Avid climber perishes on Mount Rainier
Lee Adams died while descending from the summit of Mount Rainier on Tuesday, July 28.
Lee taught me how to travel on glaciers a few summers back. When I was nervous and wearing crampons for the first time on the Nisqually Glacier, Lee coaxed me along gently and assured me that I was doing a great job. In more than a decade of volunteering as a Washington Alpine Club climbing class instructor, he's helped scores of people become comfortable in alpine terrain.
Teaching people to climb must be exhausting, both mentally and physically, but Lee had ample patience and a special gift for making it fun for anyone willing to learn. He's one of those people that you can only picture with a smile on their face.
Anyone who takes up climbing has to acknowledge the inherent risk and dangers, but it's still in some way a distant, abstract acknowledgment. Lee was faster, stronger, smarter and more naturally athletic than most, and when a climber of Lee's caliber and judgment dies, you have to make the somber conclusion that the mountains are forceful well beyond anyone's control. Sometimes one slip, by any member of the team, is all it takes.
Each and every death in the mountains is tragic. What strikes me in Lee's case is that he had a clear passion for sharing his love of climbing mountains with others. And, that's just what he was doing when he died.
He will be missed.