday in his home in Santa Fe. Tap was so many things to each of us – teacher, mentor, father, grandfather, friend. And he was as skilled an outdoorsman as there ever was.

taps face

Ernest “Tap” Tapley is a legend, period. He lived a life most outdoor enthusiasts could only dream of, and was an integral part of establishing the Colorado Outward Bound School. Last fall at the rededication of our historic Marble basecamp, founder Chuck Froelicher shared the story of when he and Tap first met and visited the site that would become the first Outward Bound basecamp in the United States:

Tap was absolutely a jack of all trades. He was a muleskinner, a Caterpillar D6— a cat skinner, a trapper, a hunter, a guide, and had been in the 10th Mountain Division, was a bow hunter, and one of the great outdoorsmen. Then eventually I learned he was an artist and played the viola. And he was literally a man of all seasons. And that was an astonishing person to find.

The next day, we got into a Jeep and decided to go look for a site… Tap said, ‘I know where there’s a piece of land.’ So he arranged for a snowcat and the four of us drove up here. The snow was 4-5 feet deep. We had snowshoes. So we parked the snowcat down below and hiked up on snowshoes, which was not a pretty sight. And looked around and Tap said I know all about this land.

Folks were skeptical but Tap said, “we can build this place.” And they did.

Generations of staff, students, alumni and friends have been building the Colorado Outward Bound School ever since. Tap’s legacy continues in all of us, as he lived his life fully and shared his wisdom and skills with his students.

To serve, to strive and not to yield. Rest in peace, dear friend.

To continue his work, we have set up a scholarship in his name. To make a contribution to the Tap Tapley Memorial Scholarship, click here to donate. Please write Tap Tapley Scholarship in the comment section. You can also mail a check to COBS at 5161 Sheridan Blvd, Denver, CO 80212 and write Tap Tapley Scholarship in the memo.

Tap Tapley and Peter smAnd we’d love to compile your memories of him. Please email us your photos, stories and thoughts at We’ll collect them and share on our blog.