Evan Redman never witnessed anything so beautiful, never felt so rewarded.
At 10,188 feet, life seemed to transform for the 16 year old as he crept out of the stone, high-altitude refuge at Camp Muir on Mount Rainier.
“I could see the sunset upon a sea of white clouds beneath me,” Redman said. “It was the most surreal thing I'd ever seen.”
This eight-hour trek to Camp Muir in the summer of 2019 was Redman’s first taste of mountain climbing. Since then, he has become obsessed with the sport.
The now-19-year-old Western Washington University second-year is an avid mountain climber, having summited all five volcanoes in Washington including Rainier on four separate occasions.
Mountain climbing has become an integral part of Redman’s life – so much so that Redman is applying to become a mountaineering guide at Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated for the summer of 2023.
Growing up in Ashford, Washington, a small tourist town outside of Mount Rainier National Park, Redman was always exposed to hiking and outdoor recreation. However, he had never considered mountaineering until his initial hike up to Camp Muir in 2019.
That same summer, Redman began his employment at the Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated warehouse, organizing and collecting climbing gear for the guides.
“The guides would talk about these crazy things that happen on their most recent adventures,” Redman said. “I would overhear their conversations and talk to them after work … it slowly started rubbing off on me.”
During his first summer of climbing, Redman said it was a struggle to convince the guides to climb on their days off, making it difficult to find people to climb with.
After Redman’s junior year of high school, COVID-19 hit the mountaineering community hard. With all the extra time off due to the loss of business, opportunities to climb with guides opened up for Redman.
Jeff Martin is the operations manager at Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated and has worked there for over 30 years. During the initial surge of COVID-19, he took Redman under his wing and led him on as many climbs as he could.
Jeff Martin guided Redman to his first summits of the five volcanoes in Washington, beginning with Mount Adams and ending with Mount Saint Helens, all within the summer of 2020.
“He progressed throughout the summer,” Jeff Martin said. “He went from somebody who knew basically nothing about climbing to a competent beginner climber.”
With Jeff Martin as his mentor, Redman began to pursue his mountaineering dreams.
During the summer of 2021, Redman climbed Mount Rainier one more time, as well as Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park. As he continued to work at the warehouse and improve his mountaineering skills, working as a guide began to feel more and more like a possibility.
“To get paid to be outside and climb,” Redman said. “It would be an awesome job.”
Earning a guide position within a climbing company is no easy task. The guides are trusted to take inexperienced climbers up dangerous routes all over the world.
Jason Martin, the director and co-owner of the American Alpine Institute (AAI), has experience with guides working their way up from within the company.
“It's not uncommon here at AAI for somebody to start in our shop for us to then mentor into a guide position,” Jason Martin said.
Redman took this past summer as an opportunity to hone his skills and train for his application as a guide.
“His skill set has improved tremendously,” Jeff Martin said. “He's displaying progression into good decision-making and risk management.”
Redman has gone from being guided in the summer of 2020 to guiding some of his own friends. In the summer of 2022, he and a few friends took a trek up Mount Baker together.
“I’m perfecting my technique,” Redman said. “Teaching other people helps me.”
The future is uncertain for Redman, though he knows that his fervor for mountaineering hasn’t waned since his introduction in the summer of 2019.
“I'm hoping that guiding is the right thing for me,” Redman said. “I don’t want it to become a job for me, to lose my passion for it, I really hope I can balance that.”
Jack Glenn (he/him) is a sports and recreation reporter in his second quarter at The Front. He is pursuing a news/editorial degree in journalism. In his free time, Jack enjoys reading, playing basketball and spending time with friends and family. If you have any questions or would simply like to contact him, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.