10 Essential Questions: Tom Eng

Meet Tom Eng, a leader who brings a wealth of enthusiasm to his courses, is passionate about conservation, and has a hard time choosing his favorite outdoor activity.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 18, 2021
10 Essential Questions: Tom Eng

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

Name Tom Eng
Hometown New York City (Manhattan)
Member Since September 2017
Occupation Semi-retired (former veterinarian, epidemiologist, and tech startup founder)
Favorite Activities Hiking, backpacking/camping, trail running, mushroom foraging, fly fishing, photography, scrambling/rock climbing, snowshoeing, and canoeing


How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

I first got involved with The Mountaineers many years ago when I went on an overnight snow cave building trip. My group’s snow cave stayed intact but most of the other groups had to deal with collapsed caves in the middle of the night! I learned quickly that careful preparation and teamwork matters! Fast forward to several years ago when I finally had more free time to pursue my passions. I rejoined The Mountaineers to further develop my outdoors skills and expand my network of friends who love the outdoors.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

On Mountaineers trips, I know that everyone is prepared, has at least a basic set of skills, and will have each other’s backs in case of trouble. I enjoy the social aspects of trips and continue to make new friends through The Mountaineers. Learning about people’s life stories, sharing ideas for adventures, and interesting conversations make the uphills seem a lot shorter!

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

I have lots of great memories, but here’s one that stands out. A few years ago, I attended a weekend retreat at the Baker Lodge. One night, I led a group to Artist and Huntoon Point to see and photograph the night sky. We were fortunate to have a totally clear and calm night. When we arrived at our spot, a few in the group laid down on their pads comfortably wrapped in sleeping bags and chatted about life while the photographers were immersed setting up our long exposures. All of us were completely mesmerized as we watched the moon set over Mt. Baker and I can still see the millions of stars that lit up the night sky. Truly a shared spiritual experience!

Who/what inspires you?

I’m inspired by those who dedicate their lives to science & health, the environment, and conservation. Many thanks to the professionals who keep us healthy and have given us a path back to normalcy, those who protect the planet from the climate crisis and pollution, and those who help preserve our wild places for future generations.

As a donor and volunteer-supported organization, The Mountaineers is based on community support. How have you paid it forward, or how have you benefited from someone else paying it forward?

I have learned so much from my courses and fellow leaders and participants. Without a doubt, I have received more from joining The Mountaineers than I have contributed as a leader. I look forward to doing more; helping others enjoy the outdoors brings me joy.

What does adventure mean to you?

Adventure means to continually challenge yourself to improve in all facets of life - physical, mental, and spiritual. To me, adventures aren’t limited to outdoor experiences, they could also include quitting your stale job to pursue your passions, raising kids to be productive members of society, moving to a totally different area, or developing new connections with people who don’t agree with you. Adventure means stepping out of your comfort zone and living a life of memories rather than regrets!

Lightning round

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset 
Smile or game face? Other: Whichever works! 
What's your 11th Essential? My mirrorless camera and zoom lens usually live in my pack.
What’s your happy place? I'm saving up for a ticket (hopefully a roundtrip one) to see the Earth from space; I think the trip will be a blast! 
Post-adventure meal of choice? Either Thai Pad Kee Mao or fresh ramen (with chips and donuts of course)! 
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Hard to decide on just one! Is the outdoors decathlon a thing? 

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

LEAD IMAGE OF Tom Eng in front of monte Fitz Roy.