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Blind Mountain Climber From Seattle Area Sets Out To Summit Denali

RMI Expeditions
Josh Gautreau, Bruce Stobie and Mike Haugen are ready to fly to the base camp of Denali.

The big day has arrived for Bruce Stobie, the blind mountain climber featured in a KPLU story last month

Stobie flew to the base camp of Denali Thursday morning to begin his expedition. The Maple Valley man is aiming to become the fourth blind person to climb North America’s tallest mountain.

Before heading out, he placed a quick call to his wife, Gwyn Stobie. The weather was clear enough for him and his two guides to fly to base camp and they had to move quickly.

“He sounded nervous and excited,” she said. “And he was really brief. Normally he wants to talk and talk. This morning, it was,'This is happening, I’m going, bye.’”

Gwyn Stobie says the last few weeks leading up to this moment were consumed with carefully assembling his gear and buying $400 worth of groceries — everything from beef jerky and chicken in a pouch to Pringles and hand-packed bags of trail mix. He’ll consume about 5,000 calories a day.

Gwyn says she’ll be following blog reports from his guidesto track his progress. She says he’s hoping for a speedy trip up but has brought along three weeks’ worth of food in case bad weather slows them down.

She says like the rest of the climbing world, both she and Bruce were saddened by the recent deaths of six climbers on Mount Rainier. But she says it hasn’t changed how she feels about her husband attempting this climb.

“I think I’d already factored in my concern over those kinds of events,” she said. “So it was certainly a tragic thing, but it didn’t really up my anxiety level. It’s already been pretty high.”

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.