10 Essential Questions: John Morton

Meet John Morton, a 17-year member, volunteer leader, and Search & Rescue volunteer, who loves helping students struggle through challenges to realize their own potential.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
December 09, 2016
10 Essential Questions: John Morton
Photo courtesy of John Morton.

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

Name: John Morton
Hometown: Los Angeles, California, then Durango, Colorado
Member Since: February 2000
Occupation: Airplane designer, also technical Search & Rescue team
Favorite Activities: Hiking, skiing, kayaking, canyoneering, trail running, mountain biking

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

As my wife Kirsten and I have pursued various outdoor activities, we decided we should learn how to do them properly. The Mountaineers offer a great venue to make that happen. We started first as students, then later helping instruct Basic Climbing, Wilderness First Aid, and Sea Kayaking. The long-term friendships we developed along the way have been a wonderful bonus, and really the most valuable part of our Mountaineers experience.

What motivates you to get outside with us?

Mountaineers tend to be committed to excellent outdoor experience, and committed to doing a good job of it. That combination resonates.

 I see the backcountry as having "spirit of place", yet it is completely indifferent about what happens to me as an individual. While I am in the backcountry, responsibility for what happens to me is entirely on me. I have been on too many SAR missions for people who started their day thinking the backcountry owed them something, only to discover otherwise at great expense.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

I have the joy of reflecting on a parade of all-day efforts, followed by food and hanging out with excellent Mountaineers friends. Also, outstanding individual moments from teaching performance skills to determined students. One example: teaching kayak rolling. A student struggles, struggles, struggles, struggles, then BAM! it works. It is a treat to witness, and more to facilitate, such an epiphany experience. Another example: teaching Wilderness First Aid. A student might start out being rattled by a simple arm laceration scenario. Then a few scenarios later the same student says, “Looks like a femur fracture, with a dislocated shoulder, and a sucking chest wound – I’ve got this.” Pure gold. 

Who/What inspires you?

I am inspired by individuals who make a deliberate choice to be excellent at what they do, without any expectation that someone would see them being excellent. I have known a few such quiet champions in my professional life, several among my Mountaineers friends, and many among my Search & Rescue team compatriots. Their names are not well known, making my point.

What does adventure mean to you?

To me, adventure is about being in a wonderful setting while doing something demanding enough to thoroughly focus my attention. I view focused attention as a better gauge of adventure, rather than how close I might have been to sustaining damage.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset?  Sunset +2 hours at full moon
Smile or game face? Game face
What's your happy place? On, in, under or around water.
What's your 11th Essential? Personal Locator Beacon. No question.
If you could be a rock star at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be?  Canyoneering, particularly high-flow swiftwater canyons.

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