July 30, 2002
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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Climbers bag seven peaks in four days
By Jim Cornelius

It rained butterflies on Mt. Washington climbers last week.
John Platt and Brian Mahon were men in a hurry last week.

The pair climbed seven Northwest peaks in four-and-a-half days in a climbing challenge dedicated to their friend Jeff Walker, who died at 42 of kidney cancer.

"This is what we call our celebration of life," Mahon said.

And an intense celebration it was. The climbers tackled Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, Mount Washington and all of the Three Sisters.

The original plan was to climb seven peaks in seven days.

"We wanted to put the cherry on top of the cake, so weíre doing Rainier," Mahon said, explaining why the pair blasted ahead of their schedule. "We wanted to allow enough time.

"Weíre long on endurance and short on smarts," Platt cracked.

Part of the fun of the trip was inviting friends to join them on particular peaks. Platt invited his friend, Sisters resident Jerry Norquist, to climb the North Sister.

On Mount Washington, the climbers "were covered in an avalanche of butterflies," Mahon said, a unique climbing experience.

The good weather allowed for spectacular vistas of distant peaks such as Shasta -- despite the smoke from Oregonís wildfires.

Platt has a childhood connection to Sisters. His dad was a Forest Service employee, stationed for a time in Sisters, and Platt attended elementary school here from 1963 through 1965.

Platt now lives in Boise, Idaho, and works for Trek Bicycle Corporation.

Mahon hails from Castle Rock, Washington, where he works as a physicianís assistant.

His involvement in medicine and his friendís early demise from cancer helps fuel his and Plattís commitment to raising awareness about cancer through their climbing efforts.

The pair noted that "planning, safeguarding and surveillance" are critical safety considerations for climbers. Mahon said the same principles should be applied to menís health.

He noted that his involvement in medicine has shown him that "itís hard to get men to come in (for examination) before something is wrong."

While the pair takes the concern about cancer seriously, their demeanor is not solemn -- it is celebratory. They bring their friendís ashes with them on their climbs, along with Walkerís old "mascot" -- a plastic ape adorned with a climbing rope.

Both men are lifelong climbers, who enjoy the sense of connection with the world, the opportunity for introspection and the comradeship that grows from intense teamwork and athletic effort.

While both are in phenomenal physical condition, the scale and pace of their latest adventure pushed their limits.

"This is a record for me," said Platt, "and I think Iíll let it stand."

That doesnít mean theyíll be hanging up their climbing gear, though.

Mahon said, "Itís been a fabulous trip and I canít wait for our next adventure."

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