A view from the top
December 8, 2011
By Sebastian Moraga
Valley climber climbs fifth of Seven Summits
Having climbed five of the world’s Seven Summits, having dodged falling on Everest and freezing in Antarctica, Snoqualmie climber Brian Dickinson has one question: Who let the dogs out?
On his way to visit an orphanage in Punta Arenas, Chile, a stray dog attacked Dickinson. Apparently, the dog had Foursquare, because his friends joined in.
Dickinson eventually fought one of the stray dogs into traffic, which scared the other four.
“When they saw the cars coming, they all took off,” said Dickinson, who stopped in Chile en route to climb Vinson Massif, the tallest peak in Antarctica.
Dickinson is in the midst of a quest to climb the so-called Seven Summits — the tallest peak on each of the world’s seven continents.
Dickinson endured the pooch attack and then endured minus-70 degree temperatures on the 16,050-foot summit of Vinson Massif.
“Even though it’s 16,000 feet, the barometric pressure is equivalent to 18,000 feet,” Dickinson said. “The weather was constantly below zero. You really have to plan for surviving the cold.”
His goggles froze, his right hand froze, and yet, it was an easier climb than most, he said.
“From base to Camp 1 is very gradual,” he said. “From High Camp to the summit is very gradual. From Camp 1 to High Camp is straight up.”
The day he reached the summit, Dickinson said, he wasn’t feeling well. He had received news about his best friend falling ill in Snoqualmie and had a hard time sleeping the night before.
“I knew that one step in front of the other, I would eventually get there,” he said.
And he did.
“I had seen pictures of Vinson, but when you’re actually on the summit ridge, it’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s beautiful and it goes on for a long time.”
Given the weather, he stayed at the summit for a few minutes. He had brought a satellite phone to one of the camps but did not bring it to the summit.
“My hand would still be frozen to the phone,” he said.
In fact, his right fingertips are still a bit numb, but he trusts he will recover.
He will take a break from his Seven Summits quest for at least a year.
No. 6 is Aconcagua, the tallest peak in the Americas, but now he’s going to focus more on the numbers eight and five.
Those are the ages of his children.
“I have been away from them and I want to make sure they are my priority,” he said. “I want to be present for my friend as he goes through with his recovery.”
Besides, if during the year, he begins yearning for the mountains again, he lives in Washington.
“There’s so many beautiful mountains in our back yard,” he said.