icons/avalancheicons/bootscompassfacebookicons/gloveshandsicons/hearticons/helmeticons/ice axeinstagramminusmountainicons/pathsMap Pinplusicons/questionicons/guideicons/ropeicons/gogglesicons/stafftenttwitteryoutube
Leavenworth crack climbing

Confessions of a climbing addict…

Ok, so it hasn’t always been that way, I was once a bit more port­ly and a bit less ver­ti­cal­ly inclined; indeed sat­is­fied with my desk job and slow­ly shrink­ing, damn those clean­ers, office attire. I had always thought peo­ple who pushed the lim­its climb­ing, bungee jump­ing, para­chut­ing and the like were sim­ply short a few screws”, per­haps one shy of a six pack”…little did I know spare parts and five packs would soon start show­ing up in my life as well.

It was in the mid­dle of one of those cof­fee cake, quadru­ple ven­ti mocha induced moments that it hit me…ok, it wasn’t quite that dra­mat­ic. I was sit­ting through an Ed Vies­turs pre­sen­ta­tion, by elec­tion mind you not by choice. Vies­turs was dron­ing on and on about climb­ing, I wasn’t pay­ing a lot of atten­tion giv­en the more impor­tant task of brush­ing crumbs off my trousers and try­ing to qui­et­ly sip that last lit­tle bit of mocha up through the straw with­out draw­ing unwant­ed atten­tion my way. He said some­thing about climb­ing Mt. Rainier 100 or 200 times, I wish I had been pay­ing more atten­tion, and that is when I looked up and saw the pic­tures on his pre­sen­ta­tion. It drew me in; I real­ized he was talk­ing about my neck of the woods here, the Pacif­ic Northwest….hmm, time to pay more atten­tion. I lis­tened intent­ly to the rest of his pre­sen­ta­tion and not­ed his dis­cus­sion about Moun­tain Mad­ness and the sur­round­ing events on Everest.

When I left the pre­sen­ta­tion I decid­ed I would pick up one of those Into Thin Air” books and per­haps do a bit of inves­ti­ga­tion into this moun­tain climb­ing thing. That night I went home and talked it over with my wife, crazy talk she said…basically it was the adult ver­sion of the Christ­mas Sto­ry you’re gonna shoot your eye out”, only a bit more dra­mat­ic in her mind than that. Luck­i­ly for me she had, over time, become use to my wild ideas that would even­tu­al­ly fade into imag­i­nary glo­ry with not as much as an actu­al fin­ger of effort being put into the idea along the way, such as the time I decid­ed I could insu­late and sheetrock my garage on my own, yet 3 years lat­er the house would be sold with a pile of sheetrock still in the garage just wait­ing for me to put it up. Well, this time I wasn’t going to go down so easy!

I read Into Thin Air” in one day, it was like pop­ping the seal” on a good night of drinking…or so I hear. The books and movies start­ed flow­ing in, what­ev­er I could find on eBay or Ama­zon that looked remote­ly inter­est­ing I pur­chased, much to my cred­it card company’s plea­sure I’m sure. I researched climb­ing trips on-line, called sev­er­al guid­ing com­pa­nies and start­ed for­mu­lat­ing my plan for re-approach­ing the wife. How was I going to sell this to her with­out imme­di­ate­ly get­ting the look of he’s final­ly come up with a mid-life cri­sis”. I some­times under esti­mate the degree of patience and under­stand­ing shown by my wife, it wasn’t dif­fi­cult at all, if I want­ed to do it she would sup­port me, sim­ple as that.

With that new bit of infor­ma­tion my search was turned up a few notch­es, what was I going to climb, who was I going to climb it with, how much would it cost, how much train­ing would it take… I start­ed by pick­ing a moun­tain that I had always found inter­est­ing, Mt. Bak­er, this is the moun­tain my wife and I were mar­ried on and it was a moun­tain I had grown up see­ing out of my bed­room win­dow for 15 years, yep that was going to be the one, now for the rest of the ques­tions. There comes a point when you reach the end of your research phase and you sim­ply need to talk it over with some­one who has been there, done that and tak­en some names along the way. I called all of the local guid­ing com­pa­nies and start­ed ask­ing ques­tions. I was look­ing for a com­pa­ny that was as inter­est­ed in help­ing me as I was in climb­ing with them. It wasn’t long before Moun­tain Mad­ness per­co­lat­ed to the top of the pile.

When you call Moun­tain Mad­ness you nev­er know who is going to pick up, per­haps a guide, per­haps the own­er, per­haps the book­keep­er, it doesn’t mat­ter, they are all will­ing to help and answer what­ev­er ques­tions you have. My mind was set; they had that small com­pa­ny, yet ulti­mate­ly pro­fes­sion­al feel­ing that I liked. I signed up, just a few months until my trip up Bak­er! Time to get in shape!

Up and down Mt. Si, around and around on the tread­mill, pump­ing weights (ok, let’s not get car­ried away, you can only go so far with cable weights). After count­less trips to REI, and quite a few con­ver­sa­tions with Moun­tain Mad­ness guides and staff the day came. I met up with the oth­er climbers and our two guides, Ian Nichol­son and Dave Ahrens, ear­ly on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing. Three days lat­er we would be bask­ing in the warmth of the Moun­tain Mad­ness van on our way home, hap­py to have grad­u­at­ed from hik­ers to true moun­taineers, hav­ing stood on top of the great Bak­er­horn. The trip was fan­tas­tic, the food was great, the guides were bet­ter and the oth­er clients were soon to become part­ners for future adventures.

So, what do you do once you have accom­plished your goal? The answer was easy for me; you plan your next trip! Here it is, less than a year lat­er and I have attempt­ed Mt. Shuk­san in the dead of win­ter (ok, I might have jumped the gun on that one but Moun­tain Mad­ness led me safe­ly up the moun­tain as far as I could go), climbed Mt. Bak­er a sec­ond time, gone rock climb­ing and signed up for trips up Rainier and Adams lat­er this year. All with Moun­tain Mad­ness you ask, of course. I have now climbed with a vari­a­tion of Moun­tain Mad­ness guides and have been amazed at how pro­fes­sion­al, safe, car­ing and ded­i­cat­ed they are about what they do, tru­ly world class and cer­tain­ly the provider of a ser­vice that I believe helps set clients apart from the ranks of those who pre­fer that port­ly, safe office envi­ron­ment that I once so cherished.

There was an old joke in my office, every time I asked some­one to per­form a task I would say Do It”….now the joke goes more like Make it Hap­pen”… if they only knew…

Tom Tuck­er