Climber's clients remember her help and spirit

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by Amanda Burden / KGW

NWCN.com

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 17 at 9:00 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Friends and co-workers of Katie Nolan are coming to grips with the 29-year-old climber's slim chance of survival.

At Catholic Charities in Southeast Portland, Nolan's workspace remains just as she left it. Photographs of the outdoors are posted proudly on her wall.

A hanging cross is a symbol of her faith. The only difference are two candles that burn on her desk. They're a light of hope during this dark reality.

"Hope is fading but i still have hope," said co-worker Victoria Waldrep, who worked with Nolan for the past two years at Catholic Charities. 

She said Nolan's two passions were work and the wilderness. It's that love of the outdoors, she said, that drove Nolan to the fateful climb on  Mt. Hood.

"The last thing I said to her was, be safe," Waldrep said. "She turned and gave me a  Katie smile like quit mothering me."

Waldrep said Nolan devoted her life to helping homeless women escape the street. She helped them find food, clothing, work, and a home.  Waldrep said Nolan frequently went into homeless camps to look for  hurting women.  She also fought human trafficking.

"Katie loves her work because she wanted to make the difference," Waldrep said.

Brooxia Nichols said she was in dire straits when Nolan came into her life.

"She changed my life by just talking about how to be a good person," Nichols said.

Nichols said Nolan helped her transform her life.

"She saved me in a lot of ways I was on the street," Nichols said. " I was doing a lot of things that I had no business (doing), and I got saved. I'm saved now."

Now reality is sinking in. Those whom Nolan saved know they won't be able to return the favor.

"It really hurt me because she was so nice to me," Nichols said through tears.

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