Outdoors

Adventurer of the Week: Tacoma’s Julie Myer is first woman to bag Mount Rainier’s 100 peaks

Julie Myer on top of Old Desolate in Mount Rainier National Park on July 18, 2015. The Sluiskins are in the background. She climbed those too, on her way to becoming the first known woman to climb the 100 Peaks of Mount Rainier National Park.
Julie Myer on top of Old Desolate in Mount Rainier National Park on July 18, 2015. The Sluiskins are in the background. She climbed those too, on her way to becoming the first known woman to climb the 100 Peaks of Mount Rainier National Park. Courtesy

When it comes to her passion for climbing, Julie Myer doesn’t mess around.

Shortly after she got hooked on hiking and scrambling in 2003, she sold her horses so she’d have more time in the mountains. And, when she got involved in climbing classes with the Tacoma Mountaineers, she moved north from Olympia.

So when the 53-year-old REI employee heard about the 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier National Park, there was no question she’d eventually climb every mountain on the list.

On May 4, Myer will be the featured speaker at the 100 Peaks Club’s annual celebration at The Mountaineers’ Seattle headquarters. Myer is believed to be one of 11 people — and the only woman — to bag all of the peaks.

The 100 Peaks were first featured in the 2013 book “Guide to 100 Peaks at Mount Rainier” (The Mountaineers Books) by Mickey Eisenberg and Gene Yore. Not only does the e-book give route descriptions for climbing the 100 peaks (Mount Rainier itself is not included on the list), but it rewards readers who finish the climbs.

It’s tough to go to the gym every day, but when you can get outside and get that exercise it just feels so good. It’s good for the soul.

Julie Myer, mountaineer

Those who log their climbs on the website peakbagger.com earn medallions. Medallions are given for 25, 50 and 100 peaks. Additionally, a medallion can be earned for reaching 15 peaks that require only a hike. In 2015, they added a medallion for finishing the 76 scrambling peaks. Medallions will be awarded May 4, after Myer’s presentation.

“I saw there was this book that had great information and found it was a great, targeted way to do some shoulder season stuff,” Myer said. “I would do a lot of them when you couldn’t do anything else in the fall, early spring and winter.”

We recently caught up with Myer and asked her a few questions about her 100-peak journey:

Q: Do you have a favorite among these peaks?

A: Probably the Sluiskins. The Cowlitz Chimneys were pretty fun too. No, you know what, probably Little Tahoma. It was my very first glacier climb. I was a basic climbing student (with The Mountaineers). It was one of those great trips where you have great weather, great conditions and a super cool group of people to be out with. All the way around, it was probably one of my all-time favorite climbs.

Q: Tell me about Pigeon Peak. I hear people say it’s only worth doing if you’re trying to do all 100 peaks.

A: I had to work, so we decided we were going to go to the trailhead and camp. When we got there we decided we would go in as far as we could. We had climbing gaiters on with cycling shoes. It was raining. We got lost in the woods because it was dark and there was all this windfall. We lost the trail for about an hour and had to clamor through. What should have taken us 10 minutes, took us an hour. We finally set up camp. It rained all night.

We got up and it was nice. We went up and did Redstone (Peak) first. It had tall grass. I’ve never, ever in my entire life been as wet as I was getting up to Redstone. Then we had to come down and cut through chest-high brush to get to Pigeon. I didn’t think I could get any wetter.

Then, we decided to come out down the ridge and we got off track a little bit and had to rappel down into this gully and walk this stream bed out. We got stung by bees, and it was dark by the time we got back. It was absolutely miserable.

Q: But don’t those trips become better stories than a lot of the ones that go perfectly?

A: Absolutely. Especially with the people. A friend had cupcakes waiting for us. We still laugh. It is the one that you talk about.

Q: You’re the only known woman to finish the list. Is that a point of pride?

A: It is, but I don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m surprised that you even mentioned it. Nobody mentions it, but a couple of people. And maybe I’m not. Maybe there were some others out there. There were some pretty active lady Mountaineers back in the day.

Q: Would you encourage people to pursue the entire list, or just a portion?

A: I would definitely recommend it. There is something there for everybody. It is something you can do all year. And it’s a great way to stay focused.

Q: What advice do you give people who are trying to do this list?

A: I’d say always go to the trailhead before you call out that it’s bad weather. The other is to be really good at navigation and carry some form of GPS. And then, take really fun people with you.

… I have a friend who just turned 80 and I try to live by his philosophy and that is to never stop moving. It’s tough to go to the gym every day, but when you can get outside and get that exercise it just feels so good. It’s good for the soul.

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