From Auction to Alpinism: Climbing Rainier with Mike Gauthier & Tom Vogl

This April, six attendees at our annual Gala bid on (and won!) the trip of a lifetime: to attempt Mount Rainier with Park legend and Mountaineers Books author, Mike Gauthier, and The Mountaineers CEO, Tom Vogl. Read about their journey from bid cards to mountaineering boots.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
July 27, 2019

Every April, The Mountaineers hosts our Annual “Adventure with Purpose” Gala, a fundraising event that includes special guest speakers, dynamic programming, and a variety of live auction packages ranging from nature photography workshops to Everest Base Camp treks. This year, gala attendees had the opportunity to buy into a priceless trip up Mount Rainier with former lead climbing ranger and Mountaineers Books author, Mike Gauthier (who’s summited Washington’s famed mountain more than 180 times), and Mountaineers CEO, Tom Vogl.

Six of the highest bidders secured their spots that evening, giving each three months to prepare for the adventure and earning them a copy of Mike’s book, Mount Rainier: A Climbing Guide, to study in the interim.

July 11–14, 2019, the trip came to fruition when the auction package winners, along with their co-leaders and an all-star group of volunteers, made the trek to the top of the mountain.

The Summit Team ready to embark

 The group took the Emmons Glacier route, a 10,000-foot glacier climb beginning at the White River Campground on the slightly less crowded east side of Mount Rainier National Park. The hike to camp passes through Glacier Basin 3-miles in, the site of mining activity up through the 1930s and a popular camping spot today, and continues up the Inter Glacier to Camp Schurman. The climb up the Inter Glacier can get icy by late July, increasing its challenge.

To add extra elevation (because: why not?), the team chose to scramble over a large rocky volcanic feature, called Steamboat Prow, on their way to Camp Schurman.

And, as often happens with any mountain of that magnitude, the weather was ever-shifting, oscillating between cloudy and raining to sunny and windy to rainbow-filled skies, leaving the participants with many photo-worthy moments.

A rainbow greets the climbers at Camp Schurman

 A trip this unique becomes more than a climb up Washington’s highest peak for the participants. It becomes the physical process of building community. More impactful than the photos of the summit are those of the comradery shared in the quiet moments, when outdoor adventures  solidify bonds and create lasting friendships.

Trip participants Brynne and Ryan Koscianski had this to say about the experience:

"We knew going into the gala that we wanted to make a meaningful contribution to The Mountaineers and the Rainier trip was the perfect fit. We'd climbed Mt. Rainier once before but knew this would be something far more special. Not only would we get to climb with the legend Mike Gauthier, but we'd get to enjoy the company of a VIP crew of Mountaineers. Climbing Rainier is about the journey more than the summit. Over time, the memories of the gusting winds, the cold, and the last 500 feet will fade, but we won't soon forget the great conversations and the new friends that we made along the way. We were so proud that everyone made it to the summit together. What a trip!"

Brynne, Ryan, and Mike at camp, with the Emmons Route rising up to the right

 For Mike Gauthier the journey was a bit of a homecoming. He hadn’t been on Rainier for seven years despite being a former climbing ranger there for 19 years. He was thrilled to be returning to a place that played such a prominent role in this life, and to do so while leading others up the mountain for their first ascents.

Mike Gauthier takes a break in the clouds

 The trip was a huge success (so much so that there's already talk of repeating the auction package for next year’s Gala). And, the proceeds from the buy-in auction package raised $18,000 for Mountaineers programming. Not only did the lucky participants get the trip of a lifetime, but, in doing so, financially supported our continuing goal of getting as many people outdoors as safely and responsibly as possible—a true representation of adventuring with purpose.

Adventure With Purpose - April 4, 2020

Next year’s Gala will be held on April 4, 2020 at Fremont Studios. Our keynote speaker is renowned climber AND Knight Sir Chris Bonington. Further details coming soon.

For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Tyler Dunning at tylerd@mountaineers.org


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