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Hiking Blind Part 2

Posted by Andrew Engelson at Jul 13, 2009 05:55 PM |
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Some of you may remember an inspiring story that ran in the May 2008 issue of Washington Trails magazine about a hiker who volunteered to assist his blind friend Bruce up the summits of various hikes throughout the Northwest. I thought it was one of the most fascinating articles we published that year--it was an inspiring story about overcoming obstacles (literally) persistence and the unseen pleasures of the wilderness. If you haven't already read it, it's worth a look.

In an interesting follow-up I recently received an e-mail from Ron Fleck, the author of that article. And he reports that his friend Bruce successfully reached the summit of Mount Adams earlier this summer and is all set to attempt Mount Rainier with the RMI guide service [correction, 7/15: Bruce went with IMG] in the next few days. Ron writes in his email:

"This past weekend, Bruce, Matt (a recent climbing student of mine), and I reached the top of Mount Adams at 12,276 ft. (about 3741 meters for our friends to the north), the second highest peak in Washington. Conditions were just about ideal for this outing. While not technically difficult (no crevasses, etc.) it is an endurance test as it requires an elevation gain of 6,600 ft (2 km) from the trail head to the summit. We camped Friday night at an elevation of 9,300 ft. and left our camp at 5:00 a.m. Sat. with ice ax and crampons, heading toward the summit on a snow slope that varied between 30 and 40 degrees. We arrived a bit over 4 hours later. For Bruce the descents are generally more difficult than the ascents but we managed that all with just a few minor slips. We were also able to glissade (slide on our butts) part of the snow slopes on the South face. The hardest part was probably the descent from camp to the car as we had to navigate some very slippery slopes and also descend some loose volcanic rock--a definite challenge, even for those who can see."

Congratulations to Bruce and best of luck to him on his summit attempt. And a big thanks to Ron for sharing his inspiring story with us.

People with differing abilities are proving that hiking is for all of us. To read more on the subject, check out Eleanor Pachaud's great article on accessible trails in the July-August issue of Washington Trails.





Ron sent me an email today saying that Bruce made it to the summit of Rainier:
" friend Bruce made the summit of Rainier Tues. morning under absolutely glorious conditions. He was there with a guided group. I was there with some climbing students and we reached the summit about 30 minutes after Bruce's group, so he and I got to share some summit congratulations. His guide said that Bruce is his new hero."

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Andrew Engelson on Jul 15, 2009 10:20 AM