Snoqualmie man climbs mountains for charity
July 2, 2008
By Laura Geggel
The 34-year-old Snoqualmie resident plans to climb the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, while simultaneously raising money for charity.
For each mountain he climbs, Dickinson hopes to raise $200,000 – donating one half to a needy family and the other $100,000 to charity.
That’s a total of $1.4 million in donations. If it takes him several years to raise the money and touch the sky on all seven continents, so be it.
“I’m in no hurry,” Dickinson said.
He encouraged people to visit his Web site, www.sponsor7summits.com, to suggest families or charities in need, donate money or follow his blog.
“It would be a lot less fulfilling if it was just me climbing mountains and not doing something good for people,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson grew up in southern Oregon, viewing the entire outdoors as an enormous backyard waiting to be explored. He spent six years in the US Navy, working as a helicopter rescue swimmer.
“I’ve had a lot of survival training where you live off the land and don’t eat for a week,” Dickinson said. “As a rescue swimmer, you’re put in situations where you have to cope with your fears and overcome them.”
Dickinson moved to Snoqualmie from San Diego with his wife JoAnna in 2001. The University of Washington had accepted JoAnna into its masters program for social work. Dickinson attended school himself at the University of Phoenix, earned an MBA and began working at Cisco Systems in system operations.
Being surrounded by mountains in the Snoqualmie Valley has only fueled Dickinson’s desire to climb their craggy and frozen precipices.
“I wanted to take it to the next level,” he said.
When he told his wife about his goal to climb the seven summits, her social worker training helped her think of the idea of donating money to charity.
“She asked, ‘Why don’t we raise money to give back in the process?’” Dickinson said. Part of the money raised will also fund his mountainous journeys.
He enrolled in a mountaineering class and learned the basic skills, including how to travel across a glacier and initiate self-arrest – basically how to stop yourself if you find yourself sliding down an ice sheet.
In early June, Dickinson climbed the 14,410-foot tall Mount Rainier. The thermometer dropped to 10 below and the winds howled at 60 miles per hour, but Dickinson is ready for more.
Mount Si has provided ample training inclines. The 4,167-foot peak gives him the ice and snow. In April, Dickinson ran the Big Sur Marathon in California. This summer, he plans to swim the Escape from Alcatraz and continue to hike local mountains.
“It allows him to accomplish his goals and also help people,” JoAnna said.
The great climbing expedition will begin in 2009. Dickinson plans to climb Denali first, a 20,320-foot peak on Alaska’s Mount McKinley before climbing Aconcagua, Carstensz Pyramid, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro and Vinson.
He hopes to reach Everest in 2010.
Why does Dickinson climb mountains? It’s more than just “because it’s there,” he said.
“Just being up high and seeing what a lot of people haven’t seen and just being there is really amazing,” Dickinson said. “It’s doing something great – really impacting others in a way that they never saw coming.”
Reporter Laura Geggel can be reached at 392-6434 x221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.