Gene's Quest for 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier

At the age of 72, Gene set out on his quest to climb all 100 peaks of Mount Rainier. At that point, he had only done seven — but was determined to catch up to his friend Mickey, who completed his list in August of 2012.
Suzanne Gerber Suzanne Gerber
February 02, 2016
Gene's Quest for 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier
by Suzanne Gerber, Mountaineers Publications Manager

Of all the Wilderness areas in Washington State, Mount Rainier is by far the most iconic. It was the fifth national park established in the United States — back in 1899. Millions flock there every year to hike, ski, snowshoe, climb or simply take photos. Those who love the outdoors love any excuse to spend more time in this beautiful park. 

Gene Yore and Mickey Eisenberg have provided that excuse, with their e-book, Guide to 100 Peaks at Mt. Rainier National Park. The two have paired up and identified the 100 tallest peaks that surround the mountain, not counting the “big one.” Of these peaks, only 10 are climbs. 75 are scrambles and the 15 remaining are hikes — a list that awards it’s own medallion.

In 2012, at the age of 72, Gene set out on his quest to climb all 100 of these. At that point, he had only done seven — but was determined to catch up to his friend Mickey, who completed his list in August of 2012. 

“There’s something special about this list,” Gene explains. “It’s more accessible/achievable than many of the others.” And that’s true. Compared to the Bulger list, for example, which names the (unofficial) 100 highest peaks in Washington State, the 100 peaks at Mount Rainier is very attainable. Almost all of them can be done in a day. But that’s not to say it’s an easy list. It may not include Rainier itself, but it does include Little Tahoma at the height of 11,138 ft. Then there are maintained paths and lookouts that balance the list. Perhaps this is what makes the list so special. You can decide what type of peak you’re in the mood for on any given day. Until you get close to the end of the list that is, and want to finish it.

When Gene was just five peaks away from completion, he used his SPOT messenger to call 911. It was during his return from Double Peak — a 6,203 ft strenuous scramble on the east side of Rainier. After breaking his fibula and spending the night in a bivy, Gene sent out the signal. He waited until the morning because, as a former member of Seattle Mountain Rescue, he knew a late night emergency call would put his colleagues at risk in the dark. It was a seamless rescue with a full recovery — but that wasn’t Gene’s luckiest break during this quest. About six months prior, he suffered a cardiac arrest. Fortunately, it occurred at home and, by swift action of his wife, he was able to get emergency care almost immediately. Once recovered, his determination to finish the list was stronger than ever. 

As any near-death incident may, it strengthened his relationship with his friends and family — and especially his climbing partner, Mickey. Their companionship, encouragement and mutual sense of adventure kept Gene motivated from peak to peak. And Gene’s will to keep going, after his heart nearly gave out on him, left Mickey in complete admiration. “Gene sure has a lot of determination. The broken leg proves it. But his cardiac arrest elevates the quest into the heroic,” said Mickey. “It was courage in the face of something none of us can even contemplate.” 

Gene’s side of the story is a bit more modest, though he tells it with pride. He focuses on others who are getting out and enjoying these 100 peaks. Gene named one friend who hadn’t climbed in over 30 years, before deciding to take on this ‘attainable’ list and has now climbed over half of them. He knows 20 or 30 more who joined just to track their progress on it. “The best thing,” he says about the 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier, “is how much it’s inspired people to get out.”


Top photo taken after Gene Yore climbed his 100th peak at MRNP. Dewey Peak is shown in the background. Photo was taken on the saddle between Dewey Peak and Seymour Peak. Left to right: Mary Hsue, Jim Logerfo, Henry Romer, Peter Clitherow, Jack McLaughlin, Jay Crafton, Denise Crafton, Sheryl Lamberton, Joe Yore, Gene Yore, Don Yore, Colleen McClure, Steve McClure, Mickey Eisenberg. Photo by Karl Themer

Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park, by Mickey Eisenberg and Gene Yore is available on iTunes and as an electronic book (for tablets and phones). It is also available as an iBook through the Apple bookstore. The new, second edition was published in the summer of 2014. All royalties are donated to The Mountaineers. 

This article originally appeared in our November/December 2014 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, click here.