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Backpacker Magazine – January 2014

Readers' Choice 2014: Dream Trips: Friends in High Places

Mt. Rainier filled the view from David Mott's army base. His best friend got him to the top.

Tracy Schmidt at sunrise on Rainier (Ben Fullerton)
Tracy Schmidt at sunrise on Rainier (Ben Fullerton)
Schmidt and David Mott at he summit in whiteout conditions. (Ben Fullerton)
Schmidt and David Mott at he summit in whiteout conditions. (Ben Fullerton)

 “Buddy Story”

Winner Tracy Schmidt,

30, Truckee, CA

Guest Her adventure partner, U.S. Army Sergeant David Mott, 28

Where to A guided trip for two up Mt. Rainier, WA (plus all gear rental), courtesy of Peter Whittaker and RMI Expeditions,
 July 8 to 13, 2013

Winning pitch Reunite these hiking pals—separated by Mott’s tour of duty in Afghanistan—to climb the peak he admired from his base at Fort Lewis, WA

 From the moment this pair met in Lake Tahoe in 2005, Tracy Schmidt and David Mott became an inseparable adventure duo—until Mott joined the Army in 2008. Since then, most of their communication has been via chat or text message. This spring, we gave them something new to talk about: 


Facebook chat, March 14

Tracy Schmidt I just entered an essay contest for the 2 of us to win a paid trip [up Rainier] from Backpacker magazine.*

David Mott
What do i have to do?

Cross your fingers

Facebook chat, April 8 

TS Motttt!!!!!! We won! Guided trip up Mt. Rainier!!!

DM F*** Ya !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! such a big smile right now!

TS I better make it up that damn mountain!

DM I will carry you up if you want me to :)

Schmidt’s journal, July 8

So good to be reunited with Mott. Glad I got to see Fort Lewis. Grandpa was there long ago and now my BFF is there too.

July 12

I never thought I would “get the willies” from walking over a crevasse, but to be looking down into an open, icy hole that goes hundreds of feet down, and then “stepping” over the crack, was just plain mental. 

July 13

MOUNT RAINIER: Conquered! I should stop saying “conquered,” though—nobody really “conquers” a mountain, it just gives you a summit pass whenever it chooses. 

Text message, July 21

TS I was just reading RMI’s blog... A few days after us, groups had to turn around before summit because a snow bridge collapsed... and another day lightning storms. We got lucky!!

DM We are lucky for sure.


Do it Unless you have mountaineering chops, hire a guide to tackle this 14,411-footer. RMI Expeditions offers trips from $1,000 for a four-day summit bid, or from $1,800 for a six-day trip with more mountaineering lessons. Meal plans and gear rental available. (888-892-5462; Lodging Whittaker’s Motel & Historic Bunkhouse, just outside the park, provides classic, no frills accommodations for staging before and after your summit bid. (Dorm beds from $35, private rooms from $65; 360-569-2439; Season May to August Permits $30 climbing pass required Contact (360) 569-HIKE;

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