10 Essential Questions: Dale Flynn

Meet Dale Flynn, a 45-year member (!!) and graduate of the Basic Climbing Class of 1974, who discovered his love for teaching by volunteering with our climbing courses. In 1996, his entire party of 11 scramblers was hit by an avalanche, a truly transformative experience in the mountains.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
July 06, 2018

Each week we bring you a personal story from one of our members. For our member profile this week we talked to ....

Name: Dale Flynn
Hometown: All over California
Member Since: April 1973
Occupation: Retired
Favorite Activities: Alpine scrambling, biking, alpine skiing, hiking. But it doesn't get any better than skate skiing!

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

After I discovered mountains and skiing in Yosemite after college, I moved to Washington, joined the club in 1973, and took the Basic Climbing Course in 1974. The course changed my life and jump-started my life as a climber, scrambler, and hiker. Taking the Intermediate Climbing Course in 1990 increased my activity level and capabilities even more - as I hoped and expected it would. Of course, the more I got involved in activities, the more I got involved in administration and committees. I actually lobbied to get a seat - and a job leading a field trip - on the Climbing Committee. That turned out to be a great way to be involved in teaching and the whole climbing program, and in giving back to the club.

I like to keep track of lots of numbers, and it's fun to look back on my experiences with The Mountaineers: a) spent 8 years on the Board of Trustees of the club (now called 'directors'), b) spent 6 years on the board of The Mountaineers Foundation, c) have 22 club peak pins, patches, or plaques, d) taught at, or led, at 137 field trips for scrambling or climbing, e) stood on 508 named summits in my lifetime.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

I discovered that I loved teaching essential life and life-altering skills - like climbing - to eager students. And I loved leading eager climbers and scramblers to wonderful and beautiful places in the mountains. Somehow or other, I also acquired a "peak-bagger" mentality along the way. So, adding to my total summits and knocking off peak pin lists also became a motivation. It has also always been highly motivating to be around so many other club members, volunteers, and instructors who are all giving so much to the club and keep the club humming with energy, activity, and purpose.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

I have a huge number of great memories of wonderful trips to spectacular peaks. But a favorite memory is of a terrible, pain-filled day in the mountains. In May 1996, our entire party of 11 scramblers was hit by an avalanche on Red Mountain (near Snoqualmie Pass). We made a serious mistake by being there at all that day, but the group's response to the avalanche and the 7 injured people was terrific. People, and the group, made a lot of right decisions and performed a lot of right actions under difficult and, for many, painful circumstances. And nobody died, although it was a close call. I was very proud and impressed with the way everybody responded to our disaster.

Who/What inspires you?

I have always been inspired by those who give back to their community, activity, club, cause, or committee. Coincidentally enough, most of the many who come to mind are Mountaineers. I am also inspired by those who have achieved great things, like a Tom Hornbein or a Jim Whittaker. In celebrating their great achievements, I am also reminded that we should celebrate our own achievements, however humble. So, in doing that, I guess I help to inspire myself.

What does adventure mean to you?

As I grow older, the meaning of adventure has evolved! These days, if I can just get up into the high alpine environment on a nice day, I count that as a wonderful adventure. But, for me, adventure never meant taking big risks or being afraid. I hated fear. I sought to understand it, recognize it, control it, and step back from it. A little stress and anxiety are essential elements of challenging yourself, and help you focus that all-important awareness. But, I say, just say "No" to fear.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Smile or game face? Game face.
What's your happy place?  Either sitting on a summit or sitting on the car's tailgate taking my boots off.
Post-adventure meal of choice? Mushroom swiss burger. And I always bring gourmet jelly beans for emergency food. The intense flavors stimulate moisture in the mouth even when you are really dehydrated.
If you could be a rock star at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be?  Skate skiing (and then enjoy it under a full moon, on a cloudless night, on a perfectly groomed track, in a really long race).

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