At 6:10 this morning George Dunn stepped onto the 14,411-foot summit of Mount Rainier and into the record books.
The 56-year-old guide and director of Ashford’s International Mountain Guides became the first person to successfully climb the mountain 500 times.
Dunn and the six other members of his party left Ingraham Flats at about 11,000 feet shortly after midnight and battled less-than-optimal weather conditions on the way to the summit.
“There were tough spots where they almost had to turn around including snow, wind and a lightning strike nearby,” said Tye Chapman of IMG. “It was a little spicy.”
Also reaching the summit with Dunn was his long-time friend, Phil Ershler. Ershler has the second-most Rainier summits getting his 440th this morning.
Dunn’s 16-year-old son, Jeremy, reached the summit with the group for his first summit.
Also in the group were Dunn’s wife, Nancy; Ershler’s wife, Sue; and fellow IMG director Eric Simonson.
For Simonson it was his 283rd summit and extended his record for consecutive years with at least one summit to 41.
Dunn’s 500 summits covered 9,000 miles and 4.5 million vertical feet. The climbs typically lasted two or more days.
“George is a consummate professional and a true gentleman,” said Gary Talcott, a guide for Rainier Mountaineering Inc. who has climbed the mountain 304 times. “He’s guided, mentored and inspired countless climbers … including some of the best, like Ed Viesturs (the only American to climb all of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks.”
Dunn climbed Rainier for the first time in the late 1960s (He thinks it was ’69, but he’s not certain) while attending Renton High. He started guiding for RMI in 1975.
Dunn has also guided climbs all around the world climbing numerous mountains, including Mount Everest in 1991.
Only three men have climbed Mount Rainier 400 times and only eight have 300 summits.
KING OF THE MOUNTAIN
George Dunn is one of only eight people to climb Mount Rainier 300 times and Friday he became the first with summits 500
George Dunn, IMG 500
Phil Ershler, IMG 440
Brent Okita, RMI 405
Craig Van Hoy, AAI 378
Paul Maier, RMI 371
Jason Edwards, IMG 314
Gary Talcott, RMI 304
Robert Link, Mountain Link 301