Adventure With Purpose: A Recap of our 2018 Gala

On April 14, 2018, we hosted Adventure With Purpose, our 2018 Gala. Each year we come together to celebrate our community and support our efforts to transform lives and protect our wild places for generations to come. Here's a recap of the incredible event.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 18, 2018
Adventure With Purpose: A Recap of our 2018 Gala

Outdoor experiences with The Mountaineers are transformative. We are explorers who seek adventure and challenge. We teach skills and inspire new generations of adventurers, building community and creating lifelong memories. New leaders are forged on windswept ridges and in deep, forested valleys. We come home with a passion to share and a resolution to protect wild places - the places we love. Our outdoor experiences are imbued with commitment and conviction. In short: we adventure with purpose

Every year we gather our Mountaineers community to celebrate our achievements and support future efforts to transform lives and protect our wild places for generations to come. We’re so grateful to those who were able to join us, and to everyone who has supported us throughout the year. We were honored to have a special message from Senator Maria Cantwell and the offices of Congressman Kilmer in attendance. We appreciate our legislators who champion our public lands!

During the evening we appreciated our shared legacy and were inspired by our new goals to lead innovation in outdoor education, engage future Mountaineers, and advocate fiercely for our wild places.

To kick us off, we gave our donation cards to support a favorite race in another nail-biting Tyrolean Traverse, this time in a head-to-head Battle of the Board. While enjoying dinner, we bid (like maniacs) on a smorgasbord of incredible live-auction experiences, including an ice ax signed by huge names in Mountaineering including Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.  We honored legendary Mountaineer Tom Hornbein with the lifetime achievement award, presented by teammate and lifelong friend Jim Whittaker, and shared a tender moment with the women from Carolan family. Keely, Sophie, and Courtney took the stage to ask our community to give boldly. And give boldly we did. During the raise the paddle, our community gave more than $130,000! Add that to the funds raised from the rest of the evening, and we raised more than $350,000! A huge thank you to all of our transformational supporters! 

The evening wrapped with an incredible presentation by legendary climber Lynn Hill, introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell, who shared lesser-heard stories of coming-of-age as the only female climber in a group of men in the 1970s.  We are grateful to Lynn for sharing her time with us, and we are so thankful for this amazing night with our community.

Adventure with Purpose

For 112 years, The Mountaineers has been a passionate group of bold explorers who welcome people from all walks of life into a community that shares deep connections to the outdoors. We’re adventurers driven by imagination, challenge, and the spirit of discovery.

Adventure is at the core of who we are as Mountaineers, but for us, it’s adventure with purpose. That’s because we fiercely protect the outdoor experience and work to be a powerful voice of conservation and responsible access to our wild places. Tom Vogl, our CEO, took the stage to share a story as to why this is so important:

I vividly recall an outing from about 10 years ago that underscores why I believe the work of The Mountaineers is so important. At the time, I was a scout leader and volunteered to take a group of kids from our troop on a snowshoe trip near Snoqualmie Pass. It was a gorgeous morning when we reached the trailhead. The sun was brilliantly bright, but a blanket of fresh snow had fallen overnight and was still hanging in the trees. As one of my scouts looked up at the beams of sunlight streaming through the snow and pine needles, he remarked….”wow, this is just like HDTV…” We all had a good laugh but I was really struck by his observation. His reference point for this profoundly beautiful moment was technology, not the natural world. As I thought about that moment as we plowed our way up the trail, I recalled that his parents weren’t particularly outdoorsy - just like my folks...and I wondered if this experience would lead to others like it, and inspire him to someday share his love of the outdoors with other people.


For 112 years, our thirst for adventure and  exploration has united us. And we work hard to nurture the next generation of Mountaineers, who will carry forward our legacy of volunteer-led outdoor education and conservation advocacy to ensure our impact will be even greater than it is today, 112 years from now…and beyond.

This sense of purpose is far greater and more impactful than simply our own pursuit of summits. We share our skills and experience with others, leading innovation in outdoor education so others may find confidence to explore the great outdoors. We mentor and inspire the next generation, engaging future Mountaineers so anyone who has an interest, can find a path. And we are a strong and unified voice for public lands, fiercely advocating for wild places so Americans across the spectrum and for years to come will have a place they can find solitude, friendship, or face new challenges. This is what adventure with purpose is all about.

Tyrolean Traverse

In what has become a Mountaineers staple, we opened the show with another nail-biting Tyrolean Traverse, performed above the heads of our 430 attendees.

For the uninitiated, a Tyrolean traverse is used to move between two rock features. Ropes are strung between points on each side of the span, allowing climbers to traverse through the air, attached to the rope via a harness and pulling hand over hand to get from one side to the other. Developed in the Dolomites of the former Tyrol region in Europe, this method was used to approach and descend from spires. Nowadays, it’s commonly used to negotiate rivers or reach a detached pillar. Or, in our case to raise funds for three Mountaineers programs: the Next Generation, Conservation and Advocacy, and Inspiration and Dedication. With $25 per donation ticket, we gathered funds to support our future ability to share the benefits of an outdoor lifestyle with our diverse youth, grow our community of powerful voices for our wild places, and support our coalition of highly trained volunteers to teach skills and lead trips, raising $17,000 for these programs in the process! 

This year's competition was fierce as we pitted Board Presidents past and future against one another in the 'Battle of the Board' (read more about each competitor on our Tyrolean blog). 




With racers ready, Gavin, Vik, and Tab charged down the course! Everyone was truly neck in neck until the turn, where Gavin lost his slight lead when he struggled with pulling the cord. Vik pulled ahead and Gavin and Tab fought hard to close the gap, but were unable to do so, leaving Vik to be viKtorious. 



Auction Smorgasbord

Before the event officially kicked off, we had silent auction items available for bidding. Items included a custom painting by local artist Nikki Frumkin of Drawn to High Places, gear, books, climbing packages, surfing lessons, cross-country skis, and more. We also had a wall for folks to share what adventure means to them and enjoyed Bluewater Organic Distillery's signature cocktail, "The Mountaineer".  




Led by our MC Fred Northup, Jr.,  and supported by Live Auction Reader Michael Bils, the paddles shot up for our first live auction item - a sailing experience for six in the Puget Sound. 

Item 2 a climbing adventure into the Tetons, including gear from Petzl.  Special thanks to Garrett Arnold and Kristina Ciari, our "Vannas" for the evening. 




Our 12 auction items kept folks with their hands in the air. We had a private art lesson with Mountaineers Books author Molly Hashimoto (Colors of the West) and a museum-quality print of legendary climber Fred Beckey from renowned photographer, and author of The Climbers, Jim Herrington. A group bid on a weekend in Wenatchee, another two groups bid on specialty cocktails, and one lucky climber will be joining Steve Swenson, renouned alpinist, Mountaineers Board Member, and author of Karakoram: Climbing Through The Kashmir Conflict.


The prize to be had of the night was most certainly a vintage, hand-crafted ice ax signed by climbing legends. This one-of-a-kind piece signed by the who's who in climbing, and these legends have collectively notched more first ascents than any group of climbers on earth. The signatures included:

  • Edmund Hillary: the first confirmed to summit Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay.
  • Tenzing Norgay: Nepali Sherpa mountaineer.
  • Chris Bonington: British mountaineer with four expeditions to Everest and the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna.
  • Barbara Washburn: American mountaineer and first woman to climb Denali.
  • Brad Washburn: American mountaineer and cartographer.
  • Fred Beckey: American rock climber, mountaineer and author, known for many first ascents.
  • Royal Robbins: Known for many first ascents of big walls in Yosemite.
  • Reinhold Messner: Italian mountaineer and author. Known for his first solo ascent of Mount Everest, first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen, and first to ascend all fourteen peaks over 26,000 ft.
  • Kurt Diemberger: Austrian mountaineer and author with multiple first ascents.

After bidding exceeded $10,000, Jim Whittaker and Tom Hornbein also offered to sign the ax. Special thanks to Art Eash, Mike Gauthier, Hans and Jacki Adams Florine, and Black Diamond for their support of this item.

We also had a skiing experience with Bryce Phillips, CEO and founder of Evo, dinner with Jim Whittaker and Dianne Roberts at a Maria Hines restaurant, an adventure in Methow Valley, a limited edition print of Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld on Everest's West Ridge, and a 7-day cruise to the Sea of Cortes from UnCruise adventures. 

Transformation inspired Raise the Paddle

We met the women of the Carolan family: Keely, Sophie, and Courtney. Keely came to The Mountaineers summer camp six years ago, and later joined our Mountaineers Adventure club, or MAC for short. Last fall she became the youth representative on our Board of Directors, and she serves as a regular volunteer for our youth courses where she knows she's helping young people like her build a connection to the outdoors that will last a lifetime.

Sophie is also in MAC, and she's grown more confident as she learns what she's capable of. She's overcome her fear of heights, met new friends, and feels closer to her family who all love the outdoors.

Courtney is the proud mother of these two young women, and as the chair of our Wilderness First Aid Committee she's taught life-saving skills to thousands of outdoor enthusiasts.




All three women are volunteers with The Mountaineers, and it's no secret that volunteers are the beating heart of our club. Last year alone volunteers gave over 100,000 hours to teach more than 6,500 people to hike, ski, climb, kayak, and more. It would take 50 full-time staff to accomplish this work, and it's incredible what we can do because of our volunteers.

In the end, Keely asked our community to give boldly, to make sure that 100 years from now Mountaineers of future generations can once again gather to give thanks for the same trails we've explored, the same peaks we've summited, and the same views we've earned. Each generation is remembered for what they leave behind, and it's our duty to celebrate and defend the outdoor experience and our wild places here in the Pacific Northwest.

Give boldly we did. During the raise the paddle, our community gave more than $130,000! Add that to the funds raised from the rest of the evening, and we raised more than $350,000! A huge thank you to all of our supporters! 


Lifetime Achivement Award: Tom Hornbein

The Mountaineers Lifetime Achievement award is an annual honor given to a  member of The Mountaineers community for their lifetime of contributions to the outdoor community.   

This year we were proud to honor Tom Hornbein, a Mountaineers Books author and legendary mountaineer. One of the members of the 1963 American Everest Expedition, Tom and his partner Willi Unsoeld were the first to climb Everest via the West Ridge. In 1965, Tom released a personal account of the journey called Everest: The West Ridge. The most recent edition, published by Mountaineers Books in 2013, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the climb and includes a foreword by Jon Krakauer. At the time of its publication, only fourteen people had succeeded on the West Ridge. Blending his passions for geology, medicine, and mountaineering, Tom pursued a career in anesthesiology and studied human psychological limits and performance at high altitude. He is considered one of climbing's great pioneers. Read more in our recent interview with Tom Hornbein


Tom's award was presented by Jim Whittaker. At the age of 16, Jim learned to climb with The Mountaineers. Eighteen years later, on May 1, 1963, he stepped into world history by becoming the first American to summit Mt. Everest. Fifteen years after that, he led the expedition that saw the first Americans at the summit of K2. Today, Jim Whittaker is still regarded as a seminal figure in North American mountaineering, as well as an astute businessman who helped create the outdoor recreation industry. His accomplishments — in the mountains and in life — are captured in A Life on the Edge, brought to you by Mountaineers Books through our Legends and Lore series, a special imprint that keeps important mountaineering stories alive for the next generation.

The moment Jim presented Tom with the award was touching and had everyone in tears. Jim talked about their alleged "rivalry" on Everest and the value of their lifetime friendship forged on the mountain. Jim made a solid attempt at reading the award's transcription, before Tom stole the mic.

Tom was truly honored to receive the award from The Mountaineers and Mountaineers Books, a group he has come to feel is family. He also remarked on the record-breaking rain coming down outside, saying it almost made him miss living in the Pacific Nortwest. It truly felt like a homecoming.





Lynn Hill, with special introduction by Senator Maria Cantwell

Here in Washington state, we are incredibly fortunate to have such a talented and passionate group of legislators representing us in the “other” Washington. These days, their jobs are even more challenging so we are truly grateful for their service to our state and our country.

One of those people working for recreation is Senator Maria Cantwell. From fighting for landscapes such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the headwaters of the Methow River, and keeping entrance fees at our National Parks affordable, Senator Cantwell is a relentless champion for our public lands. As a strong, female leader in a male-dominated Senate and as a climber and member of our outdoor community, we couldn’t think of a better person to introduce Lynn Hill this evening.

Senator Cantwell had planned to be with us for the evening, and she was disappointed that a last-minute commitment prevented her from attending. Even though she couldn’t be there in person, we thought it would be fitting to have the Senator introduce our keynote, Lynn Hill, and she shared a special video for us all to enjoy. Thank you for putting together a video for us, Senator.


Lynn Hill is a living legend and one of the best climbers of all time. She changed the definition of what is “possible” in rock climbing with her first free ascent of the most famous big wall climb in the world: The Nose in Yosemite Valley. Lynn shaped rock climbing in the early 90s and elevated the sport, becoming a public spokesperson to bring climbing into the mainstream and advocating for women’s participation in the sport. She empowered a generation of women to tackle an unconventional sport — one historically dominated by men — and inspired a community of strong, capable women to get out, get after it, and take things to the next level. She spoke at length about her formative years growing up in Yosemite, and how her time in climbing competitions and on the original reality shows enabled her to create a life as a full-time climber. 




Today, Lynn is 57 and still climbing hard. She recently completed Living in Fear (5.13d) in Rifle, outside of her home in Boulder, Colorado. When she’s not climbing, she’s in full on mom mode for her 14 year old son Owen – an adventure she entered as a “second phase mom” at the age of 42. 

Lynn is inspired by good people doing good things, and believes the story that you tell yourself is the most important one of all. She remains committed to making this world a better place for her son, and supports local and national work for recreation and conservation.

“Being involved with reputable organizations can help drive real change with public lands policy. Local groups like The Mountaineers and national organizations like the Access Fund work with politicians. We have to stand up for what’s right, and we must work together to accomplish those goals.” 

A Toast to YOU

Throughout our history, volunteerism has been at the core of The Mountaineers. Volunteers make it possible for us to carry on our legacy of outdoor education, integrity and action. But we couldn’t have nearly the depth of impact without you and your amazing generosity.




Feel proud knowing that you are part of a legacy:

  • When you’re on a hike and you encounter others high in the alpine - feel proud knowing that the 10 Essentials has significantly increased their ability to make it home safely.
  • When you read Freedom of the Hills, feel proud that generations of Mountaineers volunteers have shared their collective wisdom of mountain craft, for the benefit of people around the globe.
  • When you wake up to crystal-clear skies as the sun rises over the jagged peaks of the North Cascades or the Alpine Lakes Wilderness - feel proud knowing that you helped to pass the legislation that protects them.
  • When you hear the laughter of kids cooking a meal on a backcountry stove or practicing first aid, feel proud that you’ve helped them learn a lifelong outdoor skill.
  • When you look at Tahoma and think of all the climbers who’ve been daring enough to summit her - feel proud knowing that the safety of routes were informed by the expertise of our members, whose guidebooks are integral to their success.

We are truly grateful for the generosity of this community - your time, your knowledge, your passion and your donations. Each of you plays an important role in making the mission of The Mountaineers a reality and we thank you for supporting our work. And thank you, once again, for making this fun party one to remember!







Special Thanks:

We want to extend a huge thanks to all of our generous supporters, including: adidas TERREX, REI Co-op, Petzl, Carter Subaru, Helly Hansen, Fjällräven North America, Vertical World, Hydro Flask, and Canoe Ridge Vineyard.

Our live and silent auction would not have been possible without in-kind product support from adidas TERREX, Agrodolce, Alaska Airlines, American Alpine Institute, Anthony’s Restaurants, Arc’teryx , Arrowleaf Bistro, Artist & Craftsman Supply, Ascent Outdoors, Aslan Brewing Company, Banya 5, Brent Bishop, Black Diamond Equipment, Bluewater Organic Distilling, Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Cascade Bicycle Club, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Lorna Corrigan & Ken Christiansen, Crown Bees, Daniel Smith, Deuter, Rich & Martha Draves, Drawn to High Places, Art Eash, Feathered Friends, Fjällräven North America, Hans and Jacki Adams Florine, Nikki Frumkin, G3, Gallery Framing, Mike Gauthier, Ghostfish Brewing Company, Goat’s Beard Mountain Supplies, GSI Outdoors, Molly Hashimoto, Bill Hecker & Joy Parobek, Helly Hansen, Jim Herrington Photography, Hex Climbing, LLC, Maria Hines, Hydro Flask, Icebreaker, ioColor, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, Rich & Tami Johnston, Jones Snowboards, Karakoram, Kaspars Catering & Events, Leatherman, LifeStraw, John Lundin, Macrina Bakery, Elly Minagawa, MSR, Nikwax, North Cascades Mountain Guides, Pagliacci Pizza, Zsofia Pasztor, Patagonia, PCC Community Markets, Petzl, Bryce & Elise Phillips, Portage Bay Café, Pro Guiding Service, Cathy & Alec Ramsay, Rab USA, Salomon, Gail Sanderson, Seapine Brewing Company, Seattle Bouldering Project, Seattle Cider Company, See Kai Run, Shakti Vinyasa Yoga, John Sheppard & Jennifer Beard, Spy +, Stanley, Stevens Lodge, Stevens Pass, Surf Ballard, Survive Outdoors Longer®, Steve Swenson, Bill Thorness, Tubbs Snowshoes, Two Beers Brewing Co., UnCruise Adventures, United Airlines, Vertical World, Tom Vogl & Mariana Burceag, Martin Volken, Waterbrook, Linnea Westerlind, Jim Whittaker & Dianne Roberts, and Woodland Park Zoo.

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