Patrick Keefer: On top of the world!
Patrick Keefer '08 at the top of
After graduating last spring, Patrick Keefer set out on a four-month odyssey to the top of the Appalachian Trail. Beginning at Springer Mountain in northern Georgia and averaging 20 miles a day, Patrick spent his summer walking 2,175 miles to reach the summit of Mt. Katahdin, in Maine. Despite the many months and miles, Patrick felt he “still had some leg left.”
With an endless sense of adventure, Patrick has embarked once again. Bringing his former roommate, Brad, and his uncle, Richard, along for the ride, Patrick set out last week to scale Mt. Rainier.
Although it’s just the third-highest mountain in the lower 48 states at 14,411 feet, Rainier is an active volcano; it generates its own weather and is the most burdened by ice. Considered the pinnacle of backpacking and climbing, reaching the top of Rainier is one of the greatest mountaineering challenges in the U.S.
After landing in Seattle, Patrick and his team headed toward the mountain. Commencing the journey at 10:00 a.m. on Friday morning at about 5,400 feet, the group pushed on past Camp Muir to “the Flatts” on Ingraham Glacier at (11,400 feet) to camp for the night.
“I did not sleep much at all,” recounts Patrick, “because of the altitude and I was too excited. I kept peeking out of the tent, looking at the massive mountain in the clear sky, and waiting to see headlamps heading up the glacier.” At 2 a.m., Patrick got his chance. The three roped together and with helmets on and ice axes in hand, they began to scale the face of the behemoth, carefully crossing over and around crevasses.
It was a close call, when a French team of four started falling. Luckily, their guide was able to get them under control before wiping out Patrick and his team!
About half of the approximately 10,000 people who try each year to make it to the summit are turned back by fatigue, altitude sickness, and bad weather. Passing this enormous test of strength and courage, at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, Patrick and friends reached the top of the world!