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From the Army to the mountains

Gavin Woody explores the outdoors

Gavin Woody, a former Army Ranger and former president of The Mountaineers, climbing Mt. Rainier’s Liberty Ridge in 2013. Photo courtesy Gavin Woody

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As a young boy, Gavin Woody enjoyed adventures in California as a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout. Many other childhood adventures included camping and backpacking over 50 miles through the woods complete with a summit of Mt. Whitney. These experiences are something that stuck with Woody and forged a lifelong love of the outdoors. It was the structure of the Boy Scouts and that love of the outdoors that led Woody down the path to become a West Point graduate and serve in the Army. He would later become an Army infantry captain and served as a first lieutenant with the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vincenza, Italy, during the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While his Army career took him to many new places, Woody's love of the outdoors never wavered. In fact, it only grew stronger.

Woody completed his MBA at Stanford in 2007 and from there, took a step back to decide where life would take him next. His life journey would bring him to the Seattle area, where the great outdoors would be at his fingertips. Woody and his wife, Sarah, whom he proposed to while on Mount Kilimanjaro, got into mountaineering together. This led them to use a guide service to climb Mt. Rainier. But that led to new curiosities. The Woodys wanted to inform themselves of how to safely continue their mountaineering adventures on their own. These questions linked them up with a popular Pacific Northwest outdoor club called The Mountaineers.

For over a hundred years, The Mountaineers have been teaching all important skills needed for hiking, climbing, navigation, as well as first aid. The Mountaineers is comprised of volunteers and a full-time staff who are dedicated to getting the people of local communities out into the wilderness. After taking a Basic Course with The Mountaineers, the Woody's continued their quest for knowledge by completing additional courses with The Mountaineers. It was not long before Woody found himself elected as the president of the Board of Directors. From there, he offered new ideas on how to reach new members as well as offering courses aimed at getting children outside and to care for the outdoors, which have been highly successful.

Woody found that after departing from military life, there was perhaps something missing. "Thrill isn't the right word but I loved the daily challenge (of the military)," said Woody. "The Mountaineers gave me a community of people and skills along with confidence in my abilities and the capability to challenge myself." Woody expresses that any local club can be beneficial to anyone, but especially to veterans. "It can be hard for veterans, but local clubs can be a community of support with shared interests."

While Woody wholeheartedly encourages everyone to get outdoors and create your own adventures, he also stresses the importance of going out prepared. "Being physically fit is much different than being prepared," said Woody. "Make sure you have the skills to be self-sufficient no matter what the environment." The Mountaineers offer a variety of courses including basic all the way to advanced.

Although no longer serving as president of The Mountaineers, Woody is certainly nowhere near done with his quest to conquer the outdoors. He has completed several long distance races including the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley as well as 200-mile-plus races in Alaska, Italy and Oregon. Let's not forget the "Rainier Triple Threat" and the Infinity Loop at Mt. Rainier. Nowadays, the Woodys bring their children, ages 4 and 1.5 years old, on their world adventures. The tots have already been backpacking in Patagonia with their parents. No matter where the Woody's path leads them next, it is almost certain that no challenge will stand in their way.

For more information on The Mountaineers, please visit:

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