|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – January 2014
Last spring, 60 BACKPACKER readers pulled off the biggest grassroots mountaineering fundraiser in U.S. history.
Our Whitney climbers came in all shapes, sizes, and ages, with diverse careers, hometowns, and outdoor skill sets. Here are a few of their stories.
1. Sonja Evans
This über-positive Idaho teacher has a personal tie to the mountain: Her grandfather helped build the cabins at the iconic Whitney Portal. But this trip was her first time on the peak—and atop a 14er. Surrounded by family back at the trailhead, the beaming Evans said, “I never thought I could accomplish something like this. Now I can’t wait for the next one!”
2. Denise Lanier
We hope to see this intrepid mom—who took inspiration on the climb from a message her daughter drew on her helmet—on TV soon. Lanier is currently developing a one-woman adventure series for Valley PBS in Fresno.
3. Liane Lau
Recently “settled down” in San Francisco after almost 500 days without an address, this EMT and “recovering accountant” is a tireless adventure advocate. In addition to her Whitney efforts, Lau also raised money last year by biking across America and competing in an Ironman.
4. James Viggiano
Voted “most likely to bonk” by teammates, this wisecracking electrician from Rochester, NY, gutted out the endless couloir ascent to the Notch and the roped scramble atop the Mountaineer's Route, dispelling all doubts and becoming Team Adventur-US’s hero. Choked up in the moments after he struck this pose, Viggiano told us “this is the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”
5. David Heinze
Veteran of numerous Colorado Fourteeners, this environmental engineer from Denver relished the change of scenery—from the Rockies’ talus slopes to the High Sierra’s granite domes, shark-toothed spires, and legendary alpenglow.
6. Saveria and Paul Tilden
These experienced climbers from California deserve another high-five for what might have been the climb’s most innovative collection of fundraising postcards and presentations.
7. Steven Reinhold
Sea-level lungs didn’t stop this easygoing North Carolinian from joining 40-plus other readers in signing Whitney’s summit register. (A handful didn’t make it to California due to pregnancy, illness, or job loss; altitude stopped a few more.) A top-10 fundraiser, Reinhold was one of several climbers profiled by their local TV stations.
8. Eddie Boyer
What does a Texas youth minister with a sweet backpacking tattoo do after bagging the Lower 48’s highest peak? He meets hiking buddies for a Grand Canyon backpacking adventure, of course. Team Four-Teeners left Whitney wishing their childhood preachers had been this cool.