Climbing Basics


I grew up in a little mountain town in eastern Oregon and I spend quite a bit of time outdoors as a kid. I hunted with my dad from an early age and most of the attraction of the hunt was the tramping around in the woods and the camping.   I was in boy scouts for the hiking and camping.  When I was in high school my dad and I built an A-frame cabin just beyond the end of the driveable road. I learned a lot about manual labor, improvisation, and first aid from that experience.

I took a rock climbing elective in college (in Clifton Gorge – Ohio doesn’t have much in the way of mountains) and did some hiking and scrambling in the Alps and Pyrnees. I climbed Mt. Washington in the White Mountains while on a co-op in Boston.  I went to Bear Mountain while we were living in New York. Then I moved to Seattle.

One of my main reasons for returning to the west coast was to be able to do outdoors stuff. (The other main reason was that my wife hated New York and was going to move whether I did or not.) When we arrived in New York in 1985 one of the first things I did was to take her for a weekend at Mt. Rainier where I learned that she was terrified of trails. (We hiked to the Pinnacle / Plumber saddle in the Tatoosh range and she had an anxiety attack about a boulder field. We hiked rampart ridge and she stopped to huff and puff half-way up each switchback. We hiked the skyline trail above Panarama Point in the fog and she was in tears most of the way.) After that we joined the Mountaineers.

There was a time, I’d say from the late fourties until the late sixties, when the “club climber” was the norm in the pacific northwest. That era may have lingered even somewhat longer, but when I started climbing technical stuff the heyday of the climbing clubs was over and the sport climbers were in their ascendency. In many respects I feel like I am a generation older than my contemporaries and the comraderie and traditions and structure of a club like the Mountaineers worked really well for me. I took the Mountaineers alpine scrambles course in about 1987 (before Will was born) and did quite a bit of backpacking through the club.

I took the their basic climbing course in 1991 with experience climbs up Baker, Little Tahoma and Yellowjacket tower. I climbed Adams and Rainier (on the summer solstice in 1992) as private trips. I took the Mountaineers intermediate course in 1993. Later, while in the intermediate course, I climbed Mt. Olympus and Glacier Peak to earn their “coveted” Five Peaks Pin.

I have led backpacks, scrambles and climbs for the Mountaineers as well as snowboard trips. I’ve served on various committees for the Mountaineers, been really active in one of their lodges (Meany), and was the chairman of an avalanche investigation committee and served on the nominating committee for the Board. I was an officer of the club for several years (mainly involved with the Mountaineers Books division) and served on the executive committee. At one point I was the president elect but shortly before I should have taken office I realized that didn’t have the commitment to see it through and I resigned abruptly and haven’t had any administrative role in the club since.

I don’t climb difficult rock (or ice) but I’m not afraid of brush or rock slides or strenuous approaches or loose rock or crappy weather or downclimbing fourth class sections – or a bunch of the stuff that makes for the basic Cascade experience. I enjoy teaching and I enjoy being out in the mountains with friends.

Here’s a list of my climbing books.