Adventure With Purpose: A Recap of Our 2022 Gala

On April 2, 2022, we hosted Adventure With Purpose, our 2022 Gala. Each year we come together to celebrate and support our mission, and after three years away from an in-person gathering we were especially thrilled to be surrounded by outdoor leaders, conservation partners, legislative champions, and friends and family. Together we blew past our goal of $420,000 and raised more than $500,000 to support our efforts to transform lives and protect the outdoor experience for generations to come. Here's a recap of the incredible event.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
April 05, 2022

Overview

The Mountaineers adventure with purpose. We seek out places that are bigger than ourselves to uncover joy and feel the transformative power of nature. We’re advocates, raising our voices together for this and future generations, all while adventuring in places big and small. We’re a community, teaching responsible recreation for all people to find belonging in the outdoors. And we flourish thanks to a culture of giving. Our volunteers give back and pay it forward, empowering others to confidently explore in their own backyards and beyond. 

Our supporters help us go farther, providing resources to reach more people and to preserve the outdoor experience. Each act of giving strengthens our bonds and deepens our roots. We believe we are all connected, to this earth and to each other, through the magic of outdoor play. 

Every year we gather our Mountaineers community at our Gala to celebrate these connections and raise funds to support future efforts to transform lives and protect the outdoor experience. We’re so grateful to those who were able to join us in-person and virtually, and to everyone who has supported The Mountaineers, especially during the pandemic. We blew past our goal of $420,000 and raised more than $500,000 to support Mountaineers programming and publishing.

During the evening we appreciated our shared legacy and were inspired by our vision to create a Mountaineers where all people have the opportunity to connect, experience, enjoy, and protect. It’s our goal to continue supporting this work by leading innovation in outdoor education, engaging future Mountaineers, and advocating fiercely for our natural world.

To kick us off, we gave our donation cards to support a favorite racer in another Tyrolean Traverse, this time in a head-to-head Mountaineers Adventure Club (MAC) Match Up. The race was a real nail-biter, including some unexpected interference, and we encourage you to read on to see the play by play or watch for yourself.

Joining our auctioneer Fred on stage to announce the Tyrolean Traverse winner was former Washington state Governor Dan Evans. Governor Evans was supposed to receive his Mountaineers Lifetime Achievement Award at our in-person Gala in 2020, but the pandemic had other ideas. He still received his award virtually and was honored with a video, but we were grateful to have him join us in person this year to recognize his contributions to our outdoor recreation and conservation community.

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While enjoying dinner, we bid on incredible live-auction experiences, including a signed, rare print by our honoree of the night Dianne Roberts. 

MAC student Herman Meyer took the stage to ask attendees to give boldly to support our mission. And give boldly we did. During the raise the paddle, community members near and far gave more than $250,000. A huge thank you to all of our transformational supporters! 

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We honored Dianne with the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by her two sons, Joss and Leif Whittaker. 

The evening wrapped with an incredible presentation by legendary climber Rick Ridgeway introduced by two-time Piolet d’Or winner Steve Swenson, who shared many beautiful and inspiring stories of coming full circle in your life’s goals and mission. You can hear the stories for yourself via our recorded livestream.

Mountaineers believe in the unwavering value of outdoor spaces, and their power to change minds and inspire action. We are so thankful for this amazing night and all of the support we received, which will make it possible for The Mountaineers to offer more transformational outdoor experiences.

Adventure with Purpose

Adventure is at the core of who we are as Mountaineers, but for us, our work is about adventure with purpose. We fiercely protect the outdoor experience, working to be a powerful voice of conservation while building an outdoor experience where all people can feel belonging. Here is a full recap of the event:

Reception

Prior to the official program start, silent auction items were available for viewing and bidding. The room was filled with with opportunities to support The Mountaineers, and the excitement of the reception would have  been possible without the engagement of local organizations like Bluewater Organic Distilling that created a custom cocktail for the event, appropriately named “The Mountaineer."

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Campfire Coffee was also in attendance, brewing their campfire roasted beans for our guests in support of getting youth outdoors. There were plenty of activities to enjoy including a fun photo booth from ShutterBus and a Wine Toss presented by REI Co-op. Rick Ridgeway even entered the room early to sign copies of his Mountaineers Books publication, The Last Step.

Main Program

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Vik Sahney, Immediate Past President of The Mountaineers and Gala Co-Chair, took the stage to acknowledge that we are on native lands and to welcome everyone to our first in-person Gala since 2019. He also took a moment to celebrate our collective accomplishments since the pandemic, most recently surpassing our membership peak of 15,000 members.

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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 350 in-person attendees.

For those unfamiliar, 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 the three Mountaineers strategic vision areas: lead innovation in outdoor education, engage future Mountaineers, and advocate for our natural world. 

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This year's competition was fierce as we saw Mountaineers Adventure Club (MAC) students face off in a nail-biting match up. In red, we had Blake Bundesmann, a junior at Garfield High School who started rock climbing as a middle schooler and is now leading trad routes in the alpine. In blue, we had Ryan Connolly, a junior at West Seattle High School and avid downhill skier, climber, and backpacker known for her love of swimming in alpine lakes. And in green, we had Noah Griffaton, a senior at Bothell High School who has summited Mount Baker and Liberty Bell.

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 natural world, and support our coalition of highly trained volunteers to teach skills and lead trips, raising nearly $18,000 for these programs in the process! 

The curtain dropped and the racers were off. 

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All three racers had a strong start, but then, in a moment of unexpected interference, Blake was caught in the curtain! He mightily maneuvered to get unstuck, then chased after Ryan and Noah! Ryan and Noah were neck and neck as they made the turn at the other end of the ballroom, but Blake was blazing fast and nearly caught them in the turn. Ultimately, the interference proved too much for Blake to overcome, but the end with Ryan vs. Noah was truly a photo finish! The judges could barely call it. Ryan pulled her cord slightly sooner than Noah, but Noah pulled it faster, and the audience watched in rapt silence as the cords fluttered to the stage in unison. In the end, the judges crowned Ryan as our 2022 Tyrolean Traverse Champion. Congratulations, Ryan!

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An Auction to Remember

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Before the event officially kicked off, we launched our online auction for a full week of bidding on over 50 silent auction packages! Items included a signed print from Jimmy Chin, top quality gear from brands like Petzl and YETI, books, climbing packages, skijoring, birding field trips, and more provided by our incredible partners. After the reception and silent auction closed, guests made their way into the ballroom for the live auction and programming.

Led by our auctioneer Fred Northup, Jr., and supported by emcee Tiernan Madorno, the paddles shot up for our first live auction item - a rare print of Prayer Flags Over Kantega by Dianne Roberts. Special thanks to Garrett Arnold and Skye Stoury, our "Vannas" for the evening.

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Our 10 auction items kept folks with their hands in the air. We had a 4-night beachfront Maui getaway, ice climbing with Steve Swenson, a trek to Everest basecamp with Madison Mountaineering, and a 7-night Alaskan cruise with UnCruise Adventures. We were thrilled to bring the 2022 Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff, Alberta back this year generously donated by Rab USA and Alaska Airlines.

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Super VIP

The most talked about table of the night was the Super VIP table that was dawned in orange and gold flair. Complete with gifts from REI and MiiR, s’mores stations, and champagne, this was the best seat in the house and was the ultimate Gala experience. Ten guests were able to indulge in the extravagance and we look forward to hosting auction item winner Steve Schreiber next year.

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The highlight of the night was the surprise package from Nikki Frumkin that in-person guests were able to bid on following the painting commission package. Thanks to Dave and Hope Maltz for generously putting together the package and congratulations on your new painting of Prusik Peak!

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Rick Ridgeway Dinner

Another runaway hit was a private dinner with a special guest. We asked our Keynote Speaker and mountaineering legend to stick around in Seattle for one more day for the opportunity for our Mountaineers community to share a private dinner experience. The master storyteller shared tales of his first American summit up K2, first direct coast-to-coast traverse of Borneo, and his first crossing on foot of a 300-mile corner of Tibet. The evening was filled with laughter, good food, and candid conversations about a life lived in the pursuit of outdoor adventure.

Transformation Inspired Raise the Paddle

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After the live auction, Herman Meyer, President of the Mountaineers Adventure Club, took the stage. Herman joined The Mountaineers through the Explorers program who found community through the clubs programs. 

“The day I realized the importance of community was a memorable one. It was my first time rappelling off a route in the alpine and I was convinced I couldn’t make it down. I had practiced at the program center and knew what to do…but as I peered over the edge, fear took over and I started to cry. What helped me find my confidence was hearing cheers from my friends below. I took a deep breath and began to slowly make my way down. As soon as I was on the ground safely, I was greeted by high fives and hurrahs from my club mates. That day, I learned that when you’re feeling vulnerable, there’s no better remedy than support and encouragement from your community.”

Herman went on to share more of his story. He moved from Explorers to MAC, growing more skills and more deeply connecting with others and the natural world. He expressed gratitude to all the volunteers, parents, and fellow students who supported his outdoor journey. And he acknowledged that not everyone is afforded the same opportunities.

“As I reflected on what I wanted to share with you tonight, I kept coming back to the importance of community. It’s less about what you do, and more about who you do it with…. I want to pause here and acknowledge that privilege has played a significant role in my ability to access these opportunities. Historically, many communities, especially communities of color, have been intentionally excluded from the outdoors. And there are still high barriers to entry. 

"All people should be able to benefit from access to natural lands and outdoor education. And all people should feel welcomed into communities like ours. The long-term health of our natural lands depends on it.”

Herman ended his speech by asking attendees to give boldly to ensure that 100 years from now all people can find belonging in the outdoors. He wants more people to celebrate and share the outdoor experience, so that more kids and adults can feel how we feel and so our public lands have more voices speaking up to protect them.

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Give boldly we did. During the raise the paddle, our community gave more than $250,000! Add that to the funds raised from the rest of the evening, and we raised more than $500,000! A huge thank you to all of our supporters!

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dianne Roberts

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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 honored Dianne Roberts, an award-winning photographer, renowned mountaineer, and lifelong backpacker, skier, and sailor. She’s ran marathons, earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and – at the age of 70 – rowed 70 miles in open-water in 28 hours. An accomplished sailor, she completed a 4-year, 20,000-mile round trip voyage to Australia with husband Jim Whittaker and their two sons. As a team member and official photographer on the 1978 American K2 Expedition, she set a North American women’s high-altitude record, reaching nearly 8,000m without oxygen. Dianne later served as Executive Director for the 1990 Everest International Peace Climb, raising $1.1M and helping remove more than a ton of trash from the mountain. Her striking photographs have been featured in numerous publications worldwide, including National Geographic. A tireless supporter of recreation and conservation nonprofits, Dianne has helped raise millions of dollars for outdoor organizations, including The Mountaineers.

Dianne’s award was presented by her sons Joss and Leif Whittaker, while her husband Jim looked on from the audience. Today Joss is an archaeologist at the University of Washington who inherited his mom’s love for photography. Leif is a climbing ranger for the US Forest Service on Mount Baker, and he recently published his memoir, My Old Man and the Mountain, with Mountaineers Books.

Leif spoke of his mom’s rare ability to be exceptionally good at everything she does, yet has the humility of never speaking about it. He shared the story of her becoming a black belt in Taekwondo when he, himself, only earned a yellow belt, green stripe. He shared the story of his mom’s performance on K2, where her support enabled the 1978 American team to summit and where she set a North American woman’s record for reaching the highest altitude without oxygen. Lastly, Leif congratulated his father, Jim, for making the best decision of his life nearly 48 years ago when he proposed to Dianne.

Joss talked about Dianne’s ability to care for her two young boys at home while simultaneously providing support for the 1990 Everest Peace Climb. Dianne ran a satellite link between their house and the White House to solve some of the logistical challenges the climbing team was facing. Joss also spoke of his mother’s love for taking pictures, and her ability to ignore an incredibly broken toe while diving for photography.

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Dianne received a standing ovation as she took the stage. She thanked her sons, her husband Jim, and her friends and family watching from near and far. Dianne shared how she fell in love with photography, talked about an unexpected and significant outcome from Everest Peace Climb, then regaled the audience with a custom photo display created especially for our event space.

Keynote Speaker: Rick Ridgeway

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The evening wrapped with an incredible presentation by legendary climber Rick Ridgeway introduced by two-time Piolet d’Or winner Steve Swenson.

For 15 years, Rick served as VP of Environmental Affairs and then VP of Public Engagement at Patagonia, Inc. During his tenure he has worked with teams to develop and launch environmental and sustainability initiatives including Freedom to Roam, the Footprint Chronicles, the Responsible Economy Campaign, and Worn Wear. 

In addition, Rick is recognized as one of the world’s foremost mountaineers. With three companions, he was the first American to summit K2, and he has completed other significant climbs and explorations on all continents. He has written seven books, including The Last Step: The American Ascent of K2, published by Mountaineers Books, and has produced and directed dozens of television shows. National Geographic recently honored him with its “Lifetime Achievement in Adventure” award.

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Rick opened his presentation speaking about how Jim Whittaker and a copy of Mountaineers Books marquee publication, The Freedom of the Hills, inspired him to begin his lifelong pursuit of outdoor adventure. He moved on to speak about his learnings on the mountain and what it means to live in the pursuit of summiting mountain tops:

“What I’ve taken from the high elevations to sea level in my life is tenacity. The real goal isn’t to summit at all - it’s the footsteps it takes to get there.”

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One of the most powerful stories from Rick’s speech was the retelling of the loss of his friend, Jonathan Wright. While descending a remote mountain in Eastern Tibet called Minya Konka in 1980, Rick and his three close friends triggered an avalanche and were swept 1,5000 vertical feet down the mountain. Despite Rick battling injuries and doing all that he could, Johnathan died in his arms. Rick buried his friend in a stone tomb on the side of the mountain and didn’t know if he would ever go back to climbing. It wasn’t until Johnathan’s daughter, Asia, was an intern at Patagonia when she asked Rick to take her back to that mountain to find her father’s tomb. The two embarked on a multi-month pilgrimage to Minya Konka and battled weather and winds to eventually come back to Jonathan’s resting place. 

“I shared with Asia stories and lessons learned - many of which I am sharing with you all tonight about how you have to plan but adapt to changes. How you get to the top, one step at a time. How you need to go about your life knowing that it’s not about the summit but about the way to the top. Your life has to have a purpose and that purpose has to be more about you but about how you can be more than just yourself. Wherever you are in your life’s journey, every day you need to pause and ask ourselves: what are we going to do with our one, wild, and precious life?”

Incredible images and videos were shared from Rick’s legendary career in pursuing the outdoors. His impact in the mountaineering community and outdoors industry was shaped by his purpose to be more than himself and live every day to its fullest.

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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.

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!

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Special Thanks

We want to extend a huge thanks to all of our generous supporters, including: REI Co-Op, MiiR, UnCruise Adventures, United Airlines, Brown & Brown Insurance, Petzl, Ryan Swanson, Waypoint Outdoor, Vertical World, Bluewater Organic Distilling, Campfire Coffee, Georgetown Brewing Company, Ghostfish Brewing Company, and Tinte Cellars.

Our live and silent auction would not have been possible without in-kind product support from Alaska Airlines, Alex Pratt, American Alpine Institute, Andrew Hughes, Anne Smith, Ascent Outdoors, Barney Scout Mann, Barry Roitblat, Betsy Robblee, Big Agnes, BioLite, Bluewater Organic Distilling, Bogs, Brian Young, Brynne and Ryan Koscianski, Cascade Adventure Vans, Cascade Bicycle Club, Cascade Designs, Corey Rich, Craig Romano, Crown Bees, Crystal Mountain Resort, Dave and Brita Enfield, Dave and Hope Maltz, David Parent, Dianne Roberts and Jim Whittaker, Discover Nature, LLC, Dixie Havlak, Edelrid, Ellen Monrad, Evenfall Photographers, evo, Feathered Friends, Fifty-Nine Parks, Fred Bumstead, Geoff Lawrence, Goat's Beard Mountain Supplies, Graham Zimmerman, GRAYL, Gregory Mountain Products, GSI Outdoors, Heather Anderson, Helen Sohlberg, Helly Hansen, Hugh Kimball, Jimmy Chin Productions, Jordan Hanssen, Judi and Bill Maxwell, Katie Gerber, Katie Ives, Kitsap Forest Theater, Klean Kanteen, Loni Uchytil, Lorna Corrigan, Lowell Skoog, Madison Mountaineering, Mammut, Manisha Powar, Map Your Adventure, Meany Lodge, Megan Bond, Melanie Riddick, Michael Wynne-Jones & Isobel Coney, Mire Kashikura, Molly Hashimoto, Momentum Climbing, Mountaineering Club, Mt. Baker Ski Area, North Cascades Mountain Guides, Ombraz Sunglasses, Ortlieb USA, Outdoor Research, Inc, Patagonia Seattle Store, Peter Hendrickson and Nancy Temkin, Rab USA, Rack N Road, Rich Draves, Rick Ridgeway, Roger Mellem, Sam Demas & Laurel Bradley, Sam Sanders, Sean Ardussi, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Bouldering Project, Semi-Rad, Seth Kantner, Siana Wong, Smartwool, SMC, Spy+, Stanley PMI, Steve McClure, Steve Smith, Steve Swenson, Sunski, Symphony Tacoma, Takeo Kuraishi, The Botanical Company, Tinte Cellars, Tom Bancroft, Tom Eng, Tom Vogl, Vasque, Wally Pets, Yasuo Mori, and YETI.