10 Essential Questions: Douglas Gillan

Meet Douglas Gillan, a Media Consultant who joined in 1995 for a cross-country skiing course, and quickly ended up a basic climbing student.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
December 04, 2020
10 Essential Questions: Douglas Gillan

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

Name: Douglas Gillan
Hometown: Garden City, Kansas
Member Since: December 1995
Occupation: Media Consultant
Favorite Activities: Hiking, running, climbing, kayaking, biking

10 essential questions:

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

I moved to Seattle in 1992 and joined The Mountaineers in 1995 to take a cross-country skiing course. Soon after that, I was on a private climb of Mt. Rainier with some friends on a four-person rope team. The other three experienced climbers on my team really knew what they were doing and we summited. At some point on that climb I realized I should take The Mountaineers Basic Climbing Course and learn this mountaineering stuff.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

But of course, the people! Some of the nicest, most caring folks I’ve ever met were in The Mountaineers. And hats off to our course instructors! To say what they teach has saved countless lives would be an understatement.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

It was during my Basic Climbing Course crevasse rescue training on Mt. Rainier. Before I was lowered into a huge crevasse, I asked one of the instructor assistants if he could snap a photo of me in it. He seemed thrilled to do it, and I handed him my disposable film camera. When I was deep in the crevasse he yelled my name. I looked up to see that he had swung out over the crevasse (he was roped and secure) and started snapping photos of me as I prusiked to the top.

When I got to the top he gave me the camera with a big grin and said, “I hope those turn out for you.” Needless to say, they turned out great! One of my all-time favorite photos is of me hanging in that crevasse on Mt. Rainier, with nothing but the deep blue ice of the glacier below me.

That crevasse rescue training was put to real-life use just a few weeks later on Mt. Baker. A member of our Mountaineers rope team punched through a snow bridge and fell into a massive crevasse. Just as we had trained, he was saved by the self-arrest of the other rope team members. When he got out of the crevasse he was bruised but otherwise unhurt. Note to others: pay attention in your training classes!

Who/what inspires you?

Anyone who works to overcome obstacles in life or has been told “you can't do that.” To me it's not essential that you necessarily overcome the obstacle, it's the effort of trying that inspires me. A wise person once asked me, “So when does your book come out, I'd like to read it?” When I said there was no book, her answer was, “Well, there should be. Everyone has a great story to tell.”

What does adventure mean to you?

For me the adventure begins with pre-trip planning. Studying the route and maps, checking on weather conditions, selecting gear, packing, travel, etc. Of course, nothing beats that first step when you're actually there and it's “on!”

Lighting Round

Sunrise or sunset? Other: I like sunsets but nothing beats moon rise over your wilderness camp!
Smile or game face? Game face
What's your 11th Essential? Chocolate chip cookies! A summit tradition.
What’s your happy place? Anywhere outside without noise pollution
Post-adventure meal of choice? Cheeseburger or pizza
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Big wall climbing

This article originally appeared in our Winter 2021 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.

mAIN PHOTO: Douglas in a crevasse during his Basic Climbing Course crevasse rescue training. Photo by an assistant instructor. 

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