2023 50+ Year Member Lunch Recap: Celebrating The Legacy And Impact Of Our Lifetime Members

We celebrated the legacy and impact of our 50+ year members with a hosted lunch at the Seattle Program Center. We are thankful for their lifelong exploration, friendship, and commitment to our home here in the Pacific Northwest.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 23, 2023
2023 50+ Year Member Lunch Recap: Celebrating The Legacy And Impact Of Our Lifetime Members

Last week we celebrated the legacy and impact of our annual 50+ year members with a hosted lunch at the Seattle Program Center. We are thankful for their lifelong exploration, friendship, and commitment to our home here in the Pacific Northwest, and we were excited to welcome over 60 members and guests to the Seattle Program Center, including: 

  • 4 members celebrating 70+ years 
  • 7 members with 60-69 years
  • 25 members with 51-59 years
  • 15 NEW lifetime members

It was so wonderful to see familiar faces, hear stories, meet new friends, and reconnect with cherished members of our community. Check out photos from the event

We started our afternoon with a coffee and tea reception in the Cascade auditorium, where several of our attendees took the time to write down some of their most memorable moments and why they’re proud to be a Mountaineer. Here’s what they wrote:

  • “A trek to Nepal and the Mt. Everest region with Nonnie Heyning, Jayne Brindle, Paul Kral, and other Mountaineers Friends in October 1986.”
  • “Being in the Alpine Scramble course in 1974 and practicing ice axe arrest on Castle Peak. Then Basic Climbing on Mt. Baker.”
  • “Taking the Basic Climbing Course and years later, the Intermediate Climbing Course. Turned out to be two of the most pivotal events in my life!”
  • “Riding into Meany Lodge behind the snow cat.”
  • “Climbing outings: Tetons, Robson Area, Mt. Waddington. Took Dan Davis on his first ice climb.”
  • “Climbing course field trip leader, climb leader, and lecturer.”
  • “I believe in maintaining our wilderness areas and encourage all outdoor experiences for all ages.”
DSC_0022.jpg70+ year members, Gary Rose (l) and Neal Jacques (seated, r) reconnect during the coffee and tea reception.

After a delicious Mediterranean-inspired lunch catered by Mangia Bene, we heard from Tom Vogl, Mountaineers CEO, who shared the sad news of Tom Hornbein’s passing last month and plans for a celebration of his life here at the Seattle Program Center in July. Tom also shared some updates about our organization’s overall health and current priorities outlined in our new strategic plan, Adventure with Purpose. If you haven’t had a chance to read about it, we encourage you to read more in our blog post

AWP.jpg2023-2028 Mountaineers Strategic Plan: Adventure With Purpose

Mountaineers Books Publisher, Tom Helleberg, spoke about the impact that Ira Spring has had in our organization and his own family, especially his concept of “Green Bonding”: the idea that “real, lasting advocacy can only arise from direct experience.” He said, "You see a place, you love a place, you want to protect that place. This is not something you can create with a website or a mailing or a political campaign. It’s a personal transformation.” 

Ira’s legacy at Mountaineers Books is keenly felt as we continue to seek out authors who, like Ira, are local experts with deep roots in their regions, who go beyond best practices, who write engaging and inspiring guides that encourage people to explore and to explore responsibly. If you missed your chance to take home one of the books Tom Helleberg mentioned, you can find them online at our bookstore. Feel free to call our member services at 206-521-6001 if you have any questions. 

_MG_4729.jpgJohn Spring on the trail. Photo courtesy of John Spring.

Our featured speaker this year was John Spring, son of Ira and Pat Spring. John is a 52-year member and treated us to a special presentation of Ira’s photography and Ira and Pat’s climbing partnership, from his point of view. Some stories he shared included a photography trip to Mt. Rainier with four recent climbing graduates: Joan and Carol Marston, Gary Rose, and Dave Nicholson; photographing Jim and Lou Whittaker; the non-stop ringing of their house phone from climbers calling for advice on the best places to go for the weekend; and the development of 100 Hikes in Western Washington as a conservation tool that became an unexpected publishing hit. 

Ira and Pat’s legacy of conservation lives on in the Spring Trust for Trails, and John shared some advice from Ira and Pat on how we can protect the places we love and share:

“Nothing is free in this world so here is the sales pitch.

  1. Get out and enjoy our beautiful land/mountains as much as you can.
  2. Educate others for caring for and insuring [sic] ethics of our land and spend time as much as you can to volunteer; it is rewarding on many levels.
  3. Ira’s “Green Bonding” youth to our land, there is more than electronic entertainment; be a part to encourage outdoor exploration.
  4. The most important of them all, is to be a voice, let legislatures, and land managers know we are Mountain lovers, Wilderness protectors, and Hikers.

If you follow these 4 things, Pat and Ira’s work will continue on, but now in YOUR own legacy of protecting what we have.”

We can each join in Ira and Pat’s lasting work to enjoy, share, and protect the places we have learned to love. Learn more about how to support The Mountaineers work to protect the future of outdoor education, conservation and advocacy in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Next year’s 50+ year member lunch will be on Thursday, June 13, 2024. Save the date and look for an invite to the event in January!