Mt. Rainier: George Dunn's 500 Summits

Saturday marked the 500th climb for one man and Washington's mountain gem

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6:10 a.m. on Saturday morning: most of the country is sleeping, off in dreamland. Not George Dunn: he arrived at Mt. Rainier’s 14,411 foot summit, a place he’d been 499 times before.

Dunn is the first to complete such a feat. The closest is Dunn’s 59-year-old longtime friend and fellow International Mountain Guides director, Phil Ershler at 440 summits (but I doubt the two were counting…). Dunn and Ershler, along with Eric Simonson, are co-directors for International Mountain Guides, based just outside Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The company guides around the world, sending expeditions to major peaks internationally.

Dunn has been guiding since 1975. He’s a mountain climber at heart, and an unselfish one at that: he helped roughly 10,000 climbers summit Rainier. Altogether, 500 summits pans out to 600 attempts, 9,000 hiking miles and 4.5 million vertical feet. Along with his impressive numeric stats, Dunn is the one to call for snow slides, learning how to broadcast food, and mending gaping head wounds: he is a Certified Alpine Guide with American Mountain Guides Association, a Leave No Trace Master Educator, a Level II AIARE Avalanche Instructor, and a Wilderness First Responder.

On his 500th summit, his wife, Nancy, and son, Jeremy, accompanied Dunn. Jeremy completed his first summit while his dad completed his 500th. I guess we know who likes sleeping in and who likes waking up early.

– Rachel Kiely

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