June 9, 2016
I completed my 500th successful climb of Mt. Rainier in 2010. Since that time I have been the sole member of the “500 club”. That status changed on Tuesday when good friend, and RMI guide, Brent Okita completed his 500th ascent.
I remember very well when Brent first started at RMI in 1986. I was still working there as a guide and I watched Brent grow in the profession and come into his own on the mountain. Brent went on to guide with me for IMG in the Alps, in Alaska and as a member of the Everest 1991 climb when we both summited the mountain with Eric Simonson and a crew of other IMG veterans.
Since 2010 I’ve summited Mt. Rainier a grand total of 15 times. My guiding days are dwindling. Brent will likely pass my record later this summer, he has been averaging 15 to 20 summits a year. When he does, I’ll be there to toast him. I don’t think there will be any other guides joining us in the foreseeable future. These days most guides have so many options for guiding elsewhere, Rainier is just one of many stopping places during the peak climbing season. I think that is the way it should be.
So here’s to you, Brent. Congratulations on joining the club!