Celebrating 10 Years of The Mountaineers Gala

For 10 years, The Mountaineers Gala has been a gathering place to celebrate and honor the remarkable achievements of our community. Join us for an evening of celebration, unique auction packages, and memorable storytelling. Claim one of our last in-person tickets or register to receive the link to the virtual presentation and bid in the online auction.
Hana Wilder Hana Wilder
Donor Event & Partnerships Manager
March 01, 2023
Celebrating 10 Years of The Mountaineers Gala

For 10 years, The Mountaineers has come together at the Gala to celebrate and honor the remarkable achievements of our community. One such achievement gained historical recognition when, in 1963, Mountaineers member Jim Whittaker made a groundbreaking climb. Challenging the odds, he became the first American to reach Everest’s 29,028-foot summit. He was only 34. The success of that climb, made possible thanks to the tireless work of the Sherpa supporters, launched Jim into the upper echelon of the climbing world. He has worked tirelessly since to give back to the outdoor community, including leading the first-ever Everest cleanup efforts.

The Mountaineers hosted our very first fundraising Gala in 2013, Everest 50, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of an American’s first summit of Everest. Robert F. Kennedy served as our keynote speaker and we honored Jim with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Together our community raised an unbelievable $287,000 in support of Mountaineers programs. The success of that inaugural fundraising event broke trail for a new annual event to elevate our mission and grow our impact.

A decade later, this annual community celebration has allowed us to honor and celebrate some of the outdoor industry’s most inspiring individuals and has become a pillar of our fundraising efforts. The Gala brings in around 30% of our annual philanthropic revenue; last year’s Gala supporters gave a record breaking $525,000! Charitable donations to The Mountaineers provide essential financial resources for greater organizational stability, effectiveness, flexibility, and innovation. Our annual fund supports need-based scholarships, conservation of our natural world, volunteer leader development, nonprofit outdoor publishing, youth programs, and more.

Beyond the financial impacts of the Gala, the event builds community by providing an opportunity to come together with friends and family, gain inspiration from changemakers in the outdoor industry, and celebrate those who have gone above and beyond. Nothing else quite like it exists in our packed calendar of events. This April we will be honoring special guests Philip Henderson and Steve Swenson, who have made tremendous contributions to outdoor communities around the world.

We are excited to offer a virtual experience again this year, providing a free and inclusive way for our extended community to participate. The Gala provides critical funds to help us meet our annual $1.8 million philanthropic goal, and a hybrid experience allows members to celebrate with us near and far, regardless of ability to donate. For virtual attendees, we invite you to give at any level that is meaningful for you, including a free-to-attend option.

phil snip.PNGPhilip Henderson. Photo by Greg Mionske. 

2023 Keynote Speaker: Philip Henderson

Over the last decade, the Gala has become an opportunity to celebrate individuals who have gone above and beyond to enact positive change for our community and on behalf of our natural world. This April, we are honored to announce that Philip Henderson will be our keynote speaker. Philip has been making history as a groundbreaking adventurer, climber, mountaineer, and outdoor educator for nearly 30 years. Through his passion for outdoor recreation and education, Philip has climbed and skied around the world, and has taught mountain skills to guides and porters in Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, and Chile. In 2012, Philip was a member and team leader of the North Face/National Geographic Everest Education Expedition, and in 2013 he became one of only a few African Americans to summit Denali. He also led an all-African American ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2018 and served as Expedition Leader of the successful Full Circle Everest Expedition, which saw the first all-Black American team summit Mt. Everest in 2022.

With nearly three decades as an outdoor educator, including more than 20 years as an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Philip has made a substantial impact on the outdoor community. As a volunteer, he’s dedicated countless hours to help youth around the country experience the power of nature. Philip was recognized by Outdoor Afro in 2020 with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the outdoor community.

steve snip.PNGSteve Swenson. Photo by Graham Zimmerman.

2023 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree: Steve Swenson

This year, we are thrilled to honor world-renowned alpinist and respected Mountaineers Books author, Steve Swenson, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Steve has been climbing for more than 55 years and is known for big mountain expeditions to the Karakoram Range. He led the second successful American expedition to K2 and made a solo ascent of the North Ridge of Everest, both of which were accomplished without supplemental oxygen. In 2012 he and his partners made the first ascent of Sasser Kangri II (7,518 meters), the second highest unclimbed mountain in the world, a feat for which they were awarded the prestigious Piolet d’Or. Steve and his partners—including Graham Zimmerman—were awarded a second Piolet d’Or in 2020 for their successful first ascent of Link Sar (7,041 meters) in 2019. Steve is one of only a few people to receive a Piolet d’Or, let alone two, an award considered mountaineering's highest honor.

In addition to his book Karakoram: Climbing Through the Kashmir Conflict, published by Mountaineers Books, Steve has been published by Alpinist, Climbing, and Rock & Ice magazines, the Banff Center, and the American Alpine Journal. Steve has a rich history and deep commitment to The Mountaineers and our extended community. During his 12 years as an active member he has served on The Mountaineers Board of Directors and Governance Committee, founded and dedicated endless volunteer hours to supporting our Alpine Ambassadors Program, supported our mission as a Peak Society donor, and was involved in the publication of our tenth edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. Steve also served as president of the American Alpine Club from 2009 to 2012.

Get your tickets to the 2023 Mountaineers Gala

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Mountaineers relies on philanthropic support to bring our programs to life. Donations ensure that the organization has enough resources to thrive and invest in our mission to help people explore, conserve, learn about, and enjoy the lands and waters of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

For more information about the event, please visit our 2023 Gala websiteTo participate in our online auction and join the fun virtually on Saturday, April 1, register online

Virtual Registration

This article originally appeared in our winter 2023 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our  magazine archive

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