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Second time up Mount Rainier a success for Scout climber

Matt Jirava and Nick Blair, flanked by Peggy Lovellford and Randy Gallatin, recently climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier. - Photo courtesy Matt Jirava
Matt Jirava and Nick Blair, flanked by Peggy Lovellford and Randy Gallatin, recently climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Matt Jirava

It was a year ago, almost to the day, when the High Adventure Crew of Boy Scout Troop 546 hit the 14,411-foot summit of Mount Rainier.

While they were basking in the glory of their accomplishment, crew member Matt Jirava and another Scout were sitting at camp feeling awful, struck by altitude sickness. Jirava started the climb with a bad cold and at 11,000 feet it became too much. Rather than stop the climb for everyone, he opted to turn back.

This year, under the direction of leaders Randy Gallatin and Peggy Lovellford, the then 16-year-old, now a 17-year-old, Enumclaw High junior Jirava and Nick Blair signed the book at Mount Rainier’s summit June 27.

“This year was definitely better,” Jirava said. “I was kind of worried the same thing would happen again this year, but once I got going it was better.”

“It happend to me,” Lovellford said referring to her earlier climbs. “I didn’t make it.

“Matt did well,” she said. “He packed better and was more experienced.”

Scouts prepare for the climb with months of physical training and Jirava said he did a bit more training – a few more trips up local, popular hiking spot Mount Peak carrying a heavy backpack, about one-third his body weight.

He said there were few surprises after listening to last year’s stories about the climb.

Stowing much of their gear at Camp Muir, the Scouts always try to make the climb to the summit in 30 minutes.

“They beat the time of the other boys,” Lovellford said of Jirava and Blair. That time, she added, was then topped by a group of adults who went up in the following weeks.

The High Adventure Crew keeps to its name. The group crested the summit of Mount Adams in 2007 and recently returned from crewing a sailing ship off the coast of Florida.

Jirava doesn’t have any immediate plans for another climb, although he’s talking about making a return trip to Mount Adams or Mount Rainier with his uncle in the coming years.

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