George Dunn, the 56-year-old guide and co-director of International Mountain Guides, climbed Mount Rainier for the 499th time Friday morning and on July 30 – weather permitting – will be the first man ever to summit the 14,411-foot mountain 500 times.
We’ll feature Dunn in Monday’s News Tribune and Olympian, but after speaking to many mountaineers about Dunn I had to whittle many comments out of the story so it was of a manageable size.
So allow me to empty the notebook here. Here are what mountaineers – including everybody with 300 or more Rainier summits – and those who know Dunn best say about this historic landmark:
“George approaches guiding with the same kind of intensity he approaches climbing. The guiding is much more important to him than the number of summits.” – Phil Ershler, IMG co-director, 439 Rainier summits
“It is unfathomable to me how many times he has climbed Rainier. I give so much credit to George. He has such a great attitude and still loves what he does.” – Brent Okita, Guide for Rainier Mountaineering Inc., 405 Rainier summits
“This is a hard job. Not many people can make a career out of it. A lot do it for a few years and then move and get a real job or get married. But George was able to figure it out and do both. … He has so much respect from the other guides because earned that respect.” – Eric Simonson, IMG co-director, 282 Rainier summits
“He’s able to focus on each person and find at least one thing he really likes about them. I’ve always thought that was a great thing about him.” – Nancy Dunn, Dunn’s wife, 7 Rainier summits
“It’s an amazing accomplishment. Every climb is long and hard. It’s willing yourself to keep going upward. You have people pulling on the back of the rope. You have days when the weather is horrible. But George loves it. He has a dedication. He keeps grinding it out and finds something positive on every trip.” – Paul Baugher, IMG co-director, 104 Rainier summits
“He is such a strong climber. He could climb circles around anybody. But he took to guiding so well. He loved to see other people reach the top. Climbing Rainier 500 times is unbelievable. The shear number of days he spent on the mountain, let alone the additional attempts when he has had to turn around because of weather.” – Joe Horiskey, RMI co-director and guide since 1969, 235 Rainier summits
“George was one of my mentors. There are so many boisterous personalities in this profession. But George was quiet and always got the job done. That is one of the best things about George.” - Robert Link, Mountain Link owner and former RMI guide, 301 Rainier summits
“He told me once that he has literally spent half his life at Camp Muir. That blows my mind.” - Mike Haft, second-year guide who trained under Dunn at IMG, 21 Rainier summits
“George is a great guide – a guide’s guide – and he has retained his sense of humor and fun through all these years. He has always held my utmost respect.” - Craig Van Hoy, Owner of Go Trek and an Alpine Ascents International guide, 378 Rainier summits
“He’s is just a stud. Five hundred times is a lot. He is such a tough guy.” - Paul Maier, RMI co-director and guide, 371 Rainier summits
“What he has done takes so much effort. It is amazing.” - Jason Edwards, IMG guide, 313 Rainier summits
“He is one of the best bosses I have ever had. He was well liked by the guides and the clients. Everybody wanted to go on trips with him because he was professional, easy to get along with and super nice guy. … Five Hundred is a huge number and think some of those were 5-day climbs. Nobody has spent more time Rainier than he has.” - Gary Talcott, RMI guide, 304 Rainier summits
“It is pretty cool to think that my dad has done something nobody else has ever done.” - Jeremy Dunn, Dunn’s 16-year-old son, trying for first summit July 30