Parting is such sweet sorrow: Saying Goodbye to Tess Wendel

With appreciation, join us in saying goodbye to Tess Wendel, a powerhouse on The Mountaineers staff team who has been a champion for our volunteers and members from the very beginning.
Kristina Ciari Tursi Kristina Ciari Tursi
Membership & Communications Director
May 27, 2018
Parting is such sweet sorrow: Saying Goodbye to Tess Wendel
Tess Wendel rock climbing in Squamish. Courtesy of Tess Wendel.

Few people have done more for our organization than Tess Wendel, who has been a powerhouse for The Mountaineers from day one. She’s learned from and supported many different departments and volunteer groups, and after nearly six years with us, she is ready to move on and learn how other organizations and businesses get stuff done. With a heavy heart, we want to share that her last day with us will be June 15.

We appreciate all Tess has done for us, and wish her the best of luck as she takes some personal time to figure out her next steps in life. And, we hear she wants to volunteer more with us too!

Since joining The Mountaineers on September 5, 2012, Tess has taken AIARE I, Basic Climbing, Navigation, Sailing, Climbing Self Rescue, Outdoor Leadership, WFA, and she’s a current Intermediate Climbing student. She’s also a climb leader, and is a leader for our Single- and Multi-Pitch Trad courses. If that weren’t enough, her students/volunteers thinks she’s pretty great:

  • I appreciated that Tess took the time to understand each student's strengths and areas where we needed improvement, and assigned us routes or activities on the field trips based on that.
  • Tess was supportive, encouraging, and patient, which was especially key since crack climbing is very challenging to first-timers. Tess exhibited strong leadership and instructional abilities and consistently maintained a positive and professional attitude throughout the entire trip.
  • I hope the Mountaineers realize what an asset Tess is for the group. She brings a lot of enthusiasm and organization to the event, and has a great way of just getting everybody around her to follow her lead and pitch in. She is the Mountaineers "Pied Piper"!!!

Not surprisingly, she was also an incredible colleague during this time. Tess started with us as a part-time Member Services Rep. She was promoted to full time, then to Member Services Lead, then to Member and Data Manager, overseeing all of the responsibilities of the Member Services team and the continuity of our data. Tess spearheaded the re-imagining of our Gear Grab, working to make it more inclusive to a wider audience by hosting it in a new location, and generally making it possible by handling all of the logistics. She also took on the role of Salesforce Administrator, providing reporting support to our entire staff, and specifically supporting Jeff Bowman with website improvements while brainstorming across multiple departments to uncover the best tech solutions.

Tess has been a champion for our volunteers, often artfully bridging the gap between the needs of our volunteers and staff to advocate for a better volunteer experience. She has been a vocal supporter of our youth programs, jumping into help when volunteers are needed last minute. And, her passionate support of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts have helped lay the groundwork for the next steps in this important area. All of this – mind you – while answering the phones and providing outstanding customer service to anyone and everyone. Her fingerprints can be found on nearly everything that we do. It goes without saying that her colleagues think she's pretty great too:

  • It's been a blast to be a fly on the wall during her tenure here. I have learned so much by simply listening to her approach with our members, volunteers, and general public. Her ability to lead, mentor, train, traffic direct, problem solve, and kill with kindness is out-of-this-world phenomenal. THANK YOU for being a champion of The Mountaineers and welcoming every individual that walks through the door with style and grace. - Bri V.
  • When Tess joined the organization I was in the midst of being a very engaged SIG leader as well as leading a ton of climbs & scrambles. I got to know Tess over the phone and was always impressed with her ability to resolve any issue / complication I was experiencing with listing a trip, working with participant rosters, etc. She has always been positive, helpful, resourceful, and responsive to volunteer requests for assistance. Almost two years ago, when I joined Mountaineers staff, still 100% non-load bearing and working from a power chair, I sensed Tess was especially empathetic of my working through challenges and limitations and I really appreciated her kindness, patience, and understanding of the complications associated with overcoming physical limitations. Not unlike many of us at The Mountaineers, volunteers and staff alike, I feel a special bond with Tess.  She is a rare and very dear individual, and I will sorely miss not seeing, hearing, speaking, and laughing with her day-in-day-out at the Program Center. - Bill A. 
  • It's hard to quantify all that Tess has given to our organization. She definitely exemplifies the "campsite rule": leave things in better shape than you find them. It's no doubt we are in better shape for her hard work and dedication. -Tom V

And, in case you missed it, Tess did all of this while facing personal adversity. She has been a powerhouse for this organization, and we’ve all learned from her thoughtful approach to members, volunteers, and the general public. Her ability to lead, mentor, train, traffic direct, problem solve, and kill with kindness is out-of-this-world phenomenal. Thank you for everything that you've accomplished as a staff member for The Mountaineers!!

Please join me in congratulating Tess on her next great adventure by leaving a comment with your favorite Tess memory. 

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Anita Elder
Anita Elder says:
May 28, 2018 08:37 PM

No!!! It's going to be hard to fill her shoes!

David Maltz
David Maltz says:
May 29, 2018 06:13 AM

Hi Tess -- thank you so much for all your help and support this past year with whatever website issues came up. You've been so patient, kind, and cheerful, regardless of how crazy was the ask. You're a joy to work with, and I'll miss you lots. Best wishes for your next steps!

Steven Yi
Steven Yi says:
May 29, 2018 09:49 AM

best of luck on your next adventure! thank you for all your patience and hard work at the Mountaineers.

Dee Ann Kline
Dee Ann Kline says:
May 29, 2018 03:11 PM

Tess. you will be missed. Thank you for all you have done for us. Best wishes in your next adventure in life and the mountains.

Nik Jensen
Nik Jensen says:
May 30, 2018 11:05 AM


TESS, YOU'RE THE BEST!!! You've helped me more times than I can count and for that I'm extremely grateful! Your shoes will be impossible to fill. Thanks for all you've done for me and for this awesome club!!!!

Nik Jensen
Nik Jensen says:
May 30, 2018 11:05 AM


TESS, YOU'RE THE BEST!!! You've helped me more times than I can count and for that I'm extremely grateful! Your shoes will be impossible to fill. Thanks for all you've done for me and for this awesome club!!!!

Liana Robertshaw
Liana Robertshaw says:
Jun 02, 2018 10:35 PM

TESS! You're super-amazing and we are all so proud of all you've accomplished. Thanks for helping me seek out the elusive locations to climb;-) and for just being your sunny self. xxo

Tina Fox
Tina Fox says:
Jun 02, 2018 11:08 PM

Tess was an instructor in my Intro to Rock course in 2016. She has a way of making everyone she interacts with feel special. She fed my thirst for learning while bolstering my confidence. As I took course after course, she was always a friendly, welcoming face in the bookstore and a wealth of knowledge over the phone. It was her encouragement that made me believe I was ready for the Basic Alpine Climbing course.

It is said "It is not what a person says or does, but how they make you feel that sticks with you" and kindness, competence and generosity-giving so much of herself to the Mountaineers Family will always be her legacy in my mind. Rock on, Tess!

Peter Hendrickson
Peter Hendrickson says:
Jun 05, 2018 10:33 AM

For years my counsel to fellow Seattle Branch leaders has been, "Call Tess if you're not sure how to proceed. Call Tess, if you need to really understand how things work at the Program Center."
My last call was 10 minutes before reaching the TH to lead another night hike in the city. A new hiker had called me asking if she could join the hike. I said, "Yes, if I can get you on the roster." Tess sorted it out in less than 2 minutes (after office closing) and the headlamped heads included a new Mountaineer that night.
Seattle leaders hold an extraordinary level of trust in Tess' counsel, support and ability to make things right.
My counsel to Program Center execs -- hire another dancer/climber/problem solver! But wait, there's only one Tess.
P Hendrickson, Seattle Branch Chair

Alan Vogt
Alan Vogt says:
Jun 05, 2018 10:18 PM

Tess, I would have never made it without your help. All the sailors thank you!

Patti Polinsky
Patti Polinsky says:
Jun 09, 2018 11:33 PM

I wish your a great upcoming adventure as you leave us. Your knowledge of how to use the present computer system to solve problems which were never thought of when the system was built always amazes me. My deepest thanks goes to you for all the patience you have afforded me and the problems the programs at Meany Lodge have presented.

Siana Wong
Siana Wong says:
Jun 10, 2018 04:15 PM

Best wishes in your new ventures, Tess! Oly will miss your support and expertise

Jerry Logan
Jerry Logan says:
Jun 11, 2018 10:44 AM

Tess, Can’t fully express how grateful we all are for everything you have done for the Mountaineers over the years. You have been such a help to me as a volunteer, instructor, activity chair and now as branch chair. On behalf of the Kitsap branch, thank you and best wishes for success and happiness in your next endeavors.

Brad Near
Brad Near says:
Jun 15, 2018 05:47 PM

TESS!Remember that one summer when we were updating the website and I called like every week to ask dumbass questions? Yep.
And them remember when I made the Tim's chips trip report about Matty P? Yep. Good times. Dont be a stranger-see you out there!

Amanda Silber
Amanda Silber says:
Jun 16, 2018 09:23 AM

I climbed with Tess and have always appreciated her enthusiasm and help/advice as a fellow climber AND with anything related to the Mountaineers as an organization. But we'll still run into each other in the mountains :)

Susan Shih
Susan Shih says:
Jun 16, 2018 10:49 PM

So going to miss you, Tess! May your future be full of endless safe and exciting adventures!

melinda moree
melinda moree says:
Jun 17, 2018 12:38 AM

You will be missed! All the best to you!