Adventure With Purpose: A Recap of Our 2021 Virtual Gala

On April 29, 2021, we hosted our 7th annual fundraising Gala. In its second virtual year, we were thrilled to welcome so many members of our community. With your support, you helped us not only reach our original goal of $360,000, but surpass it! We’re still tallying the final results, but we’re elated to share that you helped us raise more than $362,000. Thank you!
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 30, 2021
Adventure With Purpose: A Recap of Our 2021 Virtual Gala

Each spring we gather our community to celebrate our collective achievements and support future efforts to transform lives and protect wild places. With the pandemic preventing us from gathering in person, we hosted our second (and hopefully final) virtual Gala.

We were excited to see so many in our community tune in to help celebrate our volunteer award winners and support Mountaineers people, places, and publishing. You helped us not only reach our original goal of $360,000, but surpass it! We're still tallying the final results, but we're elated to share that you helped us raise more than $362,000. Thank You!

If you happened to miss the live event, don’t worry! You can still watch the whole program on YouTube.


Here’s a recap of the fun, food, and fanfare:

Pod Socials

In lieu of gathering together for a reception before the main event, Pod Socials were held! Hosts were able to invite guests to a fun and informal gathering for a quick and virtual happy hour. While it wasn’t the same as being together in person, we made lemonade out of lemons! Beverages were made, stories were shared, and laughs were had by all. 

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Dinner From Afar

Before the pandemic, our community packed 50 dining tables and 500 guests into Fremont Studios, where everyone enjoyed a plated meal from Kaspars Catering. Instead of dinner out this year, Kaspars helped us dine-in with pre-packed meals. Tinte Cellars donated wine for the occasion and Heritage Distilling Co. donated gin to be paired with a delectable cocktail kit. Picked up or delivered directly to guests’ homes, it was a fun way for our community to share a meal from afar.

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Musical Mountaineers Pre-Show

Our show began with the elusive and enchanting Musical Mountaineers rowing onto our screens. These musical mavens typically only perform on mountaintops or the shores of alpine lakes, and we were delighted to have Rose Freeman and Anastasia Allison grace our Gala with two performances on their keyboard and violin. The pair were rowed onto our virtual stage by Jordan Hanssen and his trusty rowboat, Clarabelle. As a part of a passion project, Jordan’s rowboat-hosted TinyBoatSession shows and the Musical Mountaineers fit perfectly into our community celebration.

Check out their pre-show performance!

via YouTube

Welcome from the Auctioneers

Following our musical guests, Mountaineers CEO Tom Vogl was seen walking the red carpet with the likes of Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep.


Auctioneer Fred Northup Jr. and host Angela Poe Russell joined shortly after on the Fremont Studios stage. Six feet apart and dressed for the occasion, the pair welcomed our community to a night of fun and festivities.

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Mountaineers Books

After welcoming our guests, we recognized Mountaineers Books and their 13 award-winning titles in 2020. The Big Thaw and Raven’s Witness both won the Mountain Literature prize and the Grand Prize in last year’s Banff Mountain Book Competition. Congratulations, Mountaineers Books!

Sponsor Thank You

Fresh off the red carpet, Tom Vogl welcomed our guests and thanked our event sponsors, including:

Signature Sponsor

REI Co-op

Presenting Sponsor


Major Sponsors

Ryan Swanson
Stoel Rives
Vertical World

Waypoint Outdoor

Beverage Sponsors

Tinte Cellars
Heritage Distilling Co.

Silent Auction

Our silent auction included 54 packages, ranging from bird watching trips in Skagit County, to deluxe car camping gear, to three signed prints from the 1978 K2 expedition team. Our outdoors community is hungry for travel and recreation, and our auction donors did not disappoint! We were once again spoiled by generous in-kind supporters who use their platforms to do social and environmental good, all while making rad gear. 

We bolstered these packages with award-winning books from Mountaineers Books, taking our auction into the stratosphere. Because of the consistently high quality of our packages, our auctions have historically performed well above industry standards, and this year was no exception. Thank you bidders and auction donors for your support!


Live Auction

In addition to our silent auction, we had nine incredible live auction packages bundled in three rounds. Each round was closed live by Fred and Angela. Competition was hot! Congratulations to the lucky winners of these live auction packages:

  • Wanderlust: Two United Business Class Flights to Your Next Adventure
  • Plan Your Postponed Party!
  • Methow Valley Outdoor Adventure
  • Climb the Grand Sentinel with Steve Swenson in the Canadian Rockies
  • All Access to Banff Mountain Film Festival
  • Family Getaway Joshua Tree National Park with Flights from Alaska Airlines
  • Winter Escape in the Grand Tetons
  • Waterfront on Lake Wenatchee
  • Climb Rainier with Tom Vogl and Vik Sahney

In total, the live auction ended up raising over $48,000 for The Mountaineers!

Live Auction.JPG

2020 Volunteer Award Presentations

For the main event, we wanted to celebrate the heart and soul of The Mountaineers: our volunteers. Each year we honor a few dedicated volunteers who went above and beyond to give their time and talents to The Mountaineers, recognizing them with organization-wide volunteer awards. While we could not celebrate each award winner in person, each 2020 award winner was featured in the night’s event. 

Volunteer Awards.png
Leader of the Year: Patti Polinsky

Patti Polinsky is being recognized for her deep service to The Mountaineers, this past year and throughout the last 55+ years. In 2020, Patti’s leadership impacted 159 unique members, and she led, oversaw, or supported a whopping 78 activities! Her 5+ decade commitment to The Mountaineers, along with her impressive resume of leadership and volunteerism over the last year, has earned her The Mountaineers Leader of the Year Award.

Service Award: Tom Bancroft and Travis Prescott

Tom Bancroft has been a member of The Mountaineers since 2017 and is currently serving as the chair of the Seattle Naturalists Committee and as an active Hike Leader and Naturalist Leader. Tom saw a need for outdoor connection during COVID-19 and used his passion and expertise to fill that need. Drawing from his personal expertise, he created and led two wildly popular online birding courses in 2020. Tom’s willingness to step up and his ingenuity to rethink Mountaineers programming during COVID-19 made him a natural choice to co-receive The Mountaineers Service Award.

Travis Prescott, aka the Alpine Geek, has also been a member of The Mountaineers since 2017, currently serves as the chair of the Foothills Snowshoeing and Scrambling Committees, and is an active trip and course leader. Travis went above and beyond in 2020, creating content for Mountaineers courses and co-leading 20 scrambling, snowshoeing, trail running, and hiking trips, supporting 228 members and volunteers. Travis won the Foothills Branch Service Award in 2019 and is co-receiving The Mountaineers Service Award this year for his outstanding contributions to scrambling, snowshoeing, and digital navigation leadership.

Youth Education Award: Matt and Joni Swenson

Matt and Joni Swenson joined The Mountaineers in 2006 and 2000 and are both heavily involved with the Seattle Explorers and Mountaineers Adventure Club (MAC). This dynamic parent duo are longtime volunteers, and their devotion to youth outdoor access has been particularly inspiring this past year. Both are revered as thoughtful, considerate, and kind individuals who approach their volunteerism with gratitude and humility. Matt and Joni have brought joy and servitude to the MAC community, especially this past year, and we are proud to award them with The Mountaineers Leadership in Youth Education Award.

In addition to our org-wide awards, we recognized our 2020 branch award winners for their continued dedication to The Mountaineers community and mission:

Foothills Branch Service Award

Karen Wallace

Christopher Ensor

Kitsap Branch Service Award

Bill Bandrowski

Jerry Logan

Olympia Branch Service Award

Richard Irwin

Tacoma Branch Service Award

Scott Schissel

Outdoor Centers Service Award

Thomas Hansen

Everett, Bellingham, and Seattle Branch Awards

To be announced later this spring!

Raise the Paddle

No fundraising Gala is complete without a Raise the Paddle, and this year was no different. Your generosity was astounding and your virtual Raise the Paddle donations raised over $200,000. Added to the funds raised from optional ticket sales, sponsorships, and the online auction, we raised more than $362,000! A huge thank you to all of our supporters!


Musical Mountaineers Finale

Ending the show with a ride in a rowboat and their rendition of “Hello, Seattle,” the Musical Mountaineers graced our virtual stage once again to cap off a memorable evening.

A Toast to You

We have so many people to thank: our sponsors, table captains and hosts, auction donors, staff, board members, those who participated in our videos, and so many others. However, our biggest thanks goes out to you, our viewers, bidders, and virtual paddle raisers whose spirit of generosity lifted up our entire community.

We are awestruck, humbled, and deeply grateful for your time and philanthropy. It means so much to have your support - your time, your knowledge, your passion, and your gifts. Each of you play an important role in making the mission of The Mountaineers a reality. We thank you for supporting our work. Thank you for standing with us in celebration of our people, places, publishing, and programs.

We hope to see you in person next year, but for now, thank you for making this a Gala to remember!

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