10 Essential Questions: Janet Wall

Meet Janet Wall, a 50-year member who is passionate about conservation and met her husband in Basic in 1970 after carrying him in a rescue drill.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
September 27, 2019

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

Name: Janet Wall
Hometown: Lakewood, Ohio 
Member Since: December 1969
Occupation: Retired Fisheries Research Biologist 
Favorite Activities: Hiking, backpacking, raising native plants, and wildlife habitat restoration

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

I arrived in the northwest from Ohio in the fall of 1969 to earn my master’s degree in fisheries. My brother was already out here, and recommended that I join The Mountaineers. We spent Thanksgiving up at Baker Lodge, and after that I went on to take the Basic Alpine Climbing Course in 1970, and eventually the Intermediate Climbing Course. I met my husband in that class – we had a one-man carry in our rescue practice, and I was able to carry him! He invited me on a climb of the Brothers south peak, and we went on a number of climbs together after that. He eventually asked me to marry him, and I said yes.

There weren’t a lot of women in the climbing courses – I was really grateful for The Mountaineers. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done, because I was always a bit shy. The Mountaineers gave me confidence that I could keep up with the men, and that came in handy when I went into the field of fisheries. As a woman it was tough getting a job, and at meetings I was often the only woman in a room of 50+ men. Being able to learn a new skill is empowering – even being lowered into a crevasse, which was certainly a memorable experience! I see much of my career success as being the result of the confidence I gained through The Mountaineers.

What motivates you to be a part of our community?

I enjoy going to some of The Mountaineers presentations. I remember Helen Thayer coming to speak, and bringing her dog that accompanied her on her trip to the North Pole! There are always a number of interesting opportunities, and I enjoy being able to see the different trips that are being planned. Meeting new people and enjoying my friends has also inspired me to stay – I’ve met many traveling companions through The Mountaineers.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

I’ve got so many of them! When I was an intermediate student I became an instructor for basic field trips, and led crevasse rescue and several other skills portions. I eventually finished intermediate and went on to complete many memorable climbs, including a few in South America and Africa. I love glacier travel, and had the opportunity to climb Mt. Rainier twice and Kilimanjaro once as well. I very much enjoyed a Mountaineers outing in which we backpacked the length of Hells Canyon. I’ve gone on many climbs, including a trip to Nepal where I backpacked around Annapurna with my friend Karyl Winn. Recently I backpacked a good portion of the John Muir trail and climbed Mt. Whitney as part of an overland trip.

It was great meeting new people, including John Stout, who early on gave me useful advice on climbing. A remarkable man, when he felt that his balance was going and not wanting to endanger others to rescue him, he took up running marathons! John also was one of the oldest people to walk across the United States.

Who/What inspires you?

A lot of The Mountaineers leaders were inspiring, including John Stout, Norm Winn, and Frank King. I went on a lot of climbs that Norm led and was inspired by his love of the mountains. I also love what nature has to offer us. With a few fellow Mountaineers, I went up to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to go hiking for two weeks. The area is just beautiful, and unusual because the sunlight stays so long in the summer. You can really wear yourself out because you don’t want to go to bed, and want to keep climbing and hiking into the night! We saw a couple of bears, a lot of caribou, Dall sheep, and wildflowers. Lands like these need to be protected in perpetuity.

What do you hope for in the future of outdoor recreation? 

I hope that we can deal with some of the major issues we currently face, like climate change and the threat of losing public lands.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? They both can be stunning, but I’m more of a night owl so I tend to see more sunsets.

Mountains or ocean? Mountains! 
What's your favorite outdoor smell? The fragrance of alpine flowers. 
What's your happy place? Out on some trail somewhere, up in the mountains. Preferably with some flowers in sight – alpine meadows can be just gorgeous.
What's your favorite Mountaineers Books title? Freedom of the Hills – I have several different editions.

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