Foothills Volunteer Spotlight - Birgit Grimlund and Larry Holsted

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. Read on to hear from Birgit Grimlund and Larry Holsted, two dedicated volunteers for the Foothills Branch.
Lori Heath Lori Heath
Foothills Super Volunteer
November 05, 2021

This month the Foothills Branch would like to recognize the contributions of Birgit Grimlund and Larry Holsted. Find out more about them and what inspires her to volunteer for The Mountaineers.

Birgit Grimlund


What brought you to the Pacific Northwest? What led you to The Mountaineers?

I grew up in Spee-bi-dah on the Puget Sound and have been hiking, backpacking, and boating since my toddler years. My father and uncles were Mountaineers members in the heady days of the 1950s and many people who are now legendary in The Mountaineers influenced him and were household names. I joined The Mountaineers almost 3 years ago to support my high school son who had just joined Seattle MAC (Mountaineers Adventure Club). I was delighted to find a wonderfully diverse and energetic group of parents through my MAC involvement and very much appreciate the nudge from MAC to pursue my backpacking leadership badge.

What have been your favorite volunteer experiences with The Mountaineers?

Without a doubt, the MAC backpacking trips I've been privileged to lead and mentor this summer and fall.  Backpacking has been such a transformative experience for my family, and being able to share my enthusiasm with young people and their parents brings huge balance to my life (a necessary counterpoint to the challenges of being a primary care physician).

What is your favorite memory from a Mountaineers trip? 

Images of a group of teens in awe of a field of bear grass in full candle-like bloom, and those same teens doing a crazy camp yoga circle (this was not your mother's yoga). So many unique and rewarding conversations prompted by miles on a trail.

What is your favorite outdoor place in the PNW?

I return to Cathedral Lake in the Pasayten over and over again. I discovered it with my sister in my early twenties, later enjoyed it on a multigenerational, several-family group horse packing trip, backpacked it again with my 11-year-old son, and then returned when he was 14 with my 79-year-old father, and finally backpacked it again with a friend last summer. It's a stunning and wild area - forests have burned and started regrowing, and last summer I counted (with the help of a naturalist friend) 130 different blooming wildflowers and shrubs.

Larry Holsted


What brought you to the Pacific Northwest? What led you to The Mountaineers?

I’m native to the Pacific Northwest, being both born and raised in eastern Washington. Growing up, I was fortunate that my family enjoyed camping, so summer weekends would often find us making the long drive to places like Mount Rainier National Park or the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, just to name a few places. It was those trips as a child that paved the way for my lifelong involvement in hiking, backpacking, climbing and, ultimately many years later, joining The Mountaineers.

I actively hiked during those early years and started backpacking during college. Some years later I began glacier climbing. As my enthusiasm for climbing increased (particularly glacier climbing), I decided I needed more in-depth, quality training in the technical aspects of glacier climbing, so I joined The Mountaineers to take the Basic Alpine Climbing Course. This course was exactly what I needed as it provided the training I wanted and was an excellent introduction to The Mountaineers.

What have been your favorite volunteer experiences with The Mountaineers?

This is difficult to answer as there are many favorite volunteer experiences, but two really stand out. After completing the Basic Alpine Climbing Course, I volunteered as an instructor for the course. It was rewarding and gratifying to help participants learn a new skill or achieve a sought-after-summit. Another favorite volunteer experience was becoming both a hike leader and a backpack leader. I really enjoyed planning, organizing, and leading the mentored trips required to become a leader. Working with the mentor leaders, as well as the support of the participants on the trips, was very uplifting and fulfilling.

What is your favorite memory from a Mountaineers trip? 

It doesn’t matter if the destination is a summit, a high pass, or completing a loop, the memory of certain participants’ reactions when reaching the destination makes a lasting impact on me and is very rewarding. One recent memory was leading a trip up the old trail of Mail Box Peak early this past spring. Almost the whole route was still snow-covered, so we needed micro spikes. The conditions made reaching the summit questionable, but we did make it and it was amazing to see how awesome that was for the participants. 

Another great memory was on a three-day, 33-mile backpack trip this past July along the Loowit Trail loop around the base of Mt. St. Helens. The weather was ideal, there were plenty of wildflowers, no bugs, and the snowpack was at just the right level. These perfect conditions and the great sense of accomplishment felt by the team made this trip a highlight that will not be forgotten.

What is your favorite outdoor place in the PNW?

This question is almost impossible to answer as there as so many great places. One of my favorites is almost anywhere within the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Lake Byrne and Camp Lake along the Lost Creek Trail is a truly spectacular spot and an amazing spot to camp. This area is in the western part of the wilderness and just to the southeast of the head of the White Chuck River.