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mike_m

Pete Schoening

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Heard that Pete Schoening passed away this morning. One of the true pioneers of American expeditionary climbing, Pete was the one who held the fall of his entire team, using a state-of-the-art rope/axe belay, at 25,000' on K2 in 1953. He was also the only American, along with Andy Kauffman, to claim the first ascent of an 8000m peak, Hidden Peak, in 1958; he was also part of the 1974 Pamirs expedition so well-chronicled in Storm and Sorrow. Pete was one of the very early (and very active members) of Seattle Mountain Rescue back in the 50s. I am so grateful that I had the chance to know him.

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I never met Pete, but obviously his exploits are the stuff of legend. I attended Lakeside with his son Eric and daughter Lisa. They couldn't be nicer people. I would expect to see a nice piece in the local paper soon.

 

John Sharp

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Pete Schoening was 24,500 feet up K2, the world's second-highest peak, when his six fellow climbers tumbled out of control down an icy slope.

Schoening stopped the fall, holding tight to a wooden ice ax jammed behind a rock and with a rope belayed around his hip.

That life-saving belay on Aug. 10, 1953, is a legendary moment among climbers.

"I'm surprised that it attracts interest, frankly," said the famously humble Schoening..."There is a certain part of society that sort of dwells on tragedy and emphasizes tragedy," he said. "And I think that's really too bad, because there's so much joy in the good things. And I think that was true on that trip as well."

 

cry.gif

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Pete was a giant. One of the strongest climbers of his generation, and always gracious. As far as I can tell, he never sought the limelight but contributed an incredible amount to mountaineering in the Northwest. He's pictured here, on the left, with Tom Hornbein.

 

SchoeningHornbeinGross.jpg

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Sucks man. Wish I could have met the dude.

 

He climbed Mt Saugstad first (among tons of others) with the late John Dudra. Looks pain in the arse to get to and scary in person..

 

5463_saugSE.jpg

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An incredible climber, and an incredible human being. I' m sorry to hear of his passing. He lived a full life, and was apparently one of the most humble people you would ever want to meet.

 

Godspeed, Pete! cry.gif

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I have a signed first edition copy of K2 The Savage Mountain that I found at a garage sale years ago. I'm going to re-read it and bring this great man back to life for a time.

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Tom and Pete were great buddies. Tom told me last year that Pete had multiple myeloma. They continued to do things together in the outdoors as long as they could.

 

Pete was a giant. One of the strongest climbers of his generation, and always gracious. As far as I can tell, he never sought the limelight but contributed an incredible amount to mountaineering in the Northwest. He's pictured here, on the left, with Tom Hornbein.

 

SchoeningHornbeinGross.jpg

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I am sure that everyone who was close to him will miss him terribly, but I think his is a case where those most affected by the loss of his life could actually console themselves a bit by reflecting on the manner in which he lived it.

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Just last week, at the Mountaineers clubhouse, in the "dungeon" used by the Mountaineers History Committee, I found a long forgotten film by Burge Bickford and Ira Spring of Fred Beckey, Pete Schoening, Ralph (and/or Dick) Widrig, and Joe Hieb making the second ascent of Lighthouse Tower in the Cashmere Crags in 1949. The film includes great footage of both Beckey and Schoening rock climbing (in tennis shoes) and demonstrates all the tricks that they used in those days--free climbing, aid climbing, shoulder stands, piton and bolt placements, and climbers throwing a weighted line over the summit and then prusiking up. The film is a classic, and deserves to be at least as famous as the better known film of Beckey and Jim Crooks climbing The Tooth in 1940.

 

The Mountaineers History Committee hopes to obtain a grant to transfer this film (and several others) to videotape so that people can enjoy it. When we get the film transferred, I expect we'll have a movie night at the clubhouse to show a bunch of great old films. It's one small way to honor Pete's memory.

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Get them transferred to DVD, not videotape.

 

Thanks Dru. We might. When I said videotape, I was referring to the digital master that we'll create from the original 16mm film. So far we've always used DigiBeta tape, which is a professional format used by TV stations. (Another format, not quite so high quality, is called DVCAM.) Once the film is transferred to a digital master, then you can dub viewing copies, either on VHS tape or DVD. In the past we made VHS viewing copies because that was more prevalent in the club. We haven't decided how to process this recently discovered collection of films. (Heck, we don't have any money yet for any of this!)

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