Legendary Ice Ax: Bid a New Home

Mountaineers Manisha Powar and Vineeth Madhusudanan bid to support our future at the 2018 annual Gala, taking home a one-of-a-kind ice ax signed by Mountaineering legends. “The Mountaineers is our second life. When we’re not at home and not at work, we’re at The Mountaineers. It’s been a central part of who we are and we hope more and more people can have this type of opportunity.”
Tom Vogl Tom Vogl
Mountaineers CEO
June 20, 2018

More than four hundred Mountaineers members, friends, and family will not soon forget the evening of April 14, 2018. The 2018 Mountaineers Gala, our single most important fundraising event of the year, brought our community together in celebration of all the things that make it so very special.

We witnessed Jim Whittaker present Tom Hornbein with a lifetime achievement award in an inspirational moment that was both heartwarming and funny. We heard from Courtney Carolan and her daughters, Sophie and Keeley, about how The Mountaineers has become a focal point in their family and how our programs have had a transformative impact on the community. And we ended the evening with stories of friendship, courage, family, and determination from climbing legend Lynn Hill.

What I most enjoyed about the evening was the way we celebrated our volunteers and donors: not just the way they support our Mountaineers members, but more importantly, the profoundly positive impact they have on our community. In my opening remarks at the gala, I spoke about the fact that Mountaineers are motivated by the challenges of exploration, yet we aspire for more than just bagging peaks for their own sake - we adventure with purpose.

This sense of purpose is far greater and more impactful than simply our own pursuit of summits. We share our skills and experience with others, leading innovation in outdoor education so others may find confidence to explore the great outdoors. We mentor and inspire the next generation, engaging future Mountaineers so anyone who has an interest can find a path. And we are a strong and unified voice for public lands, fiercely advocating for wild places so Americans will have a place they can find solitude, friendship, or face new challenges for years to come. This is what adventure with purpose is all about.

Mountaineers members Manisha Powar and her husband Vineeth Madhusudanan model adventure with purpose in their dedication to volunteerism, leadership, and generosity. Manisha and Vineeth joined The Mountaineers about ten years ago after hearing about us from friends. They had aspirations of climbing Mt. Rainier on their own after completing a climb with a guide service. They decided enrolling in the Alpine Scrambling program would be a great way to begin building the skills they needed. “My first scramble was in early spring on Denny Peak,” recalls Manisha. “I’ll never forget that day, scrambling with Vineeth and the rest of our group. We had so much fun and learned so much in this class that we immediately began planning to take Basic Alpine the following year.”

Manisha and Vineeth also began volunteering early on with The Mountaineers. When they began taking courses with The Mountaineers, they realized it was a totally different experience than being guided. “The guides were great, but their goal was mainly just to get you up the mountain, not as much focus on teaching,” said Manisah. “I loved the camaraderie among the instructors and students in The Mountaineers.”

While Manisha and Vineeth were taking Basic, they volunteered with Scrambling. They became Alpine Scrambling and Snowshoe Leaders, and Manisha also became Climb Leader. For three years running, both Manisha and Vineeth have achieved the honor of being recognized as “Super Volunteers” - people who volunteer 15 times or more in a given year. 

Recently Manisha’s volunteer leadership reached new heights as she became an officer of the Board of Directors, serving as our Secretary: “Volunteering in the field gets you out, teaching, and providing hands on experiences. Over time I saw bigger opportunities to impact the design of programs - for example supporting the glacier committee for Seattle climbing. A couple years ago I joined the Advisory Council and that led me to considering the opportunity to join the Board of Directors. My aspiration serving on the Board is to find new, bigger ways to contribute to the success of this organization.”

At the 2018 Mountaineers gala, attendees financially support our mission to enable us to do more and further our impact. Hundreds of people “raised the paddle” to financially support activities such as youth programs, conservation, and training our volunteers — efforts we otherwise wouldn’t be able to accomplish. A lucky few people walked away from the evening with one of our special live auction packages, and it was only fitting that Manisha and Vineeth won the most sought-after and highest-bid live auction item: a vintage ice ax signed by the who’s who of famous climbers: Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay, Chris Bonington, Barbara and Brad Washburn, Fred Beckey, Royal Robbins, and Reinhold Messner. At the end of the evening, two other legends added their signatures to this piece of living history: Jim Whittaker and Tom Hornbein.

The ax was donated to us by Art Eash, a 40-year Mountaineers member. He was in the process of moving when he discovered a few historic ice axes buried amongst his possessions. Art no longer knew what to do with them, as they had been collecting dust for years, so he reached out to The Mountaineers to see if we could benefit from them, either by being auctioned off or by adding them to the historic archives. His generous donation, which Art purchased in the 1980’s for $800, helped The Mountaineers raise more than $375,000 at the gala.

Reflecting on winning the ice ax, Manisha said “We hadn’t thought about it much before the event and didn’t have a strategy for bidding. We noticed that a lot of people had their eye on the ax and decided during the live auction that we had to have it! Owning a mountaineering artifact like this is deeply meaningful to me and Vineeth.”

It was a special evening for everyone who attended the gala, but especially so for Manisha and Vineeth. “The Mountaineers is our second life. When we’re not at home and not at work, we’re at The Mountaineers. It’s been a central part of who we are and we hope more and more people can have this type of opportunity.” With the volunteer commitment and financial generosity of Mountaineers supporters such as Manisha and Vineeth, we’ll be able to connect more and more people with the wild places that we love and call home. 

Thinking of donating to The Mountaineers?

Your support will help enable and inspire people to get outside, connect with the natural world, and engage in its stewardship and protection. To learn more, visit www.mountaineers.org/donate or call Amber Carrigan, The Mountaineers Development Director, at 206-521-6004.
The Mountaineers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Tax ID: 27-3009280.

This article originally appeared in our Summer 2018 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archives.


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