Climbing Mt. Ranier and the World Highest Rotary Club Meeting

In the 1980s I was a member of Seattle’s International District Rotary Club and in the summer of 1985 we were invited to join the Bellevue Rotary Club on a summit climb of Mt. Ranier where they plan to hold an official Rotary Club meeting and set the record as the highest Rotary Club meeting in the world. They hoped to have a few “visiting club” members join them and I looked forward to the chance to climb Mt. Ranier.

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I had climbed Oregon’s highest mountain Mt. Hood when I was 16 so this would add Washington State’s highest mountain to my climb list and when we set out from Paradise Lodge for the first segment of the climb it was obvious that it was going to be a fantastic experience.

We camped out at Camp Muir which is at 10,000 feet and is named after naturalist John Muir. It is rustic stone shelter built in 1921 about 12 feet by 25 feet in size and has served as a rest station for thousands of climbers over the years. After a few hours of sleep we began our final ascent in the wee hours of the morning with sunrise magnificently welcoming us as we approached 12,000 feet. What I was not prepared for was the difference in oxygen and barometric pressure over 12,000 feet. Mt. Hood is about 11,245 feet and I did not recall it being too tough to acclimatize to the altitude but Mt. Ranier is much taller at 14, 409 feet and it seemed to me that every step over 13,000 was quite a challenge.  However tough it was we made it!

The weather was magnficent and we could see from Canada to far south into Oregon. At a sheltered crag near the summit we had put on our Rotary badges ( and visiting Rotarian Name Cards) the bell rang and meeting called to order with all of the usuual announcements and speeches one would find at a weekly Rotary meeting. But what was different for sure was the meeting place, the attendance card marked Mt. Ranier July 22, 1985, a Certificate of Ascent of Mt. Ranier, and one of the great memories of a lifetime.


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