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For the week of June 14 through June 20, 2000

Local student gets high

Says retailers ‘just hooked me up’

Express Staff Writer

Tyler Jones, a Wood River High School junior, summited North America’s tallest peak two weeks ago then returned home just one day before major weather hit the mountain.

During a post-climb interview Thursday, the young mountaineer—slightly chapped around the face and ears, but otherwise, none the worse for wear—gave a free-associating, almost nonchalant recount of his two-week, high-altitude adventure.

Tyler, along with the nine other climbers on his team, was one of the last to summit and get off the mountain before a life-threatening storm hit, cutting off communications between climbers and the rest of the world.

"I basically just scored with the weather," Tyler said, while describing an afternoon sunbathing at 14,000 feet beneath clear blue skies.

Then, almost as an afterthought, he admitted enduring a single, short tempest.

"We didn’t just get hammered," he said, "For about three hours, it just nuked on us. I totally forgot about that."

For the young climber, apparently, it was just another day on the mountain.

While he may not have been the youngest person to ever reach the top of the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, at 17 years old, the perpetually animated Tyler accomplished the feat at an usually early age.

"It’s always been a big dream of mine to climb McKinley," he said. And the practice he’s had leading up to that dream is impressive.

At age 15, he said, he climbed the Grand Teton near Jackson, Wyo., and at 16, he summited 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier in Washington.

It was his proven performance and maturity on Rainier, Tyler said, that opened the door to his going on the McKinley trip with Rainier Mountaineering International guide service before he turned 18—the usual minimum age for the company’s trips.

With permission from the guide service, Tyler hustled for donations from North Face and local retailers, who, he said, "just hooked me up" with necessary equipment and supplies.

In exchange for the donations, Tyler said he’ll be giving slide shows locally and out of state in the coming months.

As for future high-alpine plans, Tyler said he wants to revisit Rainier next summer and that he eventually wants to become a professional mountain guide.

And that should take him all over the world with the exception of the Mecca of mountaineering.

"I’ve always had a desire to do Everest. But now that you can pay to go," he lamented, "I’d rather wait until it’s not such a rat race."


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