Remembering Mountaineer Jeff Bowman

We’re devastated to share the passing of Jeff Bowman, a beloved friend, volunteer, and colleague. As a 29-year Mountaineers member and a part of our staff team for the last 23-years, his contributions to The Mountaineers were immense. A Celebration of Life will be held at The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center on Sunday, December 17 at 3pm. Please RSVP.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
December 03, 2023
Remembering Mountaineer Jeff Bowman
Jeff Bowman, second from left, at Stevens Lodge with friends. Photo by Jason Naranjo.

With great sadness we share the news that Jeff Bowman has passed away. Jeff was a 29-year Mountaineers member, 23-year member of our staff team, long-time volunteer with Stevens Lodge, Climb Leader, and volunteer contributor to Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. Jeff passed away unexpectedly after recent health challenges. He was 57. 

Spanning nearly three decades, Jeff’s contributions to The Mountaineers and our greater outdoor community are immense. Jeff was one of the most tenured members of our staff, and his work has undoubtedly had a personal impact on every one of our members.

Repeatedly recognized for his contributions, in 2003 Jeff was awarded the Seattle Branch Climb Leader of the Year. Jeff was later selected for the Outdoor Centers Service Award in 2022 in recognition of his efforts to go above and beyond for our Stevens Lodge and its community. And he earned the designation of Super Volunteer for the last five years. 

Jeff liked to joke that he’s been a “Mountaineer” all his life. Born and raised in West Virginia, both of his parents graduated from West Virginia University, who’s mascot moniker is the Mountaineers. Jeff also attended WVU, earning his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering. He worked at DuPont for five years before going back to WVU for a master's degree. He then moved out to the University of Washington to pursue a PhD, but ultimately spent a lot of time writing FORTRAN code instead, choosing to pursue other passions before its completion.

He joined The Mountaineers in May 1994, shortly after moving to Seattle. Jeff completed several Mountaineers courses, including Basic Alpine Climbing, AIARE I, and Aid & Big Wall Climbing. He became a Climb Leader in 1998. He also earned equivalency in sea kayaking and participated in our ski programs. In addition to leading climbs, Jeff taught Aid & Big Wall, Climbing Self-Rescue, and Intermediate Rescue Methods. Passionate about big mountain climbing, he reached the summit of Denali in 2003 and came back to teach Denali Expedition Planning Seminars to pay that knowledge forward. 

“Jeff was one of the leaders in The Mountaineers when I joined 24 years ago,” said Takeo Kuraishi, longtime member and current Board member. “He was a constant presence in The Mountaineers for me, whether as a climb leader, a member of the small Aid & Big Wall Course, or a friendly face when I walked into the Bookstore.” 

581744_10200179103576716_1651266153_n.jpgJeff in his element, climbing a big wall. Photo from The Mountaineers archives.

Jeff lent his project management skills to Mountaineers Books as the illustrations coordinator and chapter contributor for the 7th and 8th editions of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. “If you go to Chapter 15 in the Freedom of the Hills, Jeff was the model for many of those illustrations, demonstrating the key skills for aid climbing,” said Takeo. Jeff was also on the planning committee for the 9th edition. While Jeff often joked about having little spare time, he still somehow managed to read many of our Mountaineers Books titles. 

Jeff had many favorite activities, including climbing, skiing, hiking, backpacking, and biking. Every year for his birthday in September, Jeff liked to disappear for a week into the wilderness with nothing but what he could carry on his back. He was also a renowned cook, famous among staff and lodge-goers for his fruit desserts like cobblers, crisps, buckles, and pies. In his Mountaineers profile, he listed some of his favorite things. Next to desserts, he wrote "Why choose? All of them!"

IMG_0973.jpgWhile he hid it well, Jeff also had a goofy side as shown in this picture with Tess Wendel during a staff photo shoot for Halloween. Photo by Kristina Ciari.

A talented telemark and downhill skier, Jeff was eager to help out with our Stevens Lodge. The lodge quickly became his winter home to enjoy skiing, teaching, and spending time with good friends. During the day he taught at Clancy’s Ski School, teaching hundreds of people how to ski over the years. He did that while serving as a gracious Lodge Host nearly every weekend. “Jeff gave so much of himself to The Mountaineers and Stevens Lodge,” said Jason Naranjo, friend and fellow host at Stevens Lodge. “He was a patient teacher, a hell of a cook, and a good friend.”

Recently, Jeff helped to spearhead efforts to open our Stevens Lodge in the summers to host PCT thru and section hikers. He spent much of this past summer volunteering to completely remodel the lodge’s bathrooms, which were a feat of engineering. The all-gender bathroom solution he helped put in place is quite remarkable. 

jeff Bowman.jpgJeff, center, working on the new bathrooms at Stevens Lodge this summer. Photo courtesy of Jim Lenker.

“Jeff was a great member of Stevens Lodge,” said Jim Lenker, current Chair of the Stevens Lodge Committee and good friend. “He fixed everything that broke at the lodge. As both an engineer and climber, he made for a memorable character.”

Jeff was well-loved by many in our community, particularly for his ability to fix anything. Jeff was most proud of his work to launch and maintain “ 2.0”, our "new" website launched in 2014. He was both the website's architect and its caretaker, working to grow and improve its performance for the last decade. Anyone who has worked in technology with a limited budget can know what a painstaking and thankless job this could be. 

“I had the pleasure and the privilege of working alongside Jeff for the last ten years,” said Kristina Ciari, Director of Membership & Communications. “His love for our community and mission shone through in everything that Jeff did. His engineering mind and systems-based approach to solutions is one of the many reasons I loved working with him, even if I sometimes ended up with more information than I’d bargained for. He leaves behind an incredible legacy, and impossibly big shoes to fill.”

Jeff truly gave everything to The Mountaineers. When he wasn't working, he was at our Stevens Lodge drinking the occasional margarita and making his favorite meal of hash browns, smoked meats, and "cabin cat" coffee, which he referred to as "the perfect winter breakfast to fuel a day on the slopes!"

“Jeff’s impact on our community was nothing short of profound,” said Tom Vogl, CEO of The Mountaineers. “His spirit epitomized what it means to be a Mountaineer. He was always adapting, improving, and striving to leave things better than he found them.”

Our deepest sympathies go out to Jeff’s family, friends, colleagues, the Stevens Lodge community, and all of his many students over the years. Jeff was an indomitable character, and we can hardly believe he is no longer with us. His passing will be felt in our community for years to come.


We were honored to host a public memorial in celebration of Jeff’s life on December 17, 2023, at 3pm at our Seattle Program Center. We shared tears, laughter, hugs, and stories in Jeff's honor. If you were unable to join us, you can view a recording of Jeff's Celebration of Life. Please note that without Jeff's expertise, our IT solution for this was not as high-quality as it otherwise would have been.

You can also view the slideshow celebrating Jeff's life, along with pictures shared of Jeff and photos taken at the event. Please view or add your on photos on the shared Google Drive.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in Jeff's honor by visiting

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James Lenker
James Lenker says:
Dec 03, 2023 10:43 AM

Jeff epitomizes service to others. He kept the Stevens lodge going and was instrumental in extending summer opening to PCT through hikers, climbing classes Avalanche safety training. There is probably no part of the Mountaineers he did not contribute to

Jeff Patterson
Jeff Patterson says:
Dec 03, 2023 11:03 AM

Jeff was always our host at the Stevens Lodge for our Compressed Scrambling course. He was a great host and I always enjoyed cooking the meals with him. He went above and beyond for our group every year. He will be missed.

Peter Hendrickson
Peter Hendrickson says:
Dec 03, 2023 12:23 PM

Always a friendly "Hello" from Jeff and ever a partner in launching a new urban walk route. Whatever I suggested or proposed, Jeff improved. And he was so patient with items tech, books, historical, lodges ...
This is a sad day for The Mountaineers. And a deeply personal loss. Hoping we can find a way to keep his memory bright and clear for those who knew him and the legions impacted by his work and extraordinary volunteer ethic.

Peter Clitherow
Peter Clitherow says:
Dec 03, 2023 01:41 PM

Will sorely miss him as a sometime climbing partner, field trip instructor, go-to guy for answers, and one of the few people who knew how to get our website to do what we need. All around good human being.

Cliff Berger
Cliff Berger says:
Dec 03, 2023 02:53 PM

I was lucky enough to get to know Jeff over these last few years at Stevens Lodge. He was a cornerstone of our community. A brilliant organizer with a great sense of humor, a joy to work with on any project. He gave us so much, and it's hard to look at anything in the Lodge without being reminded of his legacy.

It always put a great big grin on my face when I'd get to the lodge or stop by the program center, and hear Jeff call out his customary greeting for me "Danger Cliff!" (a moniker born at Stevens Pass).

This is a tremendous loss. I'm extremely grateful for the memories I have of Jeff and the times we had at the lodge. He is a true Mountaineers legend in my book.

Bri Vanderlinden
Bri Vanderlinden says:
Dec 03, 2023 03:46 PM

This is a very deep and far reaching loss as Jeff has done so so much for our outdoor community and beyond. It will be impossible to participate in any part of The Mountaineers ecosystem without experiencing the direct benefits he gave to us. I hope we'll keep making you proud, Jefe!

Danielle Graham
Danielle Graham says:
Dec 03, 2023 04:23 PM

I enjoyed Jeff’s sense of humor, and how he always had time to answer my questions, with good cheer. My condolences to his family, his friends, and his Mountaineers’ family. Jeff will be missed by many.

David Maltz
David Maltz says:
Dec 03, 2023 04:58 PM

I'm grateful for all the work Jeff did on the website and IT for the Mountaineers. A painful and thankless role, but critically important for enabling the Mountaineers to scale up our services and classes. I'll miss you Jeff.

Anita Elder
Anita Elder says:
Dec 03, 2023 05:25 PM

I'm fighting tears as I read this. Jeff was one of the first people I thought about when I thought about the Mountaineers...he was a fixture ever since I joined in 2007. He also had time for a chat when I popped into the book store. In fact, I was just in there on Friday and asked about him, wanting to say hello. I will really miss him!

Brian Young
Brian Young says:
Dec 03, 2023 09:11 PM

I was lucky enough to go through the Basic course with Jeff. What an incredibly kind, thoughtful and always helpful. His loss is a profound shock. Wishing peace to Jeff and all who knew him.

Graham Ottley
Graham Ottley says:
Dec 03, 2023 09:17 PM

Jeff played a masterful role in the development of His presence throughout that project was enduringly patient and positive. He often approached stressful situations with levity and graciousness, easing tensions and offering a pathway from stagnation to productivity. I know he will be missed for many years to come and his legacy at the Mountaineers will live on.

Todd Mitchell
Todd Mitchell says:
Dec 03, 2023 10:00 PM

I am greatly saddened by Jeff's passing. He imparted a can-do attitude to every interaction I had with him concerning the development of the Mountaineers webpage and the Mountaineers bookstore during my years as the chair of the Seattle Backpacking Committee. For people who stay from these things, developing and maintaining a high-functioning webpage and underlying database requires relentless attention to detail and the ability to not let the inevitable problems bother you too much. The Mountaineers were lucky to have have had his service for so many years.

Jeff was just the kind of person you would want to be a part of the Club. For myself, a significant part of the benefit of being in the Mountaineers is the interactions I have had with trip participants, committee members, and the staff. Jeff was another of the great people I have met in this shared passion for the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest.

Michael Lawrence
Michael Lawrence says:
Dec 03, 2023 11:03 PM

I'm stunned. I thought Jeff would be there for another 20 years. I'd always admired Jeff's devotion to the club and how he embodied the all the best aspects of the club. I'm sorry he's gone.

Dee Ann Kline
Dee Ann Kline says:
Dec 04, 2023 09:20 AM

I am so sorry to learn about this. Jeff was always a great resource and help to me. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Karen Uffelman
Karen Uffelman says:
Dec 04, 2023 09:23 AM

I am so sad to hear the news of Jeff's passing. Jeff was a joy to work with and I and the rest of the team at Percolator adored him. We worked with Jeff on the 2.0 website & back-end systems overhaul that launched in 2014 and he has been a great partner over the past decade, improving and evolving the platform to keep up with the needs of the organization. Jeff was also instrumental in helping the Colorado Mountain Club repurpose much of the platform code we built and modernize their systems, too, so he's helped advance support for mountaineering across two states. He was so smart and so responsible, and cared so deeply; he was truly the embodiment of The Mountaineers' ethos. The Percolator team sends our condolences to his friends and family and all the staff, volunteers, and members who benefitted from his commitment to The Mountaineers. We will miss him.

Maureen Seeley
Maureen Seeley says:
Dec 04, 2023 11:18 AM

I'm so shocked and saddened by this news. Jeff and I took the Basic course together way back in 1995. We were both PhD grad students at UW who ultimately followed our personal passions for our careers - he with the Mountaineers and me with adventure travel. I always appreciated seeing Jeff at the Clubhouse over the years. He always took the time to say hi and catch up. I'll miss his smiling face there. My deepest condolences to family and friends. What a loss to our community!

Cristina McGlynn
Cristina McGlynn says:
Dec 04, 2023 12:53 PM

What a tremendous loss for our entire Mountaineers community. He will be profoundly missed by so many of us.

Eddie Espinosa
Eddie Espinosa says:
Dec 04, 2023 02:04 PM

It's hard to think of the Mountaineers and not think of Jeff. He reflected the best parts of the organization, and will be missed :(

Helen Cherullo
Helen Cherullo says:
Dec 04, 2023 02:56 PM

There isn't one aspect of the Mountaineers expansive mission that Jeff did not embrace. I can't think of anyone-- present or past-- who was so actively engaged in so many aspects of our diverse organization. Jeff was a "doer"-- as a staff member, leader, and volunteer. The Mountaineers truly was "home" for him, and his contributions will reverberate for all time.

Sergio Rojo
Sergio Rojo says:
Dec 04, 2023 03:13 PM

Through the years I knew a man who was a dedicated expert managing this website to perfection. Jeff took pride in his work. Jeff was true, honest, appreciative and gave quietly. Jeff possessed values hard to find these days. I hurts to know I cannot email him ever again. It's a loss to all of us, but I am so sorry for those of you who were so lucky to work with him on a daily basis.

Tom Bunch
Tom Bunch says:
Dec 04, 2023 06:01 PM

Jeff was a cornerstone of my second family at Stevens Lodge. His spot on the couch near the fireplace will feel so empty without him. Truly a loss for the lodge family and for the Mountaineers' community. My condolences to his "other" family and friends.

Brian Booth
Brian Booth says:
Dec 04, 2023 10:46 PM

I am stunned to learn of Jeff's passing. He was a cornerstone of Mountaineers staff, providing his expertise & helping me often. I was humbled by his skills. Jeff's spirit will stay with me.

Angela Krisinger
Angela Krisinger says:
Dec 05, 2023 09:28 AM

A big chapter of our lives was spent up at Stevens Lodge with Jeff. He always wanted to be the "Opener" so that he could have the place all to himself for a few hours every weekend. His bunk in the staff dorm was next to ours so dozens of nights talking before we all fell asleep. We teamed up to figure out ways to better operationalize the lodge. He and Greg spent countless hours engineering the physical plant at the lodge...between rebuilding the water filtration system to plumbing the furnace, those guys were always fixing something. And he was such a good friend during that time - helping out with the kids, hanging out at the Foggle... Every time I eat peppermint bark I think of Jeff because that's what he loved to have around during the holidays... that and his Chex mix! There really isn't a memory of our time at Stevens without Jeff in it.

Ian Dickson
Ian Dickson says:
Dec 05, 2023 12:31 PM

Ah, it's so sad to hear of Jeff's passing. He was a good one.
One summer we went to index together on many weekends in a row, stopping in Monroe for coffee on the way. He pretty much single-handedly taught me to lead on aid. We ended up going to Yosemite and climbing most of the South Face of Washington Column together.

Later on that same trip we were sleeping in the rain in Camp 4 and he had the brilliant idea to go climb the first 4 or 5 pitches of Tangerine Trip, which we did, and they were bone dry!

I really appreciated his stoke for all things Mountaineers. And I'll miss talking to him in the bookshop.

Gala Lindvall
Gala Lindvall says:
Dec 06, 2023 08:57 AM

I am shocked and saddened. Jeff was around when The Mountaineers were located on Queen Anne, and he has been a fixture ever since. Always, cheerful, helpful and just there! He was too young. His knowledge of the website and the Mountaineer's culture will not easily be replaced. So sad.

John Ohlson
John Ohlson says:
Dec 06, 2023 12:35 PM

Jeff contributed in every aspect of The Mountaineers as a volunteer while also being involved as staff across the entire breadth of staff support. He always had a smile every time I asked him yet again a peculiar question about our website. I will miss his "can do" attitude and I know others will, too.

Susie Stenkamp
Susie Stenkamp says:
Dec 06, 2023 02:29 PM

I'm so saddened to hear that Jeff passed away. I was just thinking about him after doing a presentation on the Wind Rivers High Route that I did this summer. I agreed to do it remembering that it was one of Jeff's favorite places. I was also grateful that Jeff had convinced me to take the Mountaineers Basic Climbing Class way back when we were both in grad school. It set me up with the skills that I retain today to do off trail routes like the Winds. Jeff was one of the best trip leaders I have ever had and the world shines less brightly with his passing.

Linda Jagger
Linda Jagger says:
Dec 08, 2023 01:02 PM

Jeff was a wonderful, helpful person to Tom & I, Linda Jagger. We met Jeff at the Mountaineers from 2000-2003 when we lived there and participated in the climbing program. We moved to Denver in 2003, but continued to stay in contact. He lead climbs for us and several Denver CMC members up Mt Baker & Shuksan, He did so much for the Mountaineers. He was so cheery and helpful everytime I called and ordered Mountaineers books. We will miss him and all he did for the Mountaineers. He helped the Colorado Mountain Club when CMC tied into your website and helped update our web program.

Linda Moore
Linda Moore says:
Dec 09, 2023 08:30 PM

So saddened to learn of Jeff’s passing. His ever friendly, helpful presence will be missed by the Mountaineers. I thank him for his many years’ of contributions to the Mountaineers which have positively impacted members. Jeff’s exceptional IT work on webpage development and enhancements have been invaluable. I and many others appreciate his and staff support to leaders with publication of so many route/places.
We were lucky to have Jeff’s awesome service and Mountaineers spirit! Sending special condolences to Jeff’s family, friends and all who knew him.

Ted Baughman
Ted Baughman says:
Dec 11, 2023 12:25 PM

Jeff was a wonderful human being. He was a fixture during my times in the basic and intermediate climbing courses (he might have instructed at every single one), and he led some of my first climbs as an intermediate. He had this pretty beaten little pickup truck then, and we came back from one climbing trip pretty late. We were both falling asleep, but Jeff felt obligated to get us home. I remember staring at him intently, waiting for him to nod off while trying to keep awake myself. At some point I woke up just as we exited the highway and were headed down the offramp. As I looked at Jeff, I realized he was asleep. I started hollering, Jeff slammed on the brakes and we skidded up to the stop sign. "I'm fine! We're fine!" he said, as he was blinking the sleep from his eyes. My heart never stopped pounding for the rest of the drive. We laughed about it for years afterwards, and made a vow to just pullover and sleep. And I've pretty much done that ever since. Whenever I pull off the road to just sleep, I think of Jeff. I am so sorry to have lost him, he was simply a gem.

Jonathan Mastin
Jonathan Mastin says:
Dec 11, 2023 02:58 PM

Jeff - Thank you for being the light. When I think about the mountaineers, I think "the sense of community", and that's because of you. Thanks for always shining so brightly, and for the time you gave to care for us. You were the definition of a Host we all aspire to.

Liana Robertshaw
Liana Robertshaw says:
Dec 12, 2023 12:32 AM

Dear Jeff, Thank you for being you. You have made a profound impact on so many people in many different ways, (myself included) and represented the kindness, patience and dedication that truly embodies the spirit of The Mountaineers. I'm glad we were able to collaborate together, and I'll think of you every time I look up Routes & Places or click into your former skis (my first pair!).

Felipe Molina
Felipe Molina says:
Dec 13, 2023 07:24 AM

Jeff made a lasting impact on me in the day that I spent with him at the lodge. I was biking through the state and nearly overwhelmed by the heat and he set me up to recover at the lodge. I will never forget his humor, kind conversation, and willingness to help me with whatever I needed. He was one of my fondest memories of my entire trip this past August. My condolences to his family and many friends.

Scott Stimpson
Scott Stimpson says:
Dec 17, 2023 01:31 AM

I adored Jeff as a Friend, a Climbing Partner and a Great Spirit of what it is to love All that this Beautiful World has provided us. I'm so heartbroken to know that I can't share those great moments we've had in the past anymore, but I know that he flies with the Eagles and will be there to welcome me to that Untraveled World that we'll once again share together.
Fly high my Friend!!!

Brad Peacock
Brad Peacock says:
Dec 18, 2023 09:37 AM

Really touched by the outpouring of support and love for a wonderful, kind man who gave so much of himself. It was so great to hear stories and rememberances at yesterday's celebration, as well as share in his life story. Thank you to his family and for the club for allowing us that time. (And loved the belt buckle collection!)

Thomas Hansen
Thomas Hansen says:
Dec 20, 2023 05:04 PM

When I spoke at the Celebration of Life, I forgot to metion the esteemI hold for Jeff. I consider him to be one of the greats in building and improving the physical plant, the building and its systems at Stevens Lodge. From the time he started attending, he was working on place. The bigger projects at the lodge that he was involved with and/or led included installing the AV system, charging station for phones and electronics, the drink center, repairing the outside section of the chimney/fireplace to keep it from collasping, construction of the Krisinger water treatment plant, team member replacing the rotted framing around the entrance to the sub-basement, the most recent bathroom remodel, and the installation of the heat pumps/electric furnace. Jeff rates right up there in my opinion with the other "GREATS" that made the lodge what it is today, Walt Little who led the committee that built the original cabin in 1948, John Hansen that led the expansion of the lodge to its present size in 1954, and also was in charge of building the front stairwell/fire escape, the rear fire escape, and the original indoor bathrroms, Art and Ellie Rolfe who led the installation of the first metal roof in 1968 and the installation of the current Wolf cook range in the Kitchen in 1974, and Ken Prestrud, who. was responsible for the installation of the first water treatment system, the second metal roof, and the Ken Prestrud Social Center (Dishwashing sinks) in the kitchen. Thank you Jeff for what you did and may you be an example for others on giving your time and resources for the benefit of others without expecting payment or return.

Thomas Hansen
Thomas Hansen says:
Dec 20, 2023 07:14 PM

I apoligize but I forgot two other GREATS at the lodge, Angela and Greg Krisiger. Greg led the building of water treatment plant #2 , rebuilding the stove,and many other improvements to the physical plant. They also put in place the current staffing and administration model for the lodge which is very successful and promotes ownership of the lodge by many, not just a select few. My hat is off to them. Jeff thrived under their leadership and the staffing model, becoming "The Closer".

Valerie Ensor
Valerie Ensor says:
Dec 24, 2023 11:37 PM

Jeff was an amazing person who provided such great advice, had knowledge of the online systems when I needed a route or place updated and behind the scenes took care of so many things I’m sure we weren’t even aware of. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Thank you Jeff!

SuJ'n Chon
SuJ'n Chon says:
Jan 02, 2024 10:53 AM

What an incredible loss to the community. Jeff was a kind, patient staff member in addition to a member generous of his time and skills.

Tess Wendel
Tess Wendel says:
Jan 02, 2024 01:49 PM

Jeff helped shape the person I am today. If you had a question he'd not just let you know the answer he'd tell you how to find the answer yourself next time and the best way to teach someone else about it. He taught me about climbing, software development, database management, running a bookstore, conflict mediation and customer service. He had known me only a few weeks before he learned I was going to have a big surgery and he was there ready to provide support and distraction. He encouraged me to explore new areas and dig deep into maps. He was excited for folks to see new parts of the northwest, it didn't have to be via a gnarly climb but if you had some questions about a particular route he almost always had a resource to help you find further info. He helped me get ski boots that fit and taught me some aid climbing basics. I miss him very much and think of him often. I hope to continue honoring his memory by teaching where I can and making sure to stay solutions oriented and focus on the root of the problem.