Summit 2006 Overview
is rarely a time when an adventure begins from its own singular
origin; it is usually a journey that is built on past experiences
and sojourning. The Rainier Summit Climb of 2006 is no different.
Although it is an experience that is new for two of the climbers,
Chuck Fabijanic and Dan Gueldner, it is a journey and a climb that
began many years ago and has culminated to this very moment in August
was in the early 1980s when Lee Hoedl and Chuck Fabijanic met while
attending North Dakota State University. They came from different
areas of the United States, but shared common interests - enough
to sustain a lifelong friendship.
beautiful as North Dakota can be through all seasons, it doesn't
present the opportunity for any extensive hiking or high-altitude
climbing. So much of the "adventures" through the 1980s
and into the 1990s would have to be through "someday when we're
able to..." dreams and hopes. Following their university experience,
Chuck would marry and move to Morristown, New Jersey and then to
San Diego, California. Lee would stay close to the forested Midwest
by working at Bemidji State University and then, Marquette University
was in Milwaukee where Lee Hoedl would meet Dan Gueldner. As a young
college student attending Marquette University, Dan became one of
Lee's advisees through his college experience. During this time
together, Lee had worked with another Marquette colleague to set
up an outdoor leadership/survival program - Dan was one of the first
participants in this program. From that time forward, when Lee wanted
to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Dan would be
his willing sherpa to the North
and South Kettle Moraine State Forests. It was amidst these
forests where Lee and Dan found a common interest for the great
outdoors - a bond that would continue through the years and into
1999 (when Lee departed Marquette University and moved to St. Paul
to work at the University of St. Thomas), Lee remained in touch
with Dan via email, while taking annual family trips with the Hoedls
and Fabijanics to various national parks. Although it wasn't arduous
hiking, these adventures did provide Chuck and Lee an opportunity
to at least be outdoors.
this time, Lee looked for new opportunities for greater backpacking/hiking
experiences - and found one in 2000, when the Nowatzki
brothers (Rick and Scott) invited him to tag along on a hike
across a portion of the Continental Divide. It was this experience
that cemented Lee's desire to hike further and climb higher. Following
a Hoedl-Fabijanic-Ross family trip to the Grand Caldera of Yellowstone
National Park in 2001, Chuck and Lee decided to "push the envelope"
in their adventures.
in a Hoedl-Fabijanic family trip to the Grand
Canyon National Park in June 2002, Lee and Chuck chose to hike
down the South Kaibab Trail, sleep overnight at Phantom Ranch and
hike out of the Canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. The temperatures
in the bottom of the Canyon that summer were in the 120s and the
evenings cooled to a balmy 95 degrees. Just enough heat to simmer
the juices for more adventures...
June 2003, the Hoedl-Fabijanic trip found its way to Yosemite National
Park. It was here where Lee and Chuck chose to trek the 18-mile
one-day hike from the Yosemite Valley to the top
of Half Dome and back down to the valley. Standing at a little
over 8000 ft. elevation and relishing the vista, Hoedl and Fabijanic
September 2003, Lee had been invited to join Chuck and his friend
Gus Gardner on an exciting adventure: cycle across the entire Death
Valley and then summit Mt. Whitney - from the lowest elevation to
the highest elevation in the contiguous United States. Chuck and
Gus would have to venture on this journey alone in 2003, as Lee
and his wife Di gave birth to triplets in that same month. But Lee
promised Chuck, "If you host the event again, I'll be there."
in September of 2004, the adventure across
Death Valley and up Mt. Whitney commenced. This time, Lee and
Chuck would bring along Keith Sherwood, an abled multiple 14er climber
and cyclist. It was a grueling but fabulous experience to witness
Life at the very depth and pinnacle of North America. While sitting
at the 12,000 ft. Trail Camp on the Mt. Whitney Trail, Chuck and
Lee thought, "What would be more challenging than climbing
the highest peak in the contiguous United States?" How about
the most glaciated peak in the United States? And their eyes were
set on Mt. Rainier.
began simply as a pipedream; a wonderful pact between two friends:
to hike to the summit of Mt. Rainier. But as with all grand plans,
pipe dreams and pacts, there is always the human element to contend
with: conflicting schedules. Despite Chuck's inability to join Lee,
Lee carried on with the plan. In mid-July 2005, Lee experienced
one of the most phenomenal moments of his life: an
actual summit of Mt. Rainier and a perch on Columbia Crest.
Chuck told Lee, "If you go again, I'll join you."
now it is 2006 and the summit climb has been planned for August
4-5. This time, Lee will be accompanied by Chuck Fabijanic and Dan
Gueldner. All the conditioning has been done, with all three climbers
competing in road races, triathlons and marathons over the past
year. One particular race deserves notable mention: the Wild
Miles Relay in California (with Lee and Chuck on the same 10-person
team). It is a 183-mile nonstop team relay, beginning at Borrego
Springs and winding its way around ANZA-Borrego Desert State Park
and Cleveland National Forest before ending at Pine Valley, California.
The team would be called the Team Thrown Together at the End
of the Road and Chuck and Lee would be the team's senior members.
stated above, all the conditioning is done, equipment is secured,
and reservations made. And at the writing of this narrative in late
July 2006), the only remaining task is the journey itself: a glaciated
summit attempt up the 14,410 ft. mountain of Mt. Rainier.
the adventure doesn't end here in Washington. Lee has his eyes set
on a future RMI-guided alpine climbing of Ecuador's 19,000 ft. glaciated
peaks of Cayambe and Cotopaxi. In addition, it is Lee's and Chuck's
hope to attempt a summit climb of Mt. McKinley in Alaska before
the end of the decade.
Note: Additional images and website/Powerpoint presentations of
the adventures on the right can be found by going to the Photo
Hoedl in constant training
in the California WILD MILES RELAY in 2006: Lee Hoedl and
across Death Valley in 2004: Lee Hoedl, Keith Sherwood and
Mt. Whitney in 2004: Keith Sherwood, Lee Hoedl, Chuck Fabijanic
Half Dome of Yosemite in 2003: Chuck Fabijanic and Lee Hoedl
the Grand Canyon in 2002: Lee Hoedl and Chuck Fabijanic
the Continental Divide in 2000: Rick Nowatzki, Scott Nowatzki,
the North Kettle Moraine of Wisconsin in 1997: Dan Gueldner
and Lee Hoedl
in the Kettle Moraines of Wisconsin in 1996: Chris Nichols,
Eric Koester, Dan Gueldner, Chris Burant, and Lee Hoedl