Remembering Mountaineer Lisa Berntsen

We're devastated to share the news of the tragic passing of beloved Mountaineer Lisa Berntsen.
Martinique Grigg Martinique Grigg
October 30, 2014

With great sadness we share the news of the passing of Lisa Berntsen, a beloved member of The Mountaineers community - a Mountaineer, Tacoma branch member, volunteer leader, and board member.

At the time of her death, Lisa Berntsen was on the ultimate adventure of her life, weaving together the things that held the most meaning to her: adventure, pushing limits, physical challenge, leading others, inspiring her husband and daughter—all  in the realm of the exquisite natural beauty of the Himalaya. This dream trip provided the foundation for what mattered most: living a life of purpose, and finding ways to give to others in order to make a transformational difference in the world.

A sudden and unexpected medical event while on a Mountaineers Global Adventures trip to Everest Base camp took her life. Lisa was 49 years old.

Lisa had a passion for adventure, and there was not a time in her life that did not include being outdoors skiing, hiking, climbing, and camping. Her curiosity and love of the natural world led her to her profession as an environmental scientist at GeoEngineers out of Tacoma, Washington. Her career involved permitting and preparing resource reports for utility clients. As a leader in her profession, she was deeply involved in creative ideas in the strategic planning process for her company as they looked beyond the present and into the future. Prior to joining GeoEngineers Lisa owned a consulting company for ten years.

She earned a bachelor of science degree in Biology, and a masters of science in Fisheries from the University of Washington. Her belief in creating a positive confluence between business and the environment led her to complete an MBA in Sustainability from Bainbridge Graduate Institute. In 2012 she received her Doctorate in Philosophy from Akamai University in Hawaii. Lisa also won the prestigious 40 under 40 award.

Lisa served on The Mountaineers Board of Directors as the Vice President of Publishing for Mountaineers Books. At the time of her death, she was on the board of directors and treasurer of Braided River, an affiliated nonprofit organization to Mountaineers Books focusing on innovative publications and programs to advance tangible conservation goals and preserve the wild places she cherished.

Lisa was an active participant and activity leader at The Mountaineers in the Tacoma branch. She led trips as a climb and scramble leader and had achieved several notable summits in Washington state and abroad.

We are all stunned by the loss of such a cherished and beloved member of our community. Lisa was a close friend and colleague to many of us and made deep and lasting contributions to The Mountaineers at every level of the organization.

She is survived by her husband Royce Poetter, daughter Alicia Stephens, mother Joann Berntsen, father Ron Berntsen and brother Mark Berntsen. Memorial services will be held at 2:00 PM November 22, 2014 at Fox Alliance Church 655 6th Ave. FI Fox Island, WA 98333 . A celebration of Lisa's life will be held at the Mountaineers Tacoma Program Center Thursday, December 4th at 7:00 pm. Address is 2302 North 30th Street, Tacoma, WA 98403.

In lieu of flowers, Royce asked that donations be made to The Mountaineers in memory of Lisa. You can make a donation HERE.

Contact Mary Hsue with questions Maryh@mountaineers.org. Condolence notes can be mailed to Royce Poetter: 13339 Shoreline Dr SE Olalla, WA 98359.


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Martin Babare
Martin Babare says:
Fri, Oct 31, 2014 4:51 PM

My heart goes out to all who knew and loved Lisa. I was considering going with her on this trip.Shocking indeed. This reminds me that life is precious and time is limited.

Dan Lauren
Dan Lauren says:
Mon, Nov 3, 2014 8:50 AM

Will miss Lisa. She was my Olympics climbing buddy for many years, we went on several multi day cross country trips to pick up remote Olympic peaks. On those trips we talked about our teenagers and what a rough time we were going through with them and would they ever turn out ok. Both Alicia, Lisa's daughter, and Nicholas, my son, turned out great, we couldn't ask for better kids! Lisa - you did good. RIP

Julie Myer
Julie Myer says:
Mon, Nov 3, 2014 12:31 PM

My heart goes out to Royce, Alicia and all her family and friends that Lisa touched. We went through both Basic and Intermediate together...so many memories and great times! I will miss you Lisa!

Curtis Stock
Curtis Stock says:
Mon, Nov 3, 2014 3:50 PM

I really enjoyed climbing and field trips with Lisa. Thoughts and prayers to Royce and the family.

Jeff Evans
Jeff Evans says:
Mon, Nov 3, 2014 10:16 PM

Lisa was a leader and mentor on many of my field trips and a few climbs in the Basic and Intermediate courses. She was not only a Mountaineer, but also a scuba diver and mountain biker, and who knows what else. About a year ago I was talking with Lisa and Royce and both were excited about the upcoming adventures they had planned together. She was not a talker or a watcher, but a doer. Lisa, thanks for your kindness and amazing love of life!

Royce Poetter
Royce Poetter says:
Mon, Nov 3, 2014 11:06 PM

She is also survived by her parents Jo and Ron Berntsen and brother Mark Berntsen. In her last email to us (her family)she said she was super excited for the next phase, the climbing portion. I love you. You'll be part of me forever.

Jim Feltus
Jim Feltus says:
Tue, Nov 18, 2014 11:37 AM

Lisa was a friend and inspiration, she was deliberate in her thought and generous with her time. I think Lisa had an overwhelming connection to the natural world that permeated most aspects of her life. She walked a good path, she will be missed.